Monday, September 27, 2021

Curating Your Work

"Sure Warren's use of perspective is good, but where are all the double kick chops and blast beats, Maaannn?

Step 1- Learn to play something
Step 2- Go to the gig and don't play it.

 Sometimes it's good to be reminded of what practice is, and why it's different from performance. This happened when I checked out a recent Four On the Floor post. The great John Riley was featured, and as I watched and listened to him play through some very challenging material, I was struck by a few things. Firstly, I realized how well he knew the material as he went from one challenging coordination pattern to another without changing the ride beat & groove at all, and playing each example flawlessly. Secondly, actions speak louder than words so let's check out a relatively recent performance of Mr. Riley playing with a quartet.

What do I notice? Well, great time, ideas, and dynamic control for one thing. What do I NOT notice? He doesn't appear to be playing a bunch of planned out licks, especially related to the material in the Four On the Floor post. Nope, despite all the work that went into getting MANY things together on the drums, when he's playing, Mr. Riley is simply letting all the things he's practiced come through him in an organic way while he's listening and reacting to the music around him. In short, he's a great example of working hard in the woodshed and then being willing to let it go on the bandstand. We represent the music best when we have a context for what we're playing rather than justifying something we worked on to merely satisfy our ego. :) 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Ted Warren describes his approach to teaching

In this video I briefly discuss my teaching philosophy and how I assist students of all ages, temperaments, and backgrounds in becoming the drummer of their dreams…..

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Quote via Gary Husband

 ′′ My jump isn't high enough, my spins aren't perfect, I can't put my leg behind my ear Please don't do that. Sometimes there is such an obsession with technique that it can kill your best impulses. Remember that communicating with an art form means being vulnerable, being imperfect. And most of the time it's much more interesting. Believe me ".



Friday, September 17, 2021

Developing A Great Practise Routine

Hello everyone,
Posting has been a little light lately. I was working for Elections Canada and then I got injured. So, here's great bassist and musical thinker Rich Brown with some great advice on practicing, that definitely applies to all instruments!

And here's Rich, practicing what he's preaching in a performance of my tune "Shipwrecked" with Broadview (trio with myself and Mike Murley) from a gig about 10 years ago. I have to get this band some more work! :) 

Alright! That's it for now…….

Monday, September 6, 2021

Mindfullness and Concentration

 Lately, my wife and I have been enjoying Marc Lesser's teaching on mindfulness. Check out how he relates his experiences with high school wrestling with a greater understanding of concentration….

I was captain of my high school wrestling team during my senior year of Colonia High School in north-central New Jersey. One of the teams we regularly faced was J. P. Stevens High School from Edison. They were consistently one of the top-rated teams in the state and often sent wrestlers to the state championship. During the warm-up period, my team behaved like most high school wrestling teams. We ran briskly onto the mats, did some exercises, and made a lot of noise. The main objective of our warm-up was to demonstrate our prowess to the opposing team.

In contrast, the J. P. Stevens team walked out slowly and quietly onto the wrestling mat. They were poised, focused, and concentrated, preparing themselves for the task ahead by settling and quieting their minds. They seemed disinterested in our team. Their uniforms were black, and their heads were nearly shaved. They didn’t talk or smile. I knew right away that this was the team I wanted to be on. I think of this as an early sign of my desire to be a Zen student (and at times a Zen monk.)

One of the things that intrigued me in high school wrestling was the power, passion, and complexity of concentration. I noticed that my desire to win and my fear of losing often interfered with my performance, my concentration, and my enjoyment. I knew that something very important was going on, and I also felt that something very vital was missing. By my senior year I was a fairly good wrestler, having faced some of the better competition in the state. Competing with the best in the state was, as my coach proclaimed, a good way to develop. Our coach used to ask, “Do you want to be a big fish in a small pond, or a big fish in a large pond?” This was his way of explaining that although we were a new and inexperienced team, it was useful to wrestle against the best teams in the state, even if it meant being utterly demolished and embarrassed.

In watching other wrestlers, I noticed that the good ones were usually strong and athletic and really wanted to win. The best wrestlers, those who became state champions, seemed different. They weren’t always the strongest or quickest or the most athletic looking. They certainly cared about winning, but they did not seem caught up in winning and losing. Rather, they appeared focused on what they were doing. They seemed to move and act from a deeper place than the good wrestlers. They often seemed a little odd and appeared not to care what others thought of them. I knew that there was something to learn from these wrestlers and that the lessons to be learned would translate far beyond the wrestling mat.

Lots for us musicians to chew on as well. Why are we doing this? If it's just to be the fastest/loudest/most impressive we're not going to be doing this as deeply as someone who is just fascinated by every part of making music………...


Thursday, September 2, 2021

Gary Burton Quintet 1974 feat Metheny Goodrick Swallow Moses - HQ audio

Wow. Here's some great footage of Gary Burton's quintet in 1974. Bob Moses sounds so good!
I'm aware that a lot of these youtube embeds are rather ephemeral, so if even in the future, if this link is broken, go get the album "Ring' which is this band plus Eberhard Weber. A lot of Jazz from the '70s, particularly coming out of the states, gets maligned a lot. True, it was a strange time for Jazz, but then there's great stuff like this! Enjoy! 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Old Dog, Meet New Tricks

 This coming September, I will have been playing the drums for 45 years, and man are my arms tired! 

Seriously, it amazes me after all this time, experience, listening, and frankly hard work, there is still so much to learn.

Case in point. I have been using a hybrid "push/pull" technique to play streams of notes, especially in my right hand, but I've never been super satisfied with the results, and it tends to feel very inconsistent. I stumbled across Rick Dior demonstrating Peavey drums. As he aptly showed in that video, he is a great drummer with very good technique. So, when I saw he had some videos involving push/pull, I had to check it out. NOTE: This is not his first video on the subject, so if you're just starting to develop this, I would advise you to watch his beginning video first.

So, there's lots of great info here. I have decided to work the concepts he's talking about here to clean up my technique. I'm vowing to work on it at least a half hour a day, but also to make sure to play along with recordings, jam etc. as well so I don't get obsessed with this one technical idea. ( I have done this in the past, and the results weren't pretty.) When this post is published, I'll have been working on this for about a month, so I'll let you know of my progress. Oh, I also wanted to mention that I like his demonstration because he also mentions how to apply this technique, because without application, what's the point?  

So, it's not really a trick I'm working on, but a technique that hopefully will open new paths to creativity. Stay tuned……


It's only been 3 or 4 days, but it's starting to feel a LOT better, particularly in the left hand. I'm also trying to be equally comfortable with the technique in French and german grips, so I've got my work cut out for me!

Another set of factors when learning something new within a skill set one has are proactive and retroactive interference ( thank you university 1st year Psychology! ). The proactive interference (my new learning being affected by my old learning ) is that I use so much rebound, I now have to control it in a different way to make this technique work, and it makes it challenging for sure. The retroactive interference I have to manage is that the old way I use rebound works very well for things, particularly playing a fast Jazz ride rhythm, so I don't want this new technique to affect what I already am happy with. Okay, back to the shed………


It's subtle, but I think this technique is starting to influence my sound. Because rebound is part of this technique, I find that in general I am playing more up off the drums rather than down into them and getting off the drum head slightly quicker. Not that I'm comparing myself to them at all, but the sound and feeling is more bright and ringy like Buddy Rich or Louis Bellson and I'm digging it a lot!!!


A couple of weeks later. It's coming along slowly. But then Guelph fine drummer Sam Cino posts this!!!!!!!

Mr. Montagner has really mastered this, and without using his fingers!!!! Also, he shows a lot of other great techniques. I think as far as a lot of this extreme technique stuff goes, I'm most attracted to the Brazilian take on it because it always seems to be about representing the music. Okay, back to the drawing board…...