This is the DRUMMING4LIFE.COM Beyond Drum Beats Podcast episode one! Thank you for listening. And I’m your host, Von Baron. My goal, my mission, everything I want to do and accomplish with this podcast, is to turn drummers into musicians. Yes, it’s very important to me to do that. And I’ll tell you why. I’ve got a few drummer jokes I want to share with you right off the bat.
Joke #1: So how do you tell if the stage is level? The drummer is drooling from both sides of his mouth.
Joke #2: How can you tell the drummer’s at the door? The knocking speeds up.
Joke #3: How do you get a drummer off your porch? Pay him 10 bucks for the pizza. (Ouch!)
Joke #4: How’s a drum solo like a sneeze? You know it’s coming, but there’s nothing you can do about it.
Joke #5: How do you get a drummer to stop playing? Put music in front of him.
OK now, you know, every instrument has these jokes, right? Everybody gets it. But drummers usually get the stupid jokes. We get the ones like people think we’re, like, really, really stupid. And but I do want to say there’s a reason for these jokes. Okay, now listen. People often think of us as basically beat makers with no regard for dynamics, tempo or musicality. Basically like self serving Neanderthals. Right? And over the years, you know, there have…we’ve seen drummers like that, right? And even I’ve played like that too, you know, at times, and there’s kind of a reason right, where we get the reputation. We get that bad rep and my mission with this podcast is to turn drummers and musicians. I’m sick of hearing people, the way people talk about drummers…talk about us like we don’t know what’s going on.
But there are times where really drummers don’t know what’s going on. They don’t they’re not connected to the music they’re, just playing whatever they feel like they want to play. And my goal here is to connect you with the music and to make your playing as musical as possible. Okay, and the real reason behind all this is because I know that you want to play. I know you want to play. I know you want to play out. I know you want to play gigs. Well, I’ve been playing a long time, and the thing I’ve learned is that there are some key, fundamental, very important ingredients that every drummer needs to have in order to get those gigs.
So I’ve been playing professionally now for basically over 30 years. Um, hard to believe it’s passed so quickly. I wish life with a little slower. But when I started out playing drums, it was a little bit later. I started at 15. A lot of people start when I was born with drumsticks in my hand, you know like, oh my goodness. Lucky you. Well, I didn’t have the opportunity to do that. I had to wait till I was 15, but I knew. I didn’t know how it was gonna happen, but I knew I wanted to be a professional drummer. I just knew it. And it really kind of solidified when I went to this really great jazz workshop is Jazz camp and the feature drummer was, and I was 16 at the time, and the feature drummer was Jeff Hamilton.
And if you don’t know who Jeff Hamilton is, I want you to go check him out. He’s on YouTube’s got lots of great videos J-E-F-F H-A-M-I-L-T-O-N. Just type it in. You’ll see this guy play. He is amazing. He is so musical and swings so hard. And when I saw him play on stage that day, I said to myself, that’s what I want to do. Every fiber of my being said I want to be like that. Now, I didn’t know how I how I was going to get there. I had no idea. And I had a lot more hair in those days. Okay, if any of you have seen pictures of me, I, uh I don’t have so much hair up there. It comes out of my ears and my nose. I mean, that’s another topic altogether. I don’t know why that doesn’t seem fair, right? But anyway, so I figured out since then, I figured out, Basically there are five things that really clearly directed my path toward becoming an A-list professional drummer, and I really want to share these five things with you. Today I’m going to talk about the first two.
The first thing that you need to have to be a professional drummer, is you need to have a deep passion for drumming in all things rhythmic. Okay, so like, if you’re growing up and you’re that kid that’s sitting in class and you’re like, you know, beating on the table, you to say like, “Hey, stop it, knock it off. That’s annoying!” Okay, that’s a sign. If you’re at the dinner table at night and you know your playing with your your fork and your knife and you’re beating out patterns on the table. And your parents go “Hey, stop it! Stop it! Stop it! You’re gonna break the dishes” or whatever. Then that’s another sign. OK, maybe there’s something here. I knew I wanted to be a drummer. From the age of seven. I remember I was in like a band class. I tried saxophone, and I tried violin the block. But I saw always noticed the drums, and I always thought the drums were just super, super, super cool. I don’t know why I just thought they were. Yeah, so I knew from a young age and I, but it still didn’t get to do until I was 15. When I was in sixth grade. I got really into break dancing. I got really into hip hop music, and I think from that point on, it really strengthened my sense of rhythm, because I grew up in the Midwest. I grew up in the land of white bread and and there wasn’t so much rhythm in the music. But in sixth grade I discovered break dancing in hip hop, and I think it really transformed my life. It transformed my whole sense of rhythm.
So basically, you know, the thing is, rhythm has got to move you. It’s gotta move you physically. It’s gotta move you emotionally. It’s got a really just like you just completely and totally connect with rhythm. Now, a few years back, I was watching a really great YouTube video with Billy Joel. He was, I think, believe use at Penn State. He was doing this, uh, this kind of workshop. Some students had during a Q and A session, they had an opportunity to ask him questions, and one of the students asked him. So how did you know you wanted to be a musician? And his answer was really great. He said, “You know, if you wake up in the morning and you go, I could be a doctor or I could be a musician. Or I could be an accountant or I could be a musician. Then, if you have to ask yourself that question, then probably you’re not cut out to be a musician. And the point I think he was trying to make was that you have to overcome a lot of obstacles to be a musician. It is not an easy path. If you want to become a professional drummer, it’s not an easy path. Take for instance, right now, the time I don’t want to date this podcast, but it will be dated anyway. So right now we’re dealing with this massive virus problem in the world and everybody’s, you know, shutting down. So my gigs are getting canceled. But the thing is, if you really want to do it, you know, come Hell or high water, you’re gonna do it. And his point is that you you’ve gotta have that passion. You’ve gotta have that drive because you’ve gotta make it through the lean times you’ve got to make it through the tough times. And you gotta have the gumption and the passion to really learn your craft and learn your instrument. So it’s not something you can do half-assed. You can’t just go at it. Well I think I’ll do just a little drumming today. And now if you want to be professional, you gotta you gotta be all in.
So when I was 15 and I was starting off playing, I thought, you know, what’s the What’s a really important thing I need to do to learn how to play drums? Well, I think I probably need to find a good teacher. This is point number two. OK, so again, today we’re covering the first two of five. All right, so point number two is you got to find a good teacher. Now, sometimes I hear drummers say, like, for instance, I met a gig sometimes and another drummer will come up to me and say, “Oh, I just really enjoy listening to you blah, blah, blah.” Then I say, “Oh, so you play drums?” “Yes.” “I so, um, who did you study with?” And you know, because the drumming community’s pretty small. I mean, we all kind of know, uh, who the teachers are in our town and things like that. And they say to me, “Well, I was self taught.” And I just kind of have to stop for a second after just catch my tongue. I don’t want to say what I’m thinking about what I’m thinking always is. “I’m so sorry to hear that.” Because, you know, I know it’s a badge of courage and the Music Scouts to learn on your own, and it really shows a lot of great, a lot of dedication for drumming. That’s cool. But, you know, it’s a whole lot easier if you can just find someone who’s already doing what you want to do and learn from them. Someone has got a tested method. They can help you play the music you want to play. I mean, I isn’t that the point we wanted. We want to play music. We want to have fun! That’s the reason we start off playing music. We wanna have fun. So you got to find somebody who’s gonna help you get to the fun.
Now the thing is, here are some tips. Okay, this is really important. You got to find a pro drummer. Okay? You gotta find a pro drummer, professional drummer who loves to teach. So somebody who’s a really good player and a really good teacher. Both Some people are really good at teaching, and some people are really good at playing. But you got to keep looking until you find someone who’s great at both. That’s very important now. The reason for this is because, you know, some drummers are really great players, but they can’t explain what or whatever they’re playing. If you ask them, “Well, how did you do that?” And they go, “I really don’t know. I just I just play it.” It’s just second nature for them. So you need someone who can really communicate step-by-step, how you need to do things. The second thing is, you also have those kind of theoretical teachers. They don’t have so much performance experience. They don’t really have like, a kind of performance background to know what’s really appropriate to teach and what’s not. So they’re not so good because you really needed an instructor to teach you things that are not just exercises and concepts, but you need the things that are useful in the real world of music and performance. Okay? And there’s a disconnect sometimes with those kind of teachers, the theoretical teachers. Okay, so you got to find somebody who is really good at both the great player and respected player and a musician, okay? And can explain things clearly and easily for you to understand. Okay, so you can learn quickly.
So another thing is, I think your teacher really needs to have a comprehensive drum method, okay, to cover all of the fundamentals you’ll need to know to play any style of music. Now my goal here, my mission with this podcast is to really to transform drummers into musicians and to play with more musicality. Musicality doesn’t necessarily mean Jazz. I’m mostly a Jazz drummer, but I play a lot of different kinds of music. I can hit hard, I can hit soft. I can play Hip-Hop and Funk and all kinds of things. But maybe not Speed Metal or Death Metal or anything. That’s not really not my thing. Kind of looks painful actually to watch that, but in any style of music, you really have musicality. So you need to have someone who is gonna teach you so that you can play any style of music because you don’t know right now, you don’t know what you’re really gonna end up loving the most, right? Your tastes are gonna change. So you want to have as many choices to play any kind of music. You don’t want to be limited. So, for instance, if you if you learn Rock drumming, you can become a great Rock drummer. And if that’s what you want to do, great. But if you want to have more choices and explore and think about other kinds of music, you probably should learn the most difficult kind of drumming first, which is Jazz. And a lot of people go oh Jazz. You know, oh. But I’m telling you, it will help you do anything you want to do. Okay. So just remember that. All right, really important for you to remember that you want to have as many choices as you can for the future.
Okay, the idea is that you want to learn all the coordination patterns, reading and listening abilities, okay, all that stuff, so that you can focus on the music and not what your right hand or your left foot are doing. You don’t be stuck in that land. So you want to really graduate from that basic coordination stuff as soon as possible. So I also mentioned READING, reading music. Sometimes people get really scared. “I can’t read. I can’t read.” Well, listen, it’s very important I see on the Internet a lot, like I see different drummers have figured out these elaborate systems for writing out drum parts and drum fills, uh, with without using standard musical notation. And it’s crazy because, you know, someday you’re going to come in contact with the real world, and the real world uses standard musical notation. You go to any kind of recording session, somebody gives you charts. You got to know how to read him. If you want on, you know, uh, go to a rehearsal. You got a big show. Usually the MD, the musical director is gonna have charts. I mean, you gotta be able to read. So you’re gonna have to learn this skill. It’s really important. And not reading is like getting to the top of a mountain and only being able to enjoy half of the view. Or like, I live in Japan. Right? So if I get to the top of Mount Fuji, for instance, and all I can see your clouds, like its cloud covered that day. What a bummer, right? So you don’t really get to enjoy the music. You’re not really connected to the music as much as you could be. It also teaches you song form. It teaches you like the structure of music, which is important. So you know how to play your drum part. Reading is gonna be fundamental. And the other thing is, reading is going to help you learn faster because a lot of the, all of the stuff that you’re going to need to learn, is all gonna be written down. You’re gonna have drum parts written down. You’re gonna have rudiments written down. You’re gonna have rhythmic phrasing written down rhythmic patterns, you know, for coordination, exercise, you get all kinds of stuff. It’s all gonna be musical notation.
So find the good teacher. Finding a good teacher is critical in your in your development. Okay? Don’t try to do it on your own. It’s crazy. You can supplement what you’re learning from a good teacher. That’s great. Be open. Go out there. Look and research. Find things on on YouTube, for instance, if you’re interested and this is not like a shameless plug, I’m just sharing this with you. But I have a have a drum tutorial. Uh, channel. It’s called DRUMMING4LIFE.COM. You just type in drumming4life.com, but drumming the number four life dot com, it’ll take it to my YouTube channel. And there I have all whole host of different lessons, and I started from, like, the basic kind of staff teaching basic coordination. And then I kind of got, lately I’ve been focusing mostly on brush playing. Because I love brushes, and, uh, I have a passion for brushes and they’re so cool, they’re incredibly awesome. And we’re gonna talk about that more to in these podcasts, and I’m gonna have more videos up there at DRUMMING4LIFE.COM too. So you know, go over there and check it out. I think you’ll like what you see, and go out and subscribe. So, finding that good teacher is very, very important. So important. All right, so maybe you already have a great teacher, that’s awesome. Stay with it. But if you’re looking for somebody, get out there and get looking.
All right. Now, next week, I’m gonna share about how you develop a sincere love for practicing. I love to practice. Not just like, I LOVE to practice. It feels so good. You gotta feel that, way. If you want to become a professional drummer. You’ve got to get used to the idea that you’re gonna be practicing a lot, Okay? And it’s a joy. Really. And the other thing I’m gonna talk about is the need for you to play out as much as possible. Put yourself in his many possible musical situations playing drums as you can, because you’ve got to get mileage on your playing. You got to get experience. The only way to do that just play. So we’re gonna talk about that next week. All right. Thanks again for listening to this podcast. I’m very happy that you joined me. Please subscribe. And I’m really looking forward to sharing more with you next week. Until then, KEEP ON DRUMMIN’!
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