One of the privileges I have experienced as a writer and drummer is having the book I co-wrote with Rich Redmond published by Modern Drummer, a magazine I have read since I was 13. Equally thrilling is having our book included in the same catalog with dozens of the top drum books on the market. One of my personal favorites (and a book that I am currently working my way through) is Bill Bachman’s “Stick Technique: The Essential Guide for the Modern Drummer.” This book is a great exercise in reading and sticking and will surely help readers improve their overall technique. For those who are a bit rusty on their reading skills (like me) the annotated patterns included with the notation will help you to get things started. Additionally Bachman routinely presents complimentary video lessons on Modern Drummer’s website.
According to the website this challenging book was “Culled from [his] popular “Strictly Technique” articles in Modern Drummer magazine, this book will help players develop hands that are loose stress free and ready to play anything that comes to mind. The book is for everyone who plays with sticks regardless of whether you’re focusing primarily on drum set orchestral percussion or the rudimental style of drumming. Divided into three main sections – Technique, Top Twelve Rudiments and Chops Builders – the book is designed to get you playing essential techniques correctly and as quickly as possible. Also includes a bonus section for two-hand coordination and independence.”
For more information, visit Bill Bachman’s website at: http://www.billbachman.net/home.html
[*Click image for full-size] Of all the rudiments my favorite is the Paradiddle. There’s something about that alternating sticking pattern as well as its effectiveness on a snare and on the drum set. There are days when it’s just me, a drum pad and pair of sticks. No matter what exercise I’m working on, my warm-ups always tend to be Paradiddle-based. When I’m practicing on the kit, I often find myself playing Paradiddle fills on both my drums and hi-hats (I use three). Recently I was introduced to the Paradiddle Pyramid. Above are the breakdowns and build ups of this exercise. Practice them with all of the accents notated and as always, try to maintain proper and consistent stick height. Enjoy!
One of the most innovative drummers today has to be Chris “Daddy” Dave. Similar to the late, great Papa Jo Jones, Dave has abandoned all the clichés of the conventional drum solo in favor of an unorthodox approach. In doing so he has created an element of excitement and anticipation that connects with the audience. You simply have no idea what he is going to do next. To the untrained eye Dave may appear sloppy or even amateur but if you understand the drums you will no doubt understand his genius. His chops are without question but his creativity in using those chops begs for our respect. Here are some things to recognize when watching Dave play: 1) his drum setup featuring five snares, no toms and broken cymbals, 2) his incredible ability to play extremely fast 16th notes with his right hand and his right foot, his ever-changing groove that seamlessly moves between a jazz and funk feel and 3) his casual posture that makes everything look easy. Whether he is performing with The Drumhedz, Robert Glasper, or the Chris Dave Trio, Chris Dave’s playing screams of originality and experimentation. It is exactly what the spirit of this blog is about (*see About this Blog). For more information on this inventive player, visit his website at http://chris-dave.com/.
I know I said I would only post every two weeks but I got a little anxious after going live today. For my first “official” pearl of wisdom I think I will keep it short and sweet. As the inaugural post I believe it is appropriate to discuss the first (and most often) thing that we do as drummers. That of course is practice. It’s a dirty little schizophrenic word in every musician’s vocabulary that means both agony and ecstasy. Who doesn’t remember sitting at a drum pad for hours on end practicing sticking exercises and rudiments? How about working endlessly at the drum set on three way independence and syncopation? “Practice makes perfect” some say. Wrong! Practice makes you better. No one’s perfect.
That said, practice is perhaps the most important thing that we do. Establishing muscle memory, maintaining consistent time and getting the proper feel is an absolute necessity. Therefore the exercises that we do over-and-over-and-over are critical. Just like an athlete must sharpen their mind and body, so too does the drummer. Many people don’t know that there is a correct and incorrect way to practice. The biggest mistake that drummers make when practicing is trying to sound good. That defeats the whole purpose and stifles any growth or potential.
If you are really trying to get better you should struggle. That means you are learning. Only by challenging yourself, exploring places you’ve never been to and having the courage to take chances can you improve as a player. There is an old saying used by ballerinas that goes “Dance like no one is watching.” What an amazing concept. Play, perform and practice like no one is watching. Be brave. Go for it. That’s how you learn. That’s how you improve.