Monday, December 12, 2011

When The Levee Breaks

So I've been listening to WTLB and I've noticed something peculiar and I'm not too sure if it was the original recording or during the re-mastering sessions done by Page.  During the last 12 or 16 bars of the tune during the outro when the track is panning left to right and vice versa I've been sort of playing with some things and you can hear during the pans that whoever mixed the track is speeding up and slowing down the track on a different channel during the pan.  It's pretty strange and I don't think I've ever heard it before, by anyone!!
Hmm?  What are your thoughts?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Promises, Promises

I really am working on materials to add but seeing as how my private practice seems to be growing by the day, I've not had much time at all to organize my approach.
Please keep watching and if anyone has any questions regarding drumming, technique, styles, polyrhythms, or anything at all.  Feel free to drop a line!!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Please...Bare With Me!!

I have been working on getting some new material posted but I've got some big auditions coming up and quite frankly I haven't had the time.
If however, any of you would have any questions on anything at all including hand technique, working out some Bonham groove or what have you.  Please feel free to email me and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Introduction to Hand, Wrist, Finger and Arm Technique

I hope some of you have had a chance to digest some of what I've discussed in my previous entry about hand technique and stick control if you haven't please do feel free to read at your own pace and decide what works best for you.

Now that we've scratched the surface of developing basic hand technique, it's time to kick it up a notch literally. 

This will be a two part posting the first pertains to the use of a metronome as a practice aid and the second will speak to the actual rebound of the stick as well as finger technique which will be fully addressed in a future post.

The basic approach is getting the student used to having the "lumber in your hands" and then slowly introducing differing forms of finger control, wrist and finger rebound techniques as well as arm movement.

Now if you are a drummer you'll be very familiar with the next device in aiding you in your way to developing truly great hand technique as well as improving your overall stamina. 

NOTE:  The metronome is one of the very best friends a drummer can have and it can also be the most intimidating to a lot of beginners for various reasons which I will go into at length in a future posting which deals with Human Time versus Metronomic Time.

After you've gone through the first page of Stick Control you've no doubt realized where the weaknesses and strengths lie in your own hand technique and that is an empowerment and a tool to be used all in one, no worries if you're still working on the stickings it will take some time if these concepts are new to you, move at your own pace.

The basic premise to working up any of these stickings to performance ready status is to start as slowly as you need to in order to facilitate perfect execution of the the exercises and there is no better way to keeping yourself "honest" than using a metronome.

Once you feel you've gone through the first page of SC (Stick Control) with minimal difficulty, I suggest you turn your metronome on a very slow setting and when I say slow, I mean slow.

Somewhere around 54 BPM (Beats Per Minute) would be a very good tempo to start at and should feel very comfortable as a good warm up for what will come after your first attempt.

With your metronome set at 54 BPM go through each exercise again, 4 times each, then moving on to the next one WITHOUT STOPPING!!

Do the whole page at least once without stopping even if you incorrectly execute the sticking patterns do not stop, try and stay focused where you're at keep moving down the page. 
Once you've complete your first pass with your metronome, turn it off - take a 2 minute breather to let your arms and wrists rest then mentally go over those exercises which gave you trouble.  With your metronome still off, go ahead and work out the stickings on the troublesome exercises and do the whole page over again only this time move the metronome setting to 55 BPM.

NOTE: If you find that is still a bit much than by all means slow the tempo down to your original one or wait altogether until you feel confident you've worked out all the sticking exercises without a metronome. 

Whichever works for you, at the end of the day it is what works best for you in this whole process.

By the way for any of you more adventurous pupils of the instrument, you can do all these exercises with brushes as well and they are a great way to warm up before a gig and it is very quiet you could do it
practically anywhere!

Again as with any aspect of drumming we as drummers have to be careful to not overdo any aspect of rigorous technical exercises as you could cause serious damage to your Ulnar nerve which is the key
cause of , dare I even say it, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which would effectively end anyone's drumming career.  There's also Tendonitis as well as Arthritis to be concerned with so if you have any pain or
discomfort during any of these exercises STOP IMMEDIATELY and rest for a few moments before proceeding any further.  Thank you.


Hand, Finger, Wrist and Arm Techniques

There are a number of differing techniques employed by drummers regarding finger control, wrist movement and arm movement and I can guarantee you if you ask 5 drummers how their technique was developed, each one of them would have differing theories on technique.

But I will lay it out for you ...  There is no secret to good hand technique the only secret is deciding which combination works best for you and which ones will allow you to accomplish everything you need to say at the instrument without sputtering, or seeming to flail at the drums.

There is a reason why I've left the actual hand positioning of the drumstick til now, which I addressed at the very beginning of this posting.  It only matters that you get the lumber in your hands at first, to feel
the weight of the sticks and how that new wood feels against your fingers and the underside of your palm, how the butt can be manipulated into any action deemed necessary by the drumming student.

But there always comes a time when it becomes necessary to fine tune a thing and that time is now and unfortunately it is the most difficult part of your technique to master but I can assure you, once you do you will find yourself playing at a level that will shock and surprise you and thrill every cell in your body.

It's a level of complete rhythmic and creative expression which will honestly take a lifetime to truly master but, the sooner you have the truth the sooner you can start focusing in on what needs to be accomplished.

Having the ability to play whatever you hear in your head EXACTLY the way it sounds on the drum set is the goal and these methods can help you achieve just that but it is a difficult road and will be challenge you at every turn but, you must endeavor to persevere!

I will, over the course of the next few days, post a few pictures on what your basic hand/stick position will look like as well as touch on subjects such as counting, balance and posture, practice ideas and rhythmic ear training as well.  Whether you decide to use Traditional Grip or Matched Grip / French Timpani Grip whatever you prefer experiment with them all to see which one works best for you.

Please if you have any and I mean ANY questions at all do feel free to either submit them or if you'd prefer them to be confidential by all means send me an email at and I will help you out as much as I can.

Rhythmically Yours,

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Drumming 101 - The Basics

While coming up with some ideas for presentation here in this forum, I've come to the conclusion I should start with the  basics and work my way up from there.  If you are an intermediate or advanced drummer and you have some questions regarding anything at all just ask!!

Now, if you are a beginning drummer, as in you have never even held a pair of drumsticks, don't waste your money on buying a drum kit just yet that time will come soon enough.  What you need to do is go out and buy a decent pair of good drumsticks.

I personally use a very well known maker's sticks and they are made of New England hickory, you can do the math from there on what company it is I'm sure.
If you're not sure which drumsticks to buy for your age, dexterity or ability just ask your local music store professional they will be glad to help you out!

After you've got your sticks you will also need a good practice pad.
Real Feel is a great pad due to it's thin polystyrene pad and thick wood base, it makes for excellent accent and rebound practice. 

Another useful pad is the Billy Gladstone pad, it's a rubber pad that fits over the top of your snare drum and is thin on the sides and thicker in the middle, but you should really only buy this if you've already worked up your stick rebound ability as it's very "squishy". 

There's also a great little pad known as the Practa Pal, it's great for all you cats on the go. 
The great thing about the Practa Pal is that it attaches over and behind your knee with a piece of velcro and is actually quite comfortable, the downside is the strap doesn't hold up that well and the practice surface is small.
But any one of these pads will serve the purpose you will initially need it for.

Now that you've got your sticks and your practice pad, the next thing you will need is a good book which in our line of work, is listed as one of the many drumming "bibles".

It's called "Stick Control" by George Lawrence Stone and it will run you about $8.00 the last time I checked.

I start all of my students on this book and for at least the first 6 months that is usually all we cover but there is a method to the madness which most students don't realize until they have that light bulb "moment", and then it all makes sense to them.

Stick Control is one of the very best instructional books on inter-hand co ordination I have ever used, which is why it is still in publication and is very good for independence or 4 way co ordination studies as well as being able to be used a number of different ways.

A very simple assignment for a motivated drummer would be to tackle the first page which at first glance seems very, very basic and it is in a sense but, when you hit the fourth example your sense of what's basic and simple will be altered and that's where the fun begins.

There is a paragraph or two in the introduction to the book with recommendations on how to practice the exercises and it serves a purpose but, I've found more productivity from my students is achieved through the even bar repeat system when approaching these exercises.

Let's take Exercise #1 for instance.......

  ||: R,L,R,L  R,L,R,L :||  (after repeating this 4 or 8 times immediately move on to #2 WITHOUT STOPPING!! This is very important)
  ||: L,R,L,R, L,R,L,R :||  (and so on, for every example right down the page)

Also another very important thing to remember is the Time Signature in Stick Control is in Cut Time or 2/4 meaning you can count in 4 at first but you must at one point start "thinking in two" meaning instead of counting in 4 like this:

1, an, 2, an, 3, an, 4, an

Eventually you will have to start counting in 2/4 like this:

1,e,+ , da  2 e, +, da       (the + sign is meant to represent the word "an" or "and", whichever you prefer and the "da" is pronounced "duh")

Another thing to keep in mind is counting out loud, you must count out loud!!

A lot of my younger students have a tendency to count some syllables louder than others which when played comes out sounding lopsided. 
Do not emphasize any other syllable louder than the others or that's what the exercises will start sounding like and that is a

What we are looking for is fluidity of motion but also fluidity of stick motion which will make each note sound even. Counting with a stress on a given syllable will make your stick motion sound lopsided and that can take a long time to correct.

Instead of playing this exercise 20 times then moving on to the next what I prescribe to my students is play 4 or 8 bars of the exercise and then move on to the next.  So as opposed to playing one exercises 20 times, you would in essence be able to perform the entire page in just a few hours work which is very good for increasing hand technique and improvement for fluidity of motion and it also builds up the muscles in the wrists and forearms.

This serves a two fold purpose;  the first is the repetitive motion of the exercises become fluid in the hands a lot quicker and the second would be the natural effect you would assume, it begins to train the drummer's mind to start thinking in terms of 4 and 8 bar phrases.
Again, it's all subliminal but it works wonders when work on phrasing with these figures is ready to commence.

After you've gone through this method a few times you will no doubt understand as well as see and feel the benefits of this approach.

When you feel you've achieved a significant amount of practice, DO IT ALL AGAIN!! 
When your finished with that... DO IT ALL AGAIN!!
You see what I'm getting at here right?  The old saying "Practice makes perfect" is an old saying for a reason!
So start working on your hand technique then check back in and I'll have some more goodies for y'all!