Giving The Gift – A Concept Worth Remembering At Each and Every Gig

Sometimes all it takes is hearing the right message. The right collection of words at the right time can coalesce with existing experiences and unarticulated thoughts…

This is the stuff real inspiration is made of.

Totally new ideas take time to sink in, have to contend with existing worldview, hurdle psychological barriers.

But the right statement in the right context can bring nebulous ideas close to a pinpoint – and I recently had one of those moments.

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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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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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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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Authenticity: Social and Musical Currency

I’ve been a little lost on what to write about lately. I’m not a pro drummer, I’m just working on it – so who the hell am I? Why does it matter what I have to say?

…But oh so gradually, I’ve been starting to figure it out. From the conversations I have with my musical peers to the responses I got on Sarahah, the marketing material I edit for my dayjob to a talking point at the Derico Watson clinic I recently attended… The message shows itself time and time again – most of us are just too stuck to soak it in:

THERE’S ONLY ONE YOU

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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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Transform Your Anger to Art

People seem unhappy. There are things happening in the forefront of public discourse that spark a lot of disagreement. Anger and fear, even just mild disgust, seem all the more common.

As usual, it’s that much more visible too (thanks internet), but it’s hard to ignore a pervasive sentiment of negativity.

I may be wandering into controversial territory…

FIRST AND FOREMOST: a big ol’ caveat for this post… I am not inviting political and ideological debate of the usual sort. Not in the comments here, or anywhere on social media. If you want to have a productive discussion, we can (one on one) – but this has way less to do with politics and way more to do with art.

…Or at least creativity.

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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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