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  #1  
Old 04-05-2017, 06:41 PM
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Default SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

SKF NOTE: If there are no band or performance recordings of drum teachers -- how do we know if what they're teaching is valid?

Rafik Mankarios (or someone able to post under Mr. Mankarios's "RM Drums" YouTube account) listened to this Freddie Gruber audio excerpt on my YouTube page, Freddie Gruber: Learning, Teaching Awareness of Rhythm, Melody, Harmony in Drumming, and posted this response:
Unbelievable how even the legends have fallen in the overblown, over exaggerated, overdramatized myth of Freddie Gruber...of whom you will not find a SINGLE DRUM TRACK, audio or video of his SUPPOSED playing! He's never gotten further in his ''lessons'' than how to hold sticks, and a philosophy on life!!! Sheeps following the piper...?
In the early 1980s, when preparing to interview Freddie for Modern Drummer, I faced the same lack of Freddie Gruber recorded material. Rather than dismiss Freddie's teaching, I took a different approach, speaking with respected drummers who saw and heard Freddie when he was an active drummer. Also, I read the famous 1947 Metronome The Shapes of Drums to Come column about Freddie by one the most respected jazz writers, Barry Ulanov.

An interview with Freddie was first suggested to me, I believe, by Jim Keltner. The interview took place in Buddy Rich's NYC apartment - one of Freddie's closest friends. Around the same time period I celebrated Mel Lewis's birthday in Mel's NYC apartment with Freddie and Adam Nussbaum.

When I spoke with Jim Chapin, author of the famous Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer book, he had high praise for Freddie Gruber. Mr. Chapin, during our phone conversation, actually mouthed an example of how Freddie Gruber's drum solos sounded, because that was easier than trying to put that sound into words.

Neil Peart met and studied with Freddie and, after Freddie's death, Neil provided the biographical tribute on The Official Site of Freddie Guber.

And, during my interview of Freddie Gruber, he helped me solve a nagging physical question of mine which I wrote about here.

I've learned my whole life from drummers, from non-drummer musicians, without knowing or caring if they had ever cut a record. And I've heard stories praising local drummers -- like Gaetan Caviola -- who I did hear on two albums. But based strictly on those two albums, I would not have put Mr. Caviola in the same class as Louis Bellson, as did musicians I met in Iowa and Illinois who knew Caviola personally.

Fair enough if one drum teacher's methods don't hit home with us. But as far as dismissing Freddie Gruber as a teacher I close with my favorite Sherlock Holmes admonition: "How dangerous it always is to reason from insufficient data."

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Old 04-05-2017, 07:49 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

Yet another gem Scott. I'm also thinking of Bruce Becker (who, among other things, has a DVD, book and Drumeo video out) who spent a lot of time with Freddie and passes on Freddie's ideas and practices in his own teaching.
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Old 04-06-2017, 02:40 AM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott K Fish View Post
[b]

In the early 1980s, when preparing to interview Freddie for Modern Drummer, I faced the same lack of Freddie Gruber recorded material. Rather than dismiss Freddie's teaching, I took a different approach, speaking with respected drummers who saw and heard Freddie when he was an active drummer. Also, I read the famous 1947 Metronome The Shapes of Drums to Come column about Freddie by one the most respected jazz writers, Barry Ulanov.

An interview with Freddie was first suggested to me, I believe, by Jim Keltner. The interview took place in Buddy Rich's NYC apartment - one of Freddie's closest friends. Around the same time period I celebrated Mel Lewis's birthday in Mel's NYC apartment with Freddie and Adam Nussbaum.

When I spoke with Jim Chapin, author of the famous Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer book, he had high praise for Freddie Gruber. Mr. Chapin, during our phone conversation, actually mouthed an example of how Freddie Gruber's drum solos sounded, because that was easier than trying to put that sound into words.

Neil Peart met and studied with Freddie and, after Freddie's death, Neil provided the biographical tribute on The Official Site of Freddie Guber.

And, during my interview of Freddie Gruber, he helped me solve a nagging physical question of mine which I wrote about here.

I've learned my whole life from drummers, from non-drummer musicians, without knowing or caring if they had ever cut a record. And I've heard stories praising local drummers -- like Gaetan Caviola -- who I did hear on two albums. But based strictly on those two albums, I would not have put Mr. Caviola in the same class as Louis Bellson, as did musicians I met in Iowa and Illinois who knew Caviola personally.

Fair enough if one drum teacher's methods don't hit home with us. But as far as dismissing Freddie Gruber as a teacher I close with my favorite Sherlock Holmes admonition: "How dangerous it always is to reason from insufficient data."

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The accomplishment was (Gruber) gaining peoples respect, some big names are dropped here... although Neil Peart has only recorded RUSH albums and there's a lot of 'famous' drummers who're essentially one trick ponies, not like in the days of Gruber when a drummer had to know many styles well to find work.


So, its a feat too, never recorded, but regarded as a great teacher. Could you imagine taking lessons from Buddy Rich? That'd a been a drama fest Im sure, he might've been breaking sticks over your head, or maybe you'd a been going home and breaking sticks over your head after lessons with him.
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Old 04-06-2017, 04:46 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

Dropping knowledge, dropping names. Really good stuff.

Teaching is definitely different from drumming. In sports, there are endless examples of superstar players who just weren't good at coaching (or managing). Michael Jordan can't teach a lesser player to do what he did... just take off from the top of the key, hang in the air for an impossibly long time and jam it in the basket.

With that said, I've been impressed at the couple of drum clinics I've been to that the superstar drummers behind the kit were almost as good at sharing information as they are at playing.

It's rare to have both. I think the idea of life-long learning is also important. As great as Buddy Rich was (at drumming), I think he could have learned a lot from Clyde Stubblefield or Bernard Purdie--and vice versa.
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Old 04-06-2017, 05:25 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

Teaching is a specialized skill. I wouldn't judge a teacher by his/her recordings.

The people who studied with Freddie can't say enough about him. It's hard for me to question any of that. I also get the sense that part of what he helped people with was finding better ways to move. And I'm assuming some of that was to avoid injury.

Here's the one thing I will say, though, at the risk of being accused of sacrilege: I preferred the playing of many of his famous students before they studied with him. Not sure what that means, if anything. I'm just saying.
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Old 04-06-2017, 05:49 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

No offense to Freddie, or anyone who studied under him or knew him (sure seems like a nice enough guy...), but I just can't sit still long enough to see if he ever finishes a thought or an idea. Just seems to meander along the path a bit. I am sure he is going somewhere but I'd just as soon wait in the car lol.
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Old 04-06-2017, 10:38 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

I liked the follow-up:

Quote:
I'm not at all discrediting a fellow drummer because he has NO recording...

I actually sent my very serious question through Facebook directly to 3 renowned world-class drummers that have apparently taken a lesson with Gruber, not expecting any of them to reply to an ''unknown'' drummer like me. I essentially asked them if Freddie Gruber was a farce since NOWHERE is there trace of any recording whatsoever, and that all he ever says has to do with holding and bouncing a stick!

Well...ONE of them replied to me! I won't name him because he has not given me permission to quote him. But essentially he said, that Freddie Gruber was an ''old school drummer''. The drummer in question said he heard Freddie play a few short minutes, and thought it was ''an old master bringing the sound out of an instrument''. Basically, interpret as you wish!!

In essence, he was absolutely nothing spectacular, but had a certain graceful movement about hitting the drum. So all this nonsense about him ''re-inventing'' Neil Peart, or any other super-drummer, is just an old myth that's been accepted in the drumming community for the longest time. Professional drummers are usually very polite and graceful about other and older drum brothers. What freaks me out is the people who have NEVER heard Freddie Gruber play, say he's a genius just because Weckl or Peart took a lesson from him to improve their posture. I'm the first person to respect other drummers, but I also cannot stand mass hysteria based of fiction!! Voilà!
Well done addressing that seriously, and not just lighting up that weirdo Buddy Rich wannabe... my preferred avenue...

It's legit for people to ask questions about things they don't understand, but to come at it like "THAT GUY is a total fraud and I can't believe people are stupid enough to believe his garbage, WTF??? Thank you for answering this very serious question." No.

I think teachers see a fair amount of people questioning fundamental things in this childish kind of way. Most of us don't have the complete theoretical background on why things in drumming are the way they are, to be able to give great answers all the time. I put it back on the questioner's attitude. When you question something good drummers know, and then consider it debunked when you don't get an answer you like (or when the person you ask considers you hopeless and not worth responding to) all you've really accomplished is that you cut yourself off from information. In music, people who do that are losers.
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Old 04-01-2018, 03:34 AM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

A few months ago I found, digitized, and uploaded to my YouTube page Jim Chapin's original phone call with me describing Freddie Gruber.

https://youtu.be/IrUNszuWbEM

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Old 04-05-2018, 03:15 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

Well there (at about 1:00) is a recording of a young FG by Jim Chapin! Sounds really good to me, exactly the kind of soloing I like to hear.

A glimpse into the past. Many thanks for providing this recording!
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Old 04-05-2018, 05:16 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

Scott,

Was great to hear Jim talk about FG.

My question to you is: Are you really certain FG never recorded? (I don´t know this, just asking...).



Take care!
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Old 04-05-2018, 06:17 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

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Originally Posted by Alex Sanguinetti View Post
Scott,

Was great to hear Jim talk about FG.

My question to you is: Are you really certain FG never recorded? (I don´t know this, just asking...).



Take care!
He did under the name bernard Purdie.
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Old 04-05-2018, 11:32 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

I find it surprising Freddie never recorded. Maybe many of his recordings (if he did do any) were not on mainstream record labels back in the day and never made it to CD. Just a guess...Freddie was up there in age.

Then again, maybe not that abnormal to just play gigs back in the day.

I'm sure Freddy was an excellent drummer if many big names (Peart, keltner, etc) were taught by him.

Last edited by DaleClark; 04-06-2018 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 04-05-2018, 11:44 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

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Originally Posted by DaleClark View Post
I find it surprising Freddie never recorded. Maybe many of his recordings (if he did do any) were not on mainstream record labels back in the day and never made it to CD. Just a guess...Freddie was up their in age.

Then again, maybe not that abnormal to just play gigs back in the day.

I'm sure Freddy was an excellent drummer if many big names (Peart, keltner, etc) were taught by him.
I dunno, all I do these days is play gigs. I'm sure no one is interested in hearing me recorded.
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Old 04-06-2018, 12:50 AM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

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Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
I dunno, all I do these days is play gigs. I'm sure no one is interested in hearing me recorded.
I would say back in the day there were probably many music teachers by day and play the clubs at night. I do know Freddie played with Charlie Parker for a stint. I'm not certain how long he stayed in NY. Reading Peart's books, Freddy was living on the west coast at least since the 80's (maybe earlier).
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Old 04-06-2018, 07:27 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

At first, I was really skeptical about Gruber after reading/seeing clips here and there.

I got three words for ya: Dave f#%king Weckl!

After seeing the evolution vids from Weckl, I totally understood it and I really think his playing improved as result of Freddie's teaching.
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Old 04-06-2018, 07:50 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

I always wondered what Daves middle name was.
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Old 04-06-2018, 08:48 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

I've spent my entire life becoming the best teacher I can be.

Only recording though is a cassette tape from around '93. Guess I can't teach because of that. lol


As a side there would be both records and books out had it not been for the unfortunate job situation I've share here and there. Having skills and experience relates to teaching, but it's not the same and I've got plenty of experience both gigging, conducting. When it comes to being that plumber you pay because he knows where to bang it's on a pretty high intuitive level at this point and that came from studying a lot of other things as well. The metaphysical stuff is a significant part of of developng those senses, too. Still being an avid student in any related area is a big part as well. Not being stuck and be in realtime with where you are and constant changes.
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Old 04-06-2018, 09:56 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

I've often wondered about this guy, too. He seems like such a crazy cosmic weirdo, and I just can't imagine anyone getting anything out of spending time with him.

The Weckl thing. Eh...

I mean, Weckl was ripe for a technique overhaul anyway at that point, and I feel like Freddie just came into his life at the right time. Had he studied with Morello--a proven teacher and the dude who REALLY pioneered all these principles of rebound and natural body motion--he likely would have gotten where he was going much quicker.

That said, you got Weckl, Steve Smith, and Adam Nussbaum all singing his praises, so there must be something there.

I'd imagine it boils down to charisma. The guy has so many stories that it'd probably be fun to just sit there listening to him talk about doing heroin in LA during the 60s and 70s.
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Old 04-06-2018, 10:20 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

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..I've spent my entire life becoming the best teacher I can be..

If i may ask, how many students are you having on a regular basis..?

Because the area where the location says that you live is not having having a huge amount of people i think, with even less people that want to learn an instrument, with even less people that want to learn drums, etc..

I ask this because i am planning to start my own little drumschool this year and i am just wondering how many students on a regular basis most teachers have..
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Old 04-06-2018, 10:33 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

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just wondering how many students on a regular basis most teachers have..
I have 55 per week from Sep. to June ... less through July and August probably a little over half of that ...

I highly recommend having less ... for your own sanity
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Old 04-06-2018, 11:34 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

Whoah thats a lot of students! I was thinking about inquiring about a long distance lesson situation, if that even a thing, but looks like that would be inhumane of me lol.
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Old 04-07-2018, 11:09 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

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Originally Posted by oldskoolsoul View Post
If i may ask, how many students are you having on a regular basis..?

Because the area where the location says that you live is not having having a huge amount of people i think, with even less people that want to learn an instrument, with even less people that want to learn drums, etc..

I ask this because i am planning to start my own little drumschool this year and i am just wondering how many students on a regular basis most teachers have..
I work in the public music school system. Usually this is a full time job for me. Right now it's not. For the students this is about 90% state subsidised. Very few people are willing to pay what I charge for private lessons. I do some independent stuff as a conductor and ensemble teacher at a college and I charge way more for that than I would a lesson. Living off private teaching here would be impossible. Private lessons are a few grown ups sporadically or sometimes a kid who the public school didn't have room for. I'm better but I also charge 10x as much, so..

Working full time in a school if I only did single lesson and follow the school's
rules of 25 min lessons it would be 50-60 lesson pr. week. Too short lessons, but I'm free to do whatever I want in regards to combining students that fit well together, make ensembles and so on, so that helps a bit.

Yes, this is taxing, but when you settle in to a job and create your own system things improve a lot. Relaxing a bit and understanding some things are outside your control and short term responsibility helps.

Working publicly pays way more here than working for a private school. If you want to do your own school you should probably do so with teachers of other instruments and provide a full package. You'ds also have to live in a city and be very patient. It will usually work out well, but it will also probably take some time to be able to live off just that alone. If you're good at what you do it will usually work out in the end, though.
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Old 04-10-2018, 12:15 AM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

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Originally Posted by WhoIsTony? View Post
..I have 55 per week from Sep. to June ... less through July and August probably a little over half of that..

And those are mostly 1 hour lessons..?

Because in that case you will have quite a busy week when you are also playing some gigs each week/month on top of that..


Quote:
Originally Posted by Odd-Arne Oseberg View Post
..I work in the public music school system. Usually this is a full time job for me. Right now it's not. For the students this is about 90% state subsidised. Very few people are willing to pay what I charge for private lessons. I do some independent stuff as a conductor and ensemble teacher at a college and I charge way more for that than I would a lesson. Living off private teaching here would be impossible..

Yes, that makes sense..

But at the public school you have the complete freedom to teach how you wish..?
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Old 04-10-2018, 12:20 AM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

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And those are mostly 1 hour lessons..?

Because in that case you will have quite a busy week when you are also playing some gigs each week/month on top of that..

most are 1/2 hour ... I'd say maybe 1/3 of them are hour lessons

I do about 10 a day on every day but Fri. where I do 4 or 5 ... none on Sun.

and gigs are usually Thurs. through Sat. ... with the occasional Sun or Wed ... depending on a lot of things

but hey ... we gotta do what we gotta do to put food on the table , right ?

I gave up touring when my first child was born ... just couldn't stand being away from the family for longer than a couple days ... I'll still do some very short stints ...

but the days of 3 to 4 months on the road are gone for me since 2013 ... that is unless there are a whole lot of zeros at the end of the offer

the calls still come ... but I usually kindly recommend a buddy
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Old 04-10-2018, 06:23 AM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

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Originally Posted by Scott K Fish View Post
A few months ago I found, digitized, and uploaded to my YouTube page Jim Chapin's original phone call with me describing Freddie Gruber.

https://youtu.be/IrUNszuWbEM

Best,
Scott K Fish
Good stuff Scott!

Steve Smith was the first I heard of talk praises about Freddie. Neil after that. The talk of Freddie being all about the form and movement are spot on. Both Steve and Neil talk in length about how proper form leads to better playing. Much like how Arnold Schwarzenegger taught that less reps with good form beats high reps with slop.
I for one saw a good video of Freddie talking about his traditional grip technique. I applied that to my own playing and it did get more smooth and fast. That and the orbital motion he pushed so much. Moving the kit away from you a bit and relaxing. He was all about the form leading the function and has helped many. I can only assume his own playing was just as spectacular.
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Old 04-10-2018, 01:26 PM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

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But at the public school you have the complete freedom to teach how you wish..?
It sort of depends on the school and how big it is, but generally I'm the specialist for guitar, bass, drums, band and whatever ensemble breaks the norm is usually my initiative, my idea. My collegues usually know nothing about my subjects at all and my boss even less.

Pretty much all my jobs have been about building up something that really doesn't exist. It's a slow process. Not just creating a curriculum and a system, but usually changing attitudes and teaching everybody what a school really is, changing attitudes in regards to these instruments and that jazz and rock is real music, too.

IU have to make it work, have something to show for Christmas and summer shows and the rest is up to me and what I'm able to create. Biggest challenge is student's location, travel and other things on their schedule.

The school I'm at now only offers individual lesson resources, so if I want to do ensemble stuff I have to put them all after eachother and then do individual lessons sometimes and ensemble stuff other times. If I want to do bigger things I sometimes just cancel the week lessons in favour of a weekend when everybody is free.

This is a small town. The smallest I've worked in so far. It's all about just doing the best with what you have and something that hopefully will create lasting cultural value.
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Old 04-11-2018, 12:35 AM
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Default Re: SKF Blog: Freddie Gruber Has No Recordings; How Do We Know He Can Teach?

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I always wondered what Daves middle name was.
LOL :)
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