Recently, I wrote about drummers not wanting to learn how to read music and why I urge all drum students to learn rhythmic notation (Yes, Beginning Drummers, You Do Have To Learn To Read Music). Today I want to rant a bit about drummers who refuse to work on technique.
Please don’t tell me that you just want to be a “feel” drummer and therefore you’re not interested in technique.
Technique can only help you.
In “Effortless Mastery,” Kenny Werner, the great jazz pianist, writes about the journey towards successful musicianship. He describes an interview where he was asked about what additional skill he would wish for if he could instantly upgrade something about his playing.
Werner did not hesitate to answer that he would want more technique. In fact, he writes that answering the question was easy because wanting more technique is a “no brainer!”
If one of the best musicians in the world, someone like Kenny Werner, who already has massive amounts of technique, would answer that question in that manner, doesn’t that tell you something?
Technique is important. It provides the musician–on any instrument–the physical means of expression.
The more technique you have, the more options you have to express yourself.
For some reason, it is always drummers who try to escape the difficult work of developing technique. Do you ever hear a guitarist or pianist say they are just a “feel” player?
Of course not!
You know why? Because being a “feel” player is just code for being too lazy to develop technique.
I am also sick of people bashing Ringo Star for not having technique. Guess what? It’s not true! I don’t believe for an instant that Ringo Starr doesn’t have technique. Here’s proof.
Check out this live clip of Ringo playing “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”
Look at his right hand. Do you see how effortlessly he is playing those eighth notes on the hi-hat? The tempo is in the 135 bpm range. What he is doing is not easy.
He’s got technique, and that is why he makes it look so easy. He’s using the Moeller technique to make the hi-hat sound that way. And Moeller is no cake walk to develop. It is a difficult technique that will supercharge your hand facility, and Ringo’s got it locked down here in a video clip filmed over 40 years ago.
So, please work on this stuff. I promise you it will be well worth the effort.