nasty lick 56 Zach Danziger inspiredThis 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

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“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

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The Thinking DrummerAt some point in your career, you will probably have to think carefully about which gigs to take and which to turn down.

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
2) Money
3) Hang
4) Music
5) Business

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.

2) Money
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.

3) Hang
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!

4) Music
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.

5) Business
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.


Rodin-The-Thinker-1024x975I frequently see drum students rushing through a page of exercises.

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.

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Blazing Double Stroke Roll Licks 1 Illustration

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

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Clave Funk Drumming Groove 1

On June 3, 2014, in Clave, Nasty Grooves, by feldiefeld

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.

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You can download the PDF of the groove’s transcription here: clave funk groove one

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imageYou only have your ONE name and you only have one career as a professional drummer. Think carefully about what products you choose to associate yourself with.

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.

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I know this sounds harsh. But it is solid advice.

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.


A 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.


Another 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 Thinking

I 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.


Thomas Edison was a great thinker and a really hard worker. And he was really successful. One of the most important inventors in history, without Thomas Edison we would not have the light bulb nor the phonograph. The implications of what he created are massive.

How can you achieve that kind of success as a drummer?

Let’s start with three of my favorite Edison quotes:

  • “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.
  • ”“The best thinking has been done in solitude; the worst has been done in turmoil.”
  • “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that did not work.”

the thinker
Clearly you have to work hard. But hard work in the wrong direction or in no direction at all can be a waste of your time. When Edison was trying the 10,000 things that did not work, you can bet that he was working on something specific.

And working on something specific is the result of thought. The thoughts result in a plan. That plan gets implemented by listening, transcribing, practicing, playing with others, forming a new band, looking for auditions, going to jam sessions and more.

So think about your drumming. Plan. Think. Visualize. Dream.

Sometimes the dreams you have as you sleep will tell you something about how you feel about your music, drumming or other important things in your life. Recently, I’ve been trying to open myself up to remembering and thinking about what my nighttime dreams are telling me. After all, it’s my sub-conscious speaking….it could be important.

Recently I’ve had a few dreams that spoke to me about my confidence level. Several months ago, I had a dream that Pink Floyd asked me to play with them. In the dream, I played a show with them and it was a great success. Everything in the dream was positive. I woke up feeling exhilarated.

That dream told me I have a great deal of confidence in my drumming ability. I found it satisfying and comforting that I was aware enough to remember this dream and process it and then understand it’s meaning for me. This has helped me to take important action. I made an audition tape for Soundgarden who was looking for a fill-in drummer for Matt Cameron after I had this dream.

So, unconscious dreams are one way to understand your drumming.

Conscious thought and conscious dreaming and visualization are key to improving your drumming as well.

You should think about your drumming at both the macro and micro levels.

At the micro level, what are your strengths and weaknesses as a player? How is your technique, ability to play with a click, reading, ability to play convincingly in different styles (or in your style of choice)? What is your drumming fill vocabulary or soloing vocabulary like? Evaluate these types of things. A good teacher can help.

At the macro level, what kind of music do you want to play and who are your favorite drummers? When you get more advanced in your progression as a drummer, you should be asking yourself if you want to pattern yourself after any specific drummers. You may also want to take ideas from musicians you like on other instruments. One of my favorite notions on this topic comes from something I read by John Riley, who I think is one of the great drumming thinkers, and who I still study with.

John talks about choosing your musical parents. It is an interesting idea. As a musician (or any artist), you have the freedom to choose your artistic parents. Steal the ideas of the drummers and other musicians you love. Then, put them in a pot and mix them around, and come up with your own way of sounding. In this way, you can become a unique sounding musician. Uniqueness is truly the holy grail of art. But you have to start somewhere, and taking great ideas from great musicians is a great way to get going.

I have been known to be a bit obsessive with my practicing. But I’ve always tried to have a plan behind what I’m working on and why I’m working on it so I can take my playing in the direction I desire. And that takes thought. Practice? Of course. But don’t forget to THINK.

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