This post was inspired by something I read on a cello blog [I happen to read a lot of different music & art blogs, because you can always find inspiration & ideas you can use]. The idea was that we always tend to worry too much about the little technical things, like how we hold our arms/hands, or how we do certain techniques. One way to get away from that is to think about the bigger picture. This is where modeling comes in.

I know this from personal experience. I remember years back when I saw a full page photo of Tony Williams in DownBeat magazine. Tony was sitting there in a very upright posture, with his back straight. Now as a known sloucher, this photo had a big impact on me. With much respect for Tony and his drumming prowess, I was really taken by this photo. The other aspect of it is he looked like he was in charge up there, like he knew exactly what he was doing. Confidence. 

Tony, looking regal on the throne.

Above, is either the same, or a very similar photo. Even though it's a still photograph, there is a great sense of energy and movement in it. Tony is just, so Tony! So I took that photo and used it for inspiration. When I played, I tried to sit on my throne with the same sort of straight back, and the same sort of confidence. And it helped. It helped me to improve my playing, not by worrying about all the little things, but by sitting behind the drums and taking care of business.

And I've done it with other drummers/percussionists. Rather than trying to copy their licks, I've tried to copy their attitude, their spirit, their presence. Look at the people you admire and look beyond the notes they play. How can you copy their attitude and presence on the drums to help you improve?

~ MB


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