The Unsexy Fundamentals

I love teaching drums. 

The most rewarding part is meeting new people, watching them progress, and helping them on their journey to become better drummers and musicians.

Yet, I’ve noticed the learning curve is not a linear one.

There are many set-backs along the way, and as an instructor, I often find it challenging to keep my students motivated and inspired. 

When I reflect and look at my most proficient students, I’d say they have two things in common:

  1. A passion and love for drums & music.
  2. The willingness to put in the time and dig deep on the fundamentals. 

Let’s face it, all great drummers have great fundamentals.

What do I mean by fundamentals?

  • timing: knowing quarter notes, eight notes, triplets, 16th notes
  • solid timing within a beat and when transitioning, e.g., going from a beat to a fill-in and back
  • basic coordination between the limbs; bass drum independence
  • playing singles and doubles

There’s more, of course, but these are the big pillars of drum set playing, in my opinion.

Focusing on these things, I believe, will make you a great song and groove drummer.

When I was younger, I played along to music, all the time. I loved Tom Petty, AC/DC, and straight-forward rock tunes. I didn’t focus on crazy fills or drum chops, my goal was to lock in with the band, and play with them, as if I were the drummer on the recording.

I’m convinced that this is the most important drum-practice, I’ve ever done, because it made me focus on my groove and timing, and what it means to play with others.

One problem I’ve noticed is that many of my students want to move on too fast, when they aren’t ready yet, and haven’t mastered some of the basics.

I get it, we watch all these drummers on YouTube or Instagram and we’re inspired and fired up to do what they do.

Problem is, 90% of those drummers have been playing for 30+ years and, therefore, have way more mileage under their belts than the average drum student that comes to learn with me.

I admit, I often struggle with keeping folks motivated, because I can understand and see their frustration and where they want to go.

Learning an instrument, especially later in life, can be challenging. 

So kudos to all of you!

But I keep coming back to The Basics.

A house is only as strong as its foundation. 

Play As You Are – Holiday Discount

For a limited time only you can get my Kindle ebook Play As You Are for $2.99!

unnamedHere’s a short interview by takelessons.com, where we touch on the book.

As always, I remain deeply grateful for your support.

Wishing you all a very happy new year…

Beck

 

 

Bass Drum Fundamentals

Remember: Repetition is the key. If you’re new to this, practice a little bit every day, and soon the movements will become second nature as you develop muscle memory.

HEEL DOWN

1.Your foot is flat on the footboard and you play from the ankle.

2. Your foot doesn’t leave the pedal when you wind up, but stays on the pedal throughout the sequence.

3. It’s a very light technique and mostly used at lower volumes. You only need to push down a little bit to set the beater in motion — it’s like tapping your feet on the floor.

HEEL UP

There are 3 steps to this technique:

  1. Wind Up (lift your leg)
  2. Release (the transition to step 3)
  3. The Actual Stroke (when you drop your leg)

Step two and three practically merge into one motion: you come down on the ball of your foot and immediately bounce back to release pressure. This is when the stroke happens. It sounds more complicated than it actually is.

Make sure you LIFT your leg, get your heel off the pedal, while your toes stay on the footboard. If you’re having trouble with this sequence, try practicing in socks, or shoes with leather soles.

DOUBLE STROKES

With the first tap, kick your leg up from the ball of your toes and let your foot naturally roll down to generate the second stroke. (You are no longer actively generating two strokes from your ankle, but only the upbeat. The downbeat happens automatically as your leg drops down.)

To finetune this technique, you can pull your foot slightly back on the upstroke and push it forward on the downbeat. It happens automatically at faster tempos, given you are relaxed and allow your foot to slide on the footboard.

 

Follow up

Some of you asked for sheet music of the 16th Note Variations video. I did NOT write out all the grooves (on purpose – the goal is to improvise!), but here are all the variations on top of a basic beat. Each line is played four times before moving on to the next.

Download Sheet Music

Video