So when I saw this gleaming and super modern looking piece of equipment at Sam Ash, I got excited.
First, let me explain in more detail the “problem” that this piece of equipment was created to solve.
The classic problem here? The crossing of one’s hands. And yes, I know that the “best” solution is actually to play open-handed, but let’s assume that you don’t have enough time to re-learn all of your groove playing in that manner.
I had a student who moved his hi hat away from his body and then uncrossed his hands that way. That is the concept; moving the hi hats forward and to the right of their “normal” position allows you to uncross your hands.
But, your left foot has to move too. The resulting position is decidedly awkward.
Here’s how the product is explained on the Gibraltar website:
“Gibraltar’s Ultra Adjust hi hat stand allows the player to position the stand in a comfortable leg playing position and independently position the hi hat cymbals for best playing placement. Gibraltar accomplished this utilizing the patented Ultra Adjust system. These two gearless positioning points give up to eight inches displacement for the upper stand section of the hi hat.”
The Gibraltar Ultra Adjust did allow me to position the hi hats in a great spot so that I could uncross my hands. It also allowed me to keep my left foot where I wanted.
BUT, more importantly, the motion of the hi hat stand is very sluggish. That is the Achilles heel of the product. Frankly, it’s a deal breaker for me. The first thing that has to work well for me is the actual function that the hi hat is supposed to serve. And that is action and response. I want to use the hats for “chik” sounds, splashes, and the standard open and close sounds.
Yes, I can do all those things, but not with ease. Making the hi hat open and close is laborious. I need to exert more physical energy to move the hi hat up and down than I would with a standard pedal. It’s slower; the response is sluggish.
Unfortunately, this means that the Ultra Adjust is a failure. It just doesn’t feel right at all.
A great idea….but the execution is not there.
Too bad. I really wanted it to work.
I STILL resist the notion that I should go into the shed and learn to play all of my grooves open handed.
I will continue to look for solutions.
This latest Nasty Lick, which happens to be number 56, was inspired by one of my all time favorite drummers, Zach Danziger. I heard him do something like this on the Wayne Krantz album, “Long To Be Loose.”
The phrasing of Zach’s version was a bit different, but the essence of it is very similar.
It’s a killer.
Here is the pdf: Nasty Lick 56
“Indian Time Zones” appears on Warren Cuccurullo’s 1996 album, “Thanks To Frank.” The tune is in 5/4 and Vinnie Colaiuta takes an eight bar drum solo on the track. My favorite part of the solo is the 2nd half. A transcription of those last four bars is presented here.
The 2nd half of the solo is where Vinnie really blasts off–machine gunning us with a bunch of mostly 32nd note ideas.
I’ve included a one beat pick up (the last quarter note of the fourth bar) on the transcription to maintain the flow of ideas. Where the sticking is difficult, I’ve included my suggested sticking.
Here is the PDF: Indian Time Zones 2nd Half
Some gigs will be no brainers. But if you find yourself not sure if a particular gig is for you or not, try using the following as a framework to evaluate.
These are not necessarily in order of importance. You have to decide how to weight each factor. That being said, ignore numbers 3 and 4 at your own risk.
1) Time/Opportunity Cost
1) Time/Opportunity Cost
If James Taylor was right and “the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time,” then you need to think about how much time you have available to you.
Do you have the time to take this new gig and still enjoy yourself?
Opportunity cost means you may have to give up something else you want to do by spending your time on this new project. Consider what the new gig might prevent you from doing that’s important.
There’s not much to explain here. Is there money or not? If there is, how much? Money can make music you don’t love sound a lot better.
Do you like the people on the gig? You may have to spend a lot of time with them. If they are annoying, mean, unpleasant, drug addicts, etc, just factor that into your thinking. If not and you like them, good!
Remember why you started playing in the first place? Right. Because you love music. Do you like the songs? Do you like this style of music? What is the level of musicianship? Better than average or amateur hour? If you are struggling to keep up because the musicianship is very high, that could be a positive; you’ll grow as a player. On the other hand, if you are the best player in the band, perhaps you should think again.
What are the networking opportunities? Where will you play? Is there a big producer attached to the project? Is there a more experienced musician who might recommend you for other gigs?
You get the picture.
Thinking about this stuff should help you make better decisions.
Here’s to your success.
One such page is the first set of eighth note rock independence exercises in the late Charles Dowd’s book “The Funky Primer.” I use the book often with beginners who are interested in playing pop and rock.
It’s a great way to begin that journey because developing independence with your bass drum foot against eighth notes on the cymbal and backbeats on the snare drum is crucial to functioning in rock music.
The point of these exercises is mastery. Rushing through the page will not develop mastery. In fact, hurrying through the 18 exercises on that particular page (or any) will get you nothing. Nada. Rien. Zip. Bupkes.
I tell students who are rushing through that I wish all drum books were written with only one exercise per page. Perhaps then, it would be easier to focus on JUST THAT ONE PATTERN.
It’s that kind of thinking and focus that will help you. One at a time. Over and over and over again. Until it’s easy, and thoughtless. Until you don’t have to look at the page anymore. Until you can play the pattern with ease. Until you can actually think about something else while playing the pattern. If you’re daydreaming and still playing the material perfectly, you’re really in the zone you want to be in.
You want to play the exercise until it gets into your muscle memory. Once you have the exercise down, move on. But not until you do.
NOW you are on your way to mastery.
Kenny Werner, in his book, “Effortless Mastery,” suggests that one of the components of mastery is “the ability to play the material perfectly every time without thought.”
Don’t let the implied psychology of a page with 20 examples suck you in and make you rush. Pretend that the pattern you’re working on right now is the only thing on that entire page. One at a time, slow and steady.
That’s how you get good.
Here are some great soloing and fill ideas that use the double stroke roll. The idea is to play a double stroke roll and put little flourishes of hand/foot combinations within it. The result, after some practice, is some blazingly fast and incredible sounding licks.
There are four related examples, and the grooves that precede them are fun and different too.
Have at it. I am still shedding these.
Here is the PDF for you to take into the practice room: Blazing Double Stroke Roll Licks 1
In the further pursuit of all things clave, here is a groove I cooked up the other night while practicing. I think there’s something to it. The video is below, followed by a PDF with the transcription. It’s tricky, but fun.
You can download the PDF of the groove’s transcription here: clave funk groove one
Latey, when I browse the websites of my compatriots, I notice a disturbing trend. Drummers are grabbing every single endorsement they can get, no matter how insignificant the product.
This makes you look like a wannabe.
Personally, if I could have all the endorsements I wanted, I think I would limit myself to a maximum of four product types: 1) Sticks, 2) Cymbals 3) Drums and 4) Heads.
Do you really want to be cluttering up your website and all of your marketing materials with tons of logos?
Do you really feel THAT strongly about your: cases, drum stick wax, cowbell, drum tuning device, drum rug, drum gloves, and special drum key?
You do? REALLY?
Sorry, but I don’t think I believe you. I think you are just desperate for attention and you think that having a lot of endorsements is going to help your career.
It isn’t going to help.
And if you think it is going to help, you are either misguided, missing the big picture or you are focusing on the wrong stuff. Perhaps all three.
When I see someone with all these stupid minuscule endorsements I see someone who is amateurish and insecure. And chances are, that huge artist that you hope to play with—should you be so lucky as to have him or her evaluate you—is going to think so too.
So stick with a few premier companies of the major categories and don’t dirty your name and reputation with every little product.
I promise that you will be better off in the long run.
When you consider the possibility of collaborating with musicians, managers, agents, producers or others who have impact on your career, think about their financials. You may want to think twice before working with those who are broke. Read on for why. Just like on “Law and Order,” the names have been changed to protect the innocent. The stories are true.
MusiciansA friend of mine met a great musician, one with extraordinary talent. She is a drummer and she wanted to put together a band with this person because she thought the music would be amazing.
A problem was soon revealed: her choice in a potential band mate was flawed. This great musician and potential partner was always struggling to pay his rent.
Because of this, he could never commit to anything.
Sometimes you have to play gigs that don’t pay that well. Sometimes you should play for free if it means getting to play with someone you really want to play with. Sometimes you should play a club that might not pay well but will help you build an audience.
This guy could not do any of these things to forward his career because of money. Since he struggled to pay his rent, he couldn’t do gigs that didn’t pay enough. He could not pay for new equipment he needed to keep his sound at the proper professional level. He couldn’t rehearse because he couldn’t afford the rehearsal studio.
Eventually she had to give up; he was wasting her time because his financial situation was so shaky. He was so good on his instrument that she hung in there for a while; eventually she realized he was a time waster. It was a tough decision.
ProducersAnother friend of mine hired a producer who was strapped for cash. He liked the sound of the albums the producer had made. He was a good producer. Unfortunately, the producer had money problems.
A good producer is supposed to get a great performance out of his musicians and help them craft a great recording. This guy was always trying to get things done quickly because he needed to get to the next record so he could make more money.
Rushing through a session was not going to get my friend the record he wanted, but he was stuck in that position because he didn’t realize that he was hiring a guy with financial troubles.
Desperation Forces Short Term ThinkingI have more examples that I could give, but I think the point has been made. In creative endeavors, people who are overly motivated by financials can cause you serious problems.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with wanting money or being motivated by finances. However, desperation is different and it forces those in that position to make purely short term decisions. That is the problem with these people.
You’ve been warned. Watch out for them.