A few Thoughts From The Boom-Boom Room


OK Folks, thoughts for today: To all my drumming friends, a few personal thoughts and suggestions about technique(s) and what I believe should be high on your list of things to learn and/or accomplish in your playing:

1) Learn some good basic things, techniques and repertoire. Rudiments (many) and hand technique (matched grip or traditional grip): Don't worry too much, at first, about finger control or specialty techniques. Möeller technique and free stroke are some good starting points. Learn to play controlled, strong and consistent. Speed and specialty techniques can come later and will be more fun and interesting. Remember, most of the drummers you are trying to copy for these specialty techniques have been playing usually a lot longer than you, and they didn't start with these techniques as well. Something to think about? Same with bass drum foot technique! Please learn either heel up or heel down ankle and leg motions and independence before you try to start swiveling and/or sliding. These are specialty techniques for faster and multiple strokes. Most drummers do not use these techniques all of the time; they switch from one to the other depending on what is needed. Basic, controlled, strong and consistent (again) is the name of the game. Then move on to more specialty techniques.

2) Work hard to develop your own style, sound and feel of playing. Everyone cannot and will not play like Elvin Jones, Steve Gadd, Tony Williams, Roy Hanes, Buddy Rich, Billy Cobham, Zigaboo, David Garibaldi, JoJo, the hottest metal guy with blistering double bass chops and the fastest blast beats or whoever may be your favorite. These drummers also practiced A LOT to become the players we know today, and many, if not all, developed or perfected their techniques over time, becoming more and more competent at each level of their natural progression. Please don’t get me wrong; it is fun to try different techniques and find new and interesting ones to incorporate into your playing. Copying others is how we all learn new and different licks, grooves, fills, etc. However, this must be done slowly and methodically. Work hard to develop your own technique, style and feel first. We all, as drummers, like to play things that are more difficult, faster and cooler but please keep it real. Keep it in check, in the right place and don’t always try to be over the top. Less really is more … most of the time! It’s all about the groove and feel, not the speed or complexity of what you play. There is a place for this as well but not as much as most would think.

3) Learn to play music. Learn to play with real, live people. And learn to play different styles. Have you ever played a march or in an orchestra or a concert band or a Broadway musical? Or have you ever backed a singer (reading charts) or played or recorded with a rock or pop group, big band or bebop quartet? Chances are most young drummers have not. I once had a student who was killing me with double bass and blast beats at incredible tempos, cross sticking and other pyro techniques, such as stick twirling, and spinning, but he could not play a basic 16th note groove at around 132BPM. This was unbelievable to me. He could not control his limbs at slower tempos. This was a problem that we worked on, and he eventually overcame his inability to control things at all tempos. Control and consistency at slower tempos is not easy but it is basic and important. A better starting point. Fast and more difficult can be pursued later. Playing with other musicians in a live situation is also a great thing to practice and work on. Play-a-longs (drum-less tracks) are great, and I do also use them in my teaching. However, playing and learning how to interact with other musicians is more important for the skills needed in the real world. I know this is not always easy or possible for some, but you can ask your friends that play guitar, bass, keys, etc. to come over and jam. This is a great learning tool and experience. Interaction is another basic concept and technique that must be practiced and learned. Changing musical forms, dynamics, tempo, time, feel and learning to listen and watch other musicians, these are things to work on.

In closing, I would just like to say that playing drums is fun and exciting, and I am proud and blessed that I have built a very fulfilling and successful career for myself doing this. I hope it always makes you feel good, as it does me. I have always loved practicing, performing, teaching and talking to drummers all around the world about many of the things I have mentioned. I'm not just preaching! I’m giving some honest, time-tested advice for all young drummers and/or not so young drummers as well to think about as they pursue their individual paths. I've gotten all my gigs because of my feel and time, not any specialty techniques. Most artists or producers could really care less about what technique you use, as long as it is controlled, consistent and feels good!

Groove On and Have Fun,

Are there also burlesque shows at the "Boom Boom Room"?
Good tips Mr. Latham.