Jojo Mayer’s Secret Weapons 2 Is All About Feet And Pedals

Jojo Mayer's Secret Weapons Part 2 It promised to be “The most comprehensive guide to foot technique for drummers ever available” and it is. Well, I imagine it is because I haven’t actually seen the other available guides to feet but this DVD is so amazingly comprehensive, I can’t see how there can be any competitors. Not to mention that people with Jojo Mayer’s insanely focussed intensity and commitment are very very rare so the probability of someone else producing anything remotely as comprehensive in this field must be pretty low. Not that it’s a competition, anyway.

So Jojo Mayer: Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer Pt. 2: A Guide to Foot Technique comprises three DVDs and contains over four and a half hours of stuff. The first DVD is all about playing the bass pedal, the second DVD is about the history and the mechanical aspects of how a bass pedal works and the third DVD is about the hi hat and coordinating the feet. There isn’t much directed at double bass because, obviously, your other foot would be doing the same stuff. It’s also not about playing music but learning about the physics of the instrument and gear we use.

I have to say I enjoyed every minute of it. Jojo’s commitment to breaking down the movements required to percuss with our feet is incredible and I am fascinated by the detail he goes into. As a teacher, I’m also interested in expanding my understanding of what’s possible, if only to broaden my perspective. At the same time, I think that only a small amount of what’s presented here is something that most drummers really need. Jojo Mayer’s chops are something to behold  and we all need  technique to push at the boundaries created by us being monkeys stuck on a rock floating in space. We don’t all need that level of facility, though. Watch this with that in mind.

Secret Weapons 2, is fantastically illuminating, entertaining, insightful (in a mad way) and alarming. I would say for most people, there is about fifteen minutes of practical information about the main subjects (bass pedal, hi hat and coordinating the two) and the rest is for the more trainspottery contingent or drummers for whom technique is a goal in itself. I am very very glad I got this. I’ll be taking a lot from the bits I found most applicable.

The DVD is interspersed with a bunch of great musical performances spanning a wide variety of styles. I particularly enjoyed the bit where he jams with a tap dancer, reflecting the close relationship between the art of the drum kit and tap. Another highlight was a rockabilly type song that required poor Jojo to play something simple (which he does, unlike many other “chops guys”). There is also a lot of attention given to Jojo’s pedal and for people with gear lust (guilty, sort of) there will be a temptation to try one of these groovy looking things.

This DVD is utterly brilliant as a catalogue of everything that’s been discovered and implemented by an amazingly dedicated and intense human being. The content flows together wonderfully, Jojo presents everything really clearly and I will definitely be incorporating some stuff from here into my teaching. The philosophy of loose springiness, least-resistance/get-out-the-the-stick’s-bloody-way that’s come from studying with Chapin and Freddie Gruber, is right up my street. But you don’t need all this information.

If you’d like to learn what an obsessive perfectionist has discovered about playing percussion with his feet, I strongly recommend this DVD. But beware, Jojo’s package to be as much a cause of information overload and choice paralysis as a vehicle for improving your drumming.  There isn’t anything about playing music on this DVD, it’s strictly about how the body interacts with our instrument. I know some people are hostile to separating the music from the technique in this way but I find it pretty useful to compartmentalise the different things we need to learn as long as we figure out how to make the parts serve the whole in due course.

Meanwhile, I think a perfect instructional vehicle would be Jojo Mayer’s edited version of his two Secret Weapons DVDs called – Well Known Tools Modern Drummers Need To Know About The Mechanics Of Using Your Hands And Your Feet To Play A Drum Kit. It will be less than 60 minutes long and I’d recommend it to all my students.

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I’m Looking Forward To Seeing Tony Allen Next Week

Tony AllenNext Thursday I’ll be going to see Tony Allen playing in London, at the Village Underground in Shoreditch. I guess he’ll be playing a bunch of stuff from his new album, Film Of Life, which sounds great. I’m really looking forward to seeing him play since I’ve spent a chunk of the last year or so trying to do what he does. I love his loose and energetic playing and his amazing touch. Something I am finding particularly challenging is to develop the coordination between the left foot and the rest of my limbs and keeping everything fluid.

I am planning to do more posts about Tony Allen’s drumming when I can make the time. Meanwhile enjoy a couple of tracks from his latest:

Boat Journey – Beastly Bass!

Ire Omo – Hip Shaker

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I Saw The Kinks Musical, Sunny Afternoon

Sunny AfternoonLast week I got to see the musical Sunny Afternoon which is based on the story of the Kinks and features their music. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve visited the theatre (and have a couple of fingers to spare) and I found it to be a very novel experience.

The show is based on the fortunes of the Kinks from their early days as the Ravens to the summer of 1966 where the show climaxes with the comingling of the band’s musical success and some sort of sporting event that happened that year…

I went to see Sunny Afternoon because one of my students, Ben Caplan, is a member of the cast, playing publisher Eddie Kastner. Ben does a spot of drumming on the show as well as acting and singing; his propulsive groove is on about seven of the songs (unfortunately, I can’t take any credit for his playing on the show). I really enjoyed the show and the music was especially good. The actors playing the four Kinks were all very good musicians and they captured the Kinks’ feel authentically. The rest of the cast members were all involved in the music as well as the acting so there was constant movement on stage as musicians swapped places with each other and became actors and vice versa.

Obviously, all of the songs were great. Apparently Ray Davies is closely involved with the production and with the cast recording of the show’s songs. All of the big hits are there and a few less familiar songs, not to mention a couple of Pretenders songs which turned out to be Kinks songs (as a quick Googling in the intermission confirmed). The story blended with the band’s songs perfectly and the cast was able to move effortlessly from acting scenes to uptempo rock ‘n’ roll to slow numbers to acapella and back again.

I was very impressed with how all of the cast members fulfilled several different roles throughout the play. One moment someone would be managing the band or would be a groupie fawning over Dave Davies then the lighting would change and the manager would be at the back of the stage playing bass on a number in a different shirt and hat and the groupie would be singing backing vocals in a recording scene. This sort of performance looks incredibly challenging to me and I’m amazed at how smoothly everything flowed together.

The atmosphere in the theatre was great and the show’s climax had everyone on their feet. If you like musicals, I’m sure you’d love seeing Sunny Afternoon, I highly recommend it.

sunnyafternoonthemusical.com

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Videos of Drummers In Action

I really enjoyed the recent post on Steve Goold’s blog with “drum cam” footage from a recent performance and thought I’d post a few videos showing drummers at work including one of myself, for good measure.

There’s a huge amount of indulgent stuff being shown by drummers in their practice rooms, and it’s great fun to watch but to see our colleagues working up close during a live performance is something else. The following videos all show drummers of a high calibre who are continuing to work on their skills and are generous enough to share with their fellow musicians some very personal insights into their learning process as well as showing off their existing chops and musicality. And me at the end…

Starting, then, with Mr Goold from his blog post here – stevegoold.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/little-black-dress-tour-drumcam:

Next a clip from Steve Hynes, a great drummer who has a YouTube channel chocka with interesting footage here – www.youtube.com/user/stevehynes1:

Next, some drum cam action from another YouTuber, Adam Hay, whose videos I discovered via a chat he put up with drummer Al Cross about strokes (not the type that land you in hospital, of course). His channel is here – www.youtube.com/user/yahmada

Joe Crabtree is another brilliant drummer whose series showing the drum solos he did on a tour with insightful comments on what he played, thought and learned, accompanying the videos is must-watch stuff. He has tons of lessons on his YouTube channel and also a website where subscribers can watch hours and hours of lessons, too – www.joecrabtree.com:

Here’s a bloke called Alec Tackmann whose YouTube channel, GoAndPractice is full of little exercises you can learn to add to your vocabulary presented in a very economical way. You can grab any one of the ideas and work it up to speed and take it to your next gig – www.youtube.com/user/GoAndPractice

Lastly, here is a bit of me playing a pub gig in Finchley. It’s from a couple of years ago and it strikes me that my drumming has evolved quite a bit since then. I am doing Use Somebody by the Kings of Leon which some of my students are learning, they might find it amusing…

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Jojo Mayer – Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer Pt. 2: A Guide to Foot Technique

Jojo Mayer - Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer Pt. 2 A Guide to Foot TechniqueI’m rather excited to discover that the long awaited sequel to Jojo Mayer’s insane video on hand technique is due out soon. Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer Pt. 2: A Guide to Foot Technique is released by Hudson Music “soon”. It promises to be “The most comprehensive guide to foot technique for drummers ever available”.

The hands video is best viewed as a compendium of technical information rather than a step by step guide that needs to be mastered in its entirety. It looks like the foot one will be similar. I’m very much looking forward to the experience of elaborating my drumming-related neuroses to the feet.

You can pre-order the “soon” available product from mikedolbear.com or just wait and buy it somewhere like a normal human being.

For more info, check out Hudson’s page on it here – http://www.hudsonmusic.com/product/secret-weapons-2/

Addendum I done a review here.

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Stanton Moore Clinic at Bell Percussion

Stanton Moore Clinic - Bell Percussion 19.10.2014 (2)I had a great time last Sunday attending a clinic with top-notch New Orleans drummer, Stanton Moore, at Bell Percussion in Acton. The event was organised by fellow Edgwareian and hub of the drum community, Mike Dolbear of www.mikedolbear.com.

I admit I was feeling a little apprehensive about seeing Stanton since I became a bit “Stantoned out” with his Street Beats DVD and Groove Alchemy Book and DVD. It started to feel like he was popping up everywhere I looked, like some sort of drumming Jimmy Carr, doing his gurning and a-rat-a-tat-buzz-buzz-thump thingy. My apprehension was all for nothing, though. Stanton Moore is a brilliant drummer and his presentation was thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring.

The clinic was part of a two day educational programme which involved a couple of day-long master classes for a privileged few. After a brief introduction by Mike, who requested, in a fit of nostalgia for the 1990’s, no one post anything to YouTube, Stanton sat down on stage and proceeded to play a couple of songs from his oeuvre with great energy. He then got straight to the educational part of the programme.

The main topic of the evening related to “musical mileage” – how we can use one idea and create loads of variations with it around the kit to develop grooves and fills. As an example, Stanton used a three stroke ruff (or what I would call a single drag) – llR or rrL, played closed at first and then open as triplets. With this simple rudimental pattern, we learned how to work on feel, to understand the swung and the straight variants and how to move between the two, we learned about dynamics and phrasing and how to apply an excercise we use to develop our physical prowess to make music.

Stanton Moore Clinic - Bell Percussion 19.10.2014 (1)Stanton seamlessly incorporated all of the themes familiar to anyone who’s followed his educational work into this dissection and reconstruction of the single drag – the James Brown/Meters funk thing, the Johnny Vidacovic thing, the swing thing, the Bonham thing and so on. He must have gone on for a good 90 minutes on this subject alone. It was engaging and entertaining all the way through. Following a question from an audience member, he also spoke about how he developed his famous buzz roll, thanks to a gig with a punk-klezmer outfit.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to see Stanton Moore do his thing and feel like I went away with a load of ideas I can apply to my approach to learning and teaching drums which, although I was familiar with many of them from his books and videos, have been brought to life by seeing him in the flesh. His presentation was a perfect example of what a drum clinic should be.

Check out Stanton’s site here – www.stantonmoore.com

Thanks to my student, Jonathan Cocking, who let me use his photos.

Here’s the YouTube lesson he did covering similar topics. I don’t think seeing this will put anyone off going to see drum clinics. If anything, I am sure it will encourage people to support real life events.

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My New Custom Moulded Earplugs Are Here

JpegI’m very excited this morning because the postman bought me my new pair of ACS ER-15 custom moulded earplugs. My old pair died and I’ve had to wait a few months before ordering a new pair.

Without my proper earplugs I have been using Elacin ER20s and ProGuard PR20s, both of which seem pretty good although the ProGuards are more comfortable for longer periods of time. The-off-the-shelf musician’s earplugs are not bad, I think all musicians should have a pair and use them regularly when practicing, gigging or when listening to live music, but for the amount of time I have my ears plugged, they don’t really cut it. The comfort offered by custom moulded earplugs is incomparable and I believe the protection for my ears is better. After using the off-the-shelf plugs, my ears still feel fatigued.

If you are a busy musician or teacher exposed to loud music for hours at a time, I strongly recommend you invest in a pair of custom earplugs.

I’d like to give a plug (geddit?) to Gisele the audiologist at Aid2Hearing who took the impressions for the earplugs and got them made for me, she offered a great service and is highly recommended to anyone in the London area.

www.aid2hearing.co.uk
www.hearingprotection.co.uk

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Funky Left-Hand Open Hi Hat Splashes

Hi-HatHere’s a sheet of exercises I wrote to develop the facility to play open hi hat splashes on the ee’s and ah’s using the left hand.

These exercises are based on the famous Bernard Purdie lick you can hear in Aretha Franklin’s Rocksteady and which is a staple of funk drumming. If you watch Purdie play the lick, you’ll notice he plays the open sounds with his right hand but I find that when you use the left hand it keeps your right hand on the beat helping to maintain a good flow (not that BP has any trouble in that area…). The trick here is to work on playing a really tight hi hat “shoop” that’s perfectly lined up with the bass. In these examples, the right hand doesn’t play on the 8ths after the open hat moves, I will post a couple of pages utilising the right in the near future. Meanwhile, hope you like these.

Donwload the PDF: Funky Offbeat Hi Hat Fills

Funky Offbeat Hi Hat Fills P1

Funky Offbeat Hi Hat Fills P2

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Drum Lessons In North-West London

Drum Lessons In Mill Hill & ColindaleA quick note to let you know I still have a few free slots available for drumming students in the North-West London area.

Please get in touch if you want drum lessons starting in September. I teach in Mill Hill and Colindale and can work with people of all abilities from beginners to advanced. I have students of all ages and am dedicated to helping everyone become as good as they want to be.

I like to think of myself as a thorough teacher. Students will work on their technique, rudiments, vocabulary, various musical styles, reading, listening skills, musicality, good posture and general grooviness.

Styles covered include rock, pop, funk, soul, R&B, jazz, ska, reggae and more. I can even help you prepare for your graded exams, although you might have to give me a good reason why you want to take that particular course of study first :-D.

If you are a more advanced drummer, I can help you identify areas that might be holding you back, introduce you to new styles and, in particular, I can help you develop your fundamentals, to improve your sound, time, articulation, dynamics and stamina.

Please get in touch with me by emailing, info@joethedrummer.com, messaging via my contact page or calling 07828 845 047 to book your lesson or to have a chat.

I am also running band workshops at Ebony & Ivory in Colindale with my colleague, Rodrigo the guitar teacher to work on group playing with beginning and intermediate students. We have a group for kids and for adults. For more information check out www.inthepocketbandworkshops.co.uk.

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Lady Marmalade Drum Lesson

I am finding myself doing video lessons and bunging them up on Youtube for students in various contexts. Here is a lesson on the famous groove for Lady Marmalade by Labelle, played originally by drummer Herman “Roscoe” Ernest III.

First, let’s watch him explain the groove’s provenance. The clip is off a DVD called New Orleans Drumming which has Herlin Riley, Johnny Vidacovich, Earl Palmer and Mr Ernest all holding forth on drumming. It’s one of the best drumming videos I’ve seen.

Here’s the dots, my video lesson follows:

Lady Marmalade Groove

And finally, the original track:

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