Now available in print and e-formats: http://www.moderndrummer.com/fundamentalsofdrumming
Monthly Archives: September 2015
Today’s post is more of a poll or a questionnaire that requires some feedback in order to be useful. The question posed is in regards to the variations of matched grip. There are three variations: German in which the hands face downward, French in which the hands are turned up, and American which is a combination in-between. Of course the alternative to all of these is traditional grip. My questions are as follows: Which grip do you prefer? Why do you prefer a particular grip? Do you use different grips based upon the musical style you are playing? What advantages do you experience with certain grips? Please post your replies in the Comments section below and I will share them for our readers. Thanks in advance for the replies.
Today’s topic is sure to generate some controversy and hopefully instigate some dialogue. (In fact that is the entire point of this post so please feel free to comment.) I would like to discuss single vs. double bass pedals. Nowadays it seems like everyone has a double bass pedal. No matter what genre of music they play the double bass pedal has become the standard. This factor has peaked my interest as I am curious as to when and why this piece of equipment became a necessity.
Back in the day double bass drums were immensely popular in the hard rock and heavy metal scene. This enabled drummers to hang more toms and play more dynamic foot patterns. The death metal and hardcore drummers still use them today and have raised the bar to an almost unobtainable speed. Most other drummers playing in a variety of styles have incorporated the double bass pedal in place of double bass drums. This enables them to save space and maintain smaller, more reasonable kits.
I have come to believe that far too many drummers are dependent on the double bass pedal. For example, last year I was privileged to be a judge at the local Guitar Center’s Drum Off. One thing that I noticed is that all of the contestants brought their own double bass pedals and every one of them used them throughout their solo. Now within the confines of a contest that is looking for chops this is completely understandable. However, I would have liked to have seen some interesting single bass work mixed in. I was very fair with my critiques and did not hold my own preferences against any of the contestants. In fact, I was quite impressed by the majority of participants and made a point to let them know.
In all fairness I am obviously biased as I use a single bass pedal and a four piece, two cymbal drum kit. I pride myself on my bass drum foot but tend to be too heavy handed (or should I say footed) from time to time. For me it’s all about simplicity and a use it or lose it philosophy. I still struggle at times with maintaining speed but for a pocket player myself it’s all about the groove. Therefore I am able to accomplish my intentions with a single bass pedal 90% of the time. The other10% I fake it. I have no problems with playing doubles or triplets or quads. I feel comfortable playing four-way independence with my hi-hat keeping time. Most of all I don’t feel pressured by having double bass pedals because I would feel obligated to use them. This also goes for extraneous drums and cymbals.
So the questions that I am posing are:
- Why do you use a double bass pedal?
- Why is it such an intricate part of today’s drum kit?
- Do you ever use a single bass pedal?
- What are the advantages of a double bass pedal?
- Are there any disadvantages?
Being an endorsement artist is a privilege. It’s not about getting free stuff or bolstering your resume. It’s about playing products that you sincerely believe in and spreading the word of your appreciation. I feel very blessed to have the support of these great manufactures. Every one of them represents an exceptional product made by exceptional people. Here are my testimonials:
- TnR Products: https://youtu.be/BJAbh14lwq0
- Bum Wrap Drum Co: https://youtu.be/xGxd8w3i-h8
- ProLogix Pads: https://youtu.be/s4BIwotm6Kg
- Rich Sticks Drumsticks: https://youtu.be/s_7XdaUc5dg
- DrumKitAccessories.com: https://youtu.be/dO7GqhL6SXM
- Drumtacs: https://youtu.be/Ub_T4Rz6Kcg
- EcoTom: https://youtu.be/MtwPz_RVCRk
It’s Friday and I’m feeling adventurous so I’m going to break my rule and post a drum solo video. Admittedly, I just wrote about my dislike of self-indulgent solos (see https://maubrecht.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/drum-solos/) but this one is different as the entire performance itself is an unaccompanied piece. In other words the solo is meant to be just that, a solo. One of my favorite drummers at the moment is Ilan Rubin. In addition to his brilliant drumming with Nine Inch Nails he is also a multi-instrumentalist who fronts his own band Angels and Airways. He also shares the drum stool for Paramore. Rubin is on the front cover of this month’s issue of Modern Drummer which sparked this post. A short time ago he performed at the coveted Guitar Center Drum Off. His performance showcased his skills as a loop programmer, his hard-hitting style inspired by his hero John Bonham, and his infectious energy. (Midway through the solo he does these amazing quad runs at breakneck speed. I was inspired and I’m still trying to play them at half speed.) While watching his performance notice how Rubin powers his way through the groove and syncopates the floor tom and snare in an off-beat pattern. There is gorilla-like power behind every stroke, but they are executed with finesse. He also does some nice patterns on the ride cymbal that fit in perfectly with the loop. At 27 years-old Rubin’s playing is far beyond his years.
I’ve recently come upon a great book that is a fantastic tool for developing your chops. Daily Drum Warm-Ups: 365 Exercises to Develop Your Technique — includes an exercise for every day of the year. The book covers essentials such as: rudiments, patterns, weak hand builders, triple strokes, finger control, odd-time signatures and much more. Drummers will improve their speed, dexterity, accuracy, coordination, and dynamic control, while developing their stylistic repertoire. The accompanying CD includes all 365 warm-up exercises, plus 20 foot ostinatos that can be used as play-alongs, and five brush examples. It’s also enhanced so Mac & PC users can adjust the tempo without changing pitch. Best of all the book starts out simple and then builds on itself so it’s great for beginners to intermediate and advanced students.
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.”
My co-author of FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids and myself are products of our respective school music programs. As students, we participated in a variety of music classes, clubs and ensembles. As adult musicians, we are able to see the benefits that they received from our musical education—both then and now. Here’s a testimony from both of us:
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.”
Me: “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 the collective experiences and educations of Rich (professional-player) and myself (a player-parent) who 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?
A couple years ago I had the privilege of interviewing (my now pal) Garrett Goodwin, best known as the drummer for country superstar Carrie Underwood. Garrett’s passion for drumming comes through in every performance whether it is for the Christian or secular genre. He remains one of the hardest hitting drummers in country music with one of the most unorthodox drum kit set-ups and playing styles you’ve ever seen.
At just 26 years-old, Garrett Goodwin has already amassed a resume that would be the admiration of professional musicians more than twice his age. From securing a coveted gig as the steady touring drummer for country music sensation Carrie Underwood to performing with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers such as Lindsey Buckingham and Steven Tyler, Goodwin has already left his mark on both the Christian and secular markets. Add to that the accolades he’s received from fans, such as being voted “Best Up and Coming” in Modern Drummer’s 2013 Reader’s Poll, and one can’t help but take notice. Goodwin’s path to the spotlight in many ways is similar to, yet in other ways very different from that of his peers.
Growing up in an active church family, Garrett recalled his early exposure to the pounding percussion of the worship band. He said, “I remember being very young and having a great interest in the musicians at my church. My family attended services almost daily at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. For some reason, I always found myself fixated on the drummer. I don’t know if I was specifically drawn to the drums at the time, but there was something about performing music that spoke to me. After a while, I started asking lots of questions. Lucky for me, the musicians answered them.”
At the age of 11, Goodwin finally expressed an interest in playing the drums. “There was no history of music in my family,” he said, “so I had no clue what I was doing. I was searching for something and the drums seemed to fill that void.” Recognizing their son’s enthusiasm, Garrett’s parents signed him up for the first and only drum lesson he would ever take.
Today he refers to that event as a traumatic blessing. “I remember going to my first drum lesson and the teacher gave me some exercises to work on at home. I practiced them as best I could and the following week went back for my follow-up. I began playing through the first exercise when the teacher interrupted me and said ‘You’ll never be a drummer.’ I was just a kid at the time so it kinda messed me up. Looking back now,” he added, “I’m actually grateful. That painful incident ultimately gave me the incentive to prove the guy wrong.”
One can only wonder if that discouraging teacher ever caught his rejected pupil performing on “Saturday Night Live,” “Jimmy Fallon” or the Grammy Awards. With a discouraging perception of drum teachers, Goodwin decided to tackle the instrument on his own. His parents bought him a 5-piece Percussion Plus beginner’s set, with a small hi-hat and a splash cymbal. From that point on, his drum lessons consisted of playing accompaniments to CDs. Gravitating toward the musicians at his church, Garrett began performing with the children’s worship band and soon after proved that he had real talent.