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Building Your Dream Kit – For Drummers

The number of options when building your dream kit are endless. Factors that should be considered include the type of music you play, your skill level, your budget and your creativity. Music genres such as blues, jazz, bluegrass, etc don’t require a large kit as the primary role of the drummer is to keep time. Genres such as rock and metal allow for much more creativity and therefore a large kit is exciting. Other factors come into the equation as well. The logistics of touring with a large kit, does your kit include electronics, etc. If you choose to build a large kit you can do it slowly over time adding pieces as your budget allows.

I currently play a standard electronic kit and a 55 piece acoustic kit. Here’s how I built it. The basic kit I started with included double kick drums, 4 rack toms and 2 floor toms, hi hat, snare and a few cymbals. Over the next few months I added 8 octobons, 5 rototoms, a gong drum, an additional snare and hi hat, timbales, conga drums, and a vast array of cymbals. Next I added cowbells, wood block, and an array of pedals with various percussive instruments attached. The most recent (and exciting ) addition has been 2 sets of double kick pedals (2 beaters on each kick drum). Some people might think this kit is over the top or just an ego trip. The truth is not only is it more fun and challenging to play a large kit but it allows for unmatched creativity.

As you become more advanced creativity becomes one of the most exciting elements of drumming. The entire left side of the kit is arranged for more Latin style drumming. The centre and right side for rock and metal. The kit wraps around the drummer more than 180 degrees so cymbals are within reach from anywhere. The double/double kick pedals allow for double kick playing regardless if I’m playing the left, centre or right side of the kit.

Build a kit you are comfortable with and one which excites your creativity.

Power Drumming Canada coaches beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be.

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Keeping Practice Fun – For Drummers

One of the most important aspects of improving is keeping your practices fun.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Create a playlist of your favourite songs and play along – this is very effective as a warm up to your practice session.
  2. Create a second playlist of songs you would like to learn and/or you find challenging.
  3. Record yourself and identify areas you would like to improve. Record yourself again after a few practices to see the improvement.
  4. Join or form a band.
  5. Have drum battles with other drummers (choose people who are better than you currently are) to share ideas and learn new skills.
  6. Work on creating new patterns and fills.
  7. Construct a drum solo (this is the subject of an upcoming blog).
  8. Set new goals – this is the gold standard for improving your enjoyment, skill set and motivation.

Try incorporating some or all of these ideas into your practicing. True enjoyment comes from the satisfaction of improving so keep at it.

Power Drumming Canada coaches beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be.

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Developing Speed – For Drummers

Modern drummers often play with extreme speed either because the music genre they play requires it or it can be used as another tool in their drumming toolbox. Speed can also be used in circumstances such as drum clinics, instructional videos, drum solos and showmanship opportunities.

If your goal is to develop speed in your drumming there are some steps that will help you get there. First of all visualize your goal. What drums are involved, are both hands and both feet involved, is it just a fill or is it the entire length of the song, etc. For the hands focus on the fulcrum of the stick which allows you the greatest involvement of your fingers to control the rebound. For the feet you may find heels up works best for speed. Experiment with where you place the ball of the foot on the pedal to locate the sweet spot. Also experiment with different settings on the pedal. Start the pattern slowly focusing on clean separation between the notes. Slowly add speed while maintaining separation. A good exercise is to start slow, gradually add speed until your separation suffers and then gradually slow down maintaining control. Each time you do this exercise try to go just a bit faster with control. As your skill and speed increase to your maximum try adding accents on the 1, 2, 3 and 4.  Also using a metronome can help with staying locked in the metre and recording yourself can help identify areas enquiring additional attention.

Speed is a great skill to have in all aspects of your drumming but remember it’s only effective if metre, separation and control are rock solid. Finally, speed as in all drum skills should only be used to serve and enhance the song.

Our mission at Power Drumming Canada is to coach beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be. 

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Recording Tips (Part 3 of 3) for Drummers

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In part 1 we discussed before entering the studio (pre-production).  In part 2 we discussed the recording process (production).  In part 3 we will discuss after recording (post production).

Now that all your drum parts are recorded you have an opportunity to make small enhancements. These may include overdubs and/or studio magic.  This is the point where every drummer has to make a fundamental decision. Do I want to be able to reproduce the songs live myself without any additional help or do I want to work with technology to produce (in the studio and live) a hybrid of myself and technology including samples, loops, triggers, studio effects, etc.  This is a personal decision, although depending on the complexity of the songs the decision may become obvious. A great deal of the post production will be completed by the engineer including EQing and mixing. You may find EQing tedious and best left to the experts however mixing is something you may want to participate in, if only to give feedback after the initial mixes are done.  A word of caution-Pro Tools is the software used in most studios and offers endless possibilities for studio magic.  Don’t lose sight of serving the song. If used properly these options can truly enhance your performance.  If not used properly they can sabotage your performance and the song. Be flexible to other people’s ideas as they may improve on your drum parts and therefore improve the song.

Power Drumming Canada offers lessons in home recording as well as drum lessons, songwriting lessons and strength and conditioning lessons for drummers.

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Recording Tips (Part 2 of 3) for Drummers

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In part 1 we discussed getting ready to go into a studio.

In this part we will discuss tips for the actual recording process. When you book a studio you normally have an engineer assigned to your project and maybe also a producer. The engineer is the most important person in the room so make sure you are comfortable with him or her. Hopefully they are a fan of the type of music you play and are easy to talk to. Their job includes mic placement, getting the best sound out of your drums, working directly with you during recording, EQing the tracks, mixing, etc. Have an understanding with the engineer that once you have the right take you will move on to the next item so you’re not wasting valuable time and $ and energy.

In order to get the best sound out of your drums hit them as hard as you can while maintaining tempo and the drum part. If you start to feel tired, take a short break. Splash some cold water on your face or step outside for some fresh air. Be open to suggestions. Sometimes a band mate or engineer or producer will suggest something you hadn’t thought of. At least try it as it might improve on what you had originally prepared.

Serve the song/enhance the song. Everything you record on drums should be to serve the song (make the song the best it can be). After you’ve recorded a song or section of a song listen to the playback and see if you can do anything to make the song better. Fresh ears is a very important idea. After you’ve finished recording something leave it for a few hours or even a few days and then listen to it with fresh ears. You may be surprised how good it is or you may decide to re-record it. During recording you will likely be focusing on 3 or 4 things at once: a click track, your drum part, hitting all 4 limbs as hard as you can and taking instruction over the headphones from the control room. It is unfamiliar to be doing this many things at the same time and you’re going to make mistakes. Relax and enjoy the ride. The finished product will be worth it.

Power Drumming Canada coaches beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be.

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Recording Tips (Part 1 of 3) for Drummers

Before setting foot in a recording studio there are 3 things you need to have prepared:

Your drum parts, your equipment, and yourself.  Studio time can be very expensive so you want to have the songs rehearsed and your drum parts worked out.  For a week or two prior to recording, practice your drum parts over and over so you know them cold.  This will allow you to be relaxed in the studio and also allow you to improvise if and when appropriate.

Next, make sure your kit is in good working order.  You may want to clean the cymbals if you’re being photographed or filmed.  Also make sure you have enough sticks, a towel, drum stick wax if you use it, tuning keys, a water bottle and snacks.

Last but definitely not least make sure YOU are ready to record.  Get plenty of sleep, don’t party during the recording process as you want to be at your best.  Recording is physically and mentally demanding so make sure you are ready.  Something that will help maintain high energy levels is carbo loading.  This is a technique used by athletes where you start eating carbs a few days ahead of recording and continue throughout the process.  Eating lots of pasta, potatoes, bread, fruit and other high carb foods will give you lots of energy to meet those mental and physical demands.

Nowadays home recording is popular.  This is particularly useful for getting ideas down and also for recording demos.  If engineered properly home recordings can be of broadcast quality.

Power Drumming Canada offers home recording lessons as one of our additional services.  Our goal is to coach beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be.

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A great bass player – Crucial for drummers

Regardless of the type of music you play a tight rhythm section is the foundation of a great song and a great band.

One of my favourite (and most skilled) bass players is Billy Sheehan (Mr Big). He approaches the bass like a lead guitarist and can shred with anyone. While his skills are off the charts, what also makes him great is his ability to know when to “serve the song” and when to step up and dazzle.
 

When you combine a great bass player with a great drummer you have a powerful rhythm section and are one step closer to creating something special. Often a great bass player will step up and fill in the sparse sound of a band when the guitarist takes a solo. In funk music the bass player is everything when creating those incredible grooves. When the bass and drums are locked in the effect can give you goose bumps. When songwriting and recording, if the drummer and bass player can work out killer parts that sync well together, the guitars, keyboards, vocals and post production can all be added to create a great song. Having a great bass player will also push a drummer to be better and to be able to appreciate the incredible effect of a powerhouse rhythm section. Too often bass players take a back seat when in my opinion they should be showcased and appreciated for the vital role they play.

Our mission at Power Drumming Canada is to coach beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be.

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Symmetrical Drumming – A new way to learn and improve for drummers

For decades drum lessons have remained pretty much the same.  Learn to read drum music while learning to play with both hands and the right foot.  The problem for many drummers has been they don’t necessarily want to read drum music, they want to play by ear.  Also many drummers want to learn how to play with all 4 limbs to be able to play today’s more exciting and advanced style of drumming.

Power Drumming Canada has developed a system which addresses these 2 issues.  We call it Symmetrical Drumming.  Students are taught from lesson 1 how to develop all 4 limbs for maximum speed, power, control, dexterity and creativity.  We also incorporate accelerated learning techniques so students can reach their goals faster.  Although we do offer reading and writing drum music as an option, it is not required.  Modern music and in particular modern drumming has advanced to a point where the old style of drum lessons simply don’t fit the new style of drumming.  Drum lessons and practising should be fun and also move you towards your goals as quickly as you want.  That’s why all lessons are customized to fit each students’ abilities, progress and desire to become the best they can be.  We will even travel to you if that’s your preference.

Look around our website at powerdrummingcanada.com to get more information or call or email us-all contact info is there as well.

Our mission at Power Drumming Canada is to coach beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be.

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Drum Kits – The options are endless for drummers

As drumming has progressed over the years, so has equipment.

In the early days a drum kit consisted of a kick (bass) drum, snare drum, rack Tom, floor Tom, hi hat and 1 or 2 cymbals.  Kits started to expand to 2 kick drums (or a double kick pedal), multiple toms, and numerous cymbals and percussion instruments including cow bells, shakers, wood blocks and so on.

The next big evolution came with electronics including triggers, loops, samples, electronic kits, drum pads and drum machines.  These options became common place in recording studios and so the great debate began-man vs machine.  While some viewed this as a natural progression in the evolution of drumming and an opportunity to enhance the drummers performance, others took the view that it was now programmers and not musicians making music.  The truth probably lays somewhere in between.

Many drummers have embraced the technology including Alex Van Halen (Van Halen) who incorporates electronic toms into his acoustic kit.  Some drummers even had 2 kits on stage (Steve Negus-Saga).  Electronics are routinely used in live performance to help re-create a studio performance or to fill out the sound.  Often electronic shakers are used as a click track to help the drummer stay locked in to the tempo.
Some interesting variations on the drum kit include Terry Bozios’ (Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck) monster drum kits, Bill Brufords’ (Yes, King Crimson) drum wall, and the percussion station (Pink Floyd) played by a second drummer.

As equipment and electronics continue to advance one topic is not up for debate.  Nothing will replace the energy, power and visual impact of a live drummer.  Our goal at Power Drumming Canada is to coach beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be.

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A New Approach To Practicing For Drummers

To become an elite drummer you must put in the hours working on fundamentals, new skills and so on.

As a classically trained pianist and percussionist I put in countless hours working on scales, patterns and music theory.  Even though I had the opportunity to study with renowned teachers affiliated with world famous institutions, I realized from a very early age there had to be a different approach to learn an instrument which could be more fun, faster and with better results.

After spending years watching, studying and researching some of the best drummers and teachers in the world, I gradually began to develop a system that would accomplish the goals I identified as being important.  Lessons that were fun, effective, efficient, results oriented, challenging and interesting.

At Power Drumming Canada we call this system symmetrical practicing, focusing on all 4 limbs instead of just hands and the right foot.  Although being able to read drum music and charts is a valuable skill to have in your drumming toolbox, it is available but not required.

Our goal at Power Drumming Canada is to provide cutting edge products and services to help beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers become the best they can be.