“The Drummers’ Guide to Teaching and Learning the Drumset”
The first line of this post would be easier to write if I could remember where I first came across this book. Suffice it to say that I read a couple of reviews and in a rare moment of extravagance, I ordered it.
Drumset For Beginners by Paul Hose & Jim Farey sets out from the very beginning to put the creativity of the student (and necessarily the teacher) at the forefront of the learning process. It is a comprehensive curriculum for taking a person from their first groove to being a well-rounded drummer. The book presents a clear roadmap for progressing students through the sometimes bumpy terrain of learning an instrument. It is flexible without being wishy-washy and I found myself thoroughly stimulated and challenged by the writers’ approach. Every section of the book includes good advice to help teachers put across the material.
Lesson one presents the beginning drum student with a very simple groove. Once learned, the student moves straight on to creating a few bass and snare variations and then arranging passages of music using the grooves learned. Then we get on with a very simple 16th note fill and without too much messing about, go from the obligatory “obvious fill of all time” to a few nice variations with the emphasis, again, on the student coming up with their own ideas.
The book continues in this fashion – working through fundamental concepts of grooves and fills always emphasising the nascent drummer’s creativity in being able to take each lesson and apply one’s own interpretation.
Reading exercises are presented as useable groove and fill examples with, of course, advice on how to create your own grooves and fills based on the ideas demonstrated.
By the end of the first two chapters of the book, students have a decent repertoire of rock grooves, notation from quarters to sixteenths, loads of fills ideas, ability to play along to their favourite music and a stack of ideas about how to make the instrument their own.
Now the writers do something cool – we are given an option to move to chapter three (Jazz) or four (Latin), again offering the student the choice of which style to study. The lessons in both chapters offer a fantastic set of fundamentals to get get students familiar with both styles and which will provide a great stylistic and technical underpinning for developing drummers of all varieties.
Not content with passing on their considerable knowledge of drumming and drum-teaching methods, Drumset For Beginners is jam-packed with recommendations of books and DVDs students and teachers can use to go deeper in to each of the subjects taught. The appendix contains a wealth of information about what music to listen to, music notation, the playalong tracks and much more.
The CD that accompanies the book is very thorough and includes several great backing tracks. Unfortunately, the samples were recorded using some sort of hideous electronic drum set, the sound of which I can’t stand, bearing in mind I am a total Luddite where these things are concerned. I am sure it was a practical choice for the writers and won’t offend the vast majority but – yuck.
I have a couple of minor things to moan about – some lessons seem to require using texts from other books to get the most out of them. It is annoying to have to buy a book as an adjunct to this book to get the full gist of the lesson. Also, there is little or no mention of basic technical stuff like grip and stroke, posture and the art of practicing (so far as I have read).
All in all, I really like this book and have started using its ideas with my students and am having very positive results. I feel like I have been given a very clear method to explore which differs from my approach in many ways but which has enough flexibility to enable me to try stuff out and see what fits and what doesn’t.
Check it out here.
P.S. – When I contacted the writers about a query I had with the book, I was delighted to get a very quick and friendly response from Jim Farey. Although they haven’t quite got their website together and are not using the social networking tools that are included there to their best advantage (I know how that feels…), responsiveness to customers is a huge boon in my opinion and certainly contributed to me writing this review.