Monday, February 28, 2011

You Tube Student Drum Cover

I know Tyler from my You Tube channel...he checks out some of the lessons, which I appreciate. He messaged me the other day and wanted me to check out his new cover, so I said absolutely. Again, more peeps need to recognize the benefit of something like You Tube for your can instantly have a gig! You get instant feedback! You don't have to be some You Tube drumming star, like a Cobus. The benefits of having the pressure of your peers checking out your playing and commenting on it is immense. And you'd be suprised at how many positive people there are, and how many people really do want to see you's such a great resource.

So cheers to you Tyler...not only for making a KILLER cover, but for having the guts to make your own gig.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Beginner Songo

Lovers and Liars @ The Hard Rock-T.V. Filming

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Child Sex Trafficking...Help a Worthy Cause...

This has nothing to do with drums.

This has everything to do with common human decency...and compassion...and caring...and giving of your time and resources.

I've gotten involved with Conspiracy of Hope, a fundraising organization that helps provide monetary means to the people and non-profits on the front lines of the child sex trafficking war. I know the founder about as well as you can know a person...100% of the money raised goes towards the cause...along with alot more blood, sweat, and tears to make it happen.

The goal is $10,000...and I think it would be really cool if a bunch of drummers could help us get there. I don't ask alot from you guys, I'm simply here to help. But today I am asking...for you to give...for you to share the link to the campaign...for you to get involved and make a difference to someone in the world. Just click the link above to help.

And thank you...from the bottom of this drummers heart.


We've all got them.

And most of them aren't any good.

But we tell ourselves they are.

And before you know're ten years down the road still making excuses for why you're not succeeding, or even trying.

By the way, this post isn't just about music *stop reading, apply to any aspect of your continue reading*

Success is defined in many isn't the only gauge.

But then again, if you only made more money at it you'd be able to devote more time and passion to it...

...rock on Kennedy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Discussion on Improving the Sound of a Room

I had a question come in through You Tube on essentially deadening up a room that was to live...Here's the video he was referencing...The video was shot with no external mic on either segment and no sound editing, simply a live shot of the room through the camera mic.

"Hey, quick question! I'm playing in a small space (maybe10'x20') in my basement. It's not a room so much as a just a tucked away area. Anyhow, my question is this, Would this stuff help with the volume I am experiencing? Secondly, I've seen drummers place their kits facing a wall and was wondering if they do that for any acousitcal reason. Thanks, home-bro!!"

"Yes, this stuff will absolutely help with your volume inside the room.It'll help some w/ the volume level outside the room, but inside it'll make it sound 10x better.It has to do w/ standing waves, flutter echo, and the likes...the acoustical foam just helps to disperse those waves.Facing the kick to a wall that is treated w/ foam would def bring the volume down and help to control the sound.However, facing it into a bare wall doesn't do much, makes for easy access to the kit tho."


Him again:
"Cool! You're probably the most helpful and responsive YouTube drummer I've seen!

Oh, and by any chance do you know the brand name of the foam?"

Me again:
"Here's some links to where you can pick up the foam...some of it can be a bit pricey. Unless you're planning on making it a top of the line studio, the basic and cheap stuff will work for you.

Option 1

and here

Option 2

These are your cheaper bets.

Also, you don't have to treat all four walls for it to help significantly. You just need to treat 2 of the 4 walls...i.e., if you treat the right wall, you don't have to necessarily treat the left wall, if you treat the front wall, you won't have to necessarily treat the back wall. Putting a rug or carpet on the floor also helps, as does hanging a blanket from the ceiling (pinning one end up and then draping it across the ceiling, leaving a bit of a dip in the blanket, and then pinning the other end to the ceiling)...these are all cheap fixes, btw. If you're wanting to really deaden the room, you can put carpet or a rug down and put the foam on all 4 walls.

Hope that helps bro."


Now, before any of you write in and tell me that this isn't proper sound treatment...I know that. These are, however, simple and cheap fixes to make a practice room sound decent, which is what he was looking for. Cheers.

Monday, February 21, 2011

On Being Motivated To Practice...

Blood Red Visions Practice Drummer 1

What if motivation doesn't matter?

Because it doesn't.

I think way to much is made about being "motivated" to get a task completed (i.e. practice).

How about being "committed" to practicing?

Brings it into a whole new light, doesn't it?

What if you set a scheduled time every day that you sit down at the drums, pull your notepad out, and start going down your checklist of things you need to work on. Novel idea, I know.

Here's the deal…in music we often get stuck in the "I'm not inspired" rut…i.e. I'm not inspired so I'm gonna sit here and play video games, or watch mindless television, or whatever. What good is being inspired to play if when you sit down to play you can't actually play the ideas you have because you haven't developed the facility to execute them?

So back to that motivation thing…who needs it…let's change it to "committed"…Be committed to practice everyday.

I don't miss many commitments in life…at least not the ones I really care about. And if you don't really care about playing your instrument, then why are you reading this anyways…you'd be better off going and watching some t.v.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Counting While Playing...

I had a question from ExEurasian on You Tube the other day that I thought would be a good discussion...

"I've been playing for 3 years now and only just got a metronome. I never count when I play along to a song etc only because I just 'feel' as you said how long I've gotta play a part etc. I'm taking my drumming to uni this September should I start counting in my head before I start uni. Problem is I've tried on the last few practices I have and I can't concentrate on what I'm playing while counting at the same time unless it's a straight rock beat etc. Any help?"

What up...

The question you're asking is one that every drummer struggles with but hardly ever's what separates the pros from the weekend players. You hear drummers talk about 4 way independence...being able to play different things on different limbs at the same time. An absolute necessity if you play the drums. But all to often there's a fifth element that's left out...your brain (matter of fact, we tend to leave our brain out of alot of decisions in life, lol, or at least I do. I could save myself so much grief...).

Music is very much about feeling...being able to feel the mood of the song you're playing, feeling what the other musicians are saying and responding to that, feeling the different sections of the song, etc. That being said, far to often we forget that we do actually need to think while playing also.

I've been playing with a metronome since I started private lessons at the age of 15. My first teacher said it was a must, so I took his word for it...I also still play the same sticks he used, still view Pearl drums as the king in the drumming world (even though I've found other companies I like better), and I still think every cymbal should sound like a Zildjian K, lol. That tells you how much I thought of my first teacher (he was a beast!). Anyways, it got to a point with the metronome that I was like you...I no longer really needed to count within the song, I could just feel it. Which is a great place to be at. That being said, it caused me problems when I went to college. I was essentially at the same place you are.

When you get into college, you'll be learning a HUGE amount of new knowledge and you'll be playing in a ton of different ensembles and groups...most of which will be based off of charts you'll be reading from. Let me say this once, and hopefully everyone will listen...


Sorry, didn't mean to yell...but it's true...and it took me many years and many hours of painful rehearsing to realize I'm just trying to save you some grief.

Here's how I approached songs in college while learning this skill...

1. Listen to the song if at all possible (even if it's a different recording or version than the one you're playing).

2. Learn it well enough to be able to sing the parts to yourself.

3. Now sit down with the chart and read through it without the drums. sing the hits, count the sections, break down the unison parts, figure out where the hits start and end (what count, etc) other words, dissect the song. Circle the parts that require more counting.

4. Take it to the drums. Start with the them first. Once you have them learned, start counting the whole time you're you said, it's hard and you won't be able to do it if you've never done it before...patience is the key.

5. Go to all of the areas and sections that you circled. Count them slowly, play them slowly, count, play, count play get the point.

6. Put the grooves with the circled areas and play one section at the time, counting while you do so.

7. Play the whole chart, counting, until you have it up to speed.

This seems like a long, drawn out process, but it is actually easier and shorter than trying to stumble through the chart and just "feel" the hits and sections. This is a skill that you HAVE to learn (sorry, no easy way out, lol!).

Eventually, you'll find that you're doing a mixture of your current habits and your newly learned ones. I typically count at the top of a song, but once I'm into the groove, I go on my "feel" instincts...when a unison part, hits, or a change in sections is coming up, my counter starts...once I make that transition, I'm back to opening my mind and listening to what's going on around me and responding. It's alot like driving through construction on the interstate...when you're out on the open road, you're on autopilot, but when you come up on a section of road that has closed lanes or people working around you, you automatically go into "think" mode and watch what's going on more carefully. You'll learn how to integrate the thinking part of your playing with the "feeling" part. That's what the drummers at the top of their game do.

University is the perfect time to learn this's a learning environment, take advantage of'll never have another time like University. You'll feel like you're taking all of the soul out of your playing, but once you learn it, you'll find the soul creeping in and working with your brain...which is where you need to be.

Hope that answered your question...I really appreciate you hitting me up. Means alot to me that you would want my opinion on the matter.

Cheers and good luck at uni!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Five Stroke Roll on the Drumkit

Drum lesson on a useful fill application for the 5 stroke roll.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fitness and the Working Drummer

Another question via Facebook...a topic close to my Specifically, as it pertains to the working professional drummer.

"So, may i ask you something? You lift you feel that benefits drumming at all? I lift weights and sometimes feel I could be hurting myself with my drumming, asking your advice from a professional point of view. thanx damon..."

What's up Damon...

I do lift well as a oodles of stage time and a degree in music, I'm also a certified personal trainer…so I guess I'm allowed to have an official "opinion" on the subject, lol!

I can see what you're saying...weight lifting hurting your playing. When I was lifting heavy weights, trying to "bulk up", I found it interfered with my playing. I felt to large and clumsy...part of that, however, had to do with me becoming comfortable with a bit bigger body. It just took some time to adjust. It also took some time for me to find my body's optimal weight…and no, contrary to popular belief touted by the U.S. Health Guidelines, there is NOT a perfect weight for you height…everyone varies. They're good to use as a guideline to a healthy lifestyle, but not as the golden rule. If I went by current standards, I would be considered overweight, borderline obese! (I'm 6'1", 211 lbs)…but I lift weights 4-5 times a week, and they don't take muscle mass into account.

Overall I feel lifting weights, if done correctly, only helps your drumming. A good regimen of core strengthening, cardiovascular training, and high rep/high intensity resistance training is beneficial on so many levels. The core training keeps the back strong for the long hours you sit at the kit. It also keeps the incidence of injury due to twisting at the waist to reach cymbals and drums to a minimum. If you want to…think of your abdominals (upper, mid, lower, and obliques) as well as your low back muscles like a bandage that wraps around all of your insides. The tighter and stronger that bandage, the more support your body is given. A lot of a persons strength and stability come directly from the core.

Cardiovascular training is also an important aspect of your playing...a typical rock drummer burns 600 calories an hour! That's alot of cardiovascular strain on your system...especially if the group you're playing with is high energy or you're on tour performing night after night. Conditioning your body to prepare it for those cardiovascular drum sessions is a must. There are 3500 calories in a pound…so if you break it down, you're burning almost a sixth of a pound every hour you play at an intense performance level. Talk about weight loss! Keeping a consistent weekly regimen of 30-45 minutes of moderate to intense cardiovascular exercise, 3-4 times a week, will improve your performance and stamina drastically. Not to mention the added benefit of having more energy due to the endorphins that are released within the body during intense physical exertion.

On to the weight training. When I was pushing heavy weight, I found it hard to sustain certain movements...prolonged periods on the ride cymbal would make my shoulders burn like the dickens! That being said, since I've changed my training to a much higher repetition program that focuses on functional training and practical exercises, that's been remedied. I think that a program of moderate weight lifting 3-4 times weekly, keeping high reps while at the same time keeping them at a challenging level (1-2 reps from muscle failure, and ocasionlly pushing yourself to complete muscle failure) is VERY beneficial to a drummers health and their prolonged career. It's like a car...if you never give it an oil change, it's going to breakdown on you. We'd expect nothing less. Exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep are like small oil changes for the body.

I'll also add a small bit about stretching…mainly, you should do it! Keeping the body limber is a must. Consistent, daily stretching improves mobility of the joints and muscles, wards away unwanted muscle strains and pulls, and gives you at least a few minutes in your day where you can be still and center your thoughts…all are so very beneficial to a healthy and balanced music career.

To sum it all up…weight training (and any other physical exercise), done correctly, will only improve you as a player.

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you…I was out doing some shows with my band…also, sorry I got long winded, lol...I'm sure that was WAY more info than you were looking for!

With Respect…

Stephen T.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Finger Eleven Show

The past two years I've had the opportunity to share the stage with the coolest group of guys I've ever played with...and we've also gotten to play some pretty quality shows with other great bands (Like Hoobastank, Black Stone Cherry, Thriving Ivory, Marcy's Playground, and lots of others). A few shows back I though I decided I'd start shooting a bit of footage while at the show and then putting a collage of video together so you guys could check out what I do with Lovers and Liars. It's been a blast and will hopefully continue to be so.

Here's a show we did with Finger Eleven. I love their tune "Paralyzer"...really great groove, and they KILLED it live!

Hope you enjoy the show...and the goofing off...I have trouble filming us while we play (something about I need to be playing the drums during the show) no footage of us playing, just the other bands and lots of us goofing around.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Contra vs. Drums of Death

So...sometimes I just have some fun...this is one of those times. I had come across the theme for Contra and as soon as I heard the intro it brought back endless summer days spent trying to conquer that stupid game.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Is It a 5 Stroke Ruff or a Single Stroke 5?

So when I posted the lesson a few days ago on "5 Stroke Roll Around the Drumkit", there was a bit of confusion on my Facebook page from a question (Go here to check out the original discussion)...but it actually led to a really great discussion, one where I learned a bit of history about the rudiments (rolls in particular) that I didn't already know...and any time I can learn something new, I think it's a cool thing.

Here's the question that sparked the debate:

"Stephen, is that a 5 stroke roll and a 5 stroke ruff you're playing? There is a difference."

From my understanding of the modern 5 stroke ruff, no, it wasn't what I was playing. So after we batted back and forth for a second, some of the peeps that watched the lessons started chiming in...they wanted to know the real answer.

Anytime I'm confronted with something that confuses me, or gives me pause, I go digging for info. The fact is, I rarely care about being right...I just want to understand the topic being discussed...especially in this instance. So I spent an hour or so digging, trying to find out what he was talking about. and here's what I came up with...(part of this was in the original discussion, so it's written in a discussive tone).

"After having time to sit down, dig through my massive amount of percussive literature and dig on reputable sites online, this is what I've discovered. There has long been a discussion among professionals, both in NARD (National Association of Rudimental Drummers) and in PAS (Percussive Arts Society), over correct definitions of rudiments, should there be 26? 40? 120?, what makes something a rudiment, should it be called a ruff or a single stroke roll? (for a great article on this, check out the April 2005 edition of Percussive Notes, which is the journal of PAS) other words, we're talking about the same concept here (that being a 5 stroke roll played with singles, or a single stroke 5 versus a 5 strok ruff). The problem comes in the terminology.

Let me explain what I mean...I finished my music degree approximately 5 years ago. The director of Perc. studies was Dr. John Wooton (Click on his name to find out a bit more about of "The Drummers Rudimental Reference Book" and his newest one "Dr. Throwdown's Rudimental Remedies"). I have never heard a single stroke 5 referred to as a 5 stroke ruff, even taking from someone such as Dr. Wooton. Hence me referencing it as a hybrid (part of the earlier conversation I didn't include)...and you're right Matt, it's not a hybrid at all. This DOES NOT mean the 5 stroke ruff does not exist.

Originally the Single Stroke 5 was referred to as a 5 Stroke Ruff. The term "ruff" however, is no longer currently used to denote the single stroke roll, at least not in modern drumming camps. Check out the PAS website, you'll be hard pressed to find anything on there referring to "ruff" as a modern term applied to the single stroke roll. This happens with some words in the drumming community...take the NARD notation of "The Ruff" go here and scroll to #8, which was actually the rudiment I think about when you mention "ruff" (Matt, go here to see what I've seen as a 5 stroke ruff before, only example I could find of it notated how I've seen it)

now go here and scroll to #31. You'll see that what is referred to as "The Ruff" on the NARD site is referred to as a "Drag" on the PAS site. You'll also see that NARD calls one of the rudiments a "Single Drag" and PAS calls it a "Single Drag Tap", the only difference being that one is notated as quarters and the other as eighths, which is insignificant...who's right? THEY BOTH ARE!!! It's essentially the same rudiment. If you looked at a 5 Stroke Ruff and a Single Stroke 5, they will look the same.

Matt is also correct in his reference to Buddy Rich's book "Buddy Rich's Modern Interpretation of Snare Drum Rudiments"--printed in 1942 originally. It in fact DOES show the ruffs separately from the rolls of the same length. However, they are notated the same, accented the same and should sound the same. This might be why most more modern resources don't mention the ruff, or do so passingly. It got to be a very confusing term...and an easy fix was to call a ruff a drag, and to notate "single" within the name of a roll when referring to any denomination of single stroke roll.

So what have we learned here...

-That I need to be frickin' clearer when I post a lesson, lol!

-That Mr. Patella is right...there is a such thing as a 5 stroke ruff and his explanation of that rudiment was correct. That being said, it's the same thing as a Single Stroke 5, just different terminology.

-That this is a hot topic among not just the people on this post, but between the professionals at NARD and PAS. The rudiments are still being debated endlessly.

-That I shouldn't quickly call something a hybrid just b/c I haven't heard of it (although most of the times they are hybrids when I haven't heard of them)

And while we're on the topic of rudiments...

Click here for the PAS 40 Official Rudiments

...and here for 128 Hybrid Rudiments

Sorry, that got long winded...I just wanted everyone to understand what I now understand. Thanks Matt for bringing a bit of history to my awareness and letting me know the original and proper definition of the 5 stroke ruff. I hope this cleared up any confusion.

Please, all of you rudiment buffs weigh in if you'd like...I'm no expert in this area, this is just what I dug up in my research...and I'm very open to being told I'm wrong about things.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lovers and Liars/Thriving Ivory Show

This show was one of our favs from 2010.

We had just played a sold out show in Atlanta, GA where Big Boi from Outkast wound up rapping with one of the bands on the bill (quite surreal...all I could think was "This is the guy that sang on "Ms. Jackson!"), so we were feeling good about things. Our next show was gonna be with a FANTASTIC band that we loved playing with called Thriving Ivory. Check out one of their tunes below...

We had driven all day to Little Rock, Arkansas, gotten there a bit late, and rushed to set sound check...which is always a stressful event, especially when you carry 243 different instruments, like we've been known to do.

It was half an hour til the first band started (we were the second of 3 bands) and there were about 50 people in the club...a bit depressing, especially since we had driven such a ways. I had to run out to the van to grab a shirt, and when I stepped out of the door and looked to my right...the line wrapped around the block! Apparently they just hadn't opened the doors yet (The top photo is a pic of the line).

Nothing better than an eager crowd to get the blood flowing, especially when you've been thinking it was gonna be a lackluster event.

It was a sold out show...the club was PACKED!

We took the stage and you could just feel the energy running through the place...really an amazing thing when you get a great crowd. We were absolutely blown away by the of the funnest shows I've ever had the privilege to be a part of. I still can't put my finger on exactly why, but the energy was simply through the roof.

Again, no footage of us, just the other groups and some pre and post show mingling. Cheers.