May 16, 2024

New “katenor” tenor drum harness begins shipping to customers

Kate Dudek using her new katenor tenor drum harness.

Designed by Ontario’s Kate Dudek, the “katenor” is a new harness for tenor drummers that promises to distribute the weight of their drum, keep it stable, and maintain height. The $200 product is now shipping to customers around the world.

A member of the Grade 1 78th Fraser Highlanders when the band’s mid-section won the Best Bass-Section title at the 2007 World Pipe Band Championships, Dudek’s background in engineering and prolific experience lugging around heavy and unwieldy tenor drums and rock-climbing went into the design of the product.

While product prototypes have been out for some time, Dudek received the first production shipment and has been filling advance orders.

Several of the tenor sections she teaches have helped her fine-tune the product. Dudek has Intermediate and Advanced Theory and Harmony Certifications from the Royal Conservatory of Music. She has faithfully served the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario for the last decade as a member of the association’s Music Committee and is certified by the PPBSO to judge bass and tenor.

“I’ve been playing tenor for about 24 years now, starting with City of Regina and at first used a snare drum rack-style carrier, and later whatever single shoulder sling they had around,” Dudek said about the evolution of the katenor. “I played with the 78th Fraser Highlanders using the single shoulder plus waist belt design when we won drumming and best bass at the 2007 World’s. It was during those years of high level playing when I started to have some problems with my shoulders. but other than doing some physiotherapy, there wasn’t much that could be done.”

“I started macgyvvering, wearing two slings, one over each shoulder, in varying combinations, and trying out the other sling options on the market.” – Kate Dudek

Like just about everyone when it comes to the aches and pains of the physicality of piping and drumming, Dudek ignored the discomfort, hoping it would go away. But when the late Ed Neigh encouraged her to get into teaching tenor drumming, she discovered her students had similar shoulder problems. Additionally, she was a new mother carrying her now 12-year-old daughter, Isla, in various wraps, slings, and soft structured baby carriers.

“I spent the next few years coming to band practice with me in a front or back carrier, and all of these moms I met in person and online had immense knowledge about the ergonomics of carrying small people around strapped onto our bodies.’

Dudek began to experiment with various tenor drum slings. “I started macgyvvering, wearing two slings, one over each shoulder, in varying combinations, and trying out the other sling options on the market. I found it difficult to find one that would fit my changing body, allow marching without slamming my legs on the drum, and was comfortable.”

Katherine Pritchard, a young user of the katenor.

Ironically, in 2021, Isla, a novice 10-year-old tenor drummer, prompted Dudek to develop the product further.

“I had been thinking for years about what shape I would want for the straps, possibly with similarities to rock climbing/adventure course harness designs I had worn before,” she added. “I bought some supplies, and made my first prototype. I intended for it to fit my size at the longest adjustment range and Isla’s size at the smallest.”

A series of prototypes were field-tested over the next few years until she placed her first order with a manufacturer in April 2024.

Dudek has applied for international patents for the katenor harness and has already trademarked the name.

The katenor, available in 26- to 60-inch waist sizes, and various accessories are available for order at a dedicated website.

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