“A lot more full and textured than your average drum clinic”
“He of the in-built rhythm, the drummer’s drummer.”
“The consummate drummer with an unsurpassed vision for music composition.”
BLUE REVIEW MAGAZINE(USA)
I am what is called a player/teacher. My thing has always been to be playing music. I had a magnificent drum teacher for a few years, and he gave me a strong foundation in the principles and rudiments of drumming. But after a while, I realised I wanted to go in another direction than where he was taking me. I wanted to do my own thing. I wanted to discover and work on my own style. So, I left and started playing to records, copying and playing along with my favourite drummers.
I am mostly self-taught. There is a knack to being able to learn that way. I figured it out by watching other drummers and how they played very intently, reading the classic drum books, watching a lot of videos/DVD’s and going to some great drum clinics. When I wanted to work on serious independence, I started retaking drum lessons. If you can’t work it out on your own, go to a teacher!
I never had time to go to music colleges or take courses as I was on the road and too busy playing and practicing on my own and with bands. I read music to learn. I have about 50 books in my library covering all the fundamental principles of drumming: hand & feet technique, independence, drum styles ranging from jazz to rock to hip hop to funk, linear, reggae, New Orleans, Latin, and so on.
I love drumming and all styles of drumming. I learn and never stop teaching myself from these books, not to so much to become purist within that style of drumming, but more to expand on ways to play grooves/fills and to get ideas and enhance my playing. This can help with bands, session and soundtrack work when the drums may not be about laying down a straight groove. You may have to think out other ways of rhythm and how to express a feel to accompany the music.
As you can see from my discography, live, soundtrack and session work, this has enabled me to work in many different forms of musical expression which has been very gratifying. So, for me playing drums is about playing music. Making the drums sound good makes the musicians you are playing with sound good, which makes the music you perform together sound even better. That can be a straight 4/4 or something really bent and crazy or anything in between. I come from the “it’s not what you play, it’s how you play it” school of thought.
There are no real rules to drumming, but there are basic techniques, rudimental studies, and practices that all drummers should learn. These will guide you and help make you into a great player. It’s important to remember that all drummers are different. Some like rock and roll, some jazz or then there’s hip hop, punk, speed metal or marching drums. Within each style, you will also find differences. No two drummers in the world play the same. Some sit high, some low, heel up or heel down, traditional grip or match grip. And, if they use match grip, is it French, German or American? All these methods work. What you have to do is find out what works best for you.
The two crucial characteristics of a good drummer are technique and feel. The technique can be taught, but feel can’t. You use technique, theory and rudiments applicable to the style of drums you want to learn play, to make you sound good and to give you control over your fingers, wrists, arms and legs. You practice technique so that it becomes second nature and you don’t have to think about it while you are playing. When you have mastered technque, it frees your mind up to allow you to get into the sound of the grooves you are playing, to get into the sound of the drums and bring out the feel of it… the music of it. Feel is the spark that defines the great drummers.
My drum lessons are about incorporating these ideas, concepts and practices. I teach that the drums are a musical instrument as well as percussive and how to think creatively on the drum kit. I use rudimental studies not just as exercises but as an integral part of playing, and I encourage students to learn various styles of drumming in order to improvise and to enhance one’s own individual style.
Subjects covered in drum lessons:
- Hand technique
- Snare drum rudiments
- Coordination and independence
- Bass drum technique
- Hi-hat technique
I work on what the student wants to accomplish from drum lessons and the style of drums he or she wants to learn. If they are interested, I also introduce them to a number of other drumming styles… rock, rhythm and blues, funk, jazz, latin, hip hop etc. which can help in developing your own individual style, creativity and improvisation. Playing to music is also an integral part of the lesson and a great way to learn about arrangement, feel and dynamics.