Category Archives: Reflections

=781= Word: Words That Make People Feel Good

Perhaps because of how I was brought up, I never had the habit of saying things just to make people feel good. I am not one to do that.

Of course, I do give out compliments. However, it has to be sincere you know. I never want people to feel as if I am just saying something because I want them to like me.

However, as I grow older, the more I feel the need to present yourself in a proper way. I have always been more relational. I want to build a relationship with you before teaching you. However, being hired in a school that pays you to teach. It is a different ballgame. I have to maintain a professional image for the brand of the school. I have to gain my students’ confidence in me with the short time I have with them. Certain things I say will cause bad implications even if I don’t mean it.

Sometimes I don’t think about what I say. I just say things. I don’t mean any harm, but being a professional requires you to be confident, to know what you are saying and doing. It is honestly more important than I thought.

Instead of saying “oh wow, you have played piano before, I have never played piano in my life.” I could have said, “did you know that many people that play piano pick up drums really fast?”

It is a different way of saying things, but it is one that makes someone feel better.

Sure, quality does speak for itself and of course quality is important, but I think that quality packaged is definitely better.

Hopefully I become a person that is both genuine and good at packaging myself. I think it is necessary.

-Kelvin-

=780= Word: Making Every Note Count

As a drummer, my role in music has always been the skeleton. To keep time, control dynamics, cushion transitions and basically make every musician in the band comfortable. As a result, I always try to play simple so that musicians in the band can follow. There are times where I had to play much straighter to support the band.

I always talk about emoting your playing as a drummer. A drummer is also a musician. By expressing your emotions on the drumset, you serve the music better and you will learn to appreciate music much more. However, I have never thought about making every note count before. I guess that is because the notes I have has to be repeated.

This is a concept that I learned from my CCA mates. It has been part of their training. They are pianists that have been playing for so many years. They relate to music so emotionally. As a result, they kept pushing me to do things out of my comfort zone.

A comment that was given to my playing was, “that was very nice, but is it possible to make it less regular?”

That was really difficult. My role in the band is to offer stability. To repeat a pattern so that other people can add stuff without being afraid that it would clash. To ask a drummer to be less irregular is really difficult because being regular is our job.

Making every note count. That is such a big concept. Every snare hit I do, has a purpose and I should understand why I do what I do. When I do a flam on this note, what am I doing? For what purpose am I playing a crash here? Is there a purpose to playing this beat as opposed to the other beat?

When you actually obsess yourself with every note you play. You start to play stuff that you would never imagine yourself playing. Being challenged to play something that you never would is a sign that you are growing as a drummer.

Will I ever reach a point in time when I actually do make every note count? That every note I play has a purpose of making the audience or congregation feel something? Would there be a day when I play a certain snare hit and that snare hit makes someone feel emotional? Wouldn’t that be something?

-Kelvin-

=779= Reflections: Prayer

There is an epiphany I had recently. The Israelites never had ‘church’ until after Jesus came.

So how did they have a relationship with God? There are celebrations set in place. There is the Sabbath set aside to rest. There is a temple to sacrifice something to atone for sins.

I realised that prayer is probably the most important thing keeping the Israelites believing in God.

In a world where reading is a privilege, they had people to read the scripture out loud. In a world where we put verses around us and we can read. We forget what a gift it is to read.

I realised that a big difference between before and now is my praying. I used to talk to God so often. Nowadays, I compartmentalised my life so much that I stopped what I have done before. It is such a tragedy.

Lord, help me to talk to you more.

-Kelvin-

=778= Reflections: Power and Authority

I have been reading this Webtoon, Unordinary. It is really good. It questions classic shonen manga concepts. In most shonen mangas, power equates to the position or authority you hold.

In Naruto, the Kages are regarded as the strongest characters in the series. It was as if strength was everything. Unordinary questions this concept. What if there was a person that has strength but not the aptitude or stability to take on the role of authority?

Indeed just because you are powerful doesn’t mean that you can take on a role of leadership. This is very true in the real world.

Results doesn’t determine everything. Just because you have the best grades doesn’t mean that you are suitable to be head prefect. We all know this. Just because someone is the fittest in a unit, doesn’t mean that he can lead.

I think there is a need to realise this. Power doesn’t equate to authority.

Can you imagine what it would be like to have power but no maturity to lead? The person leading will misuse his/her power to bully people. Is such a leader honourable?

Perhaps we should pay more attention to mental capacity than results.

Lord, change me. Help me be a better person.

-Kelvin-

=777= Word: Authority of a Man

If you guys know me as a person, you would know that I am a person that really dislikes conflict.

Very often, I would be the one to reconcile. I honestly have no qualms about saying sorry even though I wasn’t in the wrong. I think that a relationship is more important. I never thought of the implications really. Only recently did I realise what it has the potential to affect.

When you say sorry when you weren’t in the wrong, you condone the action that wronged you. When you do that, they will learn that it is alright to do certain things to you.

I think there is a need to change.

I need to learn to approach this issue with a different way. I need to get the point across that I want to reconcile, BUT there is a need to tell the person that the action is wrong.

Telling someone they are wrong is never an easy thing. Even in sound engineering, when I correct people, I risk offending people. No one likes being told they are wrong. -sigh-

The authority of a man. How will I earn that?

The authority of a man is to be gentle with love and yet firm with truth. Truth never changes. Help me to be firm Lord. Help me.

-Kelvin-

=776= Word: Still a Man’s heart

What can still a man’s heart?

Is it a girl?

Is it his ambition?

What can bring him peace?

Being contented?

It is always confusing when you hear, “there can never be enough of God.”

What do you mean?

The Israelites of the olden times live through life without even going into the holy of holies. They worship God from afar and follow his commandments.

Why are we making light of being in his presence?

It is important.

When the curtain tore, his presence is now with us.

All the more we should be holding God’s presence with honour.

Lord, why don’t I hold your presence with honour?

Lord, why is my heart so evil that I don’t want to be with you?

Lord, emptiness is a void without you in my heart. Will you please come and fill my heart again.

Help me Lord.

Only you can still my heart.

=775= Word: Advice to Drummers in a Rut

I think in my journey as a drummer, I have been in many ruts. Up until now, I still cannot stand my own playing. In everyone’s journey as a musician there will be bound to be times when you feel bored of your own playing. Here are some advice to you!

1. Emote your playing
I think that the difference between good and great drummers is the ability to put emotions into your playing. To portray a certain emotion into your playing, to let the listener understand the piece better. This is easier said than done. You will have to experiment with different things. Think for yourself, how would you play to express anger as opposed to how you would play to express panic. Understanding how each emotion makes you feel, try to replicate that same feeling in your playing. It isn’t easy, but it will really make you a musician rather than just a drummer.

2. Pick another instrument up or pick up music production
I give this advice because I think that why we get bored with our own playing is because we no longer find excitement playing what we played. Can you remember the first time you did a fill on time? That excitement when you finally did play a song well? When you get more competent, that excitement dwindles and you find yourself bored. By picking up another instrument or trying to do music production, you learn how other instruments hear your instrument and how they relate to each other. You will gain perspective on how to play certain things and it will help you appreciate your playing more.

3. Change your setup
This is particularly easy for drummers to do. If you are bored of playing a 4 piece drum set. Take out the hi-Tom. If you are used to playing the ride cymbal at the side, put it closer. You will realised how much your playing is dependent on the drumset. If you limit yourself, your brain comes up with ways to improvise to replace what you are used to with something else. That way, you won’t be bored at all! Learning to do more with less is really such a good skill.

4. Learn music that are out of your usual genre
I think that it is pretty self explanatory. If you are used to Christian music, why not find some Christian music that is not Hillsong? Jimmy Needham, Urban Rescue, Rend Collective all have very interesting music. Why not go even further? Learn swing. Learn jazz. Learn metal. You will be surprised with how much you have to learn. Don’t think that learning different genres won’t affect your the genre you play. It really can. I learned swing for a while and nowadays I love adding extra swing notes on my hihats to add that extra feel to the song.

5. Practice time
I think that a regret I have in my early days in drumming is not paying as much attention on time. As a drummer, time is so important. The ability to keep time is so useful. Practice with a click. Then displace the click. Then use a gap click. Really work on staying on tempo and not rushing.

6. Work on technicals
Practice your rudiments. Your moellar. Your push-pull. Get a teacher that specialises in technique. Have him/her correct your stroke, your bounce, your rebound etc. Having Christal teach me and correct my technique has opened a new world for me. My playing felt way more natural. Paying attention to when you lift up your sticks really helped me to play a lot better.

7. Approach practice in a mechanical way
It is more productive when you practice mechanically. Have one idea, learn to develop it one step at a time. For example, single stroke roll, left hand start. Apply it as a fill. For the longest time, I only ever do one left hand start fill. That is the quarter bar fill that I use when I start a count off. SSHF. Even after working on it this year, I found myself running out of ideas. When you find yourself running out of ideas approach the problem with conditions. “Start a drum fill with the hi-Tom” “move only one hand” “right hand only play ghost notes” this way, you will be able to play very interesting ideas.

8. Count
Count OUT LOUD what you are playing. Counting will help with timing and it will help you be more aware on which count specific musical punches are. Sometimes counting out loud immediately simplifies what complicated stuff that was played on the record.

9. Perceive different subdivisions
How would you play a 32nd note drum fill? How would you count it? How do you play a sextuplet fill? What about a triplet? If you are bored with something you are playing. Learning a new subdivision immediately opens up new fills and you will find new ways to add to your playing.

10. Play with a different group of people
I think when you have been doing one thing for many years, you will feel a bit of a routine going on. With the same people, you generally run out of stuff to be excited about. I think when I started playing with my hall friends, I started playing new songs and people got excited watching me play. Perhaps it may be a little vain, but I think having some attention does motivate me a bit. You will be surprised how different musicians play. You will learn new things and try out new ways to play. Playing with new people in a different location helps you not get too comfortable with the luxury you have too. I had to get used to playing drums in a room that I can barely hear anything, but it was interesting how you try to learn and adapt to it.

I am not by any means professional. However, these has gotten me through a long stagnant state in my drumming. So hopefully it will help you too!

Oh and Merry Christmas! 🙂

-Kelvin-