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Showing posts from February, 2015

Forget Everything You Know

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If you are reading this blog, the chances are that you've had drum/percussion training somewhere along your path. You may even have studied at University and earned an advanced degree. One problem with all that can be that we can't stop being a musician. Now you may ask, “How can that be a problem?” It becomes a problem when we are so caught up in the mechanics of things that we either miss or forget the music.

Letting go of your thinking mind…
One thing I tell my students is to model themselves on how athletes perform during a game or match. Think about a sport, especially something fast paced, like hockey, basketball, or tennis. When you are playing, you don't have time to think about what you are doing. You can't just stand there thinking, “The puck/ball is coming my way, I think I will do X,” because while you are thinking about doing, the game goes right past you. Instead, you play without thinking. You play on instinct, as a reaction to what is going on around you.…

Finding Your Own Sound - Redux

I know I sometimes go on and on about finding your own sound, and how the gear you play isn't your sound, but you are. Here's a quote from a great jazz blog, The Woodshed, written by saxophonist Mike Lebrun, that echoes what I've been saying:

Forget About Mouthpieces.Charlie Parker played on any horn, mouthpiece, and reed combo he could get his hands on, and he always created the same, beautiful, distinctive sound that defines the music we continue to play. How was he able to do this? It’s not his equipment that made the sound. It was his conception.In order to sound like yourself, you need to have a crystal clear idea in your head of what you want to sound like before you put any air into your horn. So save your money and stop buying new mouthpieces. Instead, find something that gives you a consistent sound and lots of control, and stick with it.Invest some time in discovering and refining what you want to sound like. Then do whatever it takes to create that sound. So here…

A Question on Solo Percussion

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‪Recently, I opened up the idea of questions to answer on my Facebook page. Today's blog takes a look at one of those questions.


Brian Tairaku Ritchie:‬ Do you think the field of solo percussion is expanding, and if so, why?
MB: This is just from my perspective, but I've both played and followed solo percussion for a while. I'm also an avid collector of recordings and have amassed a lot of different solo percussion recordings from around the world. First, I think we need to define things. 

Solo percussion in the States/Europe/Japan is a very different thing than most of the rest of the world (there are traditions of solo percussion in India, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, etc that are mainly based around frame/hand drumming). Other than the few brave jazz drummers who sometimes present solo concerts/recordings on the drum set, solo percussion basically resides in the halls of academia, played on all manner of percussion instruments. Often the only place you can hear someone p…