The Importance of Studying Music

How much studying us enough? When do you know enough that you don't have to learn anymore?

The simple answer is, you can never learn everything. But you can always learn more.

When I started drums back in middle school, I took lessons from my band directors. When I got to high school, I took private lessons and studied with the band director. When I went to University, I studied with various professors and instructors. So I was always studying drums and music. But after University, I kept studying on my own. I bought a lot of books and worked out of them. I listened to countless recordings and transcribed the drum parts. I wrote my own music to play, and played in numerous bands in every style of music.

And this has been the story all these years. I've never stopped studying and learning percussion. I still listen to lots of music and drummers. Still transcribe things, and I write about percussion. Since my University days, I've also taught drums & percussion. And this has kept me fresh, as I need to be up on things in order to teach them. So yeah, I've never really stopped studying music. And just when I get one thing down, I discover something new to learn, so it's an ongoing process.

Don't ever stop. 

In interviewing drummers for various magazines, they almost all talked about what they were working on, or who they were studying with. And these were all big name, professional drummers. Yet they still worked at their craft. Still studied with other people. You can always learn more that will add to what you already know, and make you a better, more valuable musician. And don't just study drums/percussion. Learn another instrument, take voice lessons, learn arranging & composition. 

Steve Smith started playing with various Indian musicians years ago and has since immersed himself in learning about the Indian rhythm systems. Neil Peart decided he wanted to be a better drummer and studied for years with the late Freddie Gruber (a lot of other name drummers studied with Freddie too). He also wanted to learn jazz drumming, so he's studied with Peter Erskine. 

Don't limit yourself

As much as I am a percussionist, I don't limit what I study to percussion. I read about all types of musicians and instruments. I listen to all types of music. I also study art, typography, physics, astronomy, poetry, etc. Because it all comes back to my art, my music. One of my favorite quotes is:

Everything is everything else.

 And this is true, as all things are manifestations of different vibrations. The Universe is made of vibrations, and music is but a small part of that. So my personal view is that everything I do is the same thing, albeit at a different vibrational level. So don't limit yourself.

~ MB


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