Saturday, July 30, 2011

Game Changer

I've been working out on this particular exercise with the stickings from the Stick Control book, and it's totally freed up my soloing this last couple of weeks. Have some fun, and let me know how you're doing in the comments section!

Remember: START SLOW, and use the ol' clickeroo (metronome, for those who don't speak drummer).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Drum Set Tuning

You know that shirt or pair of pants that doesn't quite fit right? I have some of those clothes, and I hate wearing them. Usually they only come out when everything else is in the laundry. By contrast, there are a few things that I wear that I feel make me look pretty good - I wear those things as often as possible! They make me feel comfortable and confident. 

What does this have to do with drumming? Well - think about how your drums sound. Which drum do you think sounds horrible? How often do you play that drum? On my kit, it's anything that's got a 12" diameter (12" drums are from the Devil, I swear it). They just don't sound good, so I don't want to play them. 

My 10" toms, you ask? Heaven! I use those drums all the time. Which drums sound great on your kit? 

My point is that you are limiting yourself - whether you know it or not - by not loving the sounds on your kit. 

Here are a few resources I use to make my drums sound as good as possible: 

Of course it helps to have a good quality of drum and heads, but time invested in tuning will pay off in big ways. 

My students are always welcome to bring a drum to their lesson (with some new heads!) and see if we can make it play nice with your kit.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Take the Next Step - Coordination and "Independence"

Okay, if you've been working on the exercises from the Stick Control book with the Slow-Fast Workout, you may be ready for the next step: Slow-Fast with "Jazz Feet."

Just remember to start slow enough to play it right. If you make a mistake two tries in a row, go slower. Your brain doesn't care how fast you are playing the exercise, but if you do it wrong two or three times, it will start to think that's how you want it played.

Set a tempo and time goal, like 90 beats per minute (BPM) for a full sixty seconds. Again, if you can do that, you can be pretty certain you've mastered the exercise at that tempo.

Good luck, and happy drumming!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reading Drum Set Music

Often times I expect people to read my mind, and it has been pointed out to me that I'm expecting my non-student readers (people who aren't taking lessons from me) to guess at what I mean by some of the notation in the exercises I've presented.

Well, here you go:

This is the simple version. In general, the exercises I post will include no more than what you see here, and I'll try to give some indications as to whether you are using the hat or the ride. And I'll add notes if I include more drums/cymbals than this.

As a general rule, stems pointing up are played with hands while stems pointing down are played with the feet.

Another rule (although I break it a lot) is that the instruments are listed in pitch order - higher pitches at the top of the staff and going down the staff as they go down in pitch.*

Leave me a comment below if you'd like more clarification.

Happy music-making!

*The obvious exception to this rule is the snare drum, notated between the two toms (so, below the first/rack tom), when it is usually the highest pitched drum of the set. Another exception is the hi-hat played with foot, at the very bottom of the staff, while its pitch is perhaps the highest sound of the kit.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Slow-Fast Workout

The way our brains work is really interesting, especially when we're learning to do something new with our hands.

Since music is a language, we want to be able to "speak" without fumbling or having to think about what words we're going to use. The Slow-Fast workout gives your brain a way to have a lot of repetitions on one specific thing, alternating from slow (like spelling or sounding out a word) to fast (like saying it normally). It looks like this:

You can use any sticking pattern. I use the patterns from the first section of Stick Control, but you really can put any sticking in. Just make sure it's the same in both measures(but twice as many times in the second measure).

Remember to start as slowly as you need to in order to play the whole thing with no mistakes. Then, gradually speed up (one or two clicks at a time) until you reach your goal tempo.

In order to master a pattern, I play for a full minute at a given tempo with no stops or mistakes. If you can go for a full minute, you can be pretty sure the pattern is mastered at that tempo. Then, speed it up again!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Funky Fourth!

I hope your Independence Day holiday was as enjoyable and pyrotechnic as mine was. Here's a quick funk groove to help you get back in the 'independence' mood if you haven't been practicing.

The X notes (G above the staff) are played with hi-hat.

Why musicians should watch the big game (Seriously!)

Photo by  Ameer Basheer  on  Unsplash Here we are, about to watch another televised wrestling match over who puts a football on one en...