Monthly Archives: April 2016

Professional at drum

Both Benny and Thomas possess the enviable ability to turn their hands and feet to a huge range of musical styles, from jazz and fusion to rock and pop and make it all look so easy in the process. So, when Rhythm got face-to-face with these two masters of the kit, they wanted to find out the secrets of their technique and get some handy tips and tricks that you can apply to your drumming.

Tip 1: Set up correctly

What’s the most common mistake people make when setting up their drums?

Thomas: “To set the drums up for the viewer so it looks cool from the front rather than for yourself. I know a lot of young drummers make that mistake. Number two would be to set the drums up so that the bass drum is facing the audience straight on, rather than being off to the right if you are a right-handed drummer, because the bass drum is not the centre of the drumset.

“We, as drummers, often make the mistake of thinking pattern-oriented, which means we focus on what we do instead of how we do it.” Benny Greb

“Number three is to try to make the drumset perfectly symmetrical. Another is to sit too low or too high, or to set up the cymbals too far away from the player so you have to play with your arm completely stretched – I see that a lot.

“Whatever you do with your body mechanically has to be within a spherical space. It’s not a straight plane, you are moving within a spherical space and your set-up has to reflect that, so whatever is higher on the drumset has to be closer to you.”

Benny: “I would say it’s that they don’t really set it up, bit by bit, in relation to how they sit and to their body, but they set up their kit then sit behind it and see whether it feels right.”

Now try this: kit set-up

Benny: “What creates great results is to take your stool, adjust it so it is cool for you, which normally means there is more than a 90° angle between your legs and your spine and between your upper legs and lower legs. Then you set up the snare drum so it is comfortable, then a bass drum where the foot really sits, then a hi-hat where the foot really sits, and so on.

“If you let students do this, it really results in a very natural set-up.”

Benny, you play matched grip. Do you prefer a French timpani grip or a German grip?

Benny: “Being patriotic I like the German grip! I think there is this conspiracy on the internet where someone always pays some people to say that this or this is the best grip and blah blah blah. The thing is that you can’t do everything with one grip, it’s not possible, so you need these different grips to do different things. You can’t do any accents with finger technique, you need the wrist, you need the Moeller technique.

“I think I am generally in a more German position but it’s a little weird with me – it’s not out of the teaching rulebook, what I do. My right hand tends to be more French and my left hand tends to be more German grip. It’s not very symmetrical.”

Thomas, you’ve played with both matched and traditional grips. What would you say are their comparative strengths?

Thomas: “I think the strength of traditional is that it’s an asymmetrical grip and it affects the way you think. The asymmetry of the grip lends itself to asymmetrical thinking and therefore playing, a bit like playing the guitar where the left hand is on the fretboard and doing something completely independent from the right hand which is strumming, but together the two hands produce one sound.

“I look at playing traditional grip the same way where the two hands use two completely different techniques – one hand from underneath the stick, the right hand from on top so there is a push-pull dynamic in your upper body.

“Matched grip is more modern, it’s more powerful, it’s more balanced. You have better reach with matched grip. It causes fewer injuries. Traditional grip causes a lot of bruises, abrasions, chafing, all sorts of issues. Of course you get blisters with both grips but less surface and skin injuries with matched grip. It lends itself to a more ambidextrous style with open-handed playing, which would be awkward using traditional grip.”

“Rule number one: for speed you must compromise volume. There is no other way, you can’t play ultra-fast and ultra-loud at the same time.” Thomas Lang

What’s the one piece of advice you would give someone looking to improve their playing with their hands?

Benny: “Have a catalogue of parameters that you go through focussing on while you’re playing and adjust your technique according to that list. Some people say it’s boring to play a paradiddle every day for an hour and they are totally right. It’s absolutely boring to play a paradiddle but it’s not boring if you listen to the sound that it makes and try to get it consistent.

“If you take time for one of these parameters, just the sound, does it sound the same? Do you have to play on the same spot? Do you find it hard to play on the same spot? How does it sound if you don’t play on the same spot? Is that a different sound that you want to cultivate, to have in your repertoire? Do you always make rim shots when you try to accent? Can you accent without doing rim shots, focussing on dynamics only?

Tips for great play in drum

Pratice tips

Being a drummer is more than just a hobby; it is a lifestyle – one that takes a lot of commitment and diligence to succeed at. The payout; however, is immense. Being a drummer can be one of the most fulfilling things someone can do in their life. But how do you get to that level of musicianship? There is definitely a difference between a drummer who plays for a hobby, and a drummer who plays for a lifestyle. The big difference is attitude and practice habits. Having the self control and commitment to practice regularly is the only way you will improve as a drummer. There are a few tips that I have developed over the years of drumming that will help any drummer out immensely; tips that will speed up your learning curve and make practicing the drums a fun experience and not a chore. So read on to learn a few common practice tips developed to enhance your drumming.

Make Time to Practice and Time to Play

One of the biggest errors a drummer can make is failing to make time for practice as well as time to jam. Believe it or not, there is a big difference here. Practice time is a chance to work on your stick control, drumming beats, skills, and other techniques that you may want to learn. Jam time is a chance to apply your newly learned skills to real applications. Most drummers allot a time to “practice / jam” and end up just playing to a few of their favorite bands. Now this is not a bad thing; however you never really get that focused practice time alone. So, my first tip is to schedule a time in your week to practice, and a time to jam. This way you can sit down and focus on developing your independence, speed, and control of your feet and sticks without getting distracted. For some great ideas on practicing the drums, check out the play-along section of FreeDrumLessons.com; there you will find tons of songs that you can download and take to your kit!

Use a Practice Pad

This is an obvious tip for drum practicing; however it goes a little deeper than that. When you practice, you should spend half of your time practicing on the full drum set. And the other half of the time on a practice pad. This is something that most drummers know to do, but rarely do it. The benefit to using a practice pad is you are forced to develop your stick control. When you play on a full drum set, you have a lot of distractions in front of you, making it easy to play around the kit instead of focusing on one technique. A pair of sticks, a metronome, and a practice pad is all you need to improve your speed, control and creativity on the drums. Not sure what to practice on a practice pad? Check out thedrum rudiments section where you can practice your single stroke roll, double stroke roll, paradiddleand more!

Use a Pillow for a Practice Pad

Following the practice pad tip is a small little tip that most drummers do not know about – using a pillow for a practice pad. Most drummers would never do this because there is little to no bounce from a pillow, it practically absorbs your full stroke; very inefficient. This is the whole point of using a pillow though, to force yourself to work that much more. When you get no bounce from the pad or drum, you are forced to use your wrists to bring the sticks back up. This really works your wrists out. Try playing a double stroke roll on a pillow, not as easy as you think!

Practice with a Metronome

This is another one of those obvious tips for practicing; however I cannot stress it enough! Practicing without a metronome can actually hinder your drumming, as you may learn how to play a drum fill or solo off time! We are drummers; our duty is to keep the band on time. If we cannot even play a solid drum beat or roll on time, then how are we supposed to lead a band? There are ways to add some creativity to this tip though, and that is by playing to your favorite band tracks. Most tunes recorded professionally are on time, so you can always play along to them instead of a click track. This way practice is a little less boring, being able to listen to your favorite songs while you practice. Just make sure you do not break tip number one and get distracted by the song!

Set a Goal for Each Practice Session

One tip most drummers fail to do is set goals for their practice sessions. This does not have to be an unreasonable goal, just a very basic reachable goal. Make it challenging and sensible at the same time. The reason for this is you are more focused on the time you are practicing. If you go into a practice session with no goals, then you will have no drive to learn anything! A very common goal I like to set is tempos in which I play my essential drum rudiments at. For example, I may set a goal to play a double stroke roll at 180 bpm one session, and 185 bpm the next. So as you can see, this is just to give yourself some guidelines for your time spent practicing.

Surround Yourself in Challenging Music

A really important tip I will share is to surround yourself in challenging music and drumming. If you want to learn how to play the double bass drum, then surround yourself in music that incorporates thedouble bass drum. The same goes for all styles of music; you will not learn jazz by listening to rock. When you are constantly listening to advanced beats and odd time signatures, you are sub-consciously implementing it into your brain. You will be challenged much more, and have a much greater creative edge this way. So try and find some music that challenges you a little.

Have Fun No Matter What

The last tip is another given – have fun no matter what you are playing. This means even if you are practicing boring rudiments, try and find a way to make it fun. If you are not having fun when you are playing, then you will not learn nearly as much. So play what you want to play, and practice what you want to practice! Drumming is supposed to be a way to express yourself in a good and positive way, so make sure you are having fun!

These tips are more like guidelines that every drummer should take into consideration when practicing. You will notice when you start following these guidelines, you will get much more out of your practice sessions! Once you are ready to start practicing, feel free to check out the beginners section of this site for great lessons on playing the drum!

Tips to great play at violin

As much as every budding violinist would love to pick up their instrument and begin playing beautiful music, the work required to get there is much more mundane – every breathtaking performance requires strategic and focused warm up exercises beforehand. These routines help you develop and maintain your basic violin skills as well as gear up for more advanced techniques, too.

For beginners, it may be difficult to know even where to start; after all, everything seems to need work. However, using the beginning of each practice session for a warm up will optimize each day’s result and pave the way for strong playing for months and years to come.

Although warm up exercises will vary from person to person based on the advice of yourviolin teacher, there are certain exercises that can benefit everyone. Here are five beginner violin tips that will help you grasp the fundamentals:

  1. Long open strings. Playing long open strings does several things: it lets you practice consistent intonation with each stroke, it allows you to become familiar with your bow’s weight and speed across the strings, and lastly, it helps ensure that your bow remains in the proper location on the strings in relation to the bridge. Look into a mirror and place the bow on the string in the proper point and pull the bow across the string, listening for a clear, clean, and consistent note. As you play, continually check in the mirror for your bow’s contact point. Repeat at least five up and down bows before moving on to the next string.

  2. Finger placement. Correct finger placement is essential for playing the right notes on the violin, and to learn this correctly, you must practice! One of the tried and truebeginner violin tips is to play simple scales in first position. This trains your fingers to understand where they belong on the fingerboard in relation to the other fingers, and it trains your ear to hear each note as it should be played. To practice, pick any scale, and play each note slowly, separately, and precisely. Always play with a tuner so that you can tweak your finger placement for proper intonation.

  3. Fourth finger practice. Placing your fourth finger on a string creates the same note as the subsequent higher open string. Some beginner violinists use the open string to play the note because it is much easier and you know that the note will be correct. However, as you advance, there will be times where you cannot access the open string to play the note, or it is much less efficient to do so. Therefore, you need to strengthen your pinky finger! Start by playing the open string, then mimic that note using your pinky on the lower string about five times for each string. Listen carefully – does the fourth finger note match that of the open string? Don’t get discouraged if it’s difficult to even stretch your pinky at first – it will take time for it to gain strength and flexibility.

  4. Slurs. A slur allows you to play two or more notes in a single bow stroke. To do this, start by placing the end of your bow close to the frog on the string. As you slowly but steadily bring your bow across the strings, place and then remove your first finger in the proper place while keeping your bow straight. Also make sure that you place your finger on and off the strings at regular intervals – using a metronome will help you. Start with two notes per bow stroke.

  5. String crossing. The final of the beginner violin tips is the ability to make a clean change from string to string while playing. Keep your elbow at a right angle to form a square  – include the bow and trace an imaginary line from your shoulder to where the bow hair touches the string. Rock the bow to each string while practicing your long bow strokes. Make sure that your arm and bow remain in the same plane, and use the natural weight of your arm on each string.