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Some wise words from the late great Jim Chapin…

April 11, 2011

I love what Jim Chapin says here, such great advice. This applies to many great drummers including Ringo. He was never a great technician but could play the music extremely well. Here is a transcribed piece of what he says:

“There are so many different parts to drumming that you could spend your whole life just working on technique. But that’s not the way to really do it. Some of the best drummers can never do this type of thing.

No sense in becoming a technical giant if you’re not also a musical giant…

Some of the best players really can’t play the drums well…but they play music superlatively well….

Think in terms of how do you relate to other musicians. How does it feel to them when you play? Do you make them happy? Do they make you happy? Is it a happy relationship?”

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Drumming and Sports are Closely Related…

March 25, 2011

If you think about it drumming and sports are very closely related. Take basketball for example. The motion that a basketball player uses to dribble the ball is almost identical to the motion you use to hit a drum. That is, if you’re using good form.

Another sport is baseball. When a batter is on deck taking warm-up swings they typically add weights to the bat or hold two bats. And then switch to their regular bat when they get up to the plate. Why do they do this? Because it makes the regular bat feel lighter after warming up with the extra weight added. The same thing when practicing stick technique on a practice pad, you use a heavier stick and then switch to your regular size stick when you play. Your sticks will feel lighter and therefore give you a little extra speed and smoothness to your stroke.

What do you think?

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“Sticking” Together

March 24, 2011

There’s a very special camaraderie among drummers that you just don’t find with other musical instruments. You have your knuckleheads but for the most part people drumming seems to attract humble, unselfish peeps. I can’t tell you how many drummer friends and colleagues I have. I can’t think of one who has an ego problem.

What is your opinion?

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Chad Smith sends a powerful message to drummers

March 20, 2011

Chad Smith

I was just watching the 2005 Modern Drummer Festival on DVD. Some fantastic drummers on there like Jason Bittner, Keith Carlock & Rodney Holmes.

But my man Chad Smith, drummer for Red Hot Chili Peppers comes on along with Ian Paice, drummer for Deep Purple, another amazing drummer.

Ian was great but Chad blew me away. Not for his chops, not for how many super fast notes he played, but the man can groove like nobody’s business.

So Chad gets up to do a drum solo. Or at least I thought it was going to be a drum solo. He sits down and starts into a pretty simple medium speed groove playing 16ths with his right on the hi-hat. I’m thinking ok any minute now he’s going to break out and go into a typical drum solo.

But that was not to be the case…

One minute goes by he’s still playing the same beat. Two minutes, three minutes, still playing the same beat. Four or five minutes went by of nothing but a simple groove, heavy two and four backbeat. He did not deviate for a second.

He jumps on the mic after and says to the crowd that consisted mostly of drummers;

“A lot of drumming going on here today, million mile an hour notes all over the place, amazing, incredible…but…didn’t get the gig! You want the gig you’ve got to play a groove…and you’ve got to play that groove as heavy and as deep as you can man!!!”

He was sending a powerful message to all the drummers in the room; you want the gig? You won’t get it unless you can groove. You might have great chops and the ability to play a million notes but if you don’t know how to harness those chops no one will want to put you in their band. You won’t pass the audition.

I’ve always come from the school of keeping it simple, laying down a solid groove. Of course throwing in color around the drums and cymbals for transitions and things like that. But always returning to the groove. Which probably explains why I’ve been able to work steady for over thirty years.

Chad Smith’s demonstration totally confirmed my belief of how important groove is.

Don’t get me wrong I have great admiration for technicians like Neil Peart and drummers like that. But give me a guy like a Chad Smith or Kenny Aronoff. Guy’s that are passionate and put their heart and soul into just laying it down simple with great feel. I’ll take those guys any day of the week.

So my advice to you is, never stop working on your chops but never forget the groove. Do that and you’ll get the gig! After all, that’s what we all want right?

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Gretsch Renown 57 Drums

March 17, 2011

I thought these were kind of cool. They’re made to look like a 57 Chevy, one of my favorite cars.

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How To Be a Rock Steady Time Keeper

March 17, 2011

The drummer’s main job is to keep rock steady time. You are the designated person in the band who establishes the tempo from the start. You set up the groove. And once you set up the groove you stay there, like a clock, until the end.

So what steps can you take to be a rock steady timekeeper? The first thing you need is a metronome. If you don’t have one, get one!

The drummer establishes the correct song tempo for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons is so the song is comfortable to sing. If you’ve ever tried singing a song in the wrong tempo it is very difficult and uncomfortable. Ask any singer and they will agree. All of your band mates, especially the singer look to the drummer to be the conductor in this department.

In most cases it is your job as the drummer to count the songs off. You really only have one chance to get the tempo right. You count the song and boom off you go. There’s nothing worse than realizing the song is too slow or too fast after the song has already started.

The steady quarter note pulse of the music is what causes listeners to clap their hands and dance to the music. If your time is all over the place – By that I mean; If you speed up and slow down throughout a song then you’re not only going to piss off your band mates, but you’ll also make the dancers upset and they won’t come back to see you.

If you call yourself a drummer and you’re not practicing with a metronome, I can recommend a good doctor for you. Just kidding, ha!

Metronome’s start about $20 and run as high as $150. The metronome I use is the Boss DB-90, Dr. Beat. What I like about it is that it has quality sounds, you can easily adjust BPM’s using the spin dial, and you get exact song tempos using the start/stop button.

The metronome is probably THE most important tool in a drummer’s toolbox. So don’t be a ‘tool’ and practice with one.

Give me your feedback!

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Playing The Drums with Musicality & Control

March 17, 2011

If you think about it, the way you hold your drumsticks and the form you use to hit a drum actually determines your ability to make music as opposed to just blindly banging away on the drums.

Any knucklehead can grab a stick and bang on a drum; six-year-olds are especially good at it. But to play drums with any sort of musicality is a completely different game.

Controlling the stick and its bounce are paramount to playing with good feel and groove. You need to understand the elements of an effective grip, as well as forearm and wrist motion, and the use of the fingers in the over-all stroke.

There are no short cuts to becoming a great drummer…

As a drum instructor one of my biggest challenges is getting students to understand that you can’t skip the fundamentals and just instantly play a million miles an hour. It just doesn’t work that way. There is no magic button you hit to suddenly play great.

To become a really good drummer you have to enjoy the whole process of studying the drums. Going into it you must understand the work required to develop your skills. You have to enjoy the practice. Playing the drums requires a lot patience and perseverance.

Even I will agree that practicing drums can sometimes be monotonous and tedious. Not to mention a bit lonely. I much prefer making music with other musicians. But I’m also smart enough to know that practice makes me that much better and gives me much more confidence when it comes time to hit the stage.

If you want to be an outstanding drummer you must appreciate that practice just comes with the territory. You have to really LOVE it or I promise you just won’t be willing to do what’s necessary. You’ll either drop it altogether or just become another mediocre drummer. And believe me, the world doesn’t need another mediocre drummer.

It is the drum student who is truly passionate about drumming that will go on to become an outstanding drummer. The good news for those passionate drum students is that because there are so many people not willing to put the time in, you’ll stand apart from the crowd.

In closing. It all boils down to a choice. You can choose to be a second-rate drummer, or you can choose to stand out from the crowd. I’ll teach you the necessary skills if you’re willing. It’s your call.

I would love to hear your feedback!

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