Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Drumline Lessons

Pink's had an itch to learn how to drum like the snare drummers in a drumline, and me being comfortable tapping on anything known to man, she finally convinced me to get her started.

I've played the drums ever since 6th grade when my Mom forced me to pick an naturally I picked the loudest one to spite her. :) See, 74% evil, even back then. :P

I got hooked soon after when Mom and Dad would take us chitlins to various parades during the summer and enjoyed the drumline cadences when the band wasn't playing. Freshman year at Shawnee Mission West I got a first hand taste as I joined band and attended all school 1st hour meetings, and heard them play.

Sophomore year...much to my disappointment I cut up my hand pretty good about two weeks before tryouts, so I was stuck marching cybals. That year, though, it wasn't bad, because we had 5 cybal players, so we weren't just a crash cymbal, but we could do our own melodies and be an instant high hat for each snare drummer when needed, giving the snares the occasional"drum set" feel.

Junior and Senior year I marched a 32 inch tall, 40 pound bass drum called Big Bertha. Mallets were freakin' huge, and hard to play quickly, but I had 4 other drummers to assist with keeping the melody flowing. (these cheaters are using stands to hold thedrums up).

Alas, I was never a snare drummer at heart, but if I start slow, I can play'em just like the blue man group or any drum and bugle core. Key is patience, persistance, and the double bounce.

So, Pink and I ventured out and picked up a couple sticks (mine are at my parents' house, and probably reek of smoke), and we dusted off my practice pad (much easier to carry to/from college), and practiced for about an hour and a half.

Knowing Pink would want to jump right in, the thing we worked on the most was keeping tempo. Ideally you're supposed to tap your feet as you play, but Pink wouldn't have it, so we did an exercise of 4 quarter notes, 8 eight notes, and 16 sixteenth notes with a four count check pattern inbetween. She eventually began to get comfortable with the sticks, learned how to control the bounce off of the drum head, but like every beginning percussionist before her (myself included), her non-dominant hand will need some work.

I wrote down a 3 count cadence, all 16th notes, and she got the accents right, but when it came to the five stroke roll, she was stumped.

We probably spent about 30 minutes on rolls alone, just getting her comfortable controlling the stick while it hit the drum head twice with each single stroke. It's probably the hardest thing to get down, but once you get it down, it opens up a whole realm of possibilities of accenting, cool riffs, percussion rudiments...and it sounds damn cool because it looks like your playing one thing but you hear twice as much.

I knew I wouldn't get frustraited, but I thought Pink might...but she stuck to it and had such a good time that she didn't get frustraited took her an hour to drop a stick, which is damn good. Bummer of it all is though, no matter how good we get, it won't "sound" like a drumline because all I've got is 3 *scratches head* yeah...I think three snare drums at my parents house...but they're concert snares and not marching snares. No crisp sound unless I over tighten the top drum head...but hit it too hard and it might snap.

Still need a spare practice pad too, four sticks occupying an 8 inch circle is tight quarters.

Her homework? Practice 16th note stickings:
RLRL RLRL RLRL RLRL (straight 16ths)
RRLL RRLL RRLL RRLL (beginings of a drum roll)
RLRR LRLL RLRR LRLL (paradiddles)
RLRL RLRR LRLR LRLL (double paradiddles)

Then...maybe...we'll get to this. Ooh...I just found one called C-3Po. :)

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