Tuesday, August 9, 2011


This guy skips all the hard stuff

Left Foot

So the last couple of days I've been trying to do research on the best technique for left foot work. Sadly, the answer (like with so much of drumming) seems to be "do whatever works for you." This is not helpful advice when you don't know what works yet.

I've got a packet of problems which mostly add up to
1. No endurance in my left foot
2. Independence problems
3. Injured left foot

For some reason, increasing speed with the left foot also just seems harder than with the right...I think because you don't get the rebound.

Anyway, I'm really frustrated. I keep thinking I'm going to find some key to make it easier...but I suppose it just comes down to repetition.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lately and Detroit 442 update

My posts are becoming more navel-gazey and less informative. So here's the update on Detroit 442:

Sunday I sat down and played the damn thing front to back all the way through the first time without a hitch. I've altered the extended chorus section, but it has the feel of the original and I'm still hauling ass there and not really giving up on the hard stuff. I kinda think the original version has too many fills there anyway.

I think I've mentioned before that I have about one great playing day, one lousy playing day, and five middle of the road playing days a week. Sunday was the great day. Couldn't do a single thing wrong. I worry that Tuesday's rehearsal...where I must display all of this talent...will be when my body and brain decide to stop talking to one another. But oh well...

11:59 is still a bear and I've kind of given up on the left foot stuff for the moment. I think I'll get all of the rest of it just fine soon. Honestly I'm sure that no one would be any the wiser if I left out the open hi hat stuff at the gig...but that kind of defeats the whole purpose of trying to learn this Clem Burke stuff. I haven't decided what I'll do yet. I've got almost 12 weeks to work it out or give up. It is such a depressing thing that it is hard to focus on for too long without getting totally discouraged...so I'm trying to not worry about it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Oh Yes

This only marginally fits on this blog...but it's going here anyway.

I said I keep you around to keep me honest
Around to keep me clean
Shining fluorence

You said as long as you feel ok
As long as you're getting out of bed each day
As long as you're doing your best

But what if this is not my best
But what if this is not my best

I said you hold this isthmus in your hands
It's the only place I can land
I am a prop airplane

You said as long as you're showing up on time
As long as they believe that you're really smiling
As long as you're doing your best

But what if this is not my best
But what if this is not my best
What if I could do better?


I said it must be my foreign blood
I'm mean I'm Dutch
I think that they are known for bad behavior
I just get so low

You said as long as your eyes are wide
As long as your throat is open
As long as you're doing your best

But what if this is not my best
But what if this is not my best
Well I'm gonna die trying

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lately and Detroit 442 and 11:59 Update

So a couple of weeks ago I was hoping for some major breakthroughs. It didn't happen quite as I'd hoped. And since then I've been busy and a little discouraged and haven't been working on it much. Yesterday I sat down and, much to my surprise, I can now play Detroit 442. I'm cheating just a hair on the floor tom to snare fills...but for the most part the song is in serviceable shape start to finish and will only improve with practice now. It feels a little like magic, though I know that the work I put in a few weeks ago has probably been cooking in the back of my brain ever since...so it isn't really magic at all. The song actually feels a little slow to me now, and I have to work really hard not to rush. Considering I thought it was too fast for me to play just a month or so ago, this is very strange indeed. Riding the floor tom is still stupid fast...but the rest doesn't feel so fast anymore.

Of course, in that way that I never give myself any credit, I've moved on to feeling stupid and lame about other things I can't do now. I'm still really struggling with the hi hat opens on 11:59 (though the independence between bass and hi hat hand is getting better)...and after seeing a friend play last weekend with ease and grace and finesse...I feel like I'll never be that good. Playing hard things and making them look easy to the point where the untrained eye would think you aren't doing much at all...that's impressive.

I was having a pity party late Saturday night about all the lost time in my past. For 7 years I sat alone in my room during middle school and high school for hours every night. I knew that I wanted to be a musician, but I did so little to push that forward. Sure, I taught myself guitar during that period, but I really didn't move very far forward with it (note to parents...the primary reasons I don't think I moved far forward were...#1 my parents did not see my true passion and therefore did not foster it with music lessons on guitar #2 my parents bought me a shitty guitar. I still have it and love it...but it is not physically possible to play barre chords on that, and so I never went beyond open chords in first position). I'm not blaming my parents because they gave me everything they could and did their very best. I was lucky and treated well. No I mostly blame myself and really have no idea why I didn't work harder. Beyond that, I'm sad that I didn't figure out that I wanted to play drums until I was an adult. You really can't beat the discipline of playing drums in a high school marching band or kit in a high school jazz band. The fundamentals are just mind blowing and I never had that.

Of course...there are flip sides to all of this. I can't deny that playing the cello gave me the basis for teaching myself both guitar and bass. Sometimes I still think in terms of the cello. Someone who is trying to learn the bass recently mentioned to me that the hardest thing for her is remembering the names of the notes and where they are. I beat myself up alot for not having a total mastery of the fretboard...but at a very basic level I know the notes. And I can't say when or how I learned that...it just came from playing the cello. I wouldn't know how to tell someone to learn that except...play the cello for 20 years...which is not helpful advice. It is not unlike "if you'd played drums in your high school band you'd be able to do that."

So I am where I am. I have to start where I am and move forward. The alternative is not moving forward...and then I will be even more sad 30 years from now. And I have to cut myself a break and acknowelege that I do make improvements and that I am light-years away from where I was in December 2005 when I bought that drum kit on a whim. I am even light-years away from where I was when I started learning Detroit 442 a month or so ago. Progress happens whether I see it or not and whether I give myself credit or not.

"What if this is not my best? Well I'm gonna die trying."