Thinking of studying Jazz drums, don't really listen to much Jazz.

Obzen

Member
Hey guys,

I've decided I'm finally going to study music after 9 years of self-taught drumming. Although I've always been totally obsessed with drumming and music, I've never allowed myself to invest any full time study/student-loan into music because "it's not a real career" and doesn't promise a stable future income.

Now at age 27, after years of exploring other career avenues but really wanting to be in a musical environment music full time, I've decided I need to follow my true calling and really set myself up to be a professional in the music industry and an 'expert' with my instrument, (even if 'professional' means working in instrument retail and giving drum lessons).

Most of the best drummers I know (and all of the ones who are doing music for a living) have been through Jazz school, even though most of them don't play in Jazz bands as far as I know. But those guys are my benchmark for how good I want to be and what I want to be doing... whereas I never really associate 'cream of the crop' musicians coming out of courses like "Contemporary Rock" or "Modern Music degrees" or whatever.

Personally I don't listen to alot of Jazz, I listen to some Jazz fusion, and heaps of the music I listen to has a heavy Jazz influence, but as far as traditional Jazz goes, I've never picked it up as one of 'my chosen genres', although I've always thought Jazz drumming is fantastic and I like (and in some cases love) a lot of the traditional Jazz I hear around.

As a self-taught drummer, when I started out I went straight into the 'fun stuff' (i.e. playing beats) and only over the past few years have I been putting a decent amount of effort into my technique, rudiments, accents, ghost notes, separation exercises etc. I'm confident that Jazz drumming foundation and technique is definitely where my drumming needs to go to transform me into an expert and well rounded drummer who really 'knows his shit'.

My question is: Is studying Jazz drumming the right way (or the only way?) to become a true drumming expert, even for people who don't have much of a Jazz listening background?
 
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JBoom

Senior Member
I would say, no, unless you love Jazz. Don't use it as your benchmark and don't try to focus on it. At this point, you'll never make any money at it. It's important to understand Jazz and its influence on modern music, but not important as a central focus. I imagine as a professional drummer, you should know as many styles as possible. But I doubt Jazz is central to that these days.

Jazz isn't any harder than other styles, per say. But the fact that it isn't the primary style of music you listen to will make it much harder to learn and probably inhibit your progress. Learn and get "professional" at something you love first, then move on to styles that you don't particularly enjoy. Otherwise you may lose your passion.

Of course, I'm not a professional, so take me with a grain of salt.
 
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Numberless

Platinum Member
Well it's certainly not the only way to become an expert on drums. I chose to go to music school because I knew I wanted a deeper understanding of how music works. My instrument classes are heavily focused in jazz/latin studies, I didn't listen to jazz before starting but since then I have fallen in love with the genre and I enjoy so much playing it that right now it is my main focus. All I can say is that if you give it a chance, you may fall in love with it too.
 
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plangentmusic

Guest
Jazz offers something no other style of music can. Then again, if you don't play jazz, you don't need to know it.

In fact, I would think is someone like Travis Barker spent time learning to swing and use brushes and hit the bass drum with subtlety, he wouldn't be the unique personality he currently is. Neil Peart had a genuine desire to get better at it. The more he worked on it, he just got worse at everything else.

Bottom line -- if you don't like listening to it, you'll never be good at it anyway. And it's not like the world is going to need you to play jazz. There are plenty of people that have it covered.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
My question is: Is studying Jazz drumming the right way (or the only way?) to become a true drumming expert, even for people who don't have much of a Jazz listening background?
The right way, or the only way? Probably not, but there's just too much drumming history wrapped up in jazz to ignore it. Heck, the drum set was "invented" for jazz!

It's no surprise that you gravitate toward the more "traditional" jazz -- it's much easier on the ears! To appreciate the use of intricate chord extensions, harmony, and dissonance takes a lot of study and experience.

It's very difficult to truly love jazz (I would even say impossible) if you don't understand it, and historical perspective will help that, and so will a theoretical one (harmonic and compositional). Modern jazz evolved out of popular jazz, but it's so harmonically advanced that it's difficult to recognize simple things, like the song's structure or the intent of the soloists. Miles Davis can sound like a completely different language compared to Louis Armstrong.

From a professional perspective, being unfamiliar with any genre of music limits your opportunities in two ways. First, if you can't play the gig, you won't get called, and second, it's important to understand how other instrumentalists relate to the music, and to be able to communicate with them. Communicating with your buddies or people of similar taste and background is easy; communicating with players who know much more than you, however, can get tricky. Having a jazz background will help tremendously, even in non-jazz working situations.

And don't underestimate the drum set training itself. Although you will learn jazz, hopefully you will learn how to more effectively teach yourself as well, in any style. Fundamentals like timekeeping, reading, notation, and so on, travel well.
 

brittc89

Pioneer Member
Hey guys,

I've decided I'm finally going to study music after 9 years of self-taught drumming. Although I've always been totally obsessed with drumming and music, I've never allowed myself to invest any full time study/student-loan into music because "it's not a real career" and doesn't promise a stable future income.

Now at age 27, after years of exploring other career avenues but really wanting to be in a musical environment music full time, I've decided I need to follow my true calling and really set myself up to be a professional in the music industry and an 'expert' with my instrument, (even if 'professional' means working in instrument retail and giving drum lessons).

Most of the best drummers I know (and all of the ones who are doing music for a living) have been through Jazz school, even though most of them don't play in Jazz bands as far as I know. But those guys are my benchmark for how good I want to be and what I want to be doing... whereas I never really associate 'cream of the crop' musicians coming out of courses like "Contemporary Rock" or "Modern Music degrees" or whatever.

Personally I don't listen to alot of Jazz, I listen to some Jazz fusion, and heaps of the music I listen to has a heavy Jazz influence, but as far as traditional Jazz goes, I've never picked it up as one of 'my chosen genres', although I've always thought Jazz drumming is fantastic and I like (and in some cases love) a lot of the traditional Jazz I hear around.

As a self-taught drummer, when I started out I went straight into the 'fun stuff' (i.e. playing beats) and only over the past few years have I been putting a decent amount of effort into my technique, rudiments, accents, ghost notes, separation exercises etc. I'm confident that Jazz drumming foundation and technique is definitely where my drumming needs to go to transform me into an expert and well rounded drummer who really 'knows his shit'.

My question is: Is studying Jazz drumming the right way (or the only way?) to become a true drumming expert, even for people who don't have much of a Jazz listening background?
I went to "Jazz School" because I had and have a genuine love of jazz music and I wanted to expand as a jazz musician and scholar. I did not go so I could get a gig with a Hip Hop band playing sold out arenas. Im not saying I was snobbish or immature enough to rule any gigs that werent jazz out, but the reason I studied jazz was to PLAY JAZZ (whooooaaaaaa, weeeeeiiiiiirrrrrrddddd, man).

While at "Jazz School" I didnt have take classes that didnt relate to jazz. There was no commercial music program where I went to college, we just played and studied jazz. I learned music theory, took ear training courses, played in small jazz ensembles, and took private lessons in both playing and composing. BUT, I cant say my actual college education made me a better commercial musician. I practiced quite a bit, but often times it didnt translate back to other forms of music, or I would then have to shed and adapt to "backbeat oriented muzak." Id say I learned how to do the pop/rock thing by practicing independently and doing. The more commercial gigs I have played, the better I get at every aspect of it, from the playin to the business.

Dont go to a jazz studies program if you arent into jazz I guess is the gist of what Im saying. Theres no point in that. 4 years of studying jazz, but you dont want to play it? Sounds like a bad idea to me.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I think my mind is made up! ;)
Great, there's a major part of your professed area of interest you don't have to learn anything about. Success.

Seriously, this approach of identifying an area where you need work and then looking for justification for not doing it is not going to serve you well. Normally, when you want to do something in a serious way you develop an interest in all facets of it, even those you didn't particularly care about going in. Just buy some jazz records and listen to them.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Great, there's a major part of your professed area of interest you don't have to learn anything about. Success.

Seriously, this approach of identifying an area where you need work and then looking for justification for not doing it is not going to serve you well. Normally, when you want to do something in a serious way you develop an interest in all facets of it, even those you didn't particularly care about going in. Just buy some jazz records and listen to them.
It's not really clear from Obzen's response, but I took that a different way than you did, TB. I think he's decided to learn jazz, and grow his love for it. But I could be wrong...
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
In the thread title, you outlined your intent, and you identified your largest obstacle between you and your intent. Listening to jazz could be the best way to study jazz.

I listened to Blues for 20 years before really playing Blues. I took 20 years off music (rock, new wave and top 40 bands) to learn how to earn money, Coincidentally, my sabbatical coincided with the realization that I was crazy in love with Blues music. So, while learning to earn money the conventional way, I listened to Blues almost exclusively. Then, when I resumed playing in 2003, OMG all that listening time proved to be invaluable. Invaluable I tell ya. I didn't realize at the time what a great thing I was doing for myself. I really, really and I mean really.....loved Blues. That could be a prerequisite for wanting to play anything at a high level, the sheer love of it.

What I'm saying is totally immerse yourself in jazz music. It's a great way to get it in your DNA. I recommend getting satellite radio. Driving to and from work would be like jazz class. For 20 a month you cannot go wrong. That's less than a dollar a day. Seek out and attend the open mic jazz nights if you have them in your area. Find out what the songs are in The Real Book and study your standards. Be the ball Danny. (movie reference, guesses?)
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Hey guys,

I've decided I'm finally going to study music after 9 years of self-taught drumming. Although I've always been totally obsessed with drumming and music, I've never allowed myself to invest any full time study/student-loan into music because "it's not a real career" and doesn't promise a stable future income.

Now at age 27, after years of exploring other career avenues but really wanting to be in a musical environment music full time, I've decided I need to follow my true calling and really set myself up to be a professional in the music industry and an 'expert' with my instrument, (even if 'professional' means working in instrument retail and giving drum lessons).

Most of the best drummers I know (and all of the ones who are doing music for a living) have been through Jazz school, even though most of them don't play in Jazz bands as far as I know. But those guys are my benchmark for how good I want to be and what I want to be doing... whereas I never really associate 'cream of the crop' musicians coming out of courses like "Contemporary Rock" or "Modern Music degrees" or whatever.

Personally I don't listen to alot of Jazz, I listen to some Jazz fusion, and heaps of the music I listen to has a heavy Jazz influence, but as far as traditional Jazz goes, I've never picked it up as one of 'my chosen genres', although I've always thought Jazz drumming is fantastic and I like (and in some cases love) a lot of the traditional Jazz I hear around.

As a self-taught drummer, when I started out I went straight into the 'fun stuff' (i.e. playing beats) and only over the past few years have I been putting a decent amount of effort into my technique, rudiments, accents, ghost notes, separation exercises etc. I'm confident that Jazz drumming foundation and technique is definitely where my drumming needs to go to transform me into an expert and well rounded drummer who really 'knows his shit'.

My question is: Is studying Jazz drumming the right way (or the only way?) to become a true drumming expert, even for people who don't have much of a Jazz listening background?
I didn't read everyone elses' response, sorry about that. But just to talk outside the box about it, I say, start listening and dig in to it. If you want to be an artist with capital 'A', that means you're willing to at least check it out. I don't think anyone here is saying that you have to do it or else. What I find a bit difficult in your post is that there seems to be some kind of genre-split within the art form of music. To me, it's all music, learn everything you can, or like I said, at least go check it out. People with careers in music are really the guys you can call on to deliver whatever you need. Gregg Bissonette was a big jazz guy who had played for Maynard Ferguson before going to audition for David Lee Roth - so as an artist I think you need to be the person who can bleed into all these other styles so convincingly that there's no question that people who hire musicians will call.

If you're not willing to take the leap after checking it out, that's ok. Playing music is about making you happy too, so don't force yourself to do it if you're not into it. Then you'd be known as the guy people won't call, because you can certainly play it, it just sounds like you want to be somewhere else (and I think that's worse).

You're only 27, there's still an entire lifetime ahead of you to find what you want out of your life. School is such a short part of it.
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
In the thread title, you outlined your intent, and you identified your largest obstacle between you and your intent. Listening to jazz could be the best way to study jazz.

I listened to Blues for 20 years before really playing Blues. I took 20 years off music (rock, new wave and top 40 bands) to learn how to earn money, Coincidentally, my sabbatical coincided with the realization that I was crazy in love with Blues music. So, while learning to earn money the conventional way, I listened to Blues almost exclusively.
so Larry is it safe to say that you developed a love for blues while living the blues?

a blue collar hard working guy I assume living the grind of life and making an honest living while listening almost obsessively to a style you love and that suits your lifestyle?

to me this is one of the best musical educations you can get
 

Obzen

Member
Sorry, I wasn't clear. My post above meant "I think I'm gonna go ahead and do it!"

The course I'm thinking of starting out with is a six month Jazz Foundation course (certificate), which is designed to prepare a student for the three year degree, so if somehow it turns out Jazz is not for me I'm not committing myself to much. In saying that, I'm pretty confident I'll love it!

Last night I talked to one of the people I mentioned in my first post "Most of the best drummers I know (and all of the ones who are doing music for a living) have been through Jazz school", he was my drum tutor for a few months and knows my skills/tastes and he said "go for it man!", also he said he wasn't huge into jazz before he started his degree either, but fell in love with it during the process.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Some jazz you can easily fall in love with:

Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers - A Night In Tunisia http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9z9sU5dXnw

Max Roach 5tet - Freedom Now! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvdU5R7ywQ4

Miles Davis - So What http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqNTltOGh5c

Alabama - John Coltrane http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOjxBuwBUEE

Tom Waits - Nighthawk Postcards http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3-pTLDP0K4

Pharoah Sanders - The Creator Has a Master Plan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13L6sjk080c

John Coltrane - Africa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8J4YZwFa_1w

Brian Blade - Evinrude-Fifty http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLt0jMALz7E

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOjxBuwBUEE
 
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