Monday, December 22, 2014

Any Educational System Must Cover ALL The Bases

For drums, education must include hand control, strength training, reading, musicality, and ideas for creativity. Many teaching strategies focus on just one or two of these areas, but as a complete musician you need to develop all these skills, and to a high degree.

Hand Control
The bottom line is that we want our hands (and feet) to do the things we want them to do. So lots of practice on sticking patterns and basic rhythms is in order. Control also determines speed, articulation and facility with dynamics.

Strength Training
 Drums are physically hard to play, and it takes quite a bit of muscle to get through. A single demanding song can wear you out if you're not prepared. Speed also comes from strength, so be sure to include exercises and routines that push your speed as well as your endurance.

Reading music has a number of advantages. At the very least it allows you to access the ideas on the page. A systematic course in reading will not only teach you the notes, it will clearly lay out how different note values are related to the beat and to each other, and this can help you put the notes where they need to be. Plus if you can read reasonably well, it's not that big a step to reading charts, and that can make you more valuable.

Your course of study should include analyzing tunes and working on form, melody and perhaps even harmony. It's nice to have practiced '1001 rock beats', but how do they fit the music, if at all? And if you intend to be a freelancer or generalist, then your study should include all of the genres you might encounter on a gig.

Ideas & Creativity
My approach to everything is to work with building blocks: specific exercises to build strength, others to develop control, etc. To that end, I tend to avoid overly specific beats. I prefer the freedom of creating my own beats derived from the music. So my regimen includes lots of idea builders --basic patterns that have broad applications in music.

One of my favourite proverbs is "Work hard and never hurry". The skills you need cannot by rushed, so forget the time table and focus on your overall musical education. And remember that curiosity is the best motivator.

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