Thursday, February 18, 2010


In my previous post I waxed enthusiastic about Tommy Igoe's instructional DVDs. One can exponentially raise their level of drum kit mastery by watching and following his DVDs. Indeed, with a diligent effort to work through each groove a drummer will attain a level of versatility that would make him or her a much sought after addition to any band, regardless of genre. However, even with such a rich array of material contained in the lessons at some point - even if you experiment in the spirit of Tommy's lessons - you will start to stagnate as a musician. True, you'd still be a exceptionally competent and versatile drummer, but the true foundation will be missing. To continue to grow and develop the chops necessary to take Tommy's lessons to the next level requires a disciplined practice regimen. That regimen and the ensuing foundation can be found in one of the seminal works of drumming: Stick Control: For the Snare Drummer. A true master and pervasive influence, George Lawrence Stone literally wrote the book on stick control. To be sure, this is a book and not an instant gratification device like a DVD. On the other hand, there is a long line of drummers, famous and not-so-famous, who not only developed their mastery of the instrument with this book, but continued to use it well into their careers. Note that Joe Morello, one of my idols, was Stone's student and actually contributed to later editions of this book. More about Joe further on. Suffice to say that this is the learning resource to start with.

Stones's Accents and Rebounds: For the Snare Drummer is the logical next resource to use after you have mastered (or at least are comfortable with) the lessons in Stick Control.

Joe Morello, teamed with one of his star students, created a series of DVDs that will instill a relaxed, natural technique that is founded upon connecting the dots between how your body works and how you communicate with the drums via sticks. In some ways I feel that this series (or at least lessons 1 & 2) should precede Mr. Stone's workbooks. What holds me back from recommending that particular lesson is the videos are somewhat unfocused (too much banter and anecdotes between Joe and Danny Gottlieb), and I feel that anyone who has not tackled Stick Control should proceed post haste into the lessons. Don't take this as my diminishing the lessons embodied in the "Natural Approach to Technique" because they are important. Perhaps interspersing Stone's workbooks with Morello's videos is a good compromise. Here are the videos:

An alternative set of lessons on natural technique that Joe Morello did are these two videos:

  1. Joe Morello: Drum Method 1--The Natural Approach to Technique
  2. Joe Morello: Drum Method 2 -- Around the Kit

Of the two, I recommend the first set, and you can easily make do with just the first one (Mel Bay's Natural Drumming: Lessons 1 & 2).

Regardless of which of the above you opt for, I strongly recommend Master Studies (Percussion) as the next step in your evolution as a drummer after Stone's two books. And, of course, the next step after that is Master Studies II: More Exercises for the Development of Control and Technique

If you manage to work through the preceding books (and videos) - a daunting task to be sure - you can tap into the late, great Jim Chapin's lessons in Jim Chapin -- Speed, Power, Control, Endurance (DVD). Mr. Chapin is one of the true greats who influenced generations of drummers, and his body of work will continue to do so. Needless to say, Advanced Techniques For The Modern Drummer: Coordinating Independence As Applied To Jazz and Be-bop With Cd logically follows. Also valuable: Music Minus One Drums: Modern Jazz Drumming

One final recommended lesson DVD for the dedicated, woodshedding drummer is John Riley: The Master Drummer - How to Practice, Play and Think Like a Pro (DVD). Again, read the Amazon reviews which are effusive in their praise for this DVD.

... Don't forget: you will need a metronome! I like the Korg MA-30 Ultra Compact Digital Metronome. Also, for anytime, anywhere practicing check out the Vic Firth Double sided, 12" Practice Pad, or, even better, Rhythm Tech Lap Top Practice Snare Drum 1

Finally, enjoy some of Joe Morello's wizardry:

No comments: