Friday, March 23, 2012

Trial by Fire

Well tonight I bit the bullet and attended an extended jam session. Nothing too ambitious, but it was live drums and electric instruments in a confined space. I managed to stick it out for a full two hours. I’ve not sat behind a drum set for more than 20 minutes since my ear condition put me out of the business many years ago, so it was a bit of a test to see if the recruitment retraining I’m attempting is having any effect. Too early to tell, but I didn’t feel any adverse symptoms during or immediately after the jam. My tinnitus is pretty much normal so the sound level doesn’t seem to have affected it. Tomorrow I’ll know for sure if there will be some payback. I certainly hope not, since that’s a horrible experience – ears that feel like raw hamburger – plus I’m enjoying the notion of being able to call myself a drummer and musician once again.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It feels good to woodshed again

Discovering my old study material has reawakened my curiosity. So I've been going back over some of the material and getting my limbs back in shape. There have been two additional discoveries from this process. The first, and most obvious, is the sheer joy of rhythmic movement. I find jazz rhythms particularly relaxing despite the fact that they are often physically and mentally challenging. There’s nothing that compares to sitting there, settled in to a groove with, ironically, time standing still.

The other discovery -- and one that threatens to get out of control -- is to realize where ideas come from and how easy it can be to be creative. I'm not saying it's a cakewalk, just that within each exercise, each figure, each rhythm, there lies a host of variations that can provide a lifetime's worth of study. All it takes is a bit of imagination ... then sufficient practice to pull it off.

So I guess I'd better get started!
-rb

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Good place to check out

I read somewhere that there are no good drum blogs. That's certainly not the way JON McCASLIN of Calgary sees it. His blog is excellent, frequently updated and a treat to visit.

http://jonmccaslinjazzdrummer.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

May as well jump in with both feet

I've been away from the music scene for some years. Something to do with devastating ear damage. Who knew? Anyway, a recent discovery on my part is that there is hope for people with tinnitus, hyperacusis and recruitment. Tinnitus is a major annoyance, but the recruitment was a show stopper for me. It meant that my pain threshold dropped from the normal 120 dB to as low as 90 dB. But I learned of an approach lately that seeks to recondition the ears to tolerate noise. So I'm sitting here with ear-buds in playing pink noise that's just slightly less loud than my tinnitus. The regimen calls for 24/7 exposure but I'm not sure I can listen to pink noise that much. The tinnitus is bad enough.

In the meantime, I'm back to banging around on my old set in the basement and have dragged out my old drum studies material. Ironically, I gave away a heap of classic drum instruction books not too many months ago assuming I'd never be able to look at them again. Now I may end up re-buying them. What has me most buzzed it that I've discovered all the original material from when I studied with Jim Blackley, Claude Ranger and Paul deLong. Lots of incredible material that will keep me busily 'reviewing' for quite some time. I thought the Blackley stuff was brilliant years ago and today it looks like he's still ahead of his time. (Jim turned 85 just last week and still has a full teaching roster!)

Anyway, this diatribe comes from the sense of rebirth I feel having discovered that drums can be a part of my life, and not just something that I have to hide in the basement. Despite several careers -- both successful and wrong choices -- I never lost the feeling that I was a drummer showing up at the wrong gig.
-rb