Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"An Introduction to Interdependence"

I've just finished my third method book and it will be hitting the big wide intranet in the next week or so. I'll be doing some nifty specials with the live lessons to go along with the release, so keep your ears and eyes open. Here's what the book is about...I'm kinda've excited to work on this material myself!

About This Book...

 This book is aimed at addressing one of the most common topics I hear discussed among drummers. Independence...or, as I like to call it INTERdependence, which means being able to play various rhythms with different limbs simultaneously, with the end goal being complete creative expression.

I’ll go ahead and burst your’re never going to get there. The further you go and the more you learn will only reinforce to yourself that you have light years more to travel. And that’s ok. It’s the reason we continue to get up every morning and make time to improve our playing.

The studies you’ll find inside this book are aimed at helping you on your journey towards creative expression. I mentioned the term “interdependence” earlier. I like that term much better than “independence”. The term independence essentially means freedom from the control, influence, support, and aid of others. Never in my playing have I had a limb on my body that was free from the influence of the others. It’s impossible. They balance each other out. I will agree you may have worked a rhythm or ostinato so much that you are able to play virtually anything on top of it with one of your other three limbs, but this doesn’t make your limbs independent of each other. It simply means you’re really coordinated. Interdependence refers to a relationship in which each member is mutually dependent on the other. This term more correctly defines how we as drummers should approach things. Let me explain.

To begin explaining my theory of interdependence, we must first look at another theory I have. The theory of 5 way coordination. That term might not make sense at first. We only have 4 limbs, right? I’ll agree with you there. There are only 4 limbs on our body that we play the drums with. That being said, I’ve never seen a drummer that could play without their mind. To be able to really attain freedom in your playing, you must first be able to actively think about what you are playing WHILE you are playing it. You have to be able to tell your right foot to play a certain rhythm, or to tell your left hand to move to the ride cymbal, etc. You also must be able to COUNT everything you’re playing while you are playing it. All of this requires a fifth limb, and that’s your mind.

Think about it. It happens to my students all of the time while in a lesson. I give them an assignment. Then they go home, hit the woodshed, work hard, and come back the next week being able to play it. They’re not only playing it, they’re KILLING it! All of their limbs are going in different’s impressive. Then I ask them to do one thing that invariably stops them dead in their tracks every time. I simply say, ”That sounds great. Let’s play it again, but this time, count out loud.” They immediately go from sounding like Tony Williams to sounding more like Tony McMasterson, the 12-year old kid that takes lessons at his local music shop in Boise, Idaho. What happened? Well, it’s simple...they spent time working on their 4 way coordination but never touched their 5 way coordination. Playing on a professional level is impossible without the ability to count out loud, think about what you are playing, and why you are playing it. To read big band charts properly and set up the horn sections, you have to count. I tried it the other way...I used to leave jazz ensemble rehearsal completely drenched in sweat and embarrassed. Seriously, I had to start wearing two shirts to class everyday because I was sweating so much! I simply wasn’t counting the rhythms, because I hadn’t taught myself to do so...and my playing was suffering BIG TIME.

So, throughout this book, let’s think in terms of 5 way coordination. In every exercise, reading study, and melodic study you work through, force yourself to count out loud. Force yourself to actively think about what rhythm your left hand is playing and what relation it has to the rhythms that your other three limbs are playing.

If you’re actively thinking about what you are playing, which you should ALWAYS be present in mind when you’re playing, and if you view your mind as a fifth limb, then it is virtually impossible to ever have independence. You will always have interdependence. And your playing will sound better than it ever has!

The exercises contained in the following pages are aimed at giving you the facility you need to take your playing to another level. You won’t find new “licks” to use on a gig. You’re not going to gain new grooves to add to your playing. What you will find are exercises aimed at working on weak spots in your playing. Working through the pages in this book will give you the facility to create new grooves, come up with complex patterns, and perform at a higher level in any situation you’re put in. It’s not my job to be creative for you. It’s my job to give you the tools to build your creativity. I haven’t given you material that you will be able to learn and immediately use on a gig. I’ve given you exercises for your practice time. Once you gain the coordination to play the exercises and rhythms, it’s up to YOU to figure out how to creatively apply them to the situations you find yourself in.

I promise you, if you will take the time to work through the studies found in this book, you will find your playing will be taken to a new level. You will have better coordination, better creative expression, and the ability to really think about and understand what you are playing while you are playing it. I encourage you to take the challenge. I’d also love to know how you’re progressing in your studies and how the book helps you. Feel free to direct any of your questions or comments to I answer each and every email personally.


Marcus said...

Get the book, work the material. You will be glad you did. It's a book you will be able to work out of for the rest of your life. It has no ending.

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