Learning to read music opens new worlds of music to us. An important part of our journey to proficiency.
Drumming history is full of inspiring music to learn. Working and exploring music outside of our immediate interests will help us master the key areas of music and keep us from becoming bored playing the same old same old.
Here are some key benefits to learning to read scores.
Yesterday fourteen music students, including 2 drum students got together and played jazz. What a blast! I'm so proud of everyone's achievements.
Next up February, Covid willing.
If I can help you, call me.
Later this month my drum students will join in with my piano students in a joint jazz performance workshop. Our first pairing since the before times. For some students who play electric drums at home it will be their first go on a traditional drum kit. Here are some tips to get ready for this experience.
1. Practice the rudiments and snare etudes softly this month. The power strokes and general joyous thrashing possible on electric drumkits won't work in an acoustic environment with pianists playing jazz.
2. Jam with jazz recordings this week. The album below is an iconic introduction to jazz drumming.
3. Practice the required pieces more than you might normally do.
4. Prepare to have fun. Playing with other humans, making improvisational music is thrilling. Music is a team sport.
Covid protocols will be in effect.
A drummer is an accompanist who creates beats, textures, parts, tone, and excitement.
In short, they are a team leader, team player and exhibitionistic showman/woman all wrapped up in one.
Drummers make it feel, sound, and look good.
Drummers make the other musicians glad they came to the session. In short, we bring joy and competence to the stage/studio/jam.
How do you go about this?
A caveat, the following ideas assume the student comes from a place of privilege with access to time, money, and resources in a supportive family situation. For those lacking these privileges, some societies offer community recourses or school programs. So don't give up. Seek out opportunities in community centres, possibly churches and city/town recreational centres. People want to help.
A rudimental warm-up based on the 40-bar exercise from Syncopation, the timeless drumming manual.
This was inspired by the video below. Creativity comes from limitation. Doing more with less, moving the accents, and exploring the idea for 2 hours. JoJo's advice. Have fun.
On the pads start at 40 BPM, softly, then 150, then 50 then 140, then 60 then 130 you get the idea. If you are a beginner start at 70 BPM for a few weeks, then start trying out other tempi. Slower is harder to control.
On the kit: My 12-year-old copy says 40 BPM. R=alternating feet, L=hands.
Other ideas play Samba feet under the sticking patterns. Or a Nola pattern, or even a Cuban tumbao rhythm pattern.
Make every note sound intentional.
it goes on and on.
There are numerous ways to play this famous page. Head over to Nick Ruffini’s page and ask for copy of his book. Mailing List - Drummer's Resource: Conversations with the world's greatest drummers and music industry pros. (nxcli.net) And enjoy his podcasts. I’ve listened to over 500 of them!
The key word is intentional practice.
One of the the joys of drumming is getting the hands together while playing with others.
On the other side of the pandemic I look forward to some Saturday afternoons teaching this to my drumming students.
We'll be making a glorious music.
David Story, drummer, pianist, qualified online music teacher