Keith Copeland: Characteristics of a Winner Drum Student

Scott K Fish

Silver Member
SKF NOTE: This is the second segment I've posted here from my early 1980's interview with Keith Copeland. The back story is here.

In this part of the interview Keith and I were talking about his drum students. I asked him, "What are the characteristics of a winner?" Here's Keith's answer.

Keith Copeland: He's got to have good time and good feeling. There's got to be something in his playing that makes me feel that he's got something so valid and natural that I can improve upon to make it even more extra special.

It doesn't mean that he's got to have a high degree of either drumset technique, snare drum technique, or coordination. He's got to have good feeling. He's got to make my heart feel good when I hear him play. Just the way he plays time. Just in his concentration towards the instrument.

If he plays four bars of time that starts at one tempo and has sped up by the end of the four bars, I'm going to stop him and say, "What you need I can't give you." I can recommend working with a metronome. Maybe that might help. Maybe not." If it goes from here to there in four measures, the problem is usually beyond a metronome.

If he's got it, he's got it. It either feels good or it doesn't.

Scott K Fish: Can someone develop the ability to keep good time?

KC: Yes, but he's got to have something to develop from that feels good.

Suppose I ask him to play a tune an sing the tune while he's playing it. Then I ask him to sing the tune and trade fours with himself. If he speeds up a little bit, well, when I was young I sped up a little bit too. But I learned to work at that more and concentrate more to really be aware of meter at all times when I'm playing.

So, if the problem is relative, you can work with it. If I was a vocal teacher and a student couldn't hold close to any kind of pitch, I'm going to tell him to do something else!

Scott K Fish Blog: Life Beyond the Cymbals