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One of the things that I am constantly changing (i.e. struggling with) is my foot technique; specifically, the times when it is appropriate to use the heel down technique, and when to use the heel up technique. For me, I have been by-and-large a heel up player, but within slower tempo and certain feels I use heel down. I compare it to using the wrist vs. using the fingers. Playing heel down gives me more control (like using the wrist), whereas playing heel up gives me more speed (like using the fingers). Anyway, one of the things I have been doing with my students (and myself) is playing singles on the bass drum for a set amount of time using only the heel down technique. I have heard that Joe Morello could play singles on his right foot usning the heel down technique at 100 BPM for an extended amount of time. I have seen his foot in action and it is unbelievable what he can do with the heel down technique! So here is a little challenge to all you heel up players: for eight minutes a day for two weeks, do the following- Play sixteenth notes at 40BPM, 50BPM, 60BPM, and 70BPM for two minutes each. If you are like me, and rarely play heel down, you will feel the burn! I believe that it will ultimately help you in your bass drum technique, whether you play heel up or heel down, so give it try! Until next time, thanks for stopping by. -ML
I finally got around to putting together a quick lesson looking at a drum set rhythm transcribed by Royal Hartigan, who has studied the rhythms of the the West African people for years. Great Stuff! Enjoy…
Hello Guys and Gals,
I finally had a chance to throw another drum lesson together for you. It is quick and raw, but hopefully it will give you some ideas when it comes to practice time. Enjoy!
In my last post I mentioned that I was starting piano lessons (again). One of the things that I have tried to do no matter how tired I have been is to practice for at least 45 mins a night. I can tell you by doing so, I have noticed a difference in my playing in just one week. I believe that with any instrument, it is better to practice an hour day every day for for five days than five hrs for one day. Point being, spend some time practicing even when you don’t feel like it; remember, a little is better than none and you will be glad you did it! Until next time…
One of the things I try to do (but don’t do often enough) is videotape myself when playing gigs. I think there are a few reasons I don’t do this more often; one, it is another thing to think of besides the gear and all the other stuff that comes along with a gig, and two, it can be sometimes painful to watch myself! Anyway, I have been performing as a pretty regular sub for a Beatles tribute band, and had the pleasure of performing with them at a well known Atlanta venue last Saturday. One of the members of the audience filmed a large portion of the show and posted it on YouTube. The audio was iffy at best (it was recorded on a phone), but good enough where I could get the overall idea of what I was doing. In listening to the recording, I came away with several thoughts and feelings. Let’s face it, if you are like me and have spent a considerable amount of your time over the last several years practicing certain ideas and concepts (I hate to use the word “licks”), you want to use them whenever possible. HOWEVER (and this is capped for a reason), choosing where and when to use them is the key to musicality and professionalism. Now don’t get me wrong, I certainly wasn’t playing my John Bonham bass drum fills or Vinnie licks over “Good Day Sunshine”, but I can tell you that when I did throw something in that served me more than the music, it stuck out. I may have thought it was cool at the time, but did it take away from the music? Yea, maybe a bit.
So here’s the deal: I f you want to play a lot and really “show your stuff”, do it when the music calls for it; otherwise, be mindful of what is happening around you. Remember, music should be like speaking; if someone is talking to you, you don’t talk over them, correct? Also, remember that it is actually easier to play fast with fills all over the place then to play simply and with just the right part. Trust me on this, I have had several students that are really good at playing a lot of fills with double bass onslaughts, but ask them to play a great feeling groove with a click, and forget about it!
Okay, until next time…..
I have recently decided to restart piano lessons; it has been a long time since I studied with anyone and am looking forward to the process. I consider myself a pretty disciplined individual in terms of practice and am always (or almost always) enthusiastic about growing as a musician, buy in the case of the piano, I really feel like I need the guidance and accountability that only a teacher can provide. Although I feel that more and more beginning musicians feel that they can “do it on their own”, I feel that lessons help tremendously to provide guidance, feedback, and more. I know I have wasted a lot of time trying to figure something out that a good teacher could have made clearer much sooner. I am looking forward to the challenge and will let you know how the lessons are going and how they have affected my drumming! Until next time…
I recently had a conversation with a student that told me over the last week or so they had had no time to practice because they had been to busy. When asked what he was so busy doing, my student gave me the typical responses; homework, sporting events, etc. I then asked my student if he had watched TV and played video games during the week in-between lessons. “Yes”, was the reply. I pointed out to my student that if they had time for video games and TV, they certainly had time to practice.
The point of this little tale is to show that practicing should be a joy and not an inconvenience; quite frankly, if you are not able to be inspired to practice in order to get better, than you may want to question why you are playing an instrument in the first place. A lot of times, students look at practice in the wrong light; as a chore vs. a privilege and a pleasure. I have found that changing one’s perspective about practice is often all it takes for enthusiasm and inspiration on the instrument to occur.
Until next time, keep moving forward!
Yesterday I had a rehearsal which again reminded me the importance of being able to play a variety of styles convincingly. The rehearsal was for an upcoming gig where three different songwriters would be featured; each writer has a distinctly different style in their song choices. There were songs that leaned more towards the contemporary country feel, some straight up funk, and some Southern/70′s rock feels. While these may not sound that different to the average listener (as opposed to say, Latin music vs Heavy Metal music), from my perspective, I think it is important to capture the essence of the material, staying true to the genre while at the same time injecting your own personal sound and feel. Given that, I think that is why I am such a fan of the Tommy Igoe Groove Essentials books; within those books Igoe covers most if not all genres of music in a variety of settings. I remember seeing a Kenny Aronoff clinic somewhat recently where Kenny said “spend a year just working on one feel, and then you may have it”. While that seems like a tall order and a heck of a lot of discipline, he may be right!
Until next time…..
If you haven’t had a chance to pick up drumming legend Bill Bruford’s autobiography, I highly recommend that you do. I have read several musician’s autobiographies and have to say this is one of, if not the best, I have read. It can be purchased through Amazon here. Great job, Bill!