The dilemma: You want to play Tom Sawyer by Rush and your skills are very very rudimentary. Should you play it anyways?
Yes, Yes, Yes.
Playing along with recordings is the shortest way to drumming success, fun, and satisfaction. Many drummers will secretly admit they learned more from playing along with recordings than from lessons. A teacher can teach you the mechanics of playing, coach you through the difficult patches, and sequence your skill development in a logical fashion. But you learn to play by first, playing along with recordings and secondly playing with a band.
I encourage you to view the video below. Quincy deals with jazz here, but the principle is the same for any genre of drumset playing.
A new drum student got her first drum kit today. An Alesis Nitro Kit. She is eager and ready to rock. We started by getting the kit set up at the correct height for her. Previously we had started with some drum pad work, so she has a basic knowledge of how to hold the sticks. Her years of piano lessons had prepared her for this adventure.
We worked on Believer by Imagine Dragons.
Next week we start with the Hal Leonard drum book for kids. Plus, each week we will address her musical interests. This will be fun. After she is hooked and has acquired some basic skills, we'll start in on more sophisticated snare drum work.
We all play like we practice. So, if we practice carefully, thoughtfully, and methodically our odds of playing expressively, confidently, at a steady tempo go up significantly. Alas the opposite is true too.
Let's consider one aspect of this: Slow practice.
1. Starting slowly allows us to consider our motions at the drumkit.
2. Slow allows us to play steadier while learning. Remember playing quickly and stumbling about may make our stumbling get imbedded in our playing.
3. Speed up bit by bit as your skill with the rudiment, beat, or song increases.
4. To play fast, you will have to practice fast. It is good practice to have your moves together before sprinting through the music.
My drum student William earned this today with the North Toronto C. I. Percussion Ensemble. . Way-da-go Will. Hard work wins every time. And, daily practice of our rudiments.
Practice Tip: The power of exploration
Students who practice, diligently practice the “notes,” struggle with rhythm and continuity trying to get it “right.” This is all important. But I’d like to add a new idea.
A short story in which I’m the hero. I’m learning to play the jazz xylophone. I started at Christmas; I practice every day. I’ve got a 100-year-old textbook, a stack of tunes I want to learn, video recorder and oodles of desire. Here is the process I usually follow.
Level 1: Fun is guaranteed. Just show up and play your part. Playing in a community concert band or playing at the family Christmas party would be in this camp. On the lesson front, level 1, is leisurely and steady. Ten thousand hours spread over decades.
Level 2: You are going to perspire. Lessons are intense. You audition to play in community groups. Your rock band plays in pubs at open mic sessions. Your concert band has professional guests performing. Standards are enforced. Lessons require an hour a day or more of preparation. Think of it as a marathon level of commitment.
Level 3 is going to hurt, tears will be shed. But, you are all in. Your daily focus is drumming. You have multiple lines of attack. You put yourself out there. You are preparing to be an Olympian. Many dream, few make it. But this doesn't deter you. Large amount of time and money is spent.
Weekend athletic parallels
1. Weekend running group
2. Marathon preparation
3. You might die.
Let me know where you stand.
Preparing to succeed is the first step. Here are some things you can do to prepare for starting online drum lessons.
1. Understanding how to use Zoom. Setting up the camera so that I can see your hands and you can see me as well. Most students set up the laptop on a table to the high-hat side of the drum set.
2. You need to create a realistic schedule for practicing. This may take longer than you realise. But with realistic thinking it is possible.
3. Organize your drum space for productive work.
4. Fully understand the costs involved.
5. Tell all your significant others of your plans so that they can support you.
6. You will need to lean on your strengths when the going gets tough and life gets in the way. I'm a learner too, you can ask me how I organize my learning.
Here's to learning.
What an inspiring night of dance and music. From mallets to drum kit, contemporary music to ragtime. Mallets and tom in the World Premiere of "Skyward" by Alysa Pires. We heard the music of Nico Muhly, Honstein, Dessner, and Lang.
In "Elite Syncopations" 40 minutes of Ragtime music, played at danceable tiempi instead of the usual frantic pace.
I'm inspired. Off to hit the drum pads and my trusty xylophone.
Concert attendance is one of the main ways I stay inspired as a musician and teacher. If your inspiration is lagging a little bit, buy a concert ticket and sit up close. It might be just the ticket.
David Story, drummer, pianist, qualified online music teacher