Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Maturing as a Drummer

I've been reading drum magazines for years now. A repeating theme is drummers saying that, when they were young, they cared a lot about how fast or complicated that they could play. They cared about having "chops." But that as they aged and matured, it became more about "serving the song" and playing tastefully. That they scaled back their playing and simplified and that the result was so much better.

I always wanted to punch those dudes in the face.

It is really obnoxious to say that chops don't matter...AFTER you yourself have gained chops. As a beginning drummer who can barely put a beat together, the last thing you want to hear is "chops aren't important." Because you know very well that everyone in the room is thinking..."wow, that drummer isn't very good." It is only possible to say that chops aren't important AFTER you have them.What having chops gives you is the ability to make choices.

I've been playing drums for about 9 years now. Sort of towards the middle of that time I tried to buckle down and get more serious and improve my skills and what I learned was that I didn't enjoy buckling down and that I did not have a natural talent for big improvements. I could get better bit by bit, but probably I was never going to be fantastic. And really, I didn't NEED to be fantastic. To do the things that I enjoyed, I just had to be "pretty ok". It is hard to accept that, because I still feel like a failure when I see people who play better than I do and I still worry that people are saying behind my back "that drummer isn't very good." But honestly, I play well enough for what I need/want to do.

Last night the song writer in our band brought a new tune in. Usually the way I approach this is that I play what seems to go with what he is doing...whatever comes out naturally. I start simple, because the most important thing when the band is learning the song is for me to keep a steady beat so everyone can lock together....and then as the song develops over time I try to make my beat more complicated. I try to never play the same beat twice...to do something a little different with each song. Some times this means I force weird things that don't come naturally and I end up spending a long time trying to make the part work so that I can play it.  But the last two songs he has brought out, including the one last night, I just did what felt right and didn't worry too much about if it was complicated enough or different enough from other things that I've done in the past. I was sort of amazed at how easily the part came to me, and how good it sounded. It was so simple. I really did serve the song. And I thought..."maybe I will just leave it like this." It was one of the first times when I really believed (and wasn't at some level just consoling myself for lack of skills), "yeah simple is better."

Here's the song that we played last night. So the singer and one of the guitars is the song writer. The other guitar and the drums...we had never heard this song before. We were playing along the first time we'd ever heard it (there are some guitar misses for this reason but they aren't too bad). I gotta say that I mostly nailed the drum part. It is simple, but I DID have to make choices. I'm particularly proud of the instinct that I had at 1:35...just felt it and went with it.

SVFD at Punk's Picnic 8/15/2015

Got invited to play a cool party at Indian Lake County Park.

Encore: I will survive

SVFD at Frequency 9/11/2015

Opened for Gentle Brontosaurus (who was a last minute fill in) and Tin Can Diamonds. TCD brought in a huge crowd. We took home $200. It was odd.

mr smiley
about a girl
i don't love
i will survive