Monsoon in the Anti Chlamydia Outfit: Drums

Hey every 1. It’s me, Lord On-Time Machine.

When I was a teenager, my the instrument I played was drums. I studied them quite bit, but when I moved out of my parents’ house it was hard to practice. In apartments, I suddenly had close neighbors, so I switched to bass. On my first two albums, I’ve often heard complaints that the drumming sucks. But I was quite happy with the drumming because I got exactly what I wanted out of them. And I believe it secretly drives the album. As I’ve gotten older and fallen gloriously out of practice, my own big complaint about subsequent recordings is I did not feel as in control on this instrument. Attempts to get back in practice have often fizzled. And I focussed on bass because it made more sense live. But on bass, I have no idea what I’m doing. On drums, I still understand how they work and can do complex things, even if I sound bad. And this is how it’s been for many years.

Enter Mr. Covid. Over the year+ in quarantine, I practiced pretty much every day, just loosely jamming. But the revelation came toward the end when I was starting to look for new work. I can teach you to play drums, even if I don’t sound to good myself. And I work with a lot of drummers both as a bass player and a sound person and have a good sense of what to look for in a good drummer. So why not give lessons? I ordered a beginner’s drum book, the most basic stuff, just to look though it and think about teaching. Eureka! I felt my sound improve almost immediately. Frankly, every drummer I know should go back to the beginning and study the basics more carefully, the stuff they rushed through as teenagers and I think they know so well now. But most drummers are pretty bad and play too loud. Anyway, over the last two months, I searched for lists of the most classic instruction books, ordered a bunch and easily spend two hours a day on them when I have time. They are really enjoyable. When I was younger, I skipped all the technique stuff and focussed more on interesting rhythms. But now all I care about is technique stuff: separation, time keeping, control. There are still many problems with my playing. It may take me a year to sound as good as I expect, especially as work creeps back in and I have less time. But for the first time in years, I feel I’m on the right track.

One strange thing that happens when I go through these books, though, is I am flood with vivid memories of being a teenager. Good ones and bad ones. I guess that’s because that’s the last time I studied drums like this. And my drum knowledge is stored in the same region of my brain. Unlocking some of it unlocked all of it. It’s really strange.

Anyway, happy to working on this. My experience working with drummers has taught me the number one thing a drummer can do to improve is play quieter. That’s sure an oversimplification but one I like repeating. Just working on technique the way I have the past few months, the volume comes down automatically. It seems to be a symptom of otherwise good drumming.

Have a great weekend. Chairs.

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