Sunday, November 12, 2017

Hurry, Don't delay, ACT NOW!

....And check out Four On The Floor's posting of this interview with Philly Joe Jones.

Thank you Jon, I owe you some Houston's Pizza! :)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The 6 to 1 ratio

No, this isn't some sticking formula or weight training for your ankles to make your feet faster. This is a concept i came up with while discussing practice pads on social media. Anyone who knows me or has read this blog in any depth knows I'm not a fan of playing anything you wouldn't actually play on a gig or a recording. That would be the dreaded practice pad. Yes, I'm aware that many of us ( myself included ) are in living situations where we cannot practice on drums at home. I totally understand that and at one point would have said that if playing drums isn't possible, by all means use the pad.  However, I think in my ( ahem ) advancing years I would amend that to say, " If you are a drummer with a reasonable amount of experience on the drums, if you can't physically play the drums because of the situation you're in, your time might be better spent working on other issues related to music rather than whacking your sticks on a piece of rubber or plastic!"

Okay, since we can't play the drums, what can we do with our practice time? Here are a few suggestions....

1. Learn tunes by ear. 
All you need is some source of a recording, your ears and memory, and your voice. You don't need the drums to learn repertoire, but this is a vitally important thing to practice.

2. Practice brushes.
Now I can hear you all saying, " That's pretty hypocritical! What's the difference between practicing sticks and working on brushes, sans drum?" Well, when we're playing brushes on an album cover, pizza box, telephone book, etc. we are still dealing with the SOUNDS we are making. My big beef with pads is they don't sound even remotely anything like a drum, and as far as I'm concerned, separating sound and technique isn't very useful!

Need more proof you don't need drums to effectively performing on brushes? Here's Kenny Clarke playing on a phone book accompanying Lennie Tristano and Charlie Parker. He plays a little tentatively at first, but by the end, he's killing it!

3. Practice another instrument.
Sad but true, you will get fewer noise complaints from practicing almost any other instrument other than drums. Why not practice keyboard? I would say at this point in my life, that's about 80% of my practice time, and I feel I've never played the drums better!

4. Mentally practice.
Work over what you were going to do, imagining how it would look, sound, and feel as vividly as you can. You will see a huge difference from doing this regularly!

Okay, I think I've made my point, except for the title of this post, so here it is.

"The difference in playing on a drum, ANY DRUM, as opposed to a pad is a 6:1 ratio. If we practice 10 minutes on a drum, that's as beneficial as playing for an hour on a pad. 1/2 an hour on a drum = 3 hours on a pad, etc."

-Ted Warren 2017

No, I have no science to back this up, just my own feeling, experience, and common sense. It's just my opinion, and you're all entitled to yours! Happy trails......

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Programming notes

 Hello folks,
Just wanted to mention a few thing to do with the blog. One, is that I realize that a lot of the posts lately have been conceptual rather than sort of nuts and bolts exercises. While I post these sort of things to get us thinking as much as playing the balance has been a bit out of whack lately. I have been going through some physical/health issues the last few years that have made me a little camera shy, so I haven't done many posts where people can actually see me. I have recently turned a corner with these issues, so I hope to start some video posts in the near future, as I currently have a lot of stuff to share.

The other note of note ( I kill me! You hope! ) is that although I strive to be positive in my little blog corner of the world, in the future I do plan to offer more of my opinions on things I don't agree with, and that aren't , in my opinion healthy, in the world of music. Now, I would never "call out" an individual on this, that's not my style and I don't think it's professional, but I might make veiled references here and there. Of course, if I'm in favour of something, I will "call out" enthusiastically. For example, I might say, " A current foot cymbal only shop in rural Saskatchewan did not provide me with the greatest customer experience". But, if I'm in favour of something I might say, " The next time you're in Esterhazy Saskatchewan, check out Phil's House of Hi-Hats!, They'll treat you right!" ( P.S. My best to all the great folks at Phil's!!!! )
So, anticipating these changes, please keep in mind my opinions are mine alone, and I still respect your right to yours, and expect respect in return!  So if I post something like, " Trixon bass drums have always looked like a flat tire to me!", please keep your responses clean!

Ta for now......

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Count or Ooooooooo Scary

Actually, this post is not about this Count ( although I have no doubt he'd be a fine bandleader ).

Rather, it's about the count in or the count off, depending on your use of terminology
An interesting discussion opened up on social media recently regarding bandleaders who change tempos DURING THE COUNT OFF! I have been this place more than once, and it can be truly painful. Mind you, I'm not talking about the odd time when this happens, but a chronic situation. I was surprised by how many people used terms like " let it flow' or " don't be a metronome " during this discussion. I'm certainly in favour of letting the music breathe, but people who habitually move the tempo they're counting off while it's in progress, are really demonstrating a lack of consistency and control. The tune starts from the count off, and everyone needs to be committed to that tempo. I heard thirdhand from a person that worked with Dizzy Gillespie that Dizzy spent a long time on his count offs so everyone in the band was very aware of the tempo.

Closely related to the above mentioned is the problem of people who count in a consistent tempo, but then realize it's not the tempo they wanted so then try to get the band to speed up or slow down to where they really wanted it. Again, unprofessional, to say the least. If you want to seriously annoy your drummer, this is a very effective way of doing it!

Also, there's the person who counts in the tune far outside it's practical tempo zone. Yes, playing tunes at extreme tempos is good for concentration etc., but in a performance setting it's amazing how difficult it makes them to play. Speaking of Dizzy, I once played " Groovin' High" at a medium slow tempo because of bad band leading, and I was flabbergasted at how silly the melody sounded at that speed! ( Maybe this happened to Dizzy too, and that's why later he was so aware of his count ins! )

Finally, a lot of problems are caused during the count off when it's NOT LOUD ENOUGH. I bust my students on this all the time, and I'm sitting only a couple of feet from them. How is somebody on the other side of a big band going to hear them?  I often have the the count ins delegated to me, simply because I do it so loudly!

So, if you can, talk to your bandleader about letting someone else count the tunes in, or of them being a little more aware of the tempo. Of course, if they are going to take offence to this and fire you, then it's probably best to grin and bear it.

Of course, none of this applies when Dee Dee Ramone is counting the song off.....

Happy Halloween, and I hope the ratio of of tricks to treats is to your liking......

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Ted Rides In A Time Machine or Portrait of the Artist as a young Doofus

No, I haven't discovered a machine that will make my time better. ( Although that would be awesome! ) 

In 1988, a big band of young Canadian musicians was assembled to play in honour of the winter olympics in Calgary. Rob McConnell led the band and by a recommendation and other flukes I was invited to be involved. Many long term musical relationships were formed from that experience. ( In fact, this week I'm doing 3 gigs that involved both bassist Jim Vivian and Saxophonist Perry White, who were both in the olympic band with me. I also eventually worked with the Boss Brass after that early meeting with Rob. It's sad to think that far fewer of these type of opportunities exist in this current political and economic climate. 

I had forgotten that the band was recorded and recently I was sent the mp3s of the performance. It is indeed strange to go back in time almost 30 years. It is, however ,fun to hear how I played the time, the way I tuned, the sorts of ideas I was playing, etc. I hadn't even recorded professionally yet at this point so to say I was green and rough around cannot be overstated. That said, there's a fun energy and enthusiasm that only a 22-year-old that thinks he has something to prove can provide.

The 2 mp3s are about 45 minutes each, so again, unless you're my Mom, I don't expect you to plow through all of it! It is, nevertheless, a nice capsule of a time gone by and of Rob McConnell's wacky sense of humour. Enjoy!

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Gig Triangle

Hey all,
I wanted to talk briefly about a concept I attributed to saxophonist Dave Neill, but now I am told it comes from former U of T prof Paul Read. Either way, here it is, the Gig triangle.

It's a simple enough concept. When one is deciding whether to take a gig, there are 3 main factors to consider. These factors are, the amount of musical satisfaction , ( top of the triangle ) , the quality of respect and attitude of the people involved,  ( left side ), and the fairness of the renumeration ( right side ). It was explained to me that if one doesn't potentially see at least 2 points of the triangle filled, then probably one shouldn't take the gig. ( Note: This applies to working professionals with a certain degree of experience. If one is just starting out, one should take almost ANY gig that comes your way!)

To conclude, here's some awesome footage of the great Jon Christensen. It has nothing to do with the rest of this post, but he's great, so it's worth checking out! :)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

RIP Grady Tate

A great drummer/vocalist/actor that unfortunately I never got to see live.