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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Take the time

I don't think it's ever too late to improve on your basics as a musician. Even if you've been playing for decades and you understand how you cannot function without playing an instrument, the basics should always be put into consideration.

If you have no base, you cannot build on top of it.

When I was in my twenties, I didn't have regular access to a drum kit and I didn't have the desire to practice regularly on a practice pad. My pad was loud -- every hit was an annoyance to neighbors, roommates, and pets. Because of not playing (being convinced drumming was like riding a bike) my skills became very lax. I wondered why I couldn't flow between fills like I used to. I also wondered why I was always stuck playing the same beats and fills.

I cannot pinpoint the exact moment when I decided to do more with my drumming, no matter who I was playing with or not playing with anybody. I thank drummers like Stephen Peck, Jeff Gretz, Chris Pennie, and Gil Sharone for inspiring me to do more as a drummer. I've never aimed to play like those guys -- I just wanted to play better.

This would lead me to make a monumental decision yesterday: I bought my first instructional drumming DVD. The drummer on it? None other than Mike Portnoy, now formerly of Dream Theater.

I'm not about to triple the size of my drum set or suggest the Pull Tabs should play in 13/8 for ten minutes straight. Instead, I'd rather get advice from someone who clearly loves to play drums and is willing to explain his approach to drumming. Sure beats listening to someone who thinks you should erase what you've learned before and disown everything you've thought was good or inspiring.

Taking suggestions and putting your playing under a microscope is a good thing, if you want to improve. I know that might seem counter to the punk rock/purist ethos I tend to lean towards, but I can't see myself spinning my wheels as a player. I love playing to much to let things slip again.

2 comments:

Ted said...

Good for you! I can only wish that I could play drums again, but there aren't any places to practice in my neck of the woods. And yes, I have a number of instructional videos as well, and they can be quite helpful - like this video: http://www.drummerworld.com/Videos/stevesmithcreativedrumpatterns.html

Andy said...

I thank drummers like Stephen Peck, Jeff Gretz, Chris Pennie, and Gil Sharone for inspiring me to undertake a whole lot more being a drummer. I've by no means aimed to perform like all those guys
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