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L.A. Beat

Drum Beat #17— The drummer’s body should play like a polished team

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In this column I am going to focus on the "My body is a basketball team when it comes to drumming".

What this means is that every limb of your body, both your arms/hands and legs/feet are each like a separate player all coming together in the fifth man, your torso. All of these parts together make the team, with the team being your mind. I admit this column might take some extreme open-mindedness to not say this guy is full of *&^%. I can understand that. This is how I view drumming.

Obviously drumming on the drum set is a combination of using all of your limbs in a cohesive way to create beats and patterns.
I touched lightly on this in column #7. This is an expansion of this concept.
Getting to this point is the hard part. Your mind already controls the movement of your limbs.

You have to train your limbs from your mind to do the things you need them to do to play the drums.

This requires you train each limb individually in order to put them together to form a beat. This, of course will require training and practicing. The same goes for a basketball team. Without development and practice, they lack the ability to play together as a team.

Commonly people start learning drums by playing simple beats. You start by playing a basic rock beat or swing beat. With the swing beat you play the ride cymbal and put the hi-hat, or also known as the sock cymbal, on the 2 and 4 of the beat.

For the rock beat you play the snare on 2 and 4. This is a great practice and leads to a basic comprehension of a few basic beats allowing you to expand to more complicated beats.

This is the way I started to learn and it served me well to a certain point in my development. In order to progress even further I realized I had to get each of my limbs to be strong on their own and each limb had to have an independence.

I knew if I developed each limb as if they were separate entities that when it came time to learn complicated beats and concepts,  it would be much easier to master these without too much struggle and frustration. I believed this would lead me to play freely and smoothly.

I started with my hands. My goal was to be able to execute a buzz role one-handed to build strength and independence.
This might sound impossible but it is not. I will admit that I never got to the point where I could play the buzz role one-handed so it sounded like a two hand buzz role  but I came close.

By practicing to do this, my stick control and arms became very strong. I never have  experienced fatigue since I did this in my arms while playing. It developed muscles that enabled me to play things very smoothly and with finesse. I no longer had problems playing tricky rudiments. I developed an ease of playing with my arms/hands that even far exceeded the advances I had made by practicing stick control.

The next area of concentration was of course my feet. I did several things to develop extreme control.
First I purchased a double bass drum pedal and constructed two blocks to attach them to. Next I put a piece of carpeting on the blocks where the pedal would hit.

I did this in order to expand my practice time. As most musicians it is not always easy to find a place where you can practice loudly. This solved that  problem with these issues. I then sat them in front of me while I was sitting around at home and went to work. I placed my feet flat on the pedal and practiced different paradiddle combinations endlessly. This developed strength, muscle control, and technique. One interesting thing I found from this was it helped me immensely in creating patterns and beats that were interesting and unique due to the many combination of paradiddles I developed.

Once you have developed strength, muscle tone and the ability to control your limbs you can start to conceptualize and execute "My body is a basketball team when it comes to drumming"

This means that if you do not have all of you limbs toned and ready you cannot play a well rounded groove to your beat.
The same goes for a basketball team. If the team is not toned and in shape they will falter. A good example is your say your right hand is your star player. If that player or hand is always  taking over and not being cohesive with the rest of the team, then your beats will sound bad. It takes the other four players to make a great  team that plays together and wins. The same goes for your body. When you bring your four limbs together into your torso at the same strength, your torso can use your mind or team freely without hindrances to create and play with smoothness and finesses.

Once your mind thinks and realizes it has complete control over what it wants to do you can progress in your development of drumming. No longer will you be limited to the arduous task of learning new beats by training yourself to play the notes.
The learning of the notes and patterns become very easy. It is at this point that you can concentrate on playing with  feeling and with a groove. You will stand out from other drummers because your body works as a well tuned team to play.
You start to play from within yourself and with feeling. Your body is using all of its team to play.

The same goes for a basketball team. Once all the players are playing as a team they start to win and create a smooth flow and cohesiveness that could not be achieved if they played as individuals.

If you think that playing with feeling is unimportant then think again. The reason people listen to music and go to shows is because it evokes feelings and memories for them. If you think this concept is stupid please try something to enable yourself to be able to express your playing with feeling as well as develop strength in your limbs.

Try and enjoy the winter if you can. If you hate winter, use the time indoors to practice, practice, practice or perhaps go to a Kansas University basketball game. You will learn quite a bit about playing with feeling.

— By Stanley Jackson, Special to L.A. Beat
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