I’ve been reassessing my drumming lately and it’s been a real eye opener for me. As a busy professional drummer I spend lots of my time learning songs for bands I’m working with, preparing lessons for my students and basically just running the whole business side of things. Along with this and the 3 small children we have it leaves little time for much of anything else.
Back in the day before the little ones arrived and I wasn’t a full time pro I’d practise 4-6 hrs a day most days and collected a vast library of drumming books and videos. I remember the thrill of feeling myself becoming proficient on the instrument and a real forward momentum happening with my learning. Lately as I’ve been so busy working I’ve been feeling in bit of a rut with my own playing. A lot of the gigs I play are not very technically demanding and unchallenging from a players point of view. Not to say I don’t enjoy these gigs or put everything I’ve got into them, it’s just that most of the stuff I play live doesn’t stretch me musically.
With the Christmas holiday period on us and a break from teaching I decided to get back into some real practise and go back to the basics. A bit like a full service for the hands. No drum kit,just practise pad and sticks. I’ve been focusing on my grip,getting the fulcrum nice and loose with plenty of space in the hands allowing for a relaxed stroke. I want my drumming to be effortless. This fundamental thing with the grip is just so important. If you get this concept of the fulcrum pivoting and using the energy in the stick it will open up your playing in a big way. If you don’t work at it though your hands can tighten up which is what I’ve been finding.
So it’s been around a week and I’ve been managing a couple of hours on the pad every day and wow what a difference! Just running through rolls and rudiment exercises with a metronome such as flams,drags,paradiddles,ruffs,ratamacues,double stroke combinations, all played without breaking a sweat and staying super relaxed. I’ve been using Tommy Igoe’s lifetime warmup which is great, I highly recommend it. I’m feeling like this is the start of a new development phase for me. My goal is to get complete mastery over my stick control, only when this is achieved can we have the freedom to truly explore what this amazing instrument has to offer.
Of course I’ll be passing all this essential stuff onto my students in an easy to understand step by step approach.
So in summary, if you’re a novice pay careful attention to your grip and development of your hand technique as it will pay you back if you put the time in now. And for the more experienced of us out there it’s always good to go back to the fundamentals of playing technique and give it a bit of an overhaul now and again. I’d forgotten how much fun it was to actually practise!!!