Saturday, July 30, 2011

Drum Lesson: Beginner 16th Note Pattern (But Twisted)

Another drum lesson from my book. The book is about permutations. Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

How To Tune A Drum

Ok, so I've had a TON of requests to do a few lessons on drum tuning. This is an area that I'm no expert in by any means. It's also a personal area of drumming...every drummer has their own sound and should strive to find their voice. That being said, I've found a few things over the years that help me achieve a good sound that's what I thought I'd share with you. Feel free to throw your comments in as well!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Applying Rudiments To The Drum Set and Learning New Fills

Had a question via email come in...

"Hey man, I hope this message gets to you! I'm 18, and my name is Ryan.I just graduated High school and attending college next year. I live in Maine, and I too love drums. I'm 100 percent self taught. Out of all the drumming videos I have seen online, you seem to be the nicest, most understanding guy I see on there. so messaging someone because of their video on youtube is highly unlike me. But I had a question for you. I am in a band and get through it just fine. Most of my fills though are basic, and half the tim I dont know what I am doing, it is just muscle memory. How do I expand my knowledge of fills? I mean, I was told to learn rudiments and what not, but how do I incorporate those into fills? I want to be able to play drums and throw down some awesome triplet fills,or 32nd not fills, or what have you. and on top of that, I would want to do them on time:P so as of right now, Im not making any progress with my drumming.. what do I do? Thank you so much for your time, I hope you get this!"

What's up Ryan!

Thanks so much for the email...and yea, I try to answer all of the messages and emails I get in. Although these days I'm getting alot of them, so it's getting a bit harder.

To your questions...

You're going through something that's ordinary. Even I go through it. You realize that you've just been on autopilot and now you're actually wanting to expand your knowledge and push yourself to learn new things. The first step is realizing you're in a rut...and you're already past that step, so kudos to you for noticing it.

First step

-Take 3 of the "boring" fills that you already know and play all of the time. Now, instead of playing them like you usually do, dissect the sticking. Just play that sticking on the snare until it's in your head. Now, keep the left hand on the snare and move the right hand to the floor tom and play the fill on just those two sound sources. Then keep the right hand on the snare and move the left hand to the top tom. Now pick a cymbal and one tom to play the fill on...continue doing this for as many combinations as you can. What this will do is not only give you variations to your normal "boring" fills, it will start to open your thinking up...and that's the most important part. Getting your mind used to thinking in different ways.

Second Step

-Yes, you absolutely should learn your rudiments. They just give you a larger rhythmic palette to pull from. You're stuck where alot of guys get do I apply them. Begin to think of the rudiments you learn as simple sticking patterns. Paradiddle is simply RLRR LRLL. you can take that sticking and move it around the kit just like you did with your other fills. Move the right hand first and keep the left hand on the snare. Move it to as many sound sources as you can. Do the same with the left hand. You won't use all of the combinations you come up with...some of them will sound quite bad actually...but that's not the point. The point is to open up your thinking.

Now that you've moved them around some...replace all left hand hits with your kick drum and play the rudiment between your kick and right hand. Move it EVERYWHERE on the drum set. Then play all of the right hand hits with your kick so that the rudiment is played between the left hand and the bass drum. The important thing to remember is that there are NO rules here...there's no right or wrong way to apply these rudiments. Some of your ideas will work, some will be horrible...that's ok. The point of practicing is to push yourself to new places. If you sound good while you're practicing, that's not really practicing...that's reviewing old material. Save some of your practice time for reviewing old things and polishing them and a large chunk of your time for pushing yourself to new'll sound bad, you'll improve quickly, and you'll have a blast doing it!

Check out my YT channel and comb through alot of the old lessons...there's over a hundred up there so they should keep you busy for a while. I put them up there specifically for people like you...self taught chaps that want to improve.

I hope that helps Ryan...let me know if I can answer any other questions! You can also check out my blog for other questions and practice tips at

Now go practice!!!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How To Drum - Blues Drumming

Everyone should know this beat. Everyone should also have a sense of humor. Hopefully, this helps on both fronts.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Fun Pic

I got this pic on Facebook...Lol, at least I know peeps are enjoying the book one way or another. I've gotten a ton of great feedback from you guys letting me know it's helping. Makes it all worth it. You can go here to pick up a copy of "Functioning In Time" if you'd like. Or just keep watching the lessons and reading the blog...either works for me!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Left Hand Wrist Problems

Hey Stephen! Just wanted to say I appreciate your drum videos and I've gotten a lot of ideas off of them.

I have a question: When I start to play fast and begin to use my fingers, my left wrist seems to not sync with my fingers and in turn starts to almost "push" the stick away, which leads to my left wrist getting sore after playing for awhile.

Any ideas?

Thanks, Matt

What's up Matt,

It sounds like you're tightening up with your wrist when you get to more challenging speeds, which leads to compromising your technique, which leads to hurting (yourself and your playing). Find the tempo that this becomes a problem. Slow it down a bit from that and play singles and doubles alternating for long periods of time. Concentrate on staying relaxed and making sure your technique is solid. Then, push it up to the problem tempo for a few seconds, concentrating on the same things. Then slow it back down again and make sure you're still playing correctly. Then speed it up...then slow it down...and so forth and so on. I wish I had an "Easy" button you could push to help you, but I don't. It's just gonna take a lot of hard work and concentrating on that one small problem. Here's a lesson I did on finger technique if you haven't seen it yet. Maybe it will help.

Traditional Grip:

Matched Grip:

Sorry I don't have extremely specific advice, I would need to see you play to really be able to "diagnose" the issue. Feel free to record yourself (doesn't have to be great quality) and send it to me. I'll be more than happy to help you figure the problem out.

So glad the video lessons help you out...that's what they're there for! Thanks for the question!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

What Type of Laptop to Record With

Another Email question came in. I've decided to post all of the questions I get...hopefully some of the answers will help others that are wondering the same thing.


Hey Stephen
I am beginning to look into staring my own recording setup and i pretty much found everything i need but a computer. Do you know of any other laptops that are good for recording, other than mac (to save money)?

My Reply:

What's up Aaron...

That's awesome that you're thinking about getting a recording rig up and running...I can tell you from my own experience, it's the best! The amount you learn in the process, the ability to just walk in and record yourself, and the decision making power you will have over your playing and songwriting is priceless.

Here's the deal about a Mac...who cares. I use one, but you don't have to. Here in Nashville, if you walk into the top of the tops studio, they'll have Macs. That doesn't mean they're any better than a PC. It just means that they've become popular. I would check out Dell...they make some great products. On top of that, I would check out the Dell refurbished department (gasps of disbelief!). You'll save a little money and get a computer that's just as good as the others. The Mac I currently run my recordings off of was bought refurbished. Whatever type you decide on, there are just a few things to look out for:

1. Make sure that whatever recording program you're using will run on a PC or Mac (whichever you choose to use). Also, make sure your hardware (interface, etc) is compatible with the system you'll be running.

2. Make sure it's powerful enough to run all of your programs. This is really your biggest concern when picking a computer.

In the end, it doesn't matter what you use. I was choosing between a Dell and Mac...just so happened that I was going to use iMovie (a program that comes free on a Mac). The savings from not having to buy a video editor justified it in my mind.

I hope this helps...let me know if you need to know anything else. That's why I'm here! I'll let you know anything that I know...and tell you when I don't know the answer. Let me know what you decide!

-Stephen T.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Student Recording - "All the Thing You Are"

Had a You Tube student send this video to me to listen to. I love hearing from you guys and seeing how you're progressing!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rolls and Finger Control

Had a couple of questions on Facebook about rolls (single and double) and finger control...

Any tips on developing good drum rolls? Ive been practicing and I can do pretty some cool stuff but i just cant seem to get my drum rolls down. both single and double stroke rolls.


What's up, you'll be striving for a better double and single stroke roll your whole life (I know I still do). Every drummer I know that's worth their beef still consistently works on them.

Here's two lessons I did...

Double Stroke:

Single Stroke:

See if those help out a bit. If they're not the answer you're looking for or you need more info, let me know and I'll hit you up with an answer tomorrow morning!

And the next morning...

Thank you for the videos. Those videos will really help me. One more questions it seems that when i speed up my finger on my left hands start to kick in, but the fingers on my right hand will not. Any tips on how to get better control and speed with fingers?


Ask and you shall's a lesson on finger is on finger control with traditional grip and one is on finger control with matched grip...let me know if that helps or you need more info...

Matched Grip:

Traditional Grip:

Hope those help!

-Stephen T.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Keeping Consistent Time

Had a question come in about keeping consistent time. GREAT topic.

"Dear Stephen
I want to know what is a good exercise in working on keeping a consistent tempo to music?

Not keeping a consistent tempo with the music really bugs me like an insane amount, I used to play smooth and very consistent and now I drag subconsciously.
I really would appreciate the advice and tips, it is literally killing me and this is holding me back mentally, it discourages me in becoming a great drummer. I have been struggling with this for a while. I could play with a metronome consistently before and I don't understand why I continue to drag with music, it's like a drummers worst nightmare. I really really would appreciate the help."

What up...

Great question. This is THE job of a keep consistent and comfortable time while the band is playing. To often we get so caught up with trying to learn the latest fill or hot lick, we forget what our real job is.

I wish I had an "Easy" button for you, LOL! There's no shortcut for good just have to work your butt off! There's also no fancy exercise I can show you. Here's what has worked for me in the past.

-The metronome is your friend! From now on, EVERY exercise you play will be to a click. I don't care what you're working on. Hand and foot a click. a click. Groove a click. Get the point? You need to listen to a click so much that you're hearing it in your sleep! This is the only way I learned.

When I was in New Orleans, there was a time that I was pulling doubles 5-6 times a week...that's 10 hours of stage time EVERY DAY! Plus I was practicing outside of my regular gig. The club I played at had a click right by the drumset. I played every song to it for months. I sucked hard at first, was pretty bad! But as time went on, I got more and more comfortable with it.

-The best exercise for learning solid groove with a click is to play to one for long periods of time. Best exercise I've found (notice I didn't say most interesting). Set your metronome at a certain tempo. Pick a groove you've been working but that you've already mastered. For this exercise we don't want to be worried about the mechanics of the groove. You want to already have those mastered. You're simply worried about consistent time. Start the click. Set your stop watch for 5 minutes. Start playing. Focus on keeping solid and comfortable time with the click. NO FILLS...just the groove. Once you get comfortable with that, set your stop watch for ten minutes and do it again. and again. and again...until you're so sick of it you can't stand it! Now start to add a fill. Not many. Watch your stop watch and everytime the minute marker goes by, play a fill. Make sure it's in time and that you come back in on the proper beat. Repeat this over and over.

-I also suggest playing to music. Make it current music for this particular skill. Older music (motown, James Brown, classic rock, etc) wasn't always recorded to a click. 95% of new music today is. Focus on staying with the drummer on the track, emulating his groove and feel. Learning to have groove with and without a click is fundamental to a drummer.

These are just some suggestions that have worked for me in the past. The most important thing is to find ways to make it interesting and fun. This is one of the hardest skills to learn. It's a very mature thing for a drummer to realize...that his or hers time sucks. The good thing is, it's a skill that can be taught with repetition. So there's hope for you!

Thanks for the question...seriously, with a little hard work, you'll be a time keeping rock star in no time. I know you can do it bro. Let me know how it's going!

-Stephen T.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Drum Lesson: Intermediate Samba

Once again, another lesson from my book (that's why I wrote I would have something to teach out of). You can check out the book here. I also included a downloadable pdf of the sheet music to the lesson here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Something I Dug Up From College...

Since I write this blog, I get to choose what goes on it. I try my best to not make it about myself...but seeing as the only experience I have to draw on is my own, I wind up in alot of the posts. Sorry about that.

This is a recording (I believe from my senior recital). My arrangement of Afro-Blue. For you drum nerds, here's what I'm doing.

1. A 3 over 4 pattern in the feet with 4 being on the kick and 3 being on the hi-hat. This lays over 6/8 quite well.

2. A 6/8 cascara pattern (for the most part) in my right hand. I don't stick strictly to that (I think I start off differently actually), but that's what I base most of it off of.

3. 6/8 Clave in my left hand split between the rim of the snare and the toms. I was working on incorporating the different subdivisions of the 3 over 4 polyrhythm into my solo as well as my playing.

Funny to look back on these kinds of things.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Practicing vs. Rehearsing

Had another e-mail come in that I thought you guys would like to see...

Got a question!
I love the new material you always post. How do you (or more importantly how would I) go about balancing new practice material vs getting ready for the upcoming gig?

Love the beat displacement vid. I play hip hop and I never thought to do that. I am always looking for a different way to use the kick and snare since that is so important in that genre. Do you have the written music for that or is it in the book? If it's in the book don't bother, I am buying it here soon.

ps July 22nd you are at the NAMM in Nashville?

What's up Jason...

So sorry it took me a day or so to get back to you. I wanted to make sure I had enough time to fully answer your question...and a GREAT question it is!

I struggled with this so much while I was in college. I was playing in a ton of groups and going to school at the same time. It seemed like I was always having to learn new material for a gig as well as keep up with the ensembles I was in and my private lessons (I was taking from two separate teachers. Not only did I have to keep up with my drum set studies, I had to practice the vibes, marimba, and tons of auxiliary percussion). I actually found a few ways to have it all work to my advantage. I would learn what needed to be learned for the gig, keep up with my lesson studies, challenge myself in new ways, and make money with it all at the same time.

First things first...THE GIG IS THE MOST IMPORTANT!!! The whole reason we get into playing in the first place is so that we can take those skills and entertain (hopefully at least) people. To play with other musicians, to create...not to sit in our basement and hack out cool licks by ourselves (although I have just as much fun doing that). Whatever material has to be learned for the gig comes first. Period. If rehearsals with the group you're gigging with takes away from your practice time, that's just how it has to be. When you get onstage, you should know the songs backwards and forwards.

Now, that being said, I think you can do both at the same time. Practice for the gig as well as further your skills that is.

For a long time I separated what I practiced in my personal practice time from the gig material. I had the stuff I practiced and I had the stuff I played on the gig and never the two would meet. Thinking back it seems so stupid to do it that way. I just never thought to incorporate practicing for a gig into my practice sessions. The only reason we practice is to learn skills that will make us better on the gig. Your gigs and the material you learn should regularly mix with the material you have fun practicing.

It started while I was playing in NOLA. I was playing at least 5 hour shifts, sometimes 10 hours...6 days a that's alot of playing! Needless to say, it was alot of the same material, and not overly challenging material might I add. I would practice for 2 or 3 hours before I went into the gig. It dawned on me one day that I had the perfect situation to try out alot of the stuff I had been practicing. I would take a fill idea I had been working on, or a groove idea, and I would look through our song list. I would find the best place to stick the fill in..."I'll play this fill going into the 3rd chorus of Jungle Boogie", or whatever. Or maybe it was a groove that I would stick into a solo section of a song. In other words, I was using the gig to apply the skills I was learning in my practice time. This is one way I made the most of my time.

The other one takes a bit more creative thought, but is alot more fun and has endless possibilities.

Take 3 or 4 songs that you'll be performing. They are now going to be put on the table to be dissected. First, find out what tempos they are played at. Write those down. Next, pick your regular warmup (if you have one...and if not, now's a great time to get one) or maybe just a section of a method book that you've been working on. Pick one of the tempos and instead of playing the exercise at the fastest tempo possible, play it at the tempo of that song. Make it groove and repeat it until it's perfect. I found that alot of the performance tempos I played at were slower than the tempos I was playing some exercises at. This allows you to work on the song indirectly. When you go to play that song, all of a sudden you'll have a ton of ideas start to spring into your head because you've been concentrating on that tempo all week.

Now that you've done that, pull the actual recording of the song out. Grab some headphones and have some fun! Put the song on repeat and play the exercise to the actual song. It doesn't have to make musical sense at the time, this is just practice. I've stumbled upon so many cool applications of things I had been studying just by randomly playing the exercise over a new song. "Oooh, I love the way that sits over that groove!", "Man, that sounds killer when I do that right before the bridge!".

We're just getting warmed up with this...

Ok, so we've practiced that songs tempo until we're blue in the face. Now lets dissect the song. Take the groove that you play to that song. Pull out a book like Gary Chester's "New Breed". Go to the section of bass drum exercises. Keep the hi hat and snare the same as they are in the song and play the bass drum exercises over that. Now keep the hi hat and kick drum the same as they are in the song and play the bass drum exercises, but this time play them with your left hand on the snare instead of the kick drum. Now keep the snare and kick the same as in the song and play the exercises on the hi hat...or tom...or ride cymbal...or rules here! Are you starting to see what I'm getting at with this?

Next, take 3 of the fills that happen during the song. Learn them as they are played on the recording. Then mess with them. Start them on beat two instead of 1. Just use the sticking for the fill and put every note on a different drum...Play the fill on the the fill between the left hand and the kick...again, it's a game, just have fun with it.

Grab some popcorn, I've got a story...

I picked the setlist out for my senior recital 6 months before it was to happen. Then, I went through each song and decided what concepts I wanted to explore. I took all 6 months and came at those grooves and concepts in every way possible. It was some of the most intense and rewarding practicing I've ever done. By the time I played my recital, I had a virtual encyclopedia of stickings, grooves, and ideas to pull from.

This is the way I approach it. When I do this, I'll get to the gig and what seemed like challenging music when I first looked at it was now quite simple. And I found I wasn't just "getting through" the gig anymore...I had endless ideas that I could try. And I knew they would all be in the pocket because I had been practicing those ideas to that song for weeks.

Another way...

Get out your practice log (and I know you have one)...decide on how long you have to practice that day and how long you have until the gig (i.e. a week? a month?). Spend half of your practice time working on the gig material, and the other half working on your own stuff. As long as you slot out a time frame, you should be able to learn it in plenty of time for the gig as well as expand your own stuff.

As far as the displacement glad it helped! And yes, that material is in the book. If you haven't checked these lessons out that I did as well, you should. I think you'll dig them too...



And yes, I will absolutely be at NAMM...and you? If you're there, let's hook up!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Super Secret Drum Lesson: The Secret to Unbelievable Bass Drum Speed

I named it that because every time I would come across a lesson on bass drum speed online, it was lauded as some big secret. I'll let you in on the big secret...It's not. It just takes alot of hard work. Here's a lesson to help out. Let me know how it works out for ya!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Disappointment and Failure

I had something happen today that made me remember that feeling that I get every time I feel like I've failed. You know, that awful feeling in your gut when you know you just blew the audition...or the interview...or that first doesn't have to be confined to music and drumming.

That worthless feeling.

Nothin' worse in my book. Not only did you not get the gig, or promotion, or you get to deal with the overwhelming feeling that you're not worth the dirt you walk on everyday. That's tough to deal with...tough to deal with, but a valid emotion. I think to often we skip over it..."Just get over it", "You'll live to fight another day"...or cue any other cliche piece of crap that people will tell you just to get you out of the dumps. Fact of the your own eyes, you're a failure. And that sucks.

So what do you do? Well, I recommend relishing in the misery for at least a few minutes. Seriously. Let yourself fully embrace that feeling. Remembering what it feels like is what will push you to better places in the future.

I'm a big believer in you like to refer to it as. I really do believe there is a "bigger" picture that we can't see. As hard as it is to swallow at the time...that position, or gig, or job...wasn't meant for you. If you would have been given the opportunity, you would have screwed it up...or at least not let the project live to its fullest. I've seen this play out time and time again in my life. So now I just accept it.

That doesn't make dealing with the disappointment of rejection any easier. That whole process sucks.

I will tell you that you'll wake up tomorrow and it'll look a little better. I'll also tell you that you're not near as horrible as you're making yourself out to be at that moment. And you should try again...and again...and again. Because that's the only thing that will separate you from the rest of the losers in the world. You only lose when you quit completely. Up until that point...that place where you's game on. I've never seen a team officially lose a game that's still being played.

Playing in Front of 120,000 People

I get to know some really great people through the lessons that I do online. Some really talented, passionate, and driven people. I love it. I met Matt the same way I meet alot of people (geez, I sound like a dating service). Matt plays for Chris Medina (formerly of American Idol), along with a few other groups. We've talked off and on about drums, lessons, etc...then I get this message that he's got the opportunity of a lifetime...check it out...

"Hey man,

I wanted to drop u a line and say thanks for all you do. The lessons, the inspiration, and even the time you took to write back to me with the valuable advice! Im not sure if you remember, but you gave me some confidence and just put a couple things in perspective about playing rock music. The past few months of watching and working on your lessons really helped me to not only improve, but motivate me as well. Tomorrow I'll be playing in Oslo in front of 100,000 people and I can't believe it myself. But before I start rambling, I just want to say thanks again, and any advice you like to throw my way I would totally appreciate it!"

Best regards,
Matt Sebby

Bro, I can't tell you how proud I am of you. That's awesome! What a gig...not many drummers have the opportunity to play to an audience like you will tomorrow. I'll tell you from experience...enjoy EVERY minute of that show. It's something you'll tell your kids about.

The fact that I've been able to motivate/inspire/teach you in any way is huge to me. I really do do this because I love it. No other reason.

And as far as advice on a gig like that...

1) Take a second before you play, set the nerves aside, and really appreciate what is happening. Those people are there to see you. And that's an awesome feeling. Don't let it slide by without acknowledging it.

2) Playing in front of 100k people or 100 people is the same...concentrate on the music, only do the things you know you can pull off confidently, and lay down the groove...that's what they came to hear.

3) Take pictures! Lol, seriously, it's a big deal and you'll want to remember it.

You made my night by letting me know that I've played a positive role in what you do. Keep it up, you've got greatness written all over you bro!

Let me know how it goes.

-Stephen T.

Seriously?! How many people do you know that get an opportunity like that? There wound up being over 120,000 people at the concert...simply a really cool experience for anyone. Check out the video of the show...

Matt recently came through town on tour and we got to catch up before their show at The Rutledge. Had a blast getting to hear about everything he's doing.

I post this simply to can do anything you want in life. You can tour, you can play in front of hundreds of thousands of people, or you can decide to stay in your hometown and teach kids with a passion for the instrument. You just have to decide what your best life looks like and go after it.

As a sidenote...if any of you ever come through Nashville, please look me up. I'm always available to grab some food, hang out before the show, or whatever. I'm seriously your biggest fan. The success that I get to hear about you guys having just floors me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Drum Lesson: Basic Beat Displacement

Another lesson from my book, Functioning In Time. Pick it up here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How To Audition

I had a comment left on my Facebook page (btw, if you aren't my "friend", you're more than welcome to find me. I stress this all of the time, but I answer any and all comments, questions, emails, messages, smoke signals, letters, bird calls, and tweets. I love talking drums, teaching, and sharing the knowledge that I've stumbled upon due to the massive amount of mistakes I've made over my career...there were some successes, but I didn't learn near as much from those, LOL). The comment had to do with auditioning, how to prepare, how to handle nerves, what if I get know, the usual plethora of emotions and anxieties we experience anytime we have to "prove ourselves" to other musicians. I thought it was a great discussion, so I'm posting it here. These are just my thoughts on the subject...feel free to add your own to the discussion...

I have sort of an "Audition" in two weeks for a marching band here in Austria. It's a group of 12 men and women and they play at local festivals here in Carinthia.
My problem is- I don't know how to play stuff in traditional grip.. my rolls just sound terrible.. but when we are marching I need to play in traditional because of the snare hanging sideways... My other fear is that I will just fail miserably at the Audition... Have you got any tips? Please?
Greetings and thanks in advance,

I absolutely have some tips bro. First of all, that's awesome that you're even thinking of auditioning! Seriously, an audition is stressful, nerve wracking, makes you doubt yourself, fun, hard work...and lots more all rolled into one. It takes alot of guts to put yourself under that kind of scrutiny. Here's a list of things to watch out for in general on auditions...

1. Identify any problem areas

You already told me your problem area. Double strokes and rolls in your left hand suck. Great! Now that you know what your problem is, you can go about methodically fixing it. Anytime I have an audition coming up, I try to find my weakest areas and work on them. Sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper and write out a practice routine. How much time each day do you have to practice? Schedule your practice time just like you would school work or a job. Every minute should be accounted for in your day and any spare seconds should be devoted to practicing. Every last minute that you have scheduled to practice should be planned out, with additional topics to be practiced in case you have extra practice time. If you really want this gig, then take the audition that seriously. Treat every audition and gig like it's Wembley it's the most important thing in the world...because it is. Take your practice pad EVERYWHERE with you! You should be working on that left hand in your sleep. People should be begging you to stop playing diddles on your left hand. They should be petitioning the local authorities to have you banned in public places due to noise violations. You're a man on a mission! Act like it! (Ok, so maybe that's a bit overboard, but you get the idea!)

2. Try to find out what material you need to play ahead of time.

3. Go to any shows they have in the next couple of weeks. Let them know that you're not just wanting to play for the sake of playing drums. Let them know you're really interested in the group, that you really and truly like what they do. That goes a long way.

4. Whether you get the gig or not, it's worth it. I can't tell you how much improvement has come in my playing in the past due to audition preparation. And you know what? Every one of them gets easier. You'll find that you aren't as nervous at the next audition. Practice improves you...and so does practicing your auditioning skills. Unless you're Steve Gadd or Dave Weckl, people are going to want to hear you play before they make a decision on inviting you into their musical world. That's only fair.

Again, I can't tell you how stoked I am that you get this opportunity. If you get the gig, great! If you don't get it, great! Ask them what you can do to improve yourself...that way, if they have another audition down the road, you can come back and show them just how committed you are. There's a big chance that you could screw up...there's a big chance they won't like you...there's a big chance that you might embarrass yourself...SO WHAT! There's also a chance they might like you...that you'll blow them away...that they'll see potential. Don't judge your worth as a player and human being on the outcome of one audition.

Whew...I got a little long winded, sorry. It's just a great should definitely take advantage of it.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Email Question: Recording Yourself While Practicing

Dear Stephen,

My name is Nathan. I'm actually a student of your old teacher, Jeff Mills. He referred me to your website a few years ago and it's great! I had a question about practicing and recording: I've been working a lot out of Tommy Igoe's Groove Essentials and would really like to know what I sound like when I play. Not only that, but Jeff and Tommy both advise recording yourself when you play along. The problem is, I don't have anything to record myself with and have no idea what I should buy in order to do so. Got any advice for someone on a college student's budget?

Also, my little practice room has terrible sound quality. It's like all the sounds bounce around off of each other and it's just a giant sonic mess in there when I play. Do I need to invest in soundproofing or sound absorption? Any advice on that?

Thanks a whole lot for your time!

Best wishes,
Nathan Coumbe

What's up Nathan...

Thanks so much for the email bro! And if you're with Jeff, you're in GREAT hands. Such a talented guy!

Recording yourself...YESSSSSS!!!!! Lol, it's an absolute necessity. It doesn't have to be a perfect recording, just a simple recording. You can buy a camera like this one, , or something similar and that will work. All you're wanting to do is capture the sounds, they don't have to actually be sonically great sounds. That being said, the Flips don't have that bad of sound for what they are. The added bonus of recording yourself with a camcorder would be that you can also SEE yourself play and correct any technique or posture issues. I used to have a mirror beside my kit so I could watch myself play and adjust as needed. If you have an iPhone, you could just use the video phone and record yourself. It doesn't have to be great, just needs to give you an idea of your playing and what you need to work on. I'm a big fan of just using whatever you already have that will get the job done (it's what I've done for years).

As far as the sound of your room...simple answer, yes. Here's a few links that will help out.

A before sound treatment and after of my studio. I only used the mic from the camera to capture the sound... . I made all of the bass traps in my studio, and only used acoustical foam on one wall to cut down on my costs.

Here's a couple of blog posts I did on the topic...

Hope that helps bro! Let me know if you have other questions. Sorry it took me a hot minute to swing back at ya.