Monday, September 19, 2022

Drummers and Practice Space

 I once remember reading someone mentioning something to the effect of that if you go into a public space and play a violin, everyone smiles, but if you play a drum, someone’s going to call the cops! (Thanks Karen!) It’s true. It’s challenging to listen to someone practicing drums, so it’s equally challenging trying to find a place to do so. Here’s some things to consider.

1. Communicate and get along with your neighbours. 

Get to know the people near your rehearsal spot. Are there any days/times there’s simply no one around? You may have to adjust when you practice but it's a small price to pay to get at the drums on a consistent basis. Also, if you practice at the place you live, NEVER ISSUE NOISE COMPLAINTS AGAINST YOUR NEIGHBOURS UNLESS IT’S ABSOLUTELY INTOLERABLE. It’s very easy to get into a passive-aggressive situation where things that people would normally ignore if you hadn’t annoyed them, lead to them issuing complaints about you. I get this is tricky, but try and “live and let live”, if possible.

2. Consider all spaces.

Is there some sort of business near you that is closed in the evenings and/or weekends? Perhaps they would like someone occupying part of their space to avoid robberies, make some extra coin, and support the arts? You never know. If you’re a student, can you practice at school? And don’t tell me you never can find a free room. Most of these buildings open by 7am, and in most cases, you could practice BOWLING, let alone drums, IN THE HALLWAYS until about 10am!

3. You may need to “prepare” your instrument. 

There are many low volume cymbal and head options these days, or you could even buy an electronic drum set and play with head phones. I’m not crazy about this option, but it’s certainly better than never practicing.

4. If you are storing the gear you use on gigs, you will need 24 hour access. 

This complicates matters somewhat. I have both headed out to and returned from gigs at all hours of the day and night, and even loading drums in and out can be quite noisy. Be as flexible as you can, but having your own key and entryway to your space is ideal.

5. Don’t be willing to practice in a space that is excessively dirty, unhealthy, or unsafe. 

Asbestos insulation? Super rough neighbourhood? Rickety steep stairs that have you fearing for your life? I’ve been in some bad situations and believe me, it’s just not worth it.

In conclusion, realize that through your life and your various living situations, you will practice in many different types of environments. Flexibility, communication, and patience is the key! 

And on a completely unrelated note, here’s a medley of footage of Duncan Hopkins’ 2 guitar band at the Toronto Jazz festival. I was to go into the studio with a version of this band (except with Reg Schwager instead of Sam Dickinson), but my ailing appendix had other plans! Luckily the great Montreal-based drummer Michel Lambert was able to do the recording. It's of mainly Kenny Wheeler's music so it will be great to hear what Michel does with that. :) 

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