The Confidence/Knowledge Paradox

Confidence is a strange beast. Some seem to possess it inherently, others seem to fight to find it their entire lives. Musicians are notorious for this dichotomy, many acting as their “own worst critics” or constantly chasing some sense of artistic achievement that’s always out of reach.

The mighty Beethoven, a true master by all accounts, once wrote in a letter to a young admirer:

“The true artist is not proud, he unfortunately sees that art has no limits; he feels darkly how far he is from the goal; and though he may be admired by others, he is sad not to have reached that point to which his better genius only appears as a distant, guiding sun.”

Even a man of his tremendous achievement is plagued by doubt, disheartened by some goal that always seems just over the horizon. Maybe it’s just part of being an artist…

But it’s also just part of being a human.

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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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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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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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The Twofold Path – Part 3: The Groove

OKAY – we’ve made it this far into a murky topic… A daunting subject to tackle, but I’ll do my best to keep things on track. This is where we really have to start slogging through the weeds though, because there’s some terminology we might not all agree on, some variation in styles of music… Even some differences in WHY people want to play drums in the first place.

Let’s get a primary definition out of the way.

Here in Part 3, we’re mostly talking about the single MOST important aspect of being a drummer – keeping time. That is first and foremost what I mean by “groove.”

For our purposes, it’s the drummer’s playing within the context of an ensemble or a piece of music that provides pulse and feel. That means both the overall pulse of the music at hand and the spacing of the notes orbiting around it. It’s not just metronomic timekeeping, but that’s a decent place to start.

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Time, Habit, and Self-Imposed Guilt

Welp, I haven’t written anything here in a while… And I’m not exactly sure why. The ideas come rolling through my head from time to time, but for some reason, it’s been tough to actually sit down and type them out – so, why not make a post about not making posts? (Cue Inception sound effects)

It’s a time thing, I suppose, and we all like to think that we’re the busiest people in the world – myself included. I am, to a point, with multiple bands and the itch to get in as much practice as I can, a day job, a girlfriend, chores to do… But nobody runs at 100% efficiency.

We’ve all got downtime. We all have those days where we’re burned out, evenings we just want to relax, moments where we choose “unproductive” things over the goals and ideals we’ve architected in our minds…

Then – and maybe this is all just my personal experience – we beat ourselves up in hindsight for lost opportunities or wasted time. This is foolish (and a lesson I need to learn better myself).

For anything, be it drumming or writing or booking or promotion or whatever, it takes TIME and EFFORT to yield results. Unfortunately, it’s also pretty damn easy to neglect the things we know we should be doing (or event want to do) in favor of entertainment, rest, or because it simply didn’t occur to us to spend time in that particular way on any given day.

Time management is important, sure, but there’s something else at stake here: HABIT.

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Press On: Why Making Music Matters… Even When It Seems Like It Doesn’t

Damn, I almost tumbled into a terrible valley a little while back. Somewhere over the course of the day, I lost sight of work ethic, though that’s putting it a little lightly…

I have this propensity, from time to time, to think too hard about the biggest questions (vast spans of time and space, inevitability, etc.) and without getting nihilistic here, it gets a bit dark up there in my brainpiece (I save that kind of writing for another place – occasionally). Applied to drumming though, it’s an ugly path to wander down.

You stop thinking about the long road of learning, the joy of growth, and get caught up in A) discouraged feelings of “not good enough,” and B) some sense that it doesn’t mean anything, that it’s an empty pursuit.

These are dangerous thoughts.

Fortunately, these bouts of negativity don’t last too terribly long these days. I’ve kind of developed a way of thinking myself back out of them – in very much the same way I think myself into them in the first place… And if you’ve wandered into this treacherous mental territory, I want to help you do the same.
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Gear Review: Low Boy Custom Beaters

Ohhhh man! I don’t think I ever considered just how crucial the beater is to the overall sound of a kick drum. It makes sense, of course – just as mallets and HotRods and brushes all have different tone and attack on a head, how even nylon tips make a difference in cymbal sound – that a beater would have such an impact (pun intended).

I’ve always been pretty heavy footed. For a long time (and still, kinda), much of my playing revolved around syncopated kicks over straight hat/snare backbeats… I’m a beater burier… I like a lot of thud and not a lot of sustain…

All of that adds up to not paying much attention to the beater – as long as it pounds, it works.

I’ve only ever really played Pearl pedals, first the old strap drive/hard felt beater affair, then an Eliminator/Powershifter with the 4-way beater (after quickly flattening the rounded felt side, I stuck with the plastic), and finally my current pedal of choice, a direct drive Demon-Drive. For basically no reason, I swapped out the “flying saucer” beater for the one from the old Eliminator… and didn’t think about it after.

Enter into my awareness: Low Boy Beaters, a custom beater maker from Colorado, with snazzy all-maple, two-sided beaters that, well, look kind of weird…

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