The best lesson ever..

moxman

Silver Member
I was thinking the other day that the most important lesson I ever had (when I was starting out 35+ years ago) was from a fantastic, amazing drum teacher I was lucky enough to have.. he played in my brother's band and gave me lessons for $5 a pop! In any case the lesson was on 'how to play tight'.. (not to be confused with playing loose and relaxed - which is how you always want to play!). Playing tight means playing with precision, in the pocket with dynamics and a great feel. To this day, whenever I play, I always channel the way this guy played.. he had lightning fast reflexes and perfect time - as well as the way he hit the drums dynamically with such finesse - it was very inspiring! It's like you are totally inside the beat..

If you can put all those elements together, you will find your playing - and the band you are driving will cook like nobodies business! It's like you are in the zone.. and your ears open up as well. Whenever I hear drummers that just pound the drums, or have time issues.. I think 'if only they'd taken that lesson!!!'
 
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BillRayDrums

Gold Member
I was thinking the other day that the most important lesson I ever had (when I was starting out 35+ years ago) was from a fantastic, amazing drum teacher I was lucky enough to have.. he played in my brother's band and gave me lessons for $5 a pop! In any case the lesson was on 'how to play tight'.. (not to be confused with playing loose and relaxed - which is how you always want to play!). Playing tight means playing with precision, in the pocket with dynamics and a great feel. To this day, whenever I play, I always channel the way this guy played.. he had lightning fast reflexes and perfect time - as well as the way he hit the drums dynamically with such finesse - it was very inspiring! It's like you are totally inside the beat..

If you can put all those elements together, you will find your playing - and the band you are driving will cook like nobodies business! It's like you are in the zone.. and your ears open up as well. Whenever I hear drummers that just pound the drums, or have time issues.. I think 'if only they'd taken that lesson!!!'


"Tight but loose". After playing drums for a lifetime I have discovered that what our job entails is "drawing lines in the coloring book". Creating rhythmic forms for others to play within. Kinda like pouring a sidewalk sometimes, and other times it's like creating an artistic masterpiece. (Protip: people pay more for sidewalks generally than they do for art...)
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I concur with what moxman and BillRay have said.
I usually explain it a little differently.

When a drummer can keep time really well then he/she can own the beat, take charge of the beat and drive the band.

Remember that little challenge that BillRay put out a while ago, to play alone for five minutes with no click. Then see how close your beats per minute are at the end of the five minutes; compared to when you started. If you can keep a solid rhythm, then you can take complete charge of the rhythm of the song and hold everyone in the band together. Before you and the band can play “in the pocket” you, the drummer, must create the pocket. In a manner of speaking you must play so that the band has no choice but to follow you. Provide a solid backbeat that they all can easily hear and follow. Too many ghost notes and fills tend to mask the backbeat.

Most drummers I watch at local jams tend to play along with the band.
Consequently they and the other band members are not “playing in the pocket”.


.
 

lindsayannemusic

Senior Member
I was thinking the other day that the most important lesson I ever had (when I was starting out 35+ years ago) was from a fantastic, amazing drum teacher I was lucky enough to have.. he played in my brother's band and gave me lessons for $5 a pop! In any case the lesson was on 'how to play tight'.. (not to be confused with playing loose and relaxed - which is how you always want to play!). Playing tight means playing with precision, in the pocket with dynamics and a great feel. To this day, whenever I play, I always channel the way this guy played.. he had lightning fast reflexes and perfect time - as well as the way he hit the drums dynamically with such finesse - it was very inspiring! It's like you are totally inside the beat..

If you can put all those elements together, you will find your playing - and the band you are driving will cook like nobodies business! It's like you are in the zone.. and your ears open up as well. Whenever I hear drummers that just pound the drums, or have time issues.. I think 'if only they'd taken that lesson!!!'
Great point. Pocket is one of the most important elements.
 

uniongoon

Gold Member
I love that colouring book analogy Billy Ray.
The Hollywood Jim concept rings true too.
Back in the late 90's I recorded a 4 song EP. I did all 4 tracks first, alone with a click, then the band tracked over my initial drum track. I still listen to that stuff and I glow proud of the pocket and feel of those songs.

It took some talented players to layer it that way I might add.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
A really great feeling drum track has to have all the elements working together.

Like a person could have great solid meter, but if that person's tempo sense is off, the track may drag or rush. And if a person has a good tempo sensibility but that person's meter is loopy, that's not going to work either.

So if you get a person with a good sense of tempo, with nice steady meter, now you get to the musical choices part, where if you pick the "wrong" feel for a song... that's not going to work either.

So if you get a person with a good sense of tempo, with steady meter, who chooses the "right" feel for the song, that brings you to your dynamics, which can ruin everything too. Even if you have all the above things "right", if you play it too over the top or the opposite, too laid back, that's not going to work either.

There's so many different aspects to manage simultaneously, it's almost like juggling.

Best lesson? I can't say one is more important than the other. They all have to be happening for success.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Can you expand on that, please, how did he teach you to play tight, in the pocket, with dynamics and a great feel? If you can pass on this lesson I for one would benefit and be eternaly gratefull.
 

moxman

Silver Member
Yes.. it's hard to describe. The best way is to watch up close how a great drummer 'strokes' the drums.. the hands are key, but it's the combination of hands and feet as well.. and how it fits with the music.
I'd originally posted a sample of Deep Purple's 'Living Wreck' where grand master Ian Paice lays down an intro beat before the band comes in.. this is what my teacher used as a perfect example of 'playing tight'. Put on some headphones and turn up the volume and listen to the way he puts it all together to get that sound...But there are lot's of other examples out there.. I just happened to have that record on my turntable at the time (okay ALL the time!).

The one guy I've seen who plays the same way as my former teacher is Glenn Milchem from Blue Rodeo.. it's exactly that style.. lightning reflexes, precision dynamics and great groove.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Yes.. it's hard to describe. The best way is to watch up close how a great drummer 'strokes' the drums.. the hands are key, but it's the combination of hands and feet as well.. and how it fits with the music.
I'd originally posted a sample of Deep Purple's 'Living Wreck' where grand master Ian Paice lays down an intro beat before the band comes in.. this is what my teacher used as a perfect example of 'playing tight'. Put on some headphones and turn up the volume and listen to the way he puts it all together to get that sound...But there are lot's of other examples out there.. I just happened to have that record on my turntable at the time (okay ALL the time!).

The one guy I've seen who plays the same way as my former teacher is Glenn Milchem from Blue Rodeo.. it's exactly that style.. lightning reflexes, precision dynamics and great groove.


Yes,yes, but how did he teach you that in a lesson? I thought it would be aspects of drumming you would hone over years of playing.
 

moxman

Silver Member
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Yes,yes, but how did he teach you that in a lesson? I thought it would be aspects of drumming you would hone over years of playing.
Ah yes.. it was basically take a basic but cool rythmn pattern and play it over and over, but introduce variations along the way - either dynamic changes or variations on the pattern.. inversions of the pattern etc. and concentrate on keeping the time real steady and in the pocket.. not much in the way of fills to start.. just rock the beejeesus out of the beat. No sloppy playing allowed.. you're striving for perfection here.. it's really working on the snare, kick and hats.. and watch where and how you hit the snare..think like you are playing with textbook form (hand position, stick heights and the way you swing the sticks) if you can lay down a solid foundation with those 3 elements (snare, kick and hats) everything else falls into place.

Also think about the volume levels between the 3.. are you hitting the kick loud enough? Are you hitting the hats too loud (making a lot of 'tin').. are your snare shots snappy and clean (think of note duration)..Basically strive for the right balance where the 3 things sound the best together.

It's easy to fall into a mechanical attitude over time.. especially if you're playing the same songs over and over with a band.. or if the band itself is not locked together. If you start thinking about tightening up your own playing and driving the band with finesse.. you'll find they will lock in and tighten up as well. Hope that helps!
 
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