=731= Word: On Drumming and Practice

Just last week, my two drum books came! Syncopation by Ted Reed and Stick Control by George Lawrence Stone.

As a result, I have been practicing for 3 hours the past few days. It is tiring, but really rewarding. Stick Control is a mind bending book. It is such a rigor to practice each exercise 20 times. Not to mention that plenty of the exercises are REALLY challenging. It really takes a lot out of me to read each sticking note for note. Syncopation is starting to get tough as well.

I always admire people that have the discipline to practice their instrument for hours. For me, over the years, my practice time has been at an average of 1 and a half hours. This isn’t everyday, because life gets really busy and it isn’t everyday that you get time on a drum set. To be honest, I often meet a brick wall on practice too. I often just put on a click and just work on time keeping. (Meaning, I just play whatever I want for that tempo)

With a book, it kept me structured. 1 page everyday. Whether I like it or not. I think practicing with my book it is different from grade exams too. With grade exam books, you simply practice the solos you want to perform, practice rudiments, practice sight reading etc etc. For so many months too. I think as it is a test. The approach to it is also very much like preparing for a test. You simply mug and mug and mug until you can get by the exam.

With my book now, I simply play a page a day and leave it be. I think it is a better system for me. I feel like I need a sense of progress. I can’t feel like I am stuck on something for too long. I get bored too easily.

I think it is better to just play the stuff and let muscle memory take over. It is funny, a lot of my feet technique is due to playing songs for so long. I sometimes catch my feet doing the slide technique without me thinking about it. Talking about my feet, I think I should practice my feet a whole lot more, totally unrelated, but yeah, I need to.

A wise drummer said that if you sound good when you practice, you are not practicing hard enough.

There is a lot to be done for technique. The sheer rigor of practicing the boring stuff is exactly what is needed to be a good drummer. I don’t need fancy chops, what I need is the ability to keep time and regulate dynamics. I will continue to work on that. Though I must say, chops do sound fantastic and it is great when I can pull one out of the bag.

I have been thinking about drum solos too. It really isn’t easy to improvise a drum solo. Other instruments normally take the song and play around with the chords, play around with harmony etc. They kinda have a template. The only template drummers have is the tempo. We can literally pull anything out. When there is so much choice, it is really hard.

My instrument isn’t a melodic instrument. I once watched a video amd Ari Hoenig said that if you cannot make music on your own, you can’t make it with people.

It is such a bummer because my instrument is such a supporting instrument. We seldom play by ourselves. How do I make music on my own? In melody when we repeat certain phrases, it becomes musical. My instrument is build upon repetition. It is so hard to write a drum solo that isn’t boring, much less improvise one on the spot.

I really hope my vocabulary improves and my ability to do a drum solo would improve too! Haha! I am still very much a song and band drummer.

Father, thank you for making me the musician I am.