Someone asked me the other day why I like teaching drums. It didn't take me long to answer. The best thing about teaching drums is seeing the change in people. Their eyes light up when they realise that they can actually do this. They can actually string a beat together. Many don't believe they will be able to when they first begin. Often, they are tentative, curious and scared. It's great when they can play something and it sounds good. But it's not just about stringing beats together, or learning how to apply fills and rudiments - important as that is.
It's about the rise in self-belief - in confidence. It's about personal development. A sense of achievement. The realisation that they might actually be able to make music and play music. I love seeing the change in people and seeing them grow as people and players. It is a wonderful thing to be able to share knowledge and skills. To me, it's the most rewarding thing and grateful that I am able to do it every day.
Monday, 14 November 2016
The Four Ps of Practice: Process - Practise - Patience - Play
When you're working through new beats and rudiments and you muck up, feelings of frustration can be difficult to overcome. Some of my students get really upset with themselves when they can’t get their head around a new beat or exercise the first time. They feel they should be better at this. They get upset and angry with themselves for not nailing something straight away.
Some of you even tell yourselves that you ‘knew’ you had no talent for the drums when you started learning, and now you’ve just proved it. Don’t ever think that ! That’s wasted, negative energy. It’s not about that. It’s not that you’re not capable or have no talent. Just give yourself the permission to muck up, and all will be well.
Mucking up is just part of learning. Our brain has to process the action, then instruct our limbs to perform the action. It’s funny, isn’t it, how usually, when you try something new, you get it right twice through, or maybe three times at most, then after that it falls apart. That’s so totally normal. It's ‘I’ve got it, I’ve got it !' …. then …'Ah, no I haven’t !' ... It all breaks down.
In reality, when you’re in this situation, you’re really only a few minutes away from nailing it, so don’t give up. Dig it in and you’ll get there. And remember, you’re not alone. It happens to most of us this way. Once you’ve played it a few times in a row, you can hear and ‘feel’ how the pattern should go, and then it becomes easier to play for longer. Soon you’ll be playing it consistently and you’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about. It’ll seem quite easy.
I call it the four Ps. They are: Process the action - Practise it over and over with Patience and then - Play it - correctly. It usually happens in that order. Take your time, don’t be hard on yourself, have patience, give yourself permission to muck up and press on. It’s a great feeling when you get there, isn't it ? A small victory on the way to your drumming success. Now on to the next challenge. Good luck !
Wednesday, 19 October 2016
eBook for New Drummers:
GIVE IT! How To Bring Your Drumming to Life.
My new eBook GIVE IT! How To Bring Your Drumming to Life, is my first book. It was inspired to some degree by seeing the amount of drummers online and at gigs who seem to be playing 'at' the music rather than for it. They seem to be going through the (technical) motions only. I don't seem to see a lot of players who are feeling it, or who are giving of themselves. They seem to almost nonchalantly play the drums, as if it's just what drummers do. It may just be me, but I feel that there's something lacking in their playing yet they have so much they could give to the music.
I don't mean they should be busy adding more fills or doing more 'stuff'. Music is so emotive and while playing drums may be an inherently tribal thing to do it, the ability to move and inspire the music and the musicians they're playing with and the audience listening or watching, seems to escape some. Perhaps they're just not listening to what's going on around them and are too immersed in their own world.
I'm not trying to tar all drummers with the same brush. Of course there are great drummers out there whom we love and follow and respect for what they bring to the music. I don't mean everyone. But I just think it's a shame that some drummers forgo feel, groove and emotion and empathy for the music, for technical skills ability and agility, which of course we do need when we're playing. We need both. We need to play what's required technically but also play it in a way that best suits the song, the music. We need to play it from our heart and soul.
The book was also inspired by my over fifteen years experience as a drum educator. I love teaching drums! I love to share my decades of real touring and recording experience plus my knowledge and skills with my aspiring students. No student leaves my studio thinking only about the technical aspect of drumming, important as that is. They know that they need to put their heart and soul into every beat, every song they learn and play. They know that even though we all pretty much learn the same stuff to get started, they are unique individuals who will bring their own creative approach and style to their drumming. No two drummers are the same and they will never play like you or me or the next student or the next drummer.
Hopefully, the book will inspire you to be aware of what goes on when you're the drummer in a band. The things to consider and listen out for and watch out for when they're playing. If, from this book, one new drummer takes a closer look at themselves and plays for the music, with more dynamics, energy, empathy and power, then the book has done its job.
I hope you enjoy it . It's available from my website at: GIVE IT! How to Bring Your Drumming to Life and from Amazon com
Recording Session for the first time.
Recording can be an incredibly rewarding experience. There’s just something about it that makes everything feel real and worthwhile. All the work you and your band have put in can finally be realised by recording and releasing those songs you’ve worked on so hard to get right. Now’s the time to share them with more people than just your friends and family.
For many of you, it'll be the first time you've stepped into a studio, so usually, excitement is mixed with anticipation. Walking into a studio can be daunting, especially if you’re not sure what to expect. But don't worry. Look on it as a chance to put down something you can really be proud of. Besides, you never know, it might be a hit !
For some new drummers, though, fear can rear its ugly head. The most important thing that everyone wants to achieve in a recording session is a good rhythm track, and that is, namely, a good drum track. This means our overall playing is closely scrutinised, which can be unnerving.
So, from the outset, be aware that your band and the engineer/producer know you are human and not a drum machine, a loop or a software program. They are looking for human feel, groove and energy in your playing. So just be you, and try not to stress. You’ll get used to doing this, and then you will wonder why you worried. You will actually enjoy hearing yourself back through the monitors. You will hear things you can do better, and things to leave out. It’s a great learning experience. And once the drum track is solid, consistent and has a good feel, the vibe of the song has been captured, and you can move on to the next track, or do overdubs, or whatever.
Fear is a wasted energy. Embrace the challenge of a recording session. As you strive to put down that killer drum track, you’re also learning and improving along the way. And once you’re more familiar with the recording process, and your mind is relaxed, you’ll be more open to creative ideas and suggestions to help the track, which can only benefit everyone involved.
BEFORE YOU GET IN THERE - BE PREPARED ! Here’s a few quick tips.
Song arrangements: Have the song arrangements and everyone’s parts sorted. Studios can eat up your budget and time really quickly so, ideally, you don’t want to be sorting out chords for the bridge, or how the song ends while you’re in there. Of course, things can be tweaked and changed on the day, but know the songs backwards if you can.
Your gear: The engineer recording you can’t magically make a bad-sounding drum kit sound good, even with a bank of effects at his fingertips. The kit needs to sound good at the source. That means ensuring you don’t have old dead heads on your drums, or cymbals that are cracked and only sound half-decent. You don’t need a million-dollar kit of course; it just needs to sound good. So tune it, try to get rid of all the unnecessary over-rings in the toms and feel good about your gear.
Bring some extra bits: If you have things lying around home that you may or may not use regularly, such as china cymbals, or a firecracker snare drum or anything percussive, tambourine, shaker, timbales etc – you might want to bring them too. You never know when you might need an off-the-wall sound, or a drum track that needs some extra percussion to help the groove. Keep them in a case handy.
VITAL TIP ! Keep an open mind and have a positive attitude.
If you’re in a recording session, be prepared for anything. Your band mates, the client, the engineer or the producer can change their mind about what you’re playing at any given moment. So be ready. Don’t take it personally. Learn to accept, adapt and apply. You may agree or disagree but remember, it’s about whatever is best for the song.
ASK ME! Obviously there's more to recording once you get into it, so if you have any technical drumming questions, or questions on how to approach things creatively, free to ask me anytime and I'll do my best to respond as quickly as I can. EMAIL ME HERE