The Meticulous Drummer

For all the stupid drummer jokes out there (literally jokes about drummers being stupid), we have an awful lot to deal with – and that takes brain power.

Where we don’t have key signatures and modes to keep track of, we do have limb coordination, setting the feel and tempo, and of course, a silly amount of gear to contend with. In my own personal experience, that translates into some pretty meticulous habits and attitudes about musicmaking.

I tend to be the overthinker, the logistics maker, the one most worried about load in times and stage arrangements… Because I have to bring so many pieces of gear for even a basic setup, I also tend to be the “quartermaster” – keeping track of all the gear and remembering the little details about what we have to bring along to the gig.

It goes well beyond gig prep and scrutinizing the time, though… Drummers are some of the weirdest, most meticulous, picky musicians around. Jury’s out as to why this might be the case.

Of course, we’ve all had our intellectual egos stroked by the articles proclaiming the drummers are the smartest, but does all this meticulousness help or hurt us?

Either way, it certainly sets us apart from many of our musical counterparts.

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Gear Review: Zildjian 20″ K Custom Dark Ride

My baby… The first “good” ride I ever bought, and the one that taught me all about what ride cymbals could be.

Somewhere between a dry ride and a big crash, the 20″ K Custom Dark Ride has crisp stick definition on top, and a big, washy sound if you get it moving from the edge.

It sounds ridiculous, but for the longest time, I barely played a ride cymbal…

My first kit, several owners deep, came with a Z Custom Heavy Power Ride – a behemoth of a pie that was more like a Spartan shield than a musical instrument. Don’t get me wrong, cymbals of that, uh, “persuasion” have their place, but for a young drummer, it had way too much bite. It sat dormant on the far right of my kit, more for looks than anything, I suppose.

It wasn’t until I got this wonderful K that I began to understand how many sounds a ride cymbal could produce.

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A Clinic With Derico Watson

I hail from a small(ish) town called Muskegon, Michigan. We’ve got a few “claims to fame,” but for the drumming community, one of the proudest is being the hometown of Derico Watson.

Derico is a powerhouse of a player with plenty of chops and super deep pocket, but even more importantly, he just exudes joy and passion when he plays. He’s passionate about many things actually, he is a natural medicine advocate, and talks to everyone who will listen about the benefits of alternative medicine over conventional. Not many people consider alternatives when they get sick, but many that have been around him do now because of the wealth of knowledge he has on the subject. If you want to look into this further you can go here to check out alternative medicine.

Perhaps best known for his work with Victor Wooten, Derico has had a huge impact on the drummers hailing from this part of the world, myself included. Even though I missed the opportunity to study with him when I was younger, products of his education exist across our local scene – and his influence (in my humble opinion) has raised the bar for the drummers of West Michigan.

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Lessons From Drumming In Music Theater

I’m no music theater pro. Not even close…

I’ve done a grand total of two (Hands on a Harbody and the Seussical), but they were both such massive learning opportunities, I almost feel obligated to share some of the experiences here – and encourage you to explore it yourself.

It’s not something I even sought out, but in retrospect, I wish I would have started much earlier! As with so many other opportunities, I didn’t even see it coming.

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PSA: Fight Back Against Gear Theft

This PSA is brought to you by all of the people who’ve ever lost an important piece of gear.

Thieviery of any kind sucks, no bones about it – but instruments are something else, another level of treachery. Plenty of stealable objects have monetary value… Plenty of others have sentimental value… Instruments tend to have both, and something else too…

They’re part of our life blood.

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An Unintended Hiatus

Oof, I haven’t even drafted anything for this blog in weeks, maybe longer…

I’m sure that’s familiar to many of us – the old “put a project down for a little while” break that may or may not mean abandoning it entirely…

That’s precisely what I’ve done here. I’m not entirely sure why – I enjoy writing these blogs, contemplating the topics, and so on. I absolutely love when something I’ve written here can be a catalyst for a conversation or a connection to new people.

So why stop?

barking

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The Death of Boredom

I’ve got something of a mantra: BOREDOM IS A MYTH.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that people can’t be bored… Rather that they shouldn’t be. This also doesn’t mean that there’s no value in downtime, just relaxing, idle chat with friends, or an aimless wander through nature.

No, I’m aimed at the “ugh, there’s nothing to do!” kind of boredom – sitting around uncomfortable, focused on your lack of options. Daydreaming is not boredom. Scrolling through Facebook, barely even reading anything, is. Straight up killing time with a vague awareness “I’m bored” and little else is, well, bullshit.

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A Guide to Being A Drummer on The Internet

We live in some weird times. Smartphones, YouTube, the upheaval of the music industry, vitriol-spewing trolls, more information than we can possibly digest, bombarding us from every angle, every minute of the day…

This is life on the internet.

These relatively new (and harsh) realities are having an effect on the way we do business, the way we consume media, and even the way we feel about ourselves (or others). If you’ve spent any time digging around online, I’m sure you feel it too.

There’s no turning back at this point though. No one’s going to burn their routers or cast their smartphones into the sea. We simply have to find a way to make do… A way to not get lost in the great overwhelm that is being a person with internet access in the 21st century.

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So, You’re an Old Dog Drummer… Want Some New Tricks?

Habits are hard as hell to break… Especially when you’ve been reinforcing them year after year, gig after gig, to the point they’re no longer just habits – they are parts of your personality.

As drummers, this isn’t an entirely bad thing. Our go-to grooves, the way we tune our toms, even the way we setup our kits is part of our signature, our individual musical identity. Even beyond “what you’re used to,” personality plays a big role in the gear we choose, the sound we hear in our head, the styles we choose to play, and on and on…

But what if you want to learn something new? Or… What if your setup, your gear, your grooves aren’t the product of conscious choices or a personal aesthetic… But just habit – the way you’ve settled into doing things?

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The Twofold Path – Part 4: Application

Over the last three entries on this here blog, I’ve been trying to cover my current (loose) approach to learning and developing my skillset on the drums. I’m calling it “The Twofold Path” because there are, well, two primary elements – exactly what I looked in Parts 2 and 3 – “chops” and “groove.”

Surely there are plenty of other things to consider in this vast world of percussive music making, but for me… Right now… This is where my head’s at.

In Part 2, the focus was chops and technical facility on the kit, and that should be a pretty major part of everyone’s practice. Really, this side of the coin can be expanded into anything technically oriented – speed, independence, pattern memorization, technique…

The other side (covered in Part 3) can be expanded into everything musical and practical – including things that require the ability and facility mentioned above.

Where one side is physical, the other is mostly mental.

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