Today’s post is about mental atrophy. It is the theory that if you don’t use it you lose it. I have found this to be true. One issue in particular for me is reading music. Back in school I read music all the time. This included marching cadences, symphonic parts etc. Out of school I occasionally read transcriptions of songs that interested me. Then I took a decade off from reading. When it came time to read or write music again I was at a disadvantage. When it came time to author our book I wrote all of the narrative and Rich wrote the music for our exercises. I understand the exercises using our tablature system but I never could have composed them.
Every week I am inspired by the Mike and Mike Modern Drummer Podcast. The advice that I hear over and over is learn to read music. In my situation it’s re-learn to read music. It’s like knowing another language and then forgetting how to speak it. In order to get my mind back in shape I’m going back to the basics. The first book that comes to mind is Ted Reed’s Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer.
This book presents a concise lesson on reading drum notation and applying it. It was voted second on Modern Drummer’s list of 25 Greatest Drum Books in 1993. Modern Drummer’s Teachers Forum has a great lesson posted on implementing Reed’s theories of syncopation. (Read here)
I’m a subscriber to Modern Drummer and Drumhead magazines. (I’ve also written for both). Each month there are exercises included in the back. To me it’s all gibberish and I would love to be able to use these notations to improve my drumming. I have to learn how to walk again before I can run. I’m excited about this process as it will also help keep my mind sharp. This is not easy stuff. In fact, it will be pretty hard. I suffered a serious concussion that severely affected my memory. My neurologist suggested I learn a new language and this fits the bill. I’ll share my experiences here from time to time as I progress.