Self Evaluation: Major and minor aspects of drumming

skytoucher

New member
When evaluating one’s self for strengths and weaknesses as an ‘all-around’ drummer what criteria do you use? I see and hear various terms thrown around and some times it's hard to classify which exercises develop which areas. On a small video clip I heard Steve Houghton say there are 4 areas you should practice/develop:

Technique (hands & feet)
Styles (knowledge of jazz/rock/latin/listening/etc)
Reading
Soloing

Would that cover everything? I take it speed, groove, independence, linear drumming, and stick control would all fall under one of those four categories or would they be a category unto themselves? Anything else I’m missing? Is this how most drum instructors break down the major areas of drumming?

I'm trying to figure out my weak areas and expose myself to things I haven't done before but it can be tough finding a good starting point. I'm a very logical person so I'm trying to get a good handle on the major aspects of drumming and what each aspect is made up of.

Obviously a local teacher would be ideal but that isn't a possibility for me at the moment.

Thanks in advance.
 

phee

New member
I say just play. I've never taken a lesson. Yet, I play drums for my living and have pretty good technique. If you want to be a studio drummer, then yes, practice those four things. If you just want to be a good drummer, then just play. You'll get good with time. Maybe find videos of your favorite drummers and try to play like them. I say just do what you want and have a good time. Don't get too scientific about drums.
 

skytoucher

New member
phee":1mzyamgf said:
I say just play. I've never taken a lesson. Yet, I play drums for my living and have pretty good technique. If you want to be a studio drummer, then yes, practice those four things. If you just want to be a good drummer, then just play. You'll get good with time. Maybe find videos of your favorite drummers and try to play like them. I say just do what you want and have a good time. Don't get too scientific about drums.
I've been playing for 23 years, done studio work, toured, etc.. I am at the point in my drumming where I want to see what is out there. I want to find stuff I can't do and weak areas. Breaking things down is what works for me.
 

Gaddabout

New member
skytoucher":1gd4vrog said:
When evaluating one’s self for strengths and weaknesses as an ‘all-around’ drummer what criteria do you use? I see and hear various terms thrown around and some times it's hard to classify which exercises develop which areas. On a small video clip I heard Steve Houghton say there are 4 areas you should practice/develop:

Technique (hands & feet)
Styles (knowledge of jazz/rock/latin/listening/etc)
Reading
Soloing

Would that cover everything? I take it speed, groove, independence, linear drumming, and stick control would all fall under one of those four categories or would they be a category unto themselves? Anything else I’m missing? Is this how most drum instructors break down the major areas of drumming?

I'm trying to figure out my weak areas and expose myself to things I haven't done before but it can be tough finding a good starting point. I'm a very logical person so I'm trying to get a good handle on the major aspects of drumming and what each aspect is made up of.

Obviously a local teacher would be ideal but that isn't a possibility for me at the moment.

Thanks in advance.
I think you're asking a very esoteric question without realizing it. I could send you to Cuba where you could spend the rest of your life learning and exploring the wonders of the clave, but that's not going to make you a better American rock drummer -- at least not in the conventional understanding.

The best teachers are going to ask you what you want to achieve. If you don't know the answer to that question, they may not work with you until you do. That's my question for you. If you can read, I may be able to point you in some positive directions. If you can't read, you're in for a long uphill battle without an instructor, but I'm hoping for an easier fix here.

So what is it you want to achieve?
 

skytoucher

New member
Gaddabout":z1b2hysy said:
I think you're asking a very esoteric question without realizing it. I could send you to Cuba where you could spend the rest of your life learning and exploring the wonders of the clave, but that's not going to make you a better American rock drummer -- at least not in the conventional understanding.

The best teachers are going to ask you what you want to achieve. If you don't know the answer to that question, they may not work with you until you do. That's my question for you. If you can read, I may be able to point you in some positive directions. If you can't read, you're in for a long uphill battle without an instructor, but I'm hoping for an easier fix here.

So what is it you want to achieve?
I am mostly trying to figure out what most would consider the major aspects of drumming so I can work up a practice routine that touches on each aspect. I would consider the clave in the 'styles' category.

Doing a lot of reading on these forums has really got me thinking about things I've been neglecting (like jazz). There are so many drummers here that are willing to share advice. I see so much advice on what makes someone a better drummer it can be hard to sort through it all to come up with a balanced practice routine. I probably shouldn't be working on 15 things at once but I don't want to focus on just 2 things either. I'm trying to find a balance. I figure if I can at least figure out the major/broad aspects I can then sort through all the books/exercises that fit under that category and pick something that interests me.

I want to be a more solid all around drummer. My reading is ok although I'm not at the point of sight reading. I've never really worked on independence or jazz before.

I have about 2 hours a day to practice. Using what Houghton suggested I'd devote about 30 minutes to technique (any book suggestions?), 30 to styles (maybe jazz/independence?), 30 to reading, and 30 to soloing.


Thanks for any suggestions on how to break up practice or what books are good.
 

Gaddabout

New member
If you're that disciplined more power to you, and if you're getting advice from Steve Houghton, you're getting a pot of gold worth of advice compared the penance I could offer you here. Put more weight in his opinion for sure.

I don't think multi-tasking is the best way to go about learning, because there's so much loss in the depth of your study. If you want to learn a Brazilian samba, you pick up the music and read about the culture while you're studying the nuts and bolts behind the kit. There's just more to it than an ostinato and some clever stickings. For example, did you know a lot of Brazilian kit players come to America and get criticized for playing the samba too lightly and too softly? There's definitely a different interpretation to it that you will be expected to play here in the States, but just studying things like real surdo drummers can give you greater insight into what makes a samba feel so good that soccer players want to make fools out of themselves.

If you're just wanting to touch up on the many various styles, then Houghton's books are the perfect place for you. You will get solid information -- if not in depth -- on virtually every style of play. Master those and you'll be solid, if not spectacular. You'll be able to land and hold gigs. If you're wanting more from one thing, then I probably have a many different suggestions, but it's very difficult to name EVERYTHING. There's so much!
 

FelterSkelter

New member
phee":emyzx9ai said:
I say just play. I've never taken a lesson. Yet, I play drums for my living and have pretty good technique. If you want to be a studio drummer, then yes, practice those four things. If you just want to be a good drummer, then just play. You'll get good with time. Maybe find videos of your favorite drummers and try to play like them. I say just do what you want and have a good time. Don't get too scientific about drums.
That is great. I was beginning to think there wasn't many others on here with that mindset.
I play the drums because its fun, first and foremost.
 

Gaddabout

New member
FelterSkelter":2qkeuo0n said:
That is great. I was beginning to think there wasn't many others on here with that mindset.
I play the drums because its fun, first and foremost.
That's great, and there's nothing wrong that. Except when you decide you want to seek gigs on contract. The less you know, the less gigs you'll get. It really depends what you want to do with your career.

I also think studying can actually increase your enjoyment, but I guess that's something only an experience can determine.
 

break the prism

New member
i actually got pretty scientific with my drumming technique after a few years of just playing for fun. i came up with my own workouts using what i knew about hand/foot techniques, linear patterns, geometry, and anatomy. this is how i developed my soloing as well as my general playing style.

i started playing percussion in the school band, so i learned how to sight read. then i moved to drum set, playing by ear, but tried to keep the classical sensibility. in high school i never did regular band or jazz band, so i never had much use for sight reading again. i'm sure if i had to i could, but when you're in a band where you compose a lot of the music, it's not much use.
 

Gaddabout

New member
break the prism":1yvkma9q said:
i actually got pretty scientific with my drumming technique after a few years of just playing for fun. i came up with my own workouts using what i knew about hand/foot techniques, linear patterns, geometry, and anatomy. this is how i developed my soloing as well as my general playing style.
Sounds like my old drum instructor, who's now teaching something esoteric as a professional grad student at Cal Institute for the Arts. He'd give me stuff for the drum set based on tabla lessons and it would just blow me away with the mathematical application. Guy's a genius and should probably be working for NASA or something.

http://www.myspace.com/carmstrong1959
 

FelterSkelter

New member
Gaddabout":mu2l40td said:
FelterSkelter":mu2l40td said:
That is great. I was beginning to think there wasn't many others on here with that mindset.
I play the drums because its fun, first and foremost.
That's great, and there's nothing wrong that. Except when you decide you want to seek gigs on contract. The less you know, the less gigs you'll get. It really depends what you want to do with your career.

I also think studying can actually increase your enjoyment, but I guess that's something only an experience can determine.
I am understanding that it takes all kinds. I have friends who are music teachers and have studied for years, they get gigs with theatre productions, cruises, you name it. These same friends are the ones that I tend to have an incredibly difficult time just sitting down and jamming for fun though. That has always scared me away from scholastic music.

I realize that by not taking lessons, and not strictly learning my 40 basic rudiments, etc. that I won't be able to take up "jobs" because I don't necessarily know how to read music (not entirely true, I can read but it takes me awhile).

On the same note, I've been asked to sit in for several bands(not big paying gigs by any means) over the years and have been able to do so by just listening to their album and mimicing. It's just how I choose to learn.
I approach music differently though and I would never try to seek "contract gigs" because it is inappropriate for my skill level, and it really doesn't interest me.

I'm not knocking anyone's approach to the drums though. I just don't ever wanna be the best drummer....who would I look up to then?
 

drastic

New member
There's nothing wrong with the scientific approach... I played piano since i was 4... now it's been 14 years on the drums and percussion, learning how to be musical, while the scientific stuff only took place on paper basically...
But if you get stuck there, then you're not very good at jamming, and letting things flow.
In Taiwan, people seek me out to play because I'm not the metronome/machine that many other drummers are.
 
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