It seems that my blog has quite a few posts that talk about making music. I’ve labeled them with different headings, but I’ve noticed that perhaps I’m repeating myself a bit. I’ll try to organize the posts at some point. In the meantime, if you’re getting bored you have my apologies. My goals seem fairly simply — serve the music and continue learning.
I’ve recently been checking out some hybrid rudiments on the Vic Firth website. There is some cool stuff there!
There are some gigs where I get a great monitor mix from the person running the sound. One question I ask as I’m setting up is: “how many different mixes are possible?” This helps me to understand what I can and cannot ask for from them. Sometimes, there aren’t monitors even though the gig clearly calls for them. Other times, monitors are provided but the mix is less than desirable.
In all of these cases, I strive to continue to focus on the music. I may not be hearing the other musicians the way that I’d like, but I do not concentrate on that. I make a conscious decision to try to connect with them regardless of the sound issues. I can ask for some tweaking of the mix during the gig or during a break, but I don’t let it bug me too much. I have the confidence that the front of house sound is fine and just play the best that I can.
I love seeing accomplished drummers move. Their entire body seems to get involved AND everything seems to be effortless. I have spent countless hours examining my own movements, especially my arm motion. No matter the style of music (or volume), my arms are moving. This includes everything from a very soft orchestral (or multiple bounce) roll to the more aggressive drumming needed for rock, R&B, etc.
I am still working on this by doing anything I can to encourage my arms to simply move. My goal is that my left arm will some day have the ability to move with the ease that my right arm currently enjoys. I practice, but I also try things away from the drum set — basically, anything I would normally do with my right arm/hand. Try it and see if your brain starts to send a more similar message to that part of your body.
Play the gig you’re currently doing — not the one for which you’re practicing. I believe it’s important to always remember my role on my current gig. If it’s a “commercial” thing, then play it that way. Listen to the music, learn the style, and play within those parameters. I may have practiced some really fun clave patterns during the day (e.g.), but my gig that evening doesn’t call for that. That’s fine. I don’t want to throw something into the mix just because I can. I may be dying to try some of this new stuff (for me), but I’m going to wait for the right time.
Many years ago, a friend of mine was doing a vocalist’s gig in NYC and Roy Haynes happened to be there. My buddy was doing a great job and playing what the gig wanted. They talked during a break and Roy said something along the lines, “hey, not every gig is a bebop gig.” The lesson is that you play the gig. I take this attitude with me to every gig. It serves me well.
One thing that appeals to me is when the name of something (a drum rudiment, in this case) completely describes what it is at the same time! The multiple bounce roll falls into this category. Yes, it does go by other names — the “buzz roll” and/or the “press roll.” Back in the day, it was referred to by one of the latter names more often than not. However, it has been my experience from my “re-learning” it to teaching it, that students “get it” much quicker when it’s referred to as the multiple bounce roll. One really fun thing I show students is how similar the motion is for this roll and the double stroke roll, e.g. It also applies to playing three notes in a row in a jazz ride pattern, as well.
Freddie Gruber used to talk about setting the stick in motion and then getting out of the way. This seems simple, but (for me) has taken quite a bit of time to get into my brain and hands. That’s why I teach this idea from day one at this point. It’s been my experience that the sooner my students start feeling this, then the better. The name “multiple bounce” is more than just a name. It’s what I’m doing almost all of the time!