As a musician, I sometimes get calls to do things musically for one night or to just highlight with a group. It’s an honor to be so appreciated by my fellow local musicians, and I wanted to take the time to shout out to one (really two) of those folks that I had the honor to sit in with last weekend. Eric and Kate Avey are people I’m glad to call friends. I’ve had a couple opportunities to sit in with them in the past and they are always wonderful to make music with. I had the pleasure to play with their group, Mountain Ride, at The Broad Axe in Hagerstown and I’ve got to say: it was quite a time! We played for a great crowd and had some fun adding drums to their string band. We covered bluegrass, rock and reggae with great solos by all and striking vocals by Eric and Kate. If you get the chance; check out their Website, and if you can; get out and see them perform! Eric took the time to write a bit about our night as well and you should see what he has to say on his blog about our experience that night…it sure was a fine time! Here’s a taste of what we had goin’ down!
I wanted to take some time to let you all know that I’ve had the pleasure of being photographed by one of the best professionals in our area, Ryan Smith. Please take a second and check out these new photos on my pages and also give Ryan’s website a visit as well. His work is amazing and certainly worth looking into!
I’m starting a new series of short videos that will be only focused on Groove. I’m really excited to share some beats that I create every now and then! I hope you enjoy my Groove Diary! You can find all of the videos on my Solo and Videos page, but here’s one to get you in the mood to groove!
One of the roles of percussion in music is to provide a steady rhythmic pulse that accompanies the harmonic and melodic patterns of a certain arrangement. To practice this and how it applies to drum set, I have created an exercise for the player to prepare him or her to keep steady time while making some musical transitions. This exercise in “Timekeeping” will help the player accomplish a few, very important, musical elements.
It will help the player develop consistent timing with a constant beat pattern while changing the time, or cymbal, pattern that is played along with that beat. This helps the player focus on the beat pattern played as a part of the timing and not just as it relates to the cymbal pattern. This strengthens the ability to internalize the pulse, or overall timing, of any pattern that may be played.
Players do not count while performing. Concentrating on counting, while listening to yourself and others during a performance, is too difficult to maintain, and, due to this fact, it can make the player to get lost in the arrangement. This exercise will help the player develop a feeling for passing time. Transitioning through cymbal patterns in a certain way helps the player start to recognize the passing of measures. The more the player practices these transitions; the more passing measures begin to be recognized just like natural time passing in minutes and seconds. This is critical for perfecting song form or getting used to the length of sections of an arrangement, which is very important for musical performance.
Finally, this exercise will help the player to make musical transitions that are quite common in popular music by changing the cymbal pattern. More importantly, it will help the player develop a feel for each cymbal pattern so that making these changes does not affect the balance, sound, or timing of the beat pattern being played with them. Too often making these changes to the cymbal pattern can leave the player feeling off balance which affects everything that happens after the change is made. This exercise, once practiced and comfortable, can eliminate those feelings and smooth out the transitions to help the player with creative decision making, or improvisation.
This exercise can be applied to any bass drum and snare drum beat. It can also be lengthened to 8, 12, or 16 measure sections to stretch the player’s ability to “feel time” and help with musical application. When practicing it is best to start with a medium tempo that you feel very comfortable with. Don’t use a metronome. Once you feel good about the arrangement of the exercise then you should begin to try different tempo: usually faster first, and still without a metronome. Every musician should take time to work on their own internal pulse.
Once you’ve experimented with a few different tempo; then start to test yourself with a metronome. Try a three tempo approach: slow, medium, and fast. For example, slow at 60bpm, medium at 90bpm, and fast at 120bpm. When you’ve mastered these tempo; make the slow slower and the fast faster. As you test yourself with the metronome, also take the time to play the exercise without the metronome and see if you can keep the pulse steady on your own. Think of the tempo you play like you are blowing up a balloon. When you start, you are in your comfort zone: it’s a base point…the balloon is empty. As you change tempo: you are expanding that balloon in every direction. Playing all tempo and being able to internalize them will make you a better musician and make you feel more comfortable with your instrument.
Lastly, when playing this exercise it is very important to listen to your instrument. Try to make the pattern sound clear and even at all tempo. Get into the sound of the pattern you are playing and make it sing. Above all else, remember that you are playing a musical instrument, and, even though, this is an exercise- it should still be musical.
For a downloadable copy of this exercise click on the title below, Thanks!
I just wanted to drop a little line about my experience this past Saturday. I played for the first time at The Abbey Bar in Harrisburg, PA with The Hello Strangers. It was a great venue and an even better time on stage! We had a great show and a lovely crowd..who could ask for more! Here’s a small sample! I’m really enjoying that the direction this project is taking and am looking forward to a bright future with these wonderful folks! Cheers!