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.
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.
At aged 50 I took up the drums in a meaningful way. Back in high school I banged about in band class annoyingly and halfheartedly. The highlight of my high school drum career was playing bass drum in the pep band. BOOM BOOM BOOM!
I met Collin for our first drum class. He gets me going. I'm pumped. I thump out my old disco beat from 1977. Thirty seconds in I realize this is going to be more challenging than I thought. He was kind.
I believed that 35 years as a professional musician would make it easier. Nope.
Twelve years later my quest for drumming mastery has taken me to New Orleans 2X, Louisville 5X, Poland 1X, Rome Italy 1X, and Toronto Canada. I've had the pleasure of studying with some of the most distinguished drum teachers available. Terry Clarke, Greg Hutchinson, Paul DeLong, Ali Jackson and many more who have encouraged me, inspired me, instructed me, criticized me and occasionally scolded me. It was thrilling.
I now own too many drumsets, cymbals, snares drums, and drum books. I play in too many bands. There is no cure.
If you would like some help starting your journey, call me.
Helping kids to practice drums 5 Tips
If I can help you and your kids, call me.
Learning to love how we sound.
In the 1921 teaching manual “Principles of Pianoforte Practice” by James Friskin, he asserts that most students “simply do not hear all the sounds they produce”. I concur. Students have not changed.
Friskin would be amazed, I’m sure, at the technological tools available to students today, namely YouTube and phones. YouTube for inspiration, artistic impression, and guidance. The phone for recording and evaluating their progress.
It would be interesting to discuss together what students continue to miss when they grind instead of plan. How they often bore themselves silly with endless repetitions, hoping for a musical miracle instead of exploring the recordings of their pieces.
First level: Before practicing, listen to a professional performance. Then record yourself playing and listen back. How did it go? How was your time? Jot down notes and annotate the tricky bits, like fingerings, into your score.
Second level: Before practicing, listen or watch the recording. Mark your score with notes on what you heard: balance, accents, rudiments. All and everything you hear. Now, with the recorder going, play from your notes. Listen and analyse the results. Repeat.
Now the hard part, learning to love how we sound. It takes a certain amount of fortitude to listen to ourselves play. Especially in early music study. It can be discouraging. But push on in faith. You will be the first to hear improvement and progress in your playing. Over time you will accumulate hundreds, even thousands of practice recordings. (In 12 years of playing drums I’ve 248 Gigs of mp3 recordings) It’s fun and gratifying to hear how one sounded a decade earlier, or even last year.
If I can help you learn to practice effectively, call me.
If I can help you, call me.
It is fun! Fun to fantasize, struggle, and dream some more. But be sure to do this in private. Public performance should be for showing off our accomplishments and progress. Not a public declaration of our intentions.
If I can help you on your drumming journey, call me.
#Junction percussion Teacher Toronto
Why practice when I just want to have fun?
Good question. My answers are gathered from decades of teaching and practicing.
If I can help you, call me.
#Junction percussion Teacher Toronto
David Story, drummer, pianist, qualified online music teacher