Hello! Welcome back to the BEYOND DRUM BEATS Podcast, and I’m your host, Von Baron. This is Episode number two! Thanks so much for listening today. I’m gonna talk about two more of the five essential ingredients, five essential qualities, five essential things every drummer needs to know, to become professional.
So let’s recap. Last week we talked about the first two. The first one is, a deep passion for drumming in all things rhythmic. Number two is, find a good teacher. Now, if you didn’t hear it yet, listen to the podcasts. The first one ichiban, the first podcast I’ve ever done in my life. It was so fun to make. I just love doing this stuff. I strongly encourage you to check it out. OK? Interesting footnote. From a long time ago, I kept seeing stuff on the Internet about oh do a podcast, do a podcast, do a podcast. And I always thought to myself, uh, “Doing a podcast. I don’t know. Is that really fun?” And people even told me, “Oh, you know, you should do a podcast. Uhhh, is it really going to be fun?” It is so fun! I’m so surprised and so happy. And it’s just I think the real reason I love it is because I’m really connecting with you. And it’s another way for me to really connect. And I’m just I’m so grateful for the opportunity and so happy to do it I’m grateful that you’re here because you could have been doing something else today. Well, maybe you are doing something when you’re listening to me. I don’t know. But, you know, you’re you’re paying attention. You’re listening. You want to learn how to become a professional drummer, You want to learn how to become more musical and and, um, really develop your voice on the drums, so thank you for listening.
So anyway, going on today, I’m gonna go onto number three. So the first to a deep passion for drumming in all things with rhythmic. Number to find a good teacher Number three drum roll, please. Develop a sincere love for practicing. Yeah, I love to practice. I’m gonna tell you right straight up. I LOVE to practice. It just feels so good. You know, I get done and I go, Wow, that was amazing. It feels good mentally, physically, just all around good vibes. This is an interesting question. I always like to ask this question to new students. I ask it to other music teachers, and this is a real old question that people have asked since the beginning of music time. What does practice make? Well, you know what they say, of course. Everybody knows what they say. “It makes perfect.” Ah ha ha ha. Well, you know what, folks, there’s no such thing is perfect. It’s unattainable. It’s unrealistic. It’s misused! Okay, but we use it all the time in music. We talk about how you gotta play everything perfectly. “When I play it perfectly then I’m gonna be satisfied.” We’ll tell you what. There are times and you can see that, my fingers here, I’m making quotes with my fingers. Where I have played things perfectly. And you know what? It’s interesting. Sometimes it was it was cool and it felt good. But a lot of times it was like getting an A on a Math test. You know, it wasn’t this kind of feeling of WOW, that really felt great! So I want you to keep that in mind. is we’re going to this journey together. Perfect is not the goal when you’re practicing. Perfect is not the goal. Okay, The rial aim of practicing is to get good at drumming because you want to be able to do more things on the drums. Because guess what? The more you can do, the more opportunities you’re gonna have and the more you’re gonna have fun playing music. And isn’t that the point?? We wanna have fun, F-U-N, fun, fun, fun, right?
So if you’re gonna have a mindset, it all when you’re going into practice what you should, I want you to have this mindset. You’re gonna go in your practice sessions and you’re gonna go OHM, no just kidding, you’re gonna be really more relaxed. You’re gonna retain more. You’re gonna enjoy your time, and you’re gonna know that every little bit that you’re doing in your practice session is going to contribute towards your ability to increase the fun factor in your life. Because if you’re always thinking that your goal is not to be perfect, your goal is to have more fun than your practice sessions are gonna be so much more valuable and beneficial to you getting out there and gigging. Now, in fact, this is really interesting. I never listen. Listen to me, okay? I never and never have pressured my students to practice. None of them, and I had lots. And I still have students and I never, never, never, there’s no pressure at all. I just let them experience the reward that they received from practicing. They’re gonna get this joy when they could do something new, and they’re gonna feel accomplished. And it’s ultimately going to lead to more opportunities for them, right to play, play drums. That becomes the motivation. And they’re motivated from inside. I don’t have to lord over them and check with him every week. “Did you practice?” My job, I’ve always said this, my job is to hold the door open. Its students job to walk through it. So you got to do the effort. I can share the information with you. And I can tell you what’s gonna be valuable and beneficial for you in the real world. But it’s your job to work on it. And when you work on it, you’re going to get so excited. You’re gonna want to practice again and again and again because you’re you’re gonna really look forward to that sacred time. OHM, connecting with your drums, right? Because you’re going to see that the real goal here is fun.
A question I get from my students a lot is how much they should practice. And my response is always the same. How much fun do you wanna have? So the more you practice, the more fun you’re gonna have. That’s just the way it works. The more you’re gonna be able to do. So, when I was young and I didn’t have a family and I was just learning to play drums I practiced easily three hours or more a day, easily. Now, you know, if you’re like me and you got a family or you got maybe you’ve got ah, high-pressure job or some kind of work that requires a lot of your time. And maybe your time is limited. You can set a goal to practice at least 45 minutes a day, like on a very specific topic. So let me explain to you why like for example, if you work on us swing triplet fills on brushes like I have in my DRUMMING4LIFE.COM Brushes Lesson #7. Or maybe you focus on Jazz coordination exercises like Video Lesson #34 at DRUMMING4LIFE.COM. The main thing is for that amount of time that 45 minutes you want to really focus. That’s the key, because your brain is gonna retain a lot more if you focus your practice instead of going in there and shotgunning it and trying to cover too many things in a short period of time. So try to remember that when you’re practicin. And the other thing that’s keys is concentration. You want to really set aside time where there’s very little or no distraction. And 45 minutes seems like a magic number to me because 30 minutes is kind of too little right? Not enough time. And one hour seems kind of long for thinking about carving out time in our day to practice. So 45 minutes helps us feel like, “Oh, it’s OK for me to take this time for myself”, so that’s something to think about also. 45 minutes seems to be a good number.
Another aspect of concentration. Okay, is not letting your mind wander a on? I’ll tell you. Tell you the truth, I want to tell you some insight about me. When I was young, probably the first 10 years of my practicing, Uh, when I going in practice, I’m gonna be honest with you here. I’d be thinking about what other drummers and musicians were going to think about what I was practicing. It was so distracting. And it’s amazing that I was able to retain any information because that’s really what my goal was. I’ve gotta play at a certain level where I’m gonna get respect from audience people, audience members watching me play or tell me “Oh, you’re doing such a great job.” Or other musicians going “Wow, you know, Von you’re such a great drummer.” That really was my focus. And I think a lot of a share that, to be honest, because we’re insecure in our instrument in the beginning. But I tell you now, when I sit down and play, I don’t think about any of that. I think about what it is I want to learn and why I want to learn it. Maybe I have a new musical situation I’m diving into. Maybe I’ve got some charts I gotta work out. Ah, some new brush patterns. I’m excited to try out. Maybe lately I’ve been working a lot of Samba and, uh, and Samba, Reggae and Brazilian rhythms on brushes, which I’m excited to be showing you in the future on DRUMMING4LIFE.COM in a video. I would be so wrapped up when I was younger about what other people were thinking about me. And now I just don’t do that at all. And I’m able to accomplish so much in 45 minutes. It’s incredible. So the other thing, it’s really kind of too bad. Uh, now that I’m older, I have fewer brain cells in my brain. So whatever brain cells I got left, I gotta make sure I’m using them appropriately. You know, when I was young, add lots of brain cells, but now you know, you gotta you know, gotta use what I got.
So Okay, so next item number four. The next essential. Essential ingredient, I feel like I’m teaching it a bake, a cake or something. So, is to get mileage on your playing. Number four is get mileage on your playing. So I had a lesson once in the early nineties with Jeff Hamilton, and I talked about him a little bit in the first podcast. Again, go check out Jeff Hamilton. If you’ve never heard of Jeff Hamilton, he is, I really think he’s the most melodic Jazz drummer, drummer period, alive. Ah, he’s really something special and he swings hard. And his name is J-E-F-F-H-A-M-I-L-T-O-N. So you just type his name and YouTube, you see lots of great videos. So he told me, I had a lesson with him in the early nineties, and he told me that I was playing good, but that I needed more mileage on my playing quotes again, air quotes. And what he meant was that I wasn’t playing enough with others. I wasn’t gigging enough, and I didn’t really have a consistency in my playing that you hear in drummers who gig a lot. And this is a really good point. Consistency is king, so things like you know, the spacing between your notes, your dynamics, the timing of your feet and hands and other drumming qualities. Those paint kind of this aural picture of your playing to the listener. And if, for example, your timing is off between, like your ride cymbal in your high hat, it’s going to sound kind of amateurish. The more you play out with other musicians, the more, these small but significant details will iron themselves out. So I encourage all of my students to play with friends, family, at jam sessions. When I was growing up, there were a lot of jam sessions, Jazz jam sessions I used to go to. Now I know there jam sessions for other things, Funk and Rock, whatever it is you like, go do it. Ah, and here in Japan, there, tons. I was actually surprised when I moved here. How many jam sessions there are for all different kinds of music. Now in America. I know there are not as many, but find some, and if you don’t have one, make one. Do something, you know, create an opportunity for yourself to play. So you can also play it like you’re respected house of worship, in your school musical theater programs or anywhere else that you can gain that experience in performing and performing with people.
So the thing that also is important, you know, if you’re gonna practice in isolation, that’s cool, cause you gotta work out the nuts and bolts of things like coordination and reading. But you need to play outside the practice room with other human beings to really develop your voice on the drums and iron out those little wrinkles in your playing. Now I want to say a word quickly about playing with recording music and practicing with recorded music. This is really fun, and it’s very helpful for your drumming to work out mechanics. And by the way, I have a really great Jazz, some really great jazz backing tracks available on my website VONBARONMUSIC.COM, and I’ll put the link below. And they’re very helpful for helping you develop your time and your feel and your comping. InJazz we talked about comping. Comping is basically accompanying in playing rhythmic figures that align or complement what the other musicians in the band are doing rhythmically. So you know, playing to recorded music in no way replaces playing in a live music situation with other humans. Because they’re subtle timing and dynamic and rhythmic and harmonic, melodic and sound mix details. Like If you’re on the stage sometimes like I can’t maybe I can’t hear the piano player so well. So I just my volume lower so I can hear what the piano player is playing. Or maybe the base is too loud and I have to tell the bass player. Okay, can you turn your amp down a little bit? I mean, there’s all these kinds of things that you have to negotiate and work out on the bandstand. And if for some reason for instance, the bass player doesn’t turn their amp down, you have to adjust to that in that situation and adjust your playing accordingly, so that you can hear what you need to hear and play what you need to play. These are all things you learn in the real world that you’re not going to get from playing with backing tracks or or playing with your favorite recorded music. So your brain is gonna take all those details of that live situation, and it’s gonna process them, and it’s gonna connect what you’re playing on the drums to the music. It’s pretty extraordinary, the brain can do that. So that’s how you’re going to get that mileage in your drumming. That’s the mileage. And then you’re drumming is going to get more consistent regardless of where you’re playing or who you’re playing with.
So sometimes if I’m playing in a really big space, I have to adjust what I’m playing accordingly. Maybe I can play a little louder or sometimes I don’t because sometimes they sound is good enough. The sound system is good enough. I don’t I could just played normally and naturally. I don’t have to play bigger because I’m playing in a bigger space. Or sometimes if I’m playing in a small space like a small club, obviously, I’m not gonna play the heck out of the drums. I’m going to really respond and play with more dynamics. So these are all the things you learn by being out there in playing. And this is this is where you’re gonna get your mileage. When you play only with tracks or with song that you enjoy. Remember, it’s always gonna be the same sound every time you play it. A live situation is always different. Your brain is gonna learn to adapt and connect to the music while you play. That’s really something to think about. So go ahead and practice with your music, okay, but your goal is really to be playing with people. So the backing tracks and all those things are to help you develop those, the physical and maybe some of the listening skills you need to get out there and play. It’s like a stepping stone. You don’t want to stay there.
So the two most important qualities and solid drumming that we know are good time. And I don’t mean like “dyn-o-mite”, you know, good times, J.J. Good Times. I’m talking about good time. Okay, staying in tempo and good feel, making the groove and the music feel good. Those are the two most important things, and both of these air going to really develop as you play gigs as you’re playing out or you’re going to jam sessions. You’re playing with other people. So be on the lookout, always for opportunities to play the music you enjoy and also any other kind of music that comes your way. So this again comes back to having a solid drumming foundation with the help of your teacher. So you can embrace new musical opportunities and, you know, maybe music you’ve never tried before, so that’s good. You want to try that?
All right, so that’s it for today but next week, I’m gonna talk about the fifth, essential for becoming a pro drummer. It’s Attitude, baby. And when they say “attitude is everything”, you better believe it, especially in music. I think this may even be the most important of the Five Essentials, so you don’t want to miss it for sure. All right, thank you so much for listening and be safe out there in these challenging times. So please be safe out there. Until next week. KEEP ON DRUMMIN’!
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