Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Looking for some challenging material?

There are many influences that I would have to give much credit to for where I'm at as a drummer today. Jim Burk, a neighbor of mine growing up, was a huge influence in showing me new stuff and inspiring me to play and practice. Jim Krutz was a professor at Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska and "forced" me to relearn my stick grip and learn to play the fundamental rudiments on a practice pad. Both of these influences really have helped me get to where I am today as a player.

In later years, there is one book that I have to give much credit to. I still haven't mastered everything in it, and I've been working through it slowly for a few years now. When I want a challenge that is bound to help me improve my drumming, I open my copy of Marco Minneman's Extreme Interdependence: Drumming Beyond Independence (With Audio CD).

The exercises can be fairly abstract, but you'll find yourself applying this stuff in ways you never thought you would. I played drums for a conference a couple weekends ago, and one of the songs involved me playing a relatively straightforward snare and bass portion (think marching percussion sound for the chorus of a rock worship tune). The bassist was hitting some tight grooves that I wanted to lock into and accentuate, so when practicing I locked in a foot pattern between the bass drum and hi-hat that went along with his grooves quite nicely. When I switched between playing the snare part to the playing a beat on the full kit, I maintained the exact same foot pattern, which added a nice cohesion to the mix. Had I not studied Extreme Interdependence, I would not have been able to maintain this pattern with my feet regardless of what my hands were doing. This book contains paradiddle exercises on steroids to help you develop complete interdependence and autonomy on the drum kit.

I have found that actually getting away from the kit and practicing independence patterns on a practice pad and using my feet on the floor is actually very helpful, which Minneman recommends at his clinics. Here's an example of some basic independence patterns to give you the general idea (sorry for the poor vocal quality, the "drumming" quality is good, though). This is Minneman giving the basic example:

And here is an application on the kit (again by Minneman), just to give you an idea of what possibilities this could open up for you as a player. Notice that when he is going crazy he is also maintaining some kind of pattern with at least two of his limbs:

I have really come to believe that the application of fundamental skills and rudiments to the set and independence drills applied to grooves are the two marks of an extremely talented player. Sadly, most drummers learn neither. I had been playing for almost six years before I "went back" to learn them, so don't give me any excuses. It's never too late to improve ;)

I hope this material is as helpful to you as it has been to me, or at least I hope it inspires you. You can buy this book online by following the link below or most Guitar Centers and other music stores tend to carry it (although it's probably cheaper online).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Polyrhythms: '5 over 2' and '7 over 2'

I saw these really great videos by Todd Walker over at the Drum Zone. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Central Indiana Rock Solid Blues Band Seeks Drummer

A reader requested I post an ad:

"I’m with a central Indiana band , rock solid blues we currently have a drummer who has been with us less than 2 months and our in our 20 year span we have been fortunate to only have 2 both now retired , one to school , one due to foot injury. Just not sure he will stick or continue to work out.

We will be booking 2-3 times month all seasoned musicians who write and do originals and covers. We have practice hall and studio. Would like to know your interests and goals. No drama /heavy alcohol or drugs. Would like to network if possible. We are also looking to add someone capable of playing bass/bk up / lead guitar if we can find the right person. All are seasoned musicians, writers so we are getting to record our 4th CD."

Vicki Hornbaker
Vmh promotions
Mud Eye Joe Band

Monday, June 14, 2010

Consistent Drumming

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted! I just wanted to drop a quick line about playing consistently. A lot of bands and drummers never play songs consistently, they play songs differently every time.

I'm not saying it is wrong to experiment. Experimentation is necessary to improve music, but there comes a time when you need to stop experimenting and stick to something. The drummer is the foundation to the music, and if the foundation keeps shifting, everyone is thrown off and a lot can go wrong.

This is why it is imperative that you play songs consistently! Not to mention, this allows fans to follow your music more easily, as they come to expect certain sounds and patterns in your music. Go to a concert with a good drummer and watch for drummers in the audience, they'll often be playing "air drums" and matching the drummer fill for fill. This is not a bad thing and fans like it.

Of course it's alright to go crazy every once in awhile and change things up, but there's a big difference between changing things up for fun and not being consistent.

H/T Dan Brown

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chicago Street Drummers

Every year for almost as long as I can remember my family and I or just friends will go to Chicago around Christmas (we live close). Every year we see these same street drummers, or variations of them. I found a video of them that had been posted to YouTube, shown below:

They clearly have some marching band potential, if not past experience. It's just another reminder that you don't need a huge drum set, tons of expensive cymbals, and other "goodies" to play and enjoy it. If you're anything like me (and most drummers), any random surface or item can instantly become a percussion instrument. These guys grabbed some sticks and some buckets and are probably seen by thousands - all in the name of having fun drumming (and perhaps scoring some pocket change in the process). Sometimes it's helpful to be reminded of the simplicity of percussion instruments, which only contributes to drumming's infinite complexity....