Whiplash- Too much of a backlash from ‘famous’ drummers!

Its been interesting reading from some critics and drummers (mostly Jazz artistes) who have had a word to say about Whiplash the movie.   I think they are looking at it all wrong.

There are criticisms about the abusive main character for one thing. Maybe its true that Jazz musicians are too free spirited to allow an abusive man like that and maybe nobody exists like that.  They also criticise the fact the young lads hero is Buddy Rich but how can Buddy be an inspiration when he was a techno whizz showboat and tv personality and therefore not a great jazz inspiration?!!

I’m totally at odds with all that.  Firstly it’s a drama. Did anyone imply it’s was a documentary and would that be anywhere near as entertaining?   I think the way the character behaved was obviously awful and abusive but the film to me was about ultimate dedication and a want to succeed.   I don’t see the problem with Buddy Rich being an influence either. It doesn’t matter who your influence is so long as it drives you.  He wasn’t trying to be Buddy.  Another drummer in the film was trying to be a techno whizz and was blasted out of the way in the end.   It’s the first time I’ve heard Buddy as not being a good influence to Jazz. Very odd.  I’ve seen some performances that were quite restrained actually, for example the West side story show.

Anyway, I would personally highly recommend this film. Great drama and a good story about dedication to an art.

How much practise is the right amount?

The p word.  A word that sends some running for their lives!  The simple answer to that question is as much as possible. Quality is more important than quantity of course.  If you can achieve what you need in 10 mins that’s better than  3 hours of jamming and mucking around.

Fact is, the drummers who achieve more technically and in terms of versatility and creativity, are the ones who practise every day (or more or less anyway).

One fact is there is nothing for free in this game. The old cliché rings true. You get out what you put in. I think striving for excellence is fun but also you have more tools available.  You may think your talent carries you through enough to be creative but it’s like trying to build a house from scratch with a screwdriver.

Get into a routine and spare some time each day even if it’s 10 mins. Anybody can manage that. You could virtually do that while you have the kettle on!

Work with your tutor and set weekly and long term goals. Don’t beta yourself up if you miss a session but ttry and reach your weekly targets.

Do schooled drummers lose or lack an edge?

This question was inspired from the Todd Sucherman dvd I recently watched. You know what, I’ve heard this nonsense for decades. It simply doesn’t stack up.  A good drummer is a good drummer. A well educated drummer should still know when to and and when not to play certain things. It’s fine to be unschooled but when you stretch out your horizons you are only adding to your weaponry. You won’t lose anything you will just have more things to draw on, be more versatile and play with more ease.

To me the never ending journey of discovery is part of the charm of the instrument.

Motivation and practice

Motivation and practice– for students and parents alike

These two words that seem to instil fear and dread in all concerned.  This includes teachers, students be it children or adults, and parents.   For children, parents need to play a more active role in their child’s practice.   I’ve notice the children that tend to do well have support and involvement from their parents.  So, that in itself is tricky.  What if the parents are unmotivated people who would rather stick their kids in front of the telly and/or Xbox for an easy life.  A tricky one I think you’ll agree. Parents need to realise the importance of their role rather than focussing on whether the child seems interested in their musical instrument or not. Too often I’ve heard parents say he didn’t practice much these last couple of weeks so we won’t be having lessons anymore.  As a parent, you need to realise that in some cases at least you need to put in your own input, encouragement and positive reinforcement into your child’s interest.   Of course, with adults it’s a slightly different story but more or less the same from partners in terms of support is equally useful.

So practice, do we need it or can we progress with lessons alone?  In a way yes with regular lessons you can progress but it will be at a much slower rate than someone who does regular practice. This might seem obvious to some.   Much of our learning as human beings is related to repetition and observation.  Think of your early days as a toddler.  When you were learning to walk and fell flat on your face did you give up?

Rewarding isn’t really effective.  Possibly in the short term but you are reinforcing the idea that it is a chore.   I think the better results come from thinking about goals.   Write them down!   I think as students or parents we focus too much on time.  Practice for 15, or 30 mins a day.  What’s so special about these specific times?    If you focus on goals (which should be appropriately challenging to your level), it doesn’t matter whether it take 5.745126 mins or 1 hour precisely. Think about daily goals, weekly goals and monthly goals.   For children don’t be annoyed if they miss a day. It could mean they will practice twice as long the next day.

Examples of personal goals could be play an exercise without mistakes or play so many bars without mistakes or perhaps, play this technique for so many strokes per hand etc etc etc.

From a teachers point of view I would use positive reinforcement and encourage students when they do well and justify it by telling them why and how they did well.  “Now try this……”

Help your children fall in love with the instrument of choice.  Show them what music can be about. Take them to a concert, local gig or festival (but don’t spend too long on the bouncy castle!).

Know your child and find what motivation works for them. No two children are the same.

Step in the room when they are practising. Don’t judge, instead praise and monitor.

As a teacher and parent a great golden rule for learning is expect their best not your best.

What I also try and do as a teacher is show that I am a student aswell.  I’ve never stopped learning.  For me the discovery is one of the most fun parts.

If possible attend drumming events, shows, competitions, talent contests, clinics, charity events and get involved.  Try and always finish practise on a positive note.  If something is not quite going to plan, finish on a high. Have a muck about or play to your favourite song.

Food for thought anyway.

Great Gig at The Grapes

We had a great gig.   Fist gig for us where we had to squeeze up a bit.  Amazing how you can work these things though.  Bit of a slow start but picked up quite a decent audience as the night went on. I’m really pleased to see how the material is going down.  Seem to be picking up a good rep and also gaining new followers all the time.

We all felt a bit more relaxed I think too. Started to gel more as a band.  The whole process is much easier now we have an established set so we are taking our time adding new material and continuing to tighten up on what we have.

Next stop Great stukeley near Huntingdon.