Showing posts from July, 2013

The Importance of Musical Structure

In working with a lot of younger students (and some older ones too), I've found that most of them have no concept about phrasing & song structure. Yes, they can play a wide variety of drum beats , often very technical ones. But they have little or no concept of what to do with those beats and how to put them together into musical phrases. I see part of this problem stemming from the fact that as drummers, we don't play melodies, chord progressions, or bass lines. Even some students who play a lot of mallets just play what is on the paper in front of them, without giving any thought to how all those notes are arranged on that paper. The other part of the problem is that rarely do any drum instruction books talk about structure. Instead, they give us endless rhythmic exercises, but without a context for how to use them in a musical application. So let's take a basic look at structure and how to bring it into our drumming. If you play a melodic instrument, the chances ar

The Importance of Hand Drumming

I remember years ago, when I wanted to buy a hand drum, like a djembe or a doumbek, that it was a difficult process. First, you had to know some one who knew someone else, like the cousin of a friend of a friend. Then you had to be taken there, to some sort of secret place that only insiders knew existed, where you negotiated, and finally, if you were lucky, you could secure a top quality hand drum.  Fortunately, times have changed. The market is full of good quality ethnic hand drums, and Remo Belli, the founder of REMO (the drum head company), invested a lot of money/time/energy into making top quality and inexpensive hand drums for everyone. There is now no excuse for not owning at least 1 hand drum. For $50-150 you can buy a good quality small djembe/doumbek/conga/tar/etc. of some sort. Unless you are going on tour with a major act, there's no need to spend $500 on a drum. Why Should I Play Hand Drums? Hand drumming is primal. It's skin on skin (or plastic). I

The Practice of Practice - Part 3

OK, so you've put in your 10,000 hours of practice and are a "working musician," but you don't always have time to practice. The good things is, as I stated before, you have a lot of both mental and muscle memory built up from all that previous practice. This gives you an advantage over any lack of time or place to practice. Mental Practice There are various books available on "The Inner Game of Tennis/Golf/Music/etc." These books all look at the mental side of sports/music. As a musician, you are able to practice mentally anytime and any place. Think of all the time you spend waiting in line, traveling, etc. Instead of just wasting it away, put it to positive use.  Imagine yourself playing your instrument. Think of it as real as actually playing. Go through the same thoughts you would if you had your instrument in your hands. Since your muscles already know how to make the moves, think of this as your brain practicing sending those moves to your