Are we missing something?


Platinum Member

I'm not a formally trained drummer but I've lived a very privileged life.... musically speaking.

I've grown up in a city that was full of great music, lots of gigs, full of incredible musicians, drummers etc..

Over time I got a chance to meet, talk, get to know, and question many of them.. ask them stuff, asked them to show me stuff. I went to tons of gigs and got a chance to hear a lot of my favorite musicians up close & live.

Sure, I've had some lessons here and there and gone through a few books but mainly, my drum education has been playing, listening, watching, talking.

A large part of my joy of learning was also to try & figure stuff out. By listening.

For example listening to a latin cat play a Mozambique, to hearing Jack De Johnette play it, to looking for traces of it in Tony Williams playing, to hearing it played and used very commercially by Gadd.

So, in trying to figure something out, the net result was that I got to listen to and analyze out lots of other interpretations, other expressions of it as well.

Instead of just reading & learning what notes Jack played, I got a taste of where it was all coming from and what other ways it could be played. Or if 3 drummers that played the same thing differently, what was common..etc.

It was so much fun, and in hindsight a great education and musical growth for me.

Now I am all for having easy access to knowledge and I fully recognize and appreciate the value of all the great books and dvds out there, but are we missing something here?

I do realize that perhaps I was very fortunate in my circumstances, but is there some thing to be said for the pleasure/pain journey of seeking and 'figuring things out' as opposed to getting it on a platter?

Does one get enough by books/dvds alone? Do we tend to rely a little too much on them ?

Any thoughts?

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Gold Member
I am from the same school of learning. I enjoy educational DVD's when I can spare some cash or get my hands on them. Personally, I wish I had the discipline to read and write. I have over the years developed my own way of charting out a song on lyric sheets. It was out of necessity learning to do this playing in church orchestra. Although I may never be able to walk into a studio and play a chart without ever hearing the song, this is not what my desire is as a drummer. Learning by hearing, watching and talking with other drummers has worked for me thus far. I think when you learn by hearing you are also "feeling" and that translates to a tighter pocket IMHO.

wy yung

Personally I doubt any musician worth his salt only learns from a limited source. Just because one uses books does not mean one is trapped within the pages of those books. As if a shut in has a practice pad and a copy of stick control and never goes out, listens to the radio or talks to people.

An educational text is exactly that. An educational text.

IMHO a person who does not make use of all available sources of information available to him is effectively and actively limiting himself. It seems kind of foolish to me. As if a husband was to say to his wife "Hey honey, the river is close by and we own a bucket and a shovel, I think we should cut off our running water. Whaddayasay baby?"


"Uncle Larry"
Different people learn best differently. I can see Abes point in getting ones hands dirty so to speak, but wy yungs statement rings true as well. Someone who utilizes all the different ways to learn will probably learn the most.

The Colonel

Silver Member
I learn[ed] best from actually seeing and comprehending stuff on paper (or transcribing it onto paper) and then really absorbing it by turning it into an emotional response: how do I feel while playing this? Can I move my concentration around and focus on the music rather than what limb does what when - and more on the *why*.

So when I'm playing - even in my rock bands - I might have a feeling inside me - the music making me think/feel a certain way - and I'm going to try my best to get my body behind the drums to convey that feeling. If I flub or something comes out a little wonky - I am totally fine with that - because I was trying to do something I haven't done before. That's the exciting part of it - and it happens without any predeterminations - just "Oh man - Adam's playing this amazing thing with his guitar (and his ridiculous pedal station with all sorts of crazy effects and loops and whatnot)! I gotta do something to go with him!"

and comes from internalizing the technique I've acquired through many hours of books and exercises, and bringing along my emotional experiences of listening to music - what I get out of music and what I want others to hopefully get out of it.

Not to say that you need to be playing some crazy technical thing to get an emotion out of me - don't want to steer you into thinking that's what I'm saying. I can get a rise out of a simple Arcade Fire drum part as much as some Tony Williams pyrotechnics.

Where am I going with all of this clutter?...