Off Beat is proud to announce an online partnership with Around The Kit, a three-hour weekly Drum-Talk Radio show that features exclusive interviews with some of the biggest drummers. Visit their website and Facebook page for information on upcoming guests.
Read Exclusive Interviews written for Drumhead, Modern Drummer and Off Beat: Troy Luccketta – Steve Goold – Daniel Glass – Garrett Goodwin – Steve Smith – Dan Needham – Kelly Keagy – Scott Pellegrom – Brandon Scott – Mike “Woody” Emerson – Ben Barter – Rich Redmond – Sean Fuller – Jason Hartless – Robert Sweet – Keio Stroud – Tommy Taylor – Frankie Banali – Bobby Z – Danny Seraphine – Dino Sex-(Next up: David Abbruzzese)
As Thanksgiving approaches I wanted to share a drum-related post on the subject. We’ve discussed many different kinds of historical and cultural drums in the past. Today, in keeping with the holiday, I want to talk about Native American drums. Those of you that have ever watched a sacred ceremony or attended a pow-wow know that drums are the driving beat behind the dancing.
Different tribes have different traditions about the drum although the construction remains the same. In most of the tribes drums are constructed out of hollowed out logs that have finely tanned buckskin or elkskin stretched across one of the openings. Different sized logs make different kinds of sounds.
Traditionally Native American drums are large, two to three feet in diameter, and they are played communally by groups of men who stand around them in a circle. In addition to large log drums Native Americans also play hand-held drums called tom-toms that are beat with sticks or the hand. Native American drummers often decorate these drums with bright paint and feathers. Surprisingly the term “tom-tom” did not come from the Native American language. It came from an old British word for a child’s drum toy.
There are many different kinds of Native American drums. There are the Skin Drum, Frame Drum, Log Drum, Water Drum and Square Drum. These drums are used for ceremonial purposes and to communicate. Some tribes worship their drums, naming them and treating them like they were alive. This is similar to the ways that musicians around the world bond with their musical instruments, often attributing them with names and personalities.
I’m going to take time away from my instrument and spend some sacred time with my family. I recommend that you do the same. This will be my last post before Thanksgiving. I’ll be back later that week stuffed and ready to go. Until then, I hope that you have a blessed holiday.
This month FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids went into its third printing. Rich and I are elated. We never expected our book to touch so many educators and students. The philosophy of the FUNdamentals program is rooted in the combined experiences of a pro-player and a player-parent. At the beginning of the book Rich and I outline our thoughts for the reader:
FROM THE PROFESSIONAL
I love rhythm. As a drummer, it means everything to me.
Rhythm is the primary source of my inspiration and the driving force behind my self-expression. Sharing my love of rhythm is what this book is all about. In fact, the primary purpose behind the FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids program is to help children discover the same love for rhythm that I have. As a professional musician and educator, I always knew there was a way to break the ice on this subject and to systematically introduce younger students to the language of music making.
This book was inspired by a conversation between my friend, Michael Aubrecht, and me. While many readers may be familiar with Michael’s work as an author and film producer, they may be surprised to know that he is also a drummer. In fact, Michael and I are both products of music education and we share many of the same influences. As a parent, Michael was seeking guidance as to the best way to introduce his youngest son to the drums. After doing some research, we both concluded that there were very few materials available that catered to very young drummers. It was then that the FUNdamentals system was born. By pairing proven drum teaching methods with elementary classroom exercises, we developed an entirely new teaching philosophy.
The FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids program uses a step-by-step process in which each exercise builds upon the previous one. Although being a drummer certainly helps, the lessons in this book are designed in such a way that they can be equally enjoyed by non-drumming parents, who are encouraged to participate alongside their children. This book is also set up in a format that can be easily adapted by general classroom music teachers. The core of the FUNdamentals philosophy is found in the kid-friendly techniques that are used to present music theory.
As an extension of the book, we have developed http://www.fundrums.wordpress.com where additional drumming activities and exercises have been made available. We encourage parents and teachers to share their own success stories by emailing photos, videos and stories of them using the FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids. Selections from those submitted will be posted and shared with our online community.
Michael and I sincerely hope that you enjoy using this book as much as we enjoyed writing it. Here’s to the rhythm of life!
– Rich Redmond
FROM THE PARENT
Long before I was anything else, I was a drummer. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that for most of my adolescent life, drums meant everything to me. Following the path of many eager musicians, I took up the instrument in the 7th grade and quickly became the prototypical “band kid,” playing in the choir band, marching band, stage band, symphonic band and percussion ensemble.
A product of public school music education, I practiced hard and was designated the co-captain of my high school drum line. I was selected to participate in the Pitt University High School Senior Ensemble and the Mellon Jazz Festival Student Orchestra. I competed at the national level in marching band and drum line competitions in Nashville and was fortunate to study with some great percussionists. I also jammed with anybody and everybody who would have me.
As a father of four, I was very excited to see my son Jackson (*pictured above with his PDP “Player Kit”) beginning to show an interest in the drums. Unfortunately, I was also very disappointed in the lack of instructional aids available for children that are under the age of ten. Out of frustration, I decided to contact Rich Redmond, who is one of the most respected drummers in the music business. Rich’s reputation as a top clinician and teacher precedes him and my goal was to ask for his guidance and share the successes I had experienced, using simple counting and playing exercises at home.
Somehow I managed to catch Rich’s attention long enough to pitch the need for instructional drum lessons geared toward children. Knowing that I was a writer who played the drums, Rich suggested that we tackle this dilemma together. A few weeks later, we found ourselves sitting together backstage at the Jason Aldean show, drafting an outline that evolved into the system we refer to as FUNdamentals. Today, we are great friends and we are developing an entire drum education program together.
As a parent, I can tell you that this program has something FUN for kids of all ages and stages. No matter what goals they attain, or what skill-levels they achieve, Rich and I simply want to see kids experiencing the joys of drumming. Play on!
– Michael Aubrecht
I just posted a new webpage (PDF) at: http://www.pinstripepress.net/Michael_Aubrecht_Webpage.pdf
Steve Jordan is fast becoming one of my favorite drummers. His sense of time and groove is amazing. Whether playing in the studio, on television, or on tour, Jordan has established himself as a go-to guy. Drumeo has a great bio posted on Jordan: http://www.drumlessons.com/drummers/steve-jordan/. In his instructional DVD The Groove Is Here, Jordan outlined his philosophy for playing: “Simplicity is not stupidity.” he said, “Just because something sounds simple or is easy to play, in your mind, doesn’t mean it is dumb.”
When analyzing Jordan’s playing in this Vic Firth video you might find that you could play any one section of his solo. It’s when he puts them all together that the genius occurs. Notice the baseline groove and how he alternates just behind or in front of the beat seamlessly:
One of the benefits of being a musician is the ability to collaborate with other musicians. Often great things come out of these creative partnerships. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with an exceptional player and producer named Attila Domos. In addition to being an author and athlete Attila is a gifted pianist, singer, and songwriter. As a child, Attila was a member of the world famous Vienna Boys Choir and as an adult he was a founding member of the immensely popular Pittsburgh-based band Big Bad Wolf. I had the opportunity to provide electronic and acoustic drum tracks for several of his solo projects. One of the results, titled “Water and Ice,” is embedded below. Attila’s latest album, 407.7, and his previous album Never Enough are available for purchase and download here: http://attiladomos.com/musician.html. (Photo by Crystal L. Fortwangler)
A Harvard-based study released in 2008 found that young children who study a musical instrument outperform children in their same age group with no instrumental training—not only in tests of auditory discrimination and finger dexterity (skills honed by the study of a musical instrument), but also on tests measuring verbal ability and visual pattern completion (skills not normally associated with music). The study’s published findings specifically stated that: “Studying an instrument seems to bring benefits in areas beyond those that are specifically targeted by music instruction.”
Both Rich and I are products of our respective school music programs. As students, we participated in a variety of music classes, clubs, bands and ensembles. As adults, we are able to see the benefits that we received from our musical education—both then and now. Here’s our takes on the subject:
Rich: “I started playing the drums in 1977 and was kind of an overachiever. At eight years old I was playing five-stroke rolls, flams and flam taps. I was reading and even playing the Joel Rothman books. I started taking lessons because my Dad was like, ‘Hey, do you want to learn a musical instrument?’ and I was like ‘No, I want to learn the drums!’ So, I started taking lessons and my first teacher taught me how to hold the sticks correctly, the importance of posture, reading and the rudiments. I got really involved with the music programs in school starting in the fifth grade. Concert band, marching band, orchestra, jazz band, the pep band – anything I could get my hands on and then always had projects outside of school as well… jam bands, rock bands, tribute bands. I just always wanted to play. I remained dedicated to learning as much as I could about the instrument and followed my passion all the way to a Master’s Degree in music. I definitely believe that music made me a better student. You could say I’m proof that music education works. I’m still learning every day.”
Michael: “I started playing later than Rich (in 1985) and continued taking formal lessons up until I was a young adult. I still take lessons via the Internet whenever I can. Music education was always an essential part of my life and I don’t remember a time growing up that I wasn’t involved with percussion teachers and ensembles both in and out of school. For me, I started out with a pair of sticks and a drum pad. I had to take lessons in order to prove I was serious. Then my parents bought me my first kit (a Pearl Export) and that was all she wrote. My first gigs were as the drummer for the middle school choir band which later led to symphonic, marching, stage, pit and percussion ensemble bands. As I got older, I jammed with my friends outside of school and that gave me a sense of balance. Music lessons taught me discipline and a greater appreciation for all genres of music. As a parent of four, I am a big believer that activities such as sports and the arts enhance a child’s growth. All of my kids are perennial honor roll students and have had success as players and performers. I credit them and not myself.”
FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids is the culmination of our shared experiences and education. We represent a professional-player and a player-parent who both understand the tangible benefits of exposing children to music at a young age. Whether a child decides to pursue an instrument seriously or not, the skill set they develop will give them an edge in all aspects of education. This includes memory, creativity and enhanced reading and writing skills.
Plus learning and playing music is F-U-N and what’s better than that when you’re a kid?
Photo: My son Jackson’s photo shoot in 2013. Click image for full-size.
Modern Drummer has posted their ballot for the 2018 Reader’s Poll. If you feel so inclined, please consider writing our book FUNdamentals of Drumming For Kids in the Educational Product section. And don’t forget to vote for Rich as Best Country Drummer. Thanks for your continued support! VOTE HERE.
Let me begin by saying that I’m very ashamed to make this confession. As a drummer and as an educator, I can’t believe what I’ve done. OK, here is goes…until recently I have not given Max Roach any respect. It’s not that I don’t like Max Roach, it’s that I’ve paid little or no attention to the man. I’ve watched the occasional drum solo on YouTube. Max Roach is even included in my book when I list the most influential drummers by decade. That said, I never gave him much thought. I never understood the influence of his style and his contributions to jazz and bop drumming.
It was listening to Mike Dawson, managing editor of Modern Drummer, talk about him on the Mike and Mike Podcast that caught my attention. I felt it necessary to revisit Roach. Actually “visit” as in “for the first time” is more accurate. When I did, I found a drummer that made the drums speak. Roach used a theme that established the framework for his solos. His unique system had a beginning-middle-back to the beginning-and end. That approach has been copped by countless drummers today.
I’ve come to appreciate Max Roach and I am spending a great deal of time studying him. Every time I watch one of his solos I learn something more about composing with the drums. His ability to play smooth licks while integrating his remarkable chops makes for a complete piece. Roach isn’t just about solos. His significant skills when playing with other musicians also makes him extraordinary. He is a textbook well-rounded musician. Here’s one of Roach’s noteworthy solos that exhibits all of the above:
Buddy Rich, considered to be THE greatest drummer of all-time, had a larger-than-life personality. A frequent guest on nighttime talk shows, his graciousness and sense of humor shined through. Looking at Buddy at face-value, it would seem he was loved by everyone who came in contact with him. This may have been true with his fans, but there was a much darker side to Buddy when it came to his band.
Always a perfectionist, Buddy set extremely high standards for those who accompanied him on the bandstand. They were expected to perform at the same level that he did. In many cases this was an impossible task. No one besides Buddy knew what he considered to be a “satisfactory” performance. Often his expectations changed from show to show.
Buddy was prone to have aggressive outbursts to his band members on the tour bus. In these instances he berated his players both as a group and individually. He threatened to fire them all on one or more occasion and even threatened them with bodily harm. We can assume that the musicians that worked for Buddy felt a sense of privilege to be a part of his band. Why else would they put up with such abuse?
Recently there has been rampant controversy over historical figures who acted in ways that are no longer acceptable. From explorers and presidents to military figures the legacies of these individuals have been tarnished. The complexity of their personalities and actions are being reevaluated. I for one, as a historian, believe these rash judgments are getting completely out of hand.
That said, perhaps Buddy Rich is also open to being reexamined. His persona on the bandstand versus his persona on the bus is as opposed as night and day. Is the latter justified? I will allow you to be the judge. Here are three secret recordings of Buddy losing his cool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-ssZeOZkWU&feature=related
In our book this exercise introduced the student to a part of the drum set that is often overlooked when teaching early drum set theory. Rich composed a series of examples that enabled the student to play around the toms and gain confidence and independence. The lesson has been linked here as a PDF in its entirety. Like many of the exercises in the book this application can help beginning students of all ages. As with all of the exercises it is broken down by each measure using our drum tablature. Teachers can incorporate this into their existing FUNdamentals curriculum. (NOTE: A FUNdamentals course syllabus is available here).