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.

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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,, 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

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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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Todd Bishop’s New Album, Travelogue, Out Now

Todd Bishop - TravelogueTodd Bishop of the Cruise Ship Drummer blog puts out a high volume of interesting, valuable and varied drum set lessons and exercises. I like to show my support by buying the stuff he’s got for sale like his books and records.

It’s come to my attention that Todd’s latest album, Travelogue, is out so I thought I’d give it a mention here. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet but you can preview it on the record label’s site or at the Amazon MP3 music store where you can also buy it.

From the label’s site:

Portland drummer Todd Bishop follows up on his collection of rarely performed Ornette Coleman compositions, 2012’s “Little Played Little Bird,” with an album of mostly original music, again featuring the great Brazilian pianist, Jasnam Daya Singh (until now known as Weber Iago), Seattle saxophonist Richard Cole, this time performing on several woodwinds, and Portland bassist Chris Higgins. The group’s compositions were inspired by the band’s recent tour of Europe and their ongoing collaborative processes which have only grown richer over the last several years of performances together.

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The Art & Science of Groove, Benny Greb’s Indigogo Project

20140705043405-05_bg_dvd2_teaser_v01_.Standbild014Here’s a cool idea:

Benny Greb is producing a high quality DVD via the crowdfunding site Indigogo. I think it’s a positive thing to produce this stuff independently.

The video pitching the idea sounds encouraging, there’s a few seconds of tap dancing which is an artform closely associated with the drum kit, according to Freddy Gruber talking on one of the videos I watched on Drum Channel recently. Then Benny talks about the myth of groove or musical feel being something you either have or you don’t have and how he wants to show us how this is untrue, that it’s something you learn. I think it’s true that some people are born with an innate musicality but me and Benny are in the camp of those who had to work on it.

I’m not sure the world really needs another drum DVD but it will be interesting to see if this project can deliver something fresh. For someone with an almost fetishistic compulsion to acquire drum education materials, it’s an irresistible proposition.

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Chaffee Linear Patterns Lesson Video

Chaffee - Time Functioning PatternsI found this video demonstrating numerous ways to apply the linear sticking patterns from Gary Chaffee’s Time Functioning Patterns. The ideas are explained really well and the lesson gives a basis for much exploration. It’s a good idea with this material to work on one pattern comprehensively until you internalise the principles embodied in the variations. This will make it easier to hear the music in the other patterns and will make application flow more easily. Then again, you might prefer to work on one of the groove ideas with all the patterns and then try a fill on all the patterns and so on. Depends how you like to work.

The grooves and fills you can create using these patterns sound really cool and are great for developing fluidity, dynamics and control but I have often struggled find uses for linear patterns in styles I play. I quite fancy getting in to some of this and figuring out what I can do with it. Any suggestions welcome.

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Royal College Of Music Festival Of Percussion – With Gavin Harrison

Royal College Of Music Festival Of Percussion 2014The Royal College of Music Festival of Percussion takes place in London on the 6th of July. I attended last year’s event where I got to see the amazing John Riley, a clinic with Geoff Dugmore, a jazz trio, some classical percussionists, Nick Mason and a big band. It was a brilliant day out which I wrote about here and here.

This year’s festival features the super-competent Gavin Harrison who has many notes to play, I imagine. It also features performances and workshops in a multitude of styles and culminates with a big band show with four drummers including the complex Mr Harrison and the lovely Ralph Salmins who will probably start thinking I’m stalking him (I’m glad I’m not free to see him in clinic at Wembley Drum Centre next week).

The tickets are cheap and the day is packed with stuff for drummers and percussionists of all shapes and sizes, if you’re free you should go.

Check out the details on the RCM’s website,, or download the flyer:
Royal College of Music Percussion Festival 2014 Brochure.

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Little Barrie Release Their New Album – Shadow

I had a great night on Tuesday at the famous 100 club watching Little Barrie deliver a great performance. The band’s vintage sound is brilliant, and the songs catchy and energetic. Drummer, Virgil Howe’s got great feel and a vocabulary straight out of the early 70’s classic rock scene.

Visit the website –

Their new album is called Shadow and you can preview it here:

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Great Drum Educator, Chuck Silverman, Sadly Died

chuck-silvermanI am deeply saddened to hear about the sudden loss on May the 1st of Chuck Silverman, a great drummer and drum teacher notable for his amazing knowledge and love for Afro-Caribbean music (or Latin as we lesser mortals would call it) and expertise about the drummers of James Brown.

I didn’t know Chuck, although I had been trying to arrange a Skype lesson with him (West Coast USA and London are temporally mismatched for this sort of thing) but he made a substantial contribution to my drum teaching and my personal development as a drummer.

As I recall, I first came across Chuck’s website during my early days on the internet using a hand-me-down 486 (!) and a 56k modem. I think his must have been one of the first drumming websites and it had a wealth of information and exercises to browse through.

I love Chuck’s Practical Applications book, a fantastic guide to the drum kit applications of Afro-Caribbean grooves like Cha-Cha, Mambo, Samba, Cuban 6/8, Mozambique and more. The book does a great job putting across the basic grooves and developing variations in such a way as to assist students in mastering each style. The book also encourages developing one’s own variations and applying the knowledge and skills gained to other styles. Practical Applications helped me get to grips (although you might dispute that if you saw me play…) with Afro-Caribbean styles in a way I couldn’t get from other books. I found the book particularly useful for my recent work playing a residency with a jazz trio which involved a fair number of Bossas and Sambas. A well recorded and played Cd is included.

Another book I’ve been in to recently is The Latin Rudiments, applying Latin rhythm patterns like Clave and Cascara to rudimental patterns. It’s a great way to evolve stick technique beyond the familiar rudiment studies.

Chuck’s book on James Brown’s rhythm sections co written with Alan Slutsky, The Funkmasters – the Great James Brown Rhythm Sections, is another drum education gem which includes guitar and bass parts so that the songs and grooves can be worked on in collaboration with other rhythm section musicians. The book comes with a good sounding CD with recordings demonstrating each instrument on its own and then the full ensemble.

This is starting to sound like a sales pitch but I just wanted to share something of my experience of Chuck’s contribution to drum kit education. A sad loss indeed to all the drumming community.

Zildjian’s site has some info here:

Check out Chuck’s lesson on Purdie’s Rocksteady part here:

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