I recently wrote a bunch of basic exercises for learning the “Train Beat” which is popular in country, rockabilly, R&B and so on. You can play it straight, you can swing it, it goes nice with brushes or hot rods and you should work until you can play the song at the bottom of this post.
Work first on all the snare drum parts with foot pattern A. Then, when you’re comfortable with each pattern play through them in sequence. Once you can comfortably improvise moving from one hand pattern to the next, move on to the next foot pattern and apply to all the hand patterns.
Since I recently mentioned there are some good drum workshop/masterclasses/lessons, what have you, on the Drumeo Youtube channel (the Purdie thing is a coup!), I thought I might as well list some of them here. As I said, I don’t really like their resident teachers but their collection of free lessons with well known drummers is great.
Here’s a few that I particularly liked:
Antonio Sanchez – Creative Soloing & Freedom
Ben Sesar – Building Musical Freedom On The Drums
Dafnis Prieto – Rhythmic Independence Within Latin Drumming
I just discovered this brilliant video lesson/educational presentation by the famous Benny Greb who’s doing the rounds promoting his new DVD The Art & Science Of Groove which was produced via a Kickstarter campaign (including a few shekels from yours truly…). The DVD is really good, I have on my To Do list to review it.
Anyway, Mr Greb explains and demonstrates a bunch of the concepts from the DVD here and it should whet your appetite for getting a copy of the real thing which can be downloaded or purchased as an old fashioned disc.
I feel like I need to say that I’m not a huge fan of the Drumeo teachers but their master classes (or whatever they should be called) with well known drummers are great, check them out.
I just came across this YouTube video advertising a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding for a documentary about the amazing Oded Kafri. Oded is a solo drum kit musician who mostly performs as a busker on the streets of cities around the world. I’m acquainted with Oded since I met him rehearsing and experimenting with new material at Mill Hill Music Complex. I enjoyed watching him work and experiencing his eclectic approach. Oded has unlimited curiosity about different music styles and refuses to be constrained by cultural and technical limits.
The greatest British band ever, The Blockheads, are the subject of a documentary called – The Blockheads: Beyond the Call of Dury. The film makers are raising money via Kickstarter to finish the production of what will hopefully be a brilliant documentary telling the story of this legendary band.
Quoth the Kickstarter page:
The story of how the band came to back Ian Dury is quite amazing and the career that each member has had is quite frankly unbelievable.
OK, nothing to do with drums at all but I’m always pleased to plug the fine work of my friends and associates. The theme tune for Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul which is looking like a great TV show so far, is by the band Little Barrie. Lead singer and amazing guitarist Barrie Cadogan used a JPF Amps Regent 25 built by my friend and Astrojets band leader, Frank Cooke at JPF Amps maker of fine guitar and bass amplifiers.
Here’s a series of blog posts I discovered courtesy of The Steve Goold Blog by drummer Jacob Slichter of Semisonic talking about developing one’s sense of time and all that encompasses. This is a topic that can seem quite esoteric and can be challenging to communicate to students about, especially with those who don’t listen to a lot of music (sadly, a common deficit with the kids of today). Mr Slichter explains the subject brilliantly with some really good examples of music with and without drums to illustrate his ideas. There are also some really great posts about song structure. The blog seems quite new, I’m looking forward to reading future offerings.
So I hate-watched Whiplash, the movie that’s got folks salivating with anticipation due to some glowing reviews and enthusiastic press reports. I say hate-watched because I knew I’d hate the movie due to a bunch of stuff some sensible people wrote about it, like George Colligan did on his Jazz Truth Blog and from the trailer.
Why watch it if I knew I’d hate it? Because being a drummer and drum teacher means everyone I talk to assumes I’m interested and I felt I should be in a position to dampen their enthusiasm with some authority. My dad said I’m a miserable git but I take my occupation seriously and don’t enjoy the media taking the piss.
I am now officially qualified to tell you, Whiplash (should have been called Full Metal Drum Kit) is a bloody awful movie. As a representation of drumming it’s bloody awful and as a representation of music education it’s really bloody awful. Here we have the story of a very insecure drummer, Andrew, who, for reasons unknown, has an almost serial-killer like fixation on Buddy Rich. He is being abused by his teacher Fletcher, a bargain-bucket R Lee Ermey impersonator who thinks that the way to cultivate great musicianship is to bully his students into playing cheesy 70’s style big band music.
Andrew is someone who’s mother abandoned him and who’s father is obviously an insensitive dolt who never gave him the warmth and encouragement every child needs leaving him with a horrendous inferiority complex. He manages to get in to the top conservatory in the US and for some reason is picked to play in the top band in the school. He and his bandmates are forced to submit themselves to the relentless abuse and humiliation meted out by the sadistic Fletcher, a barely mediocre bar-room pianist with a deluded sense of his own importance (the people in the school’s HR department must need their heads looking at).
Andrew accepts the abuse hurled at him by Fletcher who takes on the symbolic role of the father who he can never do enough to please and whose approval he desperately needs in order to feel worthy of his place on Earth. These two pathetic individuals play out their melodrama climaxing in a scene in which the son stands up to the father’s abuse and finally he gets the hint of a smile and a likely fleeting moment of grudging respect.
The scenes showing Andrew drumming or practicing are gut-wrenching. Apparently drummers are meant to do their art by tensing every muscle in their bodies and flailing about until their hands bleed. The music is insipid throughout. It all sounded like something that would be on the Dirty Harry soundtrack and who would want to play like Buddy Rich anyway, let alone listen to that cheesy stuff?
Inadequate sadist Fletcher attempts to justify himself by saying that if people aren’t arseholes to each other, no one would be motivated to be really great at anything. I think that those really great people are driven by something within and don’t depend on external stimulus. The idea that Charlie Parker might have not felt driven to develop his playing had he not been laughed off the stage when he was 16 is ridiculous.
Whiplash is a truly horrific film. The message it gives about learning music, the creative process and how to excel is extremely ugly. I can’t help but wonder what kind of society wants people to think that the depressing interaction between the film’s main characters represents the road to excellence and high achievement. Anyone who knows anything about music will probably find it to be, at best, an uncomfortable experience. I’m glad I saw it just so I can go on a rant about how awful it is.