Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rhythmic Illusions

I realized today that it's been a while since I've put anything up here. And I also realized it looked horrible, lol. So we did a bit of housekeeping and changed the look of things a bit. This is a quick lesson on rhythmic illusions. This particular pattern implies that you've gone to 5/8 time when in fact you haven't. They're a lot of fun to work on and listen to. And if you haven't had the chance, you should check out the new website. Lots of good things happening this year as The Shed grows.

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Drumming In Church But Want To Do More

Every day my inbox is filled with questions from drummers around the world.  I'm not saying that to brag or make me seem important...because I'm not.  But I do believe that there are a lot of drummers out there that are looking for a little direction, need a kick in the pants, are stuck on a question, or just need to find a teacher.  I don't mind helping out.  Seeing as I have a back log of literally hundreds of questions from drummers like yourself, I thought I would post some of those questions here in hopes that they would help you out too.  And as always, if you have any thoughts or questions on the subject at hand, throw them in the comments section.

"Hello Stephen,

My name is William and I'm an intermediate drummer (or so I say). I've been playing for over two years with "some" but not great advancement due to time constrains. I usually take classes at my church. I enjoy watching your videos and the way you teach although I find some of the lessons harder than others. I would like to continue growing my drumming practical and intellectual knowledge and for this reason I would like your advice on what type of program do you offer or recommend in order for me to achieve this goal. 

My apologies if my request seems too technical or somewhat robotic. I really like and enjoy playing drums,  it grows out of passion and when I mix it with worship I  sort of go crazy and unfortunately tend to go all over the place. So if you can guide me towards the right direction I would really appreciate it.

Thanks a lot,


Hey W,

Thanks so much for the email!

I love your attitude towards the drums.  And I love that you play in church (I regularly play at my church here in Nashville).  Regardless of who/where you take lessons and learn, you need to find some.  You also need to be hyper organized about your practice time.  Especially if you have limited time to practice.  It's not about how much time you put in on the drums, it's how productive that time is.  I actually have a two part series talking specifically about how to organize your practice time to be most effective.  Marking out a goal, setting markers to achieve it, tracking your progress...that's what it is all about.

As far as what programs I offer...well, to be honest, the live lessons on my site are going to be the best bang for your buck.  There is a 7 day 100% money back guarantee, so you can try them out at no risk to see if it's what you need.  There are over 300 lessons with sheet music for you to look through...everything from linear fills to song breakdowns to rudiments to technical advice.  If you miss the live times, you can simply catch up later in the vault.  They're able to be viewed on any mobile device or home computer.  If you're looking for a plan to follow, there are over 20 student tracks in the members area that take you through a specific topic and give you a test at when you're done to let you know that you've mastered that topic.  New additions to the site: The Art of Soloing (we talk about the specifics of how to solo and the skills involved), a playalongs section, and a lot more.  There is also a student YouTube channel where students regularly upload videos of themselves playing so that I can critique and help them improve.  It's as interactive as you want it to be.  If you do decide to take me up on the free trial, I would be happy to make you out a lesson plan for you to go through.  I would just need to know what level of a player you are, what you need to work on, and what you want to work on.  We can then devise a plan that works specifically for you.  Once you finish that one, I would be happy to make you another.  

I'm simply giving you the info about that because you asked what I offer/suggest.  You can go here to see everything that a membership offers.

Whatever you do, seek out some instruction.  You'll grow much faster!

-Stephen T.
Organized, fun, and goal oriented online drum lessons at www.StephensDrumShed.com

"Hi Stephen,

I'm going take upon your offer. However, I am also interested in setting a program like you said and join the live session (even though I'll most likely review them from the vault). My hope is for this investment to bear fruit at its due time. I believe I'm choosing correctly and thank you for helping me and others reach not only great musician levels but worshipers. 

Moreover, how would you asses my level in drumming? ( since you mentioned you'd need to know my level), video? Or only sound?. To give you heads up, my drums are set in a room with poor acoustics. 



Hey W,

Excited to have you be a part of things!  To answer your questions...either an audio or video are fine.  If it's a video, just make sure that it is a clean shot of your torso so that I can see your posture, hand positioning, etc.  The sound quality doesn't matter ;^)

Just sign up, send me a video or upload one to the student YouTube channel (you get the username and password when you sign up), and then let me know what you feel you need to work on and what you want to work on.  Give me a couple of days and I will have one out to you. 

Let me know if you have any other questions!  Looking forward to making you a lesson plan and getting you started on your way to becoming the best you can be on the drums!

-Stephen T.
Organized, fun, and goal oriented online drum lessons at www.StephensDrumShed.com

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Incorporating Left Handed Hi-Hat Patterns Into a Groove

I asked everyone on Facebook what they would like a lesson on. Well, I got a TON of requests so I had to pick one. One suggestion was how to incorporate left hand patterns on the hi-hat into ride cymbal grooves (ala Carter Beauford and Ray Luzier). I thought that would be a fun one. It was something that I sought to incorporate into my playing when I was coming up. Here's a simple groove that will help you begin to master this concept. Be sure and stop by the website to see what all of the new buzz is about! And if you haven't signed up for the free email lessons that I offer, well, you should. 'Cause it's free. And they don't suck. And did I mention they're free??? Enough said...GO PRACTICE!!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sextuplet Accent Patterns - Full half hour lesson

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Wow! The response to the new format of the lessons has totally blown me away. As a thank you, I wanted to send a special lesson out this week. This is a full half hour lesson taken from a series I did on sextuplet accent patterns. I sent it out to the email subscribers last week, but I wanted to share it with my blogging buddies as well.

Go here to see the lesson.

For those of you that I got to see at PASIC last week, you don't know how much it means to have time to hang and talk drums.  Thanks so much for the support.

As always, email me with any questions you may have. And if you haven't read about the changes we made last week, you can do that here.

-Stephen T.
Organized, goal oriented, and fun online drum lessons