Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hihats and Chocolate

Recently I've been pushing(!) my students on their hihat ability. This is a major stubling block in many drummers technique, and I'm committed to changing the world(!) So try this. Eat a piece of chocolate every time you do something on the hihat that is good. It really works. My students have been improving massively. (I won't comment on the UK obesity epidemic here.)

Monday, December 31, 2007

RudiMental is Live!

So here we are. The new RudiMental site is now completely live. There are several main aims for this site: Userfriendly look and feel, Free drum content for everyone, and interactivity through the user forum. If you're viewing this blog elsewhere, visit to see the site for yourself. Lessons and tests are organised into 6 main areas: Basic Skills, Technical Workshop, Coordination, Musicality, Timing, and Dynamics. There's something for everyone, from starter beats and grooves, to deep-dark pro secrets. Check it out!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Web Learning

As part of redesigning my drum teaching site RudiMental, I've come across some truly wonderful resources. There is a real wealth of knowledge available for drummers out there on the web, and my advice is to make good use of it.

Firstly I would suggest anyone out there go and take a look at RudiMental. Lots going on there. Aside from this shameless self plug, here are my other suggestions:

I hope this short list is of use to anyone out there!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Electronic Drums

I'm still fairly new to the role of electronics in drumming, and am starting to get really into it. I use a pad to trigger individual sounds, a small midi keyboard to play chords, and a microphone to produce whacked out effects. Oh yeah, and a drum kit.

The ensemble sound you can produce from such a setup is huge. People often think I'm hiding someone else offstage.

What ever your style of music, triggering external sounds can hugely benefit you. Here are some examples of places I have used electronics.

- Special effects for panto
- Triggering backing tracks for covers gigs
- Triggering strange intro tracks for rock bands
- Triggering a string line that can't be played live

etc etc. You get the idea. I use:

- a laptop £400
- a crappy edrum pad - £10
- midi keyboard £90
- midi cable £10
- soundcard £10
- open source software FREEEEEE

So for under £600 you can use electronics in your drumming...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How to be a fast drummer?

A worthy mission. I would imagine all drummers amongst us have at some point wished to be able to play faster. Drums are a high energy instrument that appeals to many people with a need for speed.

But what do we mean by fast?

I would break down 'playing fast' into a number of categories to help destroy the mystery behind some of the top players technique

1. Singles
Our raw single stroke roll speed (see for rudiment list) is one way of assessing our speed. How fast can you play 16th notes? The world record (see previous post) is currently set at over 300BPM! My suggestion for increasing your raw pace is to practice little (5 min) every day. Set your click going, and note the fastest speed you achieve. If you can increase this by 1BPM per day, you are doing very well indeed...

2. Doubles
I use double stroke rolls as a phrasing tool to move quickly between drums. Whilst one hand is doubling, the other is free to move quickly to the next drum. You should be able to play doubles as bounces, and as individual hits. Practice as per singles with a click and note speed daily.

3. Using feet
Putting kick drum strokes into a phrase frees up your hands to move. A great Vinnie trick is to play doubles with one hand, then doubles with your kick foot. Be able to play this with both hands and feet. Of course using a double kick pedal can also be used to great effect within a phrase.

4. Coordination
How fast you can pay a groove often comes down more to coordination that raw singles speed. If you need to play a groove faster - work it out really slow - and go round and round til you really understand it! Then slowly increase pace, noting top speed as you go. Within a week or two you'll be up to speed.

5. Power
Often the faster we play, the less power we are able to achieve. So as not to lose the urgency and feel of a fill or groove, we need to keep the power consistant. Working with bigger sticks can be a good way to build the muscles in your arms and hands (much like runners putting sandbags around their ankles.)

Use these tricks and soon you'll probably be faster than me....

Monday, December 10, 2007

Compound Time

It's a wonderful thing. I have always loved playing and listening to music that is not in 4/4, and always find it fun to teach as well. We're so blasted by music with 4 pulsing notes per bar that sometimes it is hard to get away from it. Rather than counting the notes out one by one - it's better if you can understand the flow - therefore giving you a more natural groove.

Some great examples of music in 12/8

Justboy - Biffy Clyro
Miss You Love - Silverchair
Miss You - Incubus
Easy Life - Oliver Gearing

You'll get a strong idea of how to feel this music if you take a listen to the above. There are far too many examples in my record collection to mention here! Try to find songs in your collection that are in 12/8, and you'll start to get a better understanding...

(not that I don't enjoy 4/4 - I just like to hear a change every now and then...)

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

World's Fastest Drummer

Last night I met 2006's 'World's Fastest Drummer' Rees Bridges playing for George Webber and The Roadrunners at an event in Stevenage. Rees was a very cool guy willing to chat while packing up after his set. He's a great example to all drummers out there - always be cool and down-to-earth to everyone you meet no matter what you achieve.

I've always been interested in WFD. Basicially a 'balls-on-a-plate' test of hand and foot speed. Takes place every year in the USA. I think the current world record holder is Mike Mangini from Extreme (1247 single strokes in a minute). That's the same as playing 16th notes at over 300 BPM for a whole minute!

Obviously raw speed is nothing without a healthy dose of musicality and taste; both Rees last night and Mike Mangini impress me because they hold back their speed when playing as part of a group. A good example of how to gig effectively - hold back in the set until it is your moment (solo/big fill/etc...). Nobody likes to hear drums overburdening the groove...

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