Thursday, December 12, 2013

Let's Talk Drums

I'm trying something new...if you're wanting to hang with me on a daily basis and talk drums, then you should go "like" this Facebook page.  It's where we'll be talking shop...drumming, practice, lessons, and anything else to do the drums or The Shed.  As always, you guys are awesome.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Best Way To Get More Practice Time

This is the biggest issue I deal with on a daily basis.  Sure, I teach and play for a living...but that doesn't mean I have it any easier when it comes to juggling home/work/practice time.  It's a constant push and pull to get those precious few moments to sit at the drums and improve myself as a player and musician.  But there is one tip that I give everyone that will guarantee you will get your practice time in everyday.  That is, if you're willing to pay the price.  I received a question about it the other day and this was my answer

"How can I work in more practice time with a busy professional career, wife, and two kids?"

 and my response...

"Man...I feel you with that issue. I teach and play for a living...and I STILL have trouble with the same thing. I've got two awesome kids and a great wife myself that I love spending time with.  And it's healthy to want to spend time with them.  But it's a constant juggle. You know what I've found that helps the most?  It's simple and requires some discipline, but I've been doing it for years.  Getting up half an hour to an hour earlier than anyone else. This is a great time for me to get in some practice pad time.  When I was in college, my wife woke up at 5:30 am to go to her teaching job. I would get up with her and be on the kit by 6 am. I could get 3 hours of practice time in before my first class (my neighbors weren't as excited as I was that I was getting that extra practice in at that time of the morning). I've found that no matter how busy I get, I can always set that early time aside.  That is, if I'm disciplined enough to get out of bed!  And for some it's after the family goes to bed.  I've also found that keeping a practice log or journal helps me stay focused and get the absolute most out of my limited time.  I actually have a whole section of the members area on my website set aside to talk about practice, how to organize it, and how to get the most out of your limited time.  And if you want to read some other short posts I've written on practice, you can go here.
I wish I had an easy answer!   Lol, I would use it myself.  But this one thing has enabled me to get more practice time in on a daily basis.  As a matter of fact, I woke up at 5 am this morning, got some practice time in, and am now writing this.  On second thought, maybe I need to get a life..."

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Question on Soloing

Got an email question earlier this week about soloing.

"The drumming problem I'd need help with the most is soloing. Particularly, more smoothly putting the licks together and changing rythmic scope solo to solo. I play regular w/ a jazz trio and my solos are about a 50/50 proposition. Half the time they come out nice, others it's are more rickety and stuck in re-tread licks. I feel like I could pre-conceive 2 or 3 'go to' solos. but going between ideas improvisationally makes me stumble sometimes."

"That's a tough problem. One I struggled with myself in the past, especially my senior year in college. It's actually the reason I made a whole section of the members area on the site called "The Art of Soloing".  I'm able to take students step by step through the process of working on their soloing skills.

For me, revolving the solo around a recurring theme, especially in a jazz setting, seemed to help me the most. It gave me a logical beginning and ending. I would also take smaller chunks of that theme and rearrange/morph them into other ideas during the solo. This is called Theme and Variation and is a very common practice in both the jazz world as well as the classical world.

In your practice time, try to set aside a solo practice time. Come up with a theme. Then work on incorporating ideas that you already know into that theme. Hum the tune of a familiar standard and try to outline the melody using snippets from that theme. In other words, don't focus on impressive chops...focus on dynamics, melodies, tension and release, etc. That's what will improve your soloing. Learning impressive licks and fast fills is cool...but in the end, it's about how much you make people sing what you play. How memorable your solo is.  When I'm listening to jazz, I want melodies, music, memorable lines. Not chops. Art Blakey? You can hum all of his solos. And they're impressive to boot. I think you've nailed what the issue is, now it's just working through the mechanics of stringing your ideas together more thoroughly."

Ready to take your drumming to the next level?  Then it's time to join The Shed