Vic Firth Corpsmaster Groove Series

A new line of marching sticks and mallets aimed at the HBCU-style marching bands recently made its debut, just in time for this year’s Honda Battle of the Bands, the premier Historically Black College and University marching event.

Vic Firth’s new Corpsmaster Groove Series—which includes the Johnny Lee Lane Signature Groove Stick for snare, Tenor Groove, Scotch Groove and Thunder Groove—aims to fulfill the needs of HBCU groups whose style doesn’t fit with the more prevalent corps style of many marching bands.

Previously, no such products had been created for the HBCU market, which relied heavily on older equipment that better suited these bands’ unique style, according to Neil Larrivee, director of education at Vic Firth. HBCU bands tend to play drums that have a lower pitch and are carried on slings. Therefore, some of the biggest differences are the length and weight of the stick.

“In today’s contemporary marching band products, we’re all corps-driven, so products have tended to merge and meld toward the needs of high-tension drums,” Larrivee says. “All drums are on sophisticated carriers, so really the whole product line of all stick and mallet manufacturers has moved toward this corps activity, really leaving the HBCU type bands to fend for themselves.”

Larrivee worked with five top HBCU percussion instructors to develop the Groove Series.

For more information about the Vic Firth Corpsmaster Groove Series, visit

About author

Eddie Carden

Eddie Carden is an editorial intern for Halftime Magazine. He is a recent graduate from the University of Southern California (USC), with a major in public relations and neuroscience. He has been playing the trumpet since the fifth grade and served last year as the drum major for the USC “Spirit of Troy” Trojan Marching Band.

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