Monday, August 8, 2011

Drumming In a Jazz Group - What To Work On

"Hi stephen, i've subscribed to you on youtube and have a question. I'm going to start my sophomore year of high school in the fall, and i'm planning on joining the jazz band at our school. i haven't listened to much jazz, and im not sure what to expect. can you help me?"


What's up Geoff..

Thanks so much for the email man...and SO SORRY it's taken me a hot minute to get back with you. Being a one man typing army can be time consuming, lol...on to your question.

That's awesome that you're going out for the jazz band! Alot of players avoid getting involved in the jazz programs. If they only realized how much they were missing out on though. You'll be forced to learn a ton of different styles, play with dynamics, learn to read charts, learn to LISTEN and support the soloist, etc. I was a jazz studies major in college, and I'm so glad that's the major I chose instead of performance.

What to expect...

Alot of work! Lol, and alot of fun. You need to start listening. I never realized how beneficial listening was until I had some older players sit with me and help me learn to listen to songs, to pick them apart, figure out why the parts worked, why the players played what they did. If it's a big band, go download some Count Basie stuff (The stuff with Sonny Payne is my favorite...simple, understated, and GREAT setups to learn from). As far as getting your swing together (which you'll work on constantly), go listen to some Art Blakey ("Moanin'" is a great one). Concentrate on the ride cymbal, mainly the quarter note pulse. That's where the swing is gonna come from. Play along to recordings using just the ride cymbal and try to make it really swing.

Practice your chart reading. You'll be doing alot of it. Learn to set up the ensemble hits. Listen to how other big band drummers set things up. Also listen to smaller groups and how they set things up in those settings as well.

Approach it like you would any other style of music...with enthusiasm, with curiosity, and most of all with an open mind.

I'm stoked you're taking the opportunity to expand yourself man. Let me know how it goes and if you have any more questions!

-Stephen T.


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