In This Issue . . .
1. SOLO TIPS
2. FAQ: Tuning, Setups, Pedal attack, Weak Hand.
3. Humor: Bass-Player joke.
_____________FEATURE ARTICLE___________DRUM SOLO TIPS
Drum solos' are a very popular topic at the website. It seems that the most frequently asked questions come from students who want to improve their solo techniques. I usually reply in the following way . . .
Learn from the best, by doing! Begin a collection of drum solo recordings. Listen to all the great players old and new . . . everyone from Baby Dobbs to your own favorite drummer.
*** TIP: ***
How to get drum solo recordings for FREE
Of course the world wide web is now the very best place to get everything for free. Do a Yahoo Search for "drum solo videos". There are millions of solo videos around the Web, including this web site. Gather a collection and listen to them regularly.
Many public libraries will let you check out records, tapes and CD's for free. Our local library, has a great collection of drum solo material. Yours probably does too. It is possible (and legal) to dub all the various solos' onto one tape, CD or Flashdrive, then keep it for the purpose of individualized (personal) study. I have done it . . . and I would sell or give-away copies, but to sell them would be considered an illegal practice, because of copyright laws. Sorry! Visit your local library. Maybe you can copy your own CD or Flash Drive full of audio or video files.
The point here is a simple one. Before your solos' can develop, you will need *INPUT* . . . and a lot of it. You will need to absorb a heavy diet of the very best drum solos' the 20th and 21st century has to offer.
THE SECRET TO DEVELOPING AWESOME SOLOS'.
ACQUIRE THIS HABIT: (Do it every day . . . It works!)
Put your favorite drum solo on the sound system. Put on headphones, sit back and relax. (Grab a sandwich and/or a beverage). Listen with all your concentrating ability . . . FEEL the solo as it plays. Replay it several times, let it soak deep into your soul. Make this a 15 minute project.
Now, (15 minutes later) when you are ready. Stop the recorded solo and LISTEN to what is happening inside your head. You will (should) still be thinking those rhythmic ideas. They should still be bouncing around inside your mind. They are now YOUR ideas. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200 Dollars. Do not go to the bathroom.
Take a seat behind your drumset (or practice rig) immediately while those recorded rhythms are still rolling around within your brain. Begin to thrash at the drums. Play what you are thinking!
Let it go. Thrash away. Listen to the rhythms within your mind.
Feel it. This is YOUR solo. Do anything you want to do but only what you CAN do. Get frantic. Go crazy. Do NOT try to copy what you have just heard . . . simply imitate. Aim for generalization. Go at it for long periods of time.
Challenge yourself to play longer and longer solos. You may not sound anything like your hero drummers at first, but I guarantee eventual results! The solos you'll play will be uniquely your own and each should be somewhat different from the last. There should be no reason to do anything in a specific way. This is CREATIVITY at its greatest. The objective is to be different every time . . . but better; . . . ALWAYS BETTER . . . THAN BEFORE!
ANOTHER GOOD TIP:
After several of these sessions, try recording your own solos' and listen to the play-back. Hopefully, you will be pleasantly surprised and amazed to hear how well you sound. Pessimism is a killer. Hearing a playback will probably give you more confidence. Also; you'll note certain sounds that weren't so hot and you'll eliminate those ideas from your future solos. Within a very short time your solos' will come alive and a new drumming genius will take aim at the big time. Yep, that's YOU! You can do it if only you think you can. So, remain positive.
Here's a short solo to get you started. Allow the video to loop (replay) several times. Watch, listen deeply, soak it up; then shut it off and play whatever lingers within your mind.
THERE IS A SCIENCE TO THIS MADNESS!
If you will do this every day for 20 to 30 minutes, the solos you'll play will improve tremendously within a relatively short time-frame (1 to 2 months). Your confidence, technique and finesse will quickly soar beyond your wildest expectations in only a matter of weeks!
You will need to hear other drummers besides that old idiot above, (ie; me).
Gather drum-solo-collections of all your favorite drummers and do a solo warm-up for 20 to 30 minutes every day (before you jam with recorded songs another 8-hours).
Okay, okay, I know that 8-hour schedule is a little bit radical, but all the master drummers became addicted to the FUN I'm hoping to help you discover this way. They became great drummers because they were having such a blast, they didn't WANT to stop. As you discover that 'FUN' . . . you will automatically take your place, as their competition and you may find yourself WANTING to practice for long hours that way.
Yep, there may be some long hours involved to become truly great, but: "Time is fun, when we're havin' flies".
Did I say that the right way?WHAT'S THE SCIENCE?
Your coordination will grow by leaps and bounds (almost) effortlessly. It should not seem like work. You should be having the time of your life. I might add that this is great therapy too. (Do it when you are mad at the world. Don't kick the dog, scare the poor creature half to death with an awesome drum solo. Get loud! Don't be timid. Timid drummers end up playing dinner music! Hit 'em!
Make this a daily routine for one-month. By the end of that month you will begin to emerge as a formidable soloist. This is the way I learned to play solos, so I know (first-hand) that it works. It's the very best and the easiest way to come to grips with all those totally boring and yukky rudiments.I'm not sure how or why it works, but it does.
I do have a theory. Think of it this way. . .
Ask yourself how the rudiments came into existence in the first place. Think about it! How did the rudiments originate?ANS: They were committed to black and white AFTER other drummers discovered them by pounding and thrashing on a drum!
So; If you bore easily when studying rudiments (as I did), this is an alternative to the boring practice at a practice-pad. Throw that hideous thing in the garbage! Discover the rudiments intuitively, as I did. Simply play the rhythmic ideas that are within your mind, AFTER listening to ALL the World's greatest drummers. I KNOW that I learned almost all the rudiments automatically, that way . . . and I'll swear it on a stack of bibles.
THE REAL TRUTH: Rudiments became Gospel as a matter of tradition (in the 1930's) as they were first committed to paper by old drummers who had learned them the same way I did; by just playing and having fun.
It's a long story, but I think the essence of it is that, 'as a matter of mathematical probability', everything we do as we thrash and pound on the drumset "IS" most likely some form of the 400+ rudiments that have been documented around the World. The rudiments are simply various assortments and combinations of the note-values, strung together as specific stroke patterns. As we master and combine those note values and their various potential stroke-patterns, we are mastering rudiments.
Later (approximately one year), a scan of the rudiment charts will hopefully offer a huge surprise. You'll (hopefully) discover that you can easily play most of them at first glance. The most difficult task remaining, will be in memorizing their names.
Like I said earlier, it's great therapy too.
Now you can fire the shrink!
Do this every day and have great fun with it.
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
The studydrums.com website generates a ton of e-mail questions every month. I have decided to focus on a few of the more common topics as a portion of this months feature article.
The way we sit at our drumset is a personal thing. Much will depend on our size and stature and the way we attack the pedals. That's why their are so many adjustments in the design of all drum sets. We're all built a little differently. We each need to discover for ourselves's the seating arrangement that suits us individually. A big part of that will (may) depend on how we choose to attack the bass drum and hi-hat pedals.
Most of today's younger more modern drummers are attacking the pedals with a 'toe kick', rather than the 'heel down' style of playing. This requires the player to move in a bit closer to the drumset. Place your toes (only) on the pedals with your heels in the air. Your shins will be at (or near) a 90* angle to the floor. Be your own judge here . . . find your own 'most comfortable' position and the style that suits you best.
Most of today's drum instructors will recommend the 'toe kick' because it allows slightly greater power. However; I think it is established fact that equally great drummers use the 'Heel Down' pedal attack and they are just as good with their feet as the toe-kick players. Therefore it is a matter of opinion.
The 'heel down' style of playing requires the player to sit further back from the kit. This will put the shins at an angle to the floor. 'Heel down' tends to develop calf muscles while the 'toe kick' develops upper leg and thigh muscles. Try both methods then make your own decisions. Keep in mind that the 'toe kick' style is most popular with modern rock players while the 'heel down' style of playing was favored by most of the older but equally great, jazz players.
'Time in motion' . . . or . . . 'ease of transit' . . . These are thoughts to keep in mind when positioning the individual drums in your kit. Personally, I like all the drum rims 'flush' but not touching. This allows for quick and easy movement from drum to drum. It is a 'common-sense' thing. Continue to experiment until you find what works best for you. Be aware however, if the rims are touching . . . this can transfer vibrations and undesirable tones from one drum to the next.
'Alternating' rudiment studies will definitely help with this problem. Repetitious rudiment studies are probably the best remedy for sluggish hands. I hate to admit it, but it is true. In other words, be able to start most of your rhythmic ideas with either hand.
Also, as you learn the more complicated beat patterns like syncopations and Independence, your weak hand will gather more control. Sometimes, it is a matter of learning to do things VERY slowly, one note at a time (at first), then gradually build speed over long periods (hours) of boring repetition.TIP
I do most of this boring stuff (repeats) during the day while away from the set. Learn to study while watching tv, websurfing or riding in your car. Tap on anything handy. the thighs and knees are always with you. Don't use sticks. Repeat the moves with just the hands and feet as you sit. Simply get an idea (rudiment, roll or beat) in your head and focus on it as a repetitious study item. Practice it as you go through your day, anytime you have a few idle moments. Then when you return to the drum kit, you will be ready to burn those drums to the ground.
When I am at the drumset, I prefer to just jam and have fun with solos' and recorded music. It is amazing how the techniques that have been studied during the 'idle moments' will automatically find their way into your playing style this way.
Playing along with recorded music is ESSENTIAL to your overall development! Wait . . . that hasn't been stated strong enough! Maybe I should *SCREAM* it this way . . ."PLAYING ALONG WITH RECORDED MUSIC
This is very important! You'll need to discover the FUN of practicing with recorded music very early on. You will notice that the lessons at my site are structured from the top down with this sort of 'ear' training or 'jamming' in mind. If you are not playing along with all your own favorite recordings already . . . you are missing the point entirely! START DOING IT TODAY!
Take the first three lessons at the website if you are having trouble. You will hopefully, be having a terrific time one hour from now. This will create total addiction to the instrument and a hot new drummer. (THAT'S YOU!)
THE FIRST THREE LESSONS AT THE WEBSITE:
Jamming with recorded music should be a regular part of your daily practice routine. Drum lessons, techniques and method books are ALL virtually worthless, unless the knowledge can be applied to 'REAL WORLD' music routinely, in a practical, common-sense way. Forget discipline and have some fun!
Study the three lessons above and If you can't seem to make this happen . . . well, uuh. . . don't quit your day job just yet! Maybe "The Seeds of Rhythm" need to be cultivated a little more.
It isn't unusual to experience problems with some songs. Very often the drum parts are far too complex for the average beginner. Other songs may not present 'enough' challenge. They may be too slow and dead. They're just not fun to play. This is normal! However, If you know your basic dancebeats by heart, you should find that about 80% to 90% of the music on the radio is a snap.
You should discover that only a couple seconds of quick analysis will allow you to decide which basic dance beat framework is in use and allow you to begin playing as you are hearing nearly any song for the first time.
Play only the songs that come easy to you at first and graduate into the more complex music later. Your confidence and ability will increase proportional to the amount of fun you are having. If you are not having fun, it may be a real bad sign!
THOUGHTS & GRINS
There was a poor ragged bass guitarist panhandling for spare change on a street corner. One day someone came by and threw a brass lamp into his guitar case. Upon rubbing the lamp, a genie appeared and offered the bass player three wishes.
"I wish I was a better musician", said the bass man. Next thing he knew he was in a band that was cutting its first CD and had a loyal following. He was pretty happy, but he wanted more.
"I wish I was an even better musician", said the bassist. Before long he was playing on an extended world tour in front of tens of thousands of adoring fans. He was ecstatic, but he wanted even more.
"Genie", he said, "make me an even BETTER musician!" Poof! He found himself standing on his old street corner . . . playing drums.
What you may not know could be a killer. Take a minute to actually see your future. Reach Drumming-Guru status in under 2-hours.Copyright Bill Powelson@1965-1998-2008-2014
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