Friday, September 24, 2010

DRUM LESSON: Starting a Fill On Different Beats So It Sounds Dope

Another lesson on drum to start them on different parts of the beat as well as how to come out of them correctly...Sheet music link here,or in the comments section of the video. Cheers!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Drum Vlog: How To Keep Time While Playing

Had a question come in on "How to keep time while playing"...They didn't elaborate, so I'm assuming they meant internally, or some methods to help them keep consistent time...Decided to do a vlog on this one. I knew everyone wanted to see my face anyways...

Monday, September 13, 2010

One Minute Drum Lessons...Great Drum "Snack"!

So through Facebook I've run across some really talented musicians...Mathieu Lescuyer is one of them. He puts out these sick, one minute drum lessons...let me just go ahead and say...if you're looking for a 10-20 minute drum lesson, this is not it! However, if you're looking for a great drum "snack" that you can watch and understand in less than a minutes time, well, this is for you. Really talented guy with a great idea...Check him out on Facebook at Mathieu Lescuyer Drummer or on YouTube at ...Cheers and happy drum snacking!

DRUM LESSON: A Different Samba Groove To Try

Here's a samba that I've been playing for a few years's served me well when I wanted to add a little spice. If you're interested in the sheet music for the lesson, you can find a link to it in the comments section below the video!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

DRUM LESSON: Playing with Four Sticks- A Breakdown of Steve Gadd's Groove For "Late In The Evening"

Steve Gadd played a killer Mozambique inspired groove over Paul Simon's smash song "Late In The Evening"...and he played it with four sticks! So I thought I'd break it down and show you how he did it...Cheers!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Technical Practice vs. Musical Practice

Another question...musical practice vs technical to balance them...this is by no means a complete answer, but I ran out of time...Please don't hesitate to send your questions to me via email @ or through Twitter @ ...or on my YouTube channel @ ...or on Facebook @!/StephenTaylor81 ...I think that's all of them ;^)


For the longest time, I only practiced technical stuff, and about a year ago I just stopped playing technical stuff and just played music. and now i cant do technical stuff, but just musical stuff. What do you suggest I do to have a good balance?


Ah, the age old question...technicality vs musicality...accommodating the music while satisfying your need to play a 32 note roll at 180 bpm...nice question...I can only answer things from my viewpoint and experience, and they say advice is worth what you pay for it...that being said...

I think every drummer (or musician for that matter) worth their weight struggles with this very much time do I need to spend focusing on expanding my technical skills as a player and how much time should be allotted to practical and musically applicable skills. As much as we'd all love to play in a band that allows us to stretch like Mike Portnoy does in Dream Theatre (or should I say case you missed that memo, he left the band...), that's just not the reality of it. We as drummers tend to alot a large majority of our practice time to attaining what we view as impressive skills but what everyone else views as annoying occurrences. I think the whole discussion boils down to how you view your playing and music and simple prioritization.

Let's start with the prioritization part...If you want to play professionally as a drummer, you'll need to make do that, you'll need a certain set of skills that allow you to survive on a gig...i.e. you need to play musically, know a wide range of material, understand what an appropriate fill for that chosen genre would sound like, etc. Basically, the nuts and bolts of what we do. So I actually try and keep a practice log...If I have 2 hours to practice, it might look something like this...

30 minutes of groove studies (practical groove Gary Chesters book, or playing along to "Brick House" until it feels danceable).

30 minutes of rudiments and trying to apply them to the drumkit.

30 minutes of coordination and facility on the drumkit work.

30 minutes of impressive, melt your face, grow 3 extra arms type of drumming.

The problem we often feel is that we're not improving enough in one area quickly enough...but I'd rather improve slowly and evenly in all areas than be able to play 5 over 4 and get fired from a gig for not knowing "Ain't To Proud To Beg"...

Which leads directly into the next discussion of how you view your playing...

I used to segment all of my playing and practicing...I had my work stuff, my technical stuff and never should the two meet. It wasn't until I realized WHY I was working on the technical stuff that things began to come into focus...

All of the time you put into advancing your technical proficiency is for one purpose and one purpose serve the music. I had to stop viewing them separately. Here's how I do it nowadays...

I work on something extremely technical just for fun...after I have it down, I start to search for areas I can use this particular skill within the musical confines of the situation I'm playing in. Tony Williams was the master at doing this...some of the Miles Davis stuff sounds so smooth and musical...but once you dissect what Tony was actually doing, you begin to realize that the things he was playing were frickin' hard! He had taken the time to look into the music and see where he could use his vast vocabulary in the most musical manner possible. Vinnie does the same does Steve Smith...and so many others...

So I guess the simple answer is, prioritize your practice time to include technical as well as musical items...and begin to view your playing not as technical vs musical...but just drumming. One leads to the other and the other leads to the one...

DRUM LESSON: Jeff Porcaro Implied Half-Time Shuffle

This one's all about the syncopation and then the come later...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Preparing For College Auditions

Ok, yet another question (yes, people DO actually ask these!)...This one is on college auditions and how to prepare for them...

"Are the college auditions for music courses usually very difficult? how much practice am i supposed to do a day in order to pass with flying colours? i am asking this because i am now currently very busy with school because of football season and i am having a hard time to balance my social life,having good grades and devoting my time to the drums. i usually have about an hour to practice a day, or none for some crucially busy days. is there a way to make the best use of this one hour? my practice schedule is usually just warming up with rudiments for 10-15 minutes, and working through exercises from books, and since i am reall into jazz drumming now, i just practice exercises from jazz books. is this the right way to go ? or am i supposed to balance out the genres while practicing?"

The college audition's the skinny from my viewpoint...

You need to find out EXACTLY what they'll be wanting to hear from you. Track the professors down and talk to them, get the sheet that they should be giving out on audition guidelines and criteria, talk to other students within the program and ask them what theirs was like...anything you can do to get as much info about the audition as possible.

Once you have that info, then you can devise a plan. I know what it's like to be impossibly busy and still have preparations that need to be made for a show or audition. Sit down with your accumulated list of what they'll want and begin to make your own list...

List 1:
Everything they're wanting you to know

List 2:
Everything they're wanting you to know in order from hardest to easiest.

List 3:
All the things you don't know that you'll need to work on for the audition.

List 4:
Al of the things you're not worried about for the audition.

Once you have those written down (yes, WRITE them down) you can start to knock them out. The thing I would always get hung up with was I would practice like I always do, just work on getting better in general...not what you need to do for this one. You need to decide on how much time you'll have to practice and then prioritize that practice other words, here's a sample criteria list...

-Know all 28 rudiments
-Have one prepared piece
-sight reading
-trade fours over a standard jazz tune of your choice.

This is a very short's how I would knock it out...

Day 1: 2 hours...

-half an hour on first 2 rudiments
-first 10 measures of prepared piece learned
-sight read for 15 minutes
-all remainder of time spent on ideas for trading fours

Day 2: 1 and a half hours

-Half an hour on next two rudiments, 15 minutes reviewing old rudiments
-memorize first 10 measures of prepared piece, learn next 10 measures.
-sight read same pieces as yesterday, noting any improvements...move on to new sight reading material.
-trade fours using only the melody of the song as a guide.

So you begin to see how you're working on NOTHING but the audition material and you're being VERY specific with how and what you spend your time on. This is exactly how I prepared for my senior recital...I spent a whole semester doing exactly what I did above. And I'm happy to say that I KILLED the recital...people talked about it for weeks! I'm not tooting my own horn, I'm just saying that all of my work paid off!

Be sure and plan out your time so that you have all of the material learned a couple of weeks before hand so that by the time the auditions get there, you'll be playing the stuff in your sleep. DO NOT go into the audition and try things you're not 100% comfortable with...nerves usually get the best of you in those situations and you freeze up...I'd rather play something easier and play it well than to mess up something more complicated.

Hope this helps...if you need some more ideas, don't hesitate to let me know!

Stephen T.

DRUM LESSON: Breakdown of Steve Gadd's Groove for "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover"

Just because I LOVE this groove and the way he decided to execute it...when I looked back I realized that I accented the snare a bit much...I'm an idiot...dually noted...hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

To Major In Music Or Not?

Before I even get into this post, let me address something that I get accused of alot...THIS IS NOT A NEGATIVE POST!

When I answer questions, I answer them from my viewpoint and from my life if I include something in an answer, it's because I wish that I had...

A) Learned that "something" sooner than I did and hope to help someone else avoid my mistakes.
B) I actually know from experience that this "something" isn't practical or applicable in the real world.
C) I feel that the person asking the question has an unrealistic view of the professional working musical world, and I feel it's my duty to throw them a bucket of ice cold reality.

I never answer a question with the intent of discouraging someone from their dreams, I simply want their dreams to be viewed through realistic lenses. The road to success in the music business (notice I said success, not fame...two completely different things) is littered with uninformed but well intentioned players...I want people to succeed, and the sooner they embrace reality, the sooner they can be on their way to that success...and not just a flash in the pan success, but sustainable success. So before you say "Don't you think your answer is a little jaded, bitter, and angry?!"...No I don't think that...I'm EXTREMELY happy with where I am in life and in my music career, and I want others to experience that same happiness and I mince no words, I cushion no points, and I pull all of my punches...because I want you to succeed. I preemptively say this only because the answer I'm fixing to give will fly in the face of the common conception...and I'm ok with that...I have no desire to starve and suffer for my art...I like to live well and enjoy my art. That was a longer disclaimer than I intended, but that's've probably fallen asleep by now anyways...but if not, a great discussion is below about majoring in music in college...

Email I got from a drummer...

"I am also looking to get a jazz major or a music major when i go 2 college. i am thinking of doing a major in business and maybe a minor degree in music. do you recommend any good colleges which provides these courses? i am not looking to be a full session gigging drummer but i want to teach and gig maybe on few nights. and it is also very sad in my country, that i cannot find a jazz band and get more exposure.
"'re one of the smartest musicians I've met! Here's the skinny on a music degree...

An undergrad in music (without an emphasis on music education) allows you to do ZERO (monetarily at least). If you go on to get a masters in music performance, you can teach adjunct at a university part time...and if you get a doctorate, you can teach on the college level. A degree has no value in the gigging world...besides to let the other guys on the gig formulate a preconceived idea of you and your playing (college musicians can tend to overplay alot, and be cocky, and overall hard to work with...not the case with all of them, but with alot of them). A degree in music would be obtained strictly on the basis that you wanted to improve your playing and devote an ungodly amount of time to practice and performance...I would know, I got a degree in Jazz Studies (also equally worthless in the gigging world).

The point is, unless you plan on pursuing your doctorate, spending the time and money to obtain a music degree won't do much for you (again, we're speaking monetarily and in the scope of your career) that a buttload of hard work on your own can't do. That having been said, if you get a degree in music education, that would allow you to teach on the public school level...i.e. high school band. Not a thing in the world wrong with that, I know alot of perfectly happy and excellent players that teach band...they LIVE for it and wouldn't do anything else. A doctorate in composition would allow you to teach on the college level and compose in your spare time, etc and so forth...

"Why are you being so negative?! If a person wants a degree in music, let them get one!"

You're absolutely right, but there are smarter and more effective ways to go about getting an "education" in the musical world (private lessons, dvd's, audit the classes you want...). What you're talking about doing is an EXCELLENT choice. You only get as much out of a music degree as you put can have the best teachers in the world and if you don't practice and apply yourself, you won't learn a thing. Having a degree in business with a minor in music gives you the best of both worlds. Most musicians that make a sustainable and comfortable living are essentially in business for themselves. They own private studios, operate corporate bands, front a popular band, have a large private teaching practice, compose for television and film, songwrite, etc. All of these are businesses in and of themselves, and so many musicians that I know could have benefited from a few business classes. If you really want to become a better musician, you'll do that whether you major in it or not. You're not getting a degree to "fall back on"'re getting a degree that will help your passion produce a better and more prosperous future for yourself and your family. In other words, it's like two horses pulling the same buggy...your music is the buggy, your commitment and your knowledge of the business world are the two horses...make sense?

There's nothing worse than having to sacrifice your art for the sake of the almighty dollar...but it happens alot...and I think it would happen alot less if musicians in general were a little wiser about their education. What good is a teaching practice if you don't know how to market to get new students? What good is running a killer sounding band if you don't know how to promote and run a profit/loss statement on your gigs and merch?

Is it becoming clearer?

I wish I would have taken a few business classes while in college...because I've had to go back and learn it all on my own, which sucks and takes up alot of my free time. Music is an art, and to make money performing that art, you must monetize your efforts...but musicians don't like to talk about the money...they just want to create, and be passionate, and make beautiful music...

...well so do I...and I also happen to like eating nice foods, living in a comfortable home, and providing adequately for my call me greedy and money hungry if you want...but being proficient in other areas of life has afforded me the luxury to make my music career in the exact shape that I want it to be in...

So kudos to you for having a great plan...just don't forget to practice as much as you study your business classes!!!

Stephen T.