Playing drum is easy! It’s just holding a wood stick and hit something!
But if you don’t hit on the right time, right place, and with right effort, you are not playing music, you are making NOISE!
So is LIFE!
You don’t have to try everything hard. Waiting for a right pitch as a baseball hitter, and swing at it without hesitation. If everything goes perfect, you hit a home run. If not, don’t be sad. You can still goal with several singles.
The system includes 3 items: a whole picture, the common point, and a consultant !
a whole picture
Less unknown, less panic!
When I’m going to visit a new place, I check Google Map and even street view so that I can have a whole picture of the place. Doing that always makes me comfortable before my trip.
When I start a new language, I like to Google it and check Wiki first, and to study the introduction, overview and even the history of it. Doing that makes me comfortable and let me step forward without panic.
the common point
As the article I mentioned about program languages, I talked about the Logic of a language is what it truly matters.
If you’re good at one language, it’ll be easy to find the common point and utilize the thing you’ve already known to bring you to a new world sooner.
Once you get a whole picture and find the common, you gotta go further and deeper. You start to encounter kinds of problems. A consultant here is NOT a real person. It’s a textbook, we call ‘A Bible’, means big, fat textbook that includes everything, every details so that you can get the information you want from it to solve the problem.
In a word, I usually buy 2 books in different sizes in the beginning. One is a small book with basic concepts, overviews and examples, which provides me with a whole picture, and release my anxiety. The other one is a big book which includes the information as much detailed as it can, so that I can check it as a consultant to solve the complicated problems I encounter.
Life is full of frustrations, especially in learning new things. We feel frustrated because we care. We care because we want to be better.
SET your pace
When I teach myself, even my students, I like to focus on whether I’m moving forward today, no matter how big the step I made. We have a job for living, but having a hobby is for relaxing. Set your own pace, no rush!
Shoulder the weight
Another thing is also necessary to make you better.
Nobody loves pressure. Pressure is like medicine. It’s definitely a good treatment once you don’s abuse it.
Pressure can definitely make us concentrate on what we’re doing once you set an appropriate goal. To convey the pressure that you can handle to yourself and ensure you can make it later. Once you make it, you get the energy to keep moving again.
Size doesn’t matter!
Keep doing something for a long time is not that easy, even doing the things you love.
Set a goal, shoulder some weight, keep moving forward. Don’t care about the SIZE of the step you made. Even it’s a tiny one, it’s YOU MADE IT. You should be proud of yourself!
When practicing rock music, we often make powerful and punchy kicks on beats to keep time and provide energy. After playing several songs, we feel something wrong on our back. The kicking motion makes our back hurt, and not able to keep the power of kicks consistently.
It also happens when we play complicated grooves, especially the groove needs limbs coordination.
Back vs. Legs
There’re muscles between back and legs. When we sit on the throne and raise right leg to make a kick on bass drum, we’re using both parts of muscles. If we have a backache after playing drums, that’s definitely we forget to keep our back straight.
I’m usually excited in the begin of a practice or a gig. In 20 or 30 minutes, I become tired so that my brain starts to find a way to make my mind and body as much comfortable as I can. Then my back is not straight anymore.
To avoid the issue, I try to write a note and post on the wall in front of my drum, read the note every time before a practice, keep being aware of the status of my body until it becomes natural. After a while, I do improve my kick and make it more efficient and consistent.
Keeping back straight not only makes our performance better but avoiding our body getting injured and lasting our drummer career. Good luck 🙂
Shifting notes and accents of a groove is called permutation, which is a mathematical concept and is used to develop exercises in the book. When I read the book, I found it was a good way to create a new groove idea. So I started to use ‘permutation’ to compose groove for fun and tried to come up with some innovative licks.
Another method I used very often to be innovative is to pick up a new pair of drumsticks that you’ve never tried before, and make improvisation for fun.
I have a lot of pairs of drumsticks. And all of them have totally different length and diameter. (Most of them are Vic Firth 🙂
I love to try different sticks to improvise sometimes. I find my body is able to sense the change of what I’m holding and give me something in return. My body leads me to somewhere and I simply get new ideas unconsciously.
Remember to videotape yourself when you improvise, so that you can check your performance and make transcription later.
There’re tones of videos, books talking about how to practice rudiments or how to speed up your rudiments, like paradiddle.
Do you ever think about why we have to practice rudiments?
Especially, the rudiments we probably not use in our life or the speed we don’t have to play in our music style.
Rudiments are sound Patterns!
In my point of view, rudiments are developed by collecting all rhythms, tempos and beats together, like a big data nowadays. Then analyzing the data to pick up the most popular parts which people must know and spend time, such flam, drag, paradiddle, five-stroke roll …etc.
Rudiments are the collection of minimum element of sounds. Even a one-bar fill, it could be composed of several elements (rudiments). If we want to make the fill feel good, we gotta make every little part perfect, probably a flam-tap, flamacue …etc.
So, if you find your play always doesn’t feel the way as you expected, it’s probably the time to take a break and go back to practice rudiments again. We can control the little things! Rudiment is the little thing of playing drum.
I read an article about the ranking of the popular programming languages. It occurs to me that the ranking made me panic when I was a student. I was thinking if I gotta learn the more kinds of programming language, the better job I can get. But , how many is enough?
It’s about HOW, not WHAT!
As the way we use language in our life to communicate with people. Programming Language plays a role of communication between computer and engineer, software and hardware, device and device.
Precise expression matters!
If we want to make a restaurant reservation on the phone, speaking local language is much easier to make it. But if we got lost in a foreign country and try to ask for help, body language will be much useful!
How many is enough? In my point of view, ONE is enough. If you are very good at ONE language, you’re definitely good at the logic of thinking and ‘speaking’ in the language. The logic is a fundamental to manipulate a language to do everything you want. Once you can ‘speak’ naturally in the language, you will be comfortable to learn another one.
In conclusion, If you want to speak like a native speaker, you gotta think like a native speaker first. Because the logic matters.
I watched a Drumeo lesson features Dom Famularo. He mentioned 4 stages to be a great drummer.
The 4 stages are as below:
After watching the video, I was wondering which stage I am. Stage 1?, Stage3?. The interesting thing is that we may be on 4 stages at the same time, but on 4 different areas. I am a software engineer, programming is what I’m good at. So I could be on stage 3 or 4. As an electric bass player, I’m still a beginner , so I could be on stage 1 or 2.
It doesn’t matter which stage you are. The point is how to be CONSCIOUS, to be aware of things, to sense things when you learn.
Be a teacher and teach yourself!
Purchase an iPhone stand and start videotaping yourself. Check the video for thousand times as a Grammy judge, and criticize you in your play, including your gestures, body motion, balance, timing, dynamic, energy …etc. That will develop your sensibility.
You can also show the video to your friends, your teacher or band member, and ask for the TRUTH! The truth is always cruel, but it’s the only way to pull you out of the stage 1 (Unconscious incompetent). That will provide you with different point of views so that you can be a better teacher to teach yourself next time.
Try to be a great teacher, and teach you to be great!
Ed Soph, a great drummer and teacher, says that “Even time-keeping is produced by strokes and silence in time.”.
Playing drum to keep time is drummer’s job. Not to play drums to keep time is drummer’s job as well.
When we practice rudiments, grooves and cool fills, we practice not only what to hit, where to hit and when to hit, but also be aware of what NOT to hit, where NOT to hit and when NOT to hit.
Practice ‘Not to hit’
Practicing ‘Not to hit’ means you have to build up the internal time, so that we are able to count 1, 2, 3, 4 … evenly and consistently.
There’s a way I use often and it’s easy to practice everywhere:
To count loudly along with metronome for a while, and then turning down the volume of your metronome slowly until you hear nothing, and turning the volume back in serval beats. Check if you’re still on the track and match the beat of the metronome. You can also use a song or play-along track instead. Remember NOT to chase the beep sound of the metronome. Try to imagine the beep sound is produced from you.
The REST is a part of music.
Beginners hates REST. Waiting and doing nothing is so boring! REST is a part of music, and we play music, so we MUST ‘play’ REST.
No matter what kind of instrument you play. You are a musician, you play music, you gotta love REST!😊