Your New Most Precious Drums

Have you ever finished playing or practicing your instrument, or come out of a gig, with your ears ringing? If so, you could be storing up long term problems for your hearing. Tinnitus (an unexplained ringing or buzzing in the ears) is a common condition among musicians and, though often temporary, can be an early sign that your hearing is getting damaged and so should not go unchecked.

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New Shop & Studio Supplies

New Aquarian, Big Dog and Shaw Sticks accessories arrive!

New Aquarian, Big Dog and Shaw Sticks accessories arrive!

We have just had a shipment of accessories come in, including Aquarian Texture Coated heads and Big Dog pedals, hi hat clutches and tension bolts. Shaw Sticks products in stock now include Rock and Fusion damper pads for quieter practice; retractable wire brushes and soft beaters – all the quiet stuff!! I am particularly excited about the Aquarian Tru Bounce and Quik Bounce practice pads here – these are excellent (and quiet!). Two of the 12″ models will feature in the new technical/warm-up stations in our tuition rooms, but more about those later…

Visit the shop page for more details and to arrange a viewing.

Regency Modern Jazz Jam Visit

I had been looking recently for jam night events in and around Leicester, mainly to put together an event list for students at DHDW to help them gain live playing experience. In amongst this internet and pub trawl (crawl?!) I was also on the lookout for any opportunities to stretch my own jazz-playing legs, as this is an area I have not exercised – outside of the teaching studio – for some time now. How happy I was then, to happen across the Modern Jazz Jam held at the Regency Sports and Social Club in Leicester: Two-for-one! Continue reading

Rockschool

Dye House Drum Works: a Rockschool exam centre in Leicester.

I’ve been teaching the Rockschool syllabuses pretty much since they started out, on a machine cassette-based audio format (true!). Since then, they have displayed a keen ambition in developing constantly relevant content and garner ever wider international recognition for their qualifications. Many of my students have benefited greatly from the structured learning these grade packs bring and indeed, have secured places on some of the country’s best contemporary music further and higher education courses with the aid of performance skills or UCAS points gained from pursuing them.

Dye House Drum Works is a registered Rockschool Public Examinations Centre and runs open exam days throughout the year. See the Rockschool website for details.

 Or contact our drum school!

Superstition by Stevie Wonder

This past week or so I’ve been working on songs for a dep gig with a great band of local musician friends I’ve had the pleasure of working with on and off for some years. Their set is comprised of classic R&B, motown, funk and soul material, with some of the world’s top drummers in the chair on the original recordings – and so my job here is proving to be once again an enjoyable challenge!

One particular song on the list is a firm favourite with many and varied cover bands – and one which I have played on lots of occasions with several different outfits, but I would have to say that its truly sublime feel has proved to be one of the most elusive and revisited grooves with which I have ever wrestled to the point where, to date, I’ve never been happy with how I play it! …and this track was originally recorded by a guy who probably wouldn’t consider the drum kit to be his first instrument! Continue reading

Respect! …natural and musical grooving.

Respect –  performed by Aretha Franklin, 1967 (written by Otis Redding).

Drummer: Gene Chrisman

Much of the rock & pop approach to drum rhythms relies heavily on a 2 & 4 ‘backbeat’ feel and in more recent times, regularity and repetition through the entire kit has proved to be the fashion.

I’ve played this song many times, but only quite recently stumbled upon the bare unpredictability of the bass drum here in Gene Chrisman’s playing. For me, it’s the totally natural work of a master with very much the whole picture in mind. Continue reading

Theloniuos Monk/Straight, No Chaser tutorial

Learn to play jazz drums at Dye House Drum Works

I thought I might share a couple of things with you today, as this afternoon I am enjoying the music of Thelonious Monk – and his drummer of the time, Ben Riley.

If you’re not familiar with Monk’s work, check him out. In terms of jazz greats, he’s right up there and really is someone with whom all musicians should become at least aware.

There is so much to love about the man and his music, but for me the real deal clincher is a singular sense of fun that comes through in his compositions and performances. Continue reading

What is the role of the drummer?

Advice for drummers: what is the role of the drummer?

An important and fundamental question we should pose ourselves as drummers – especially if taking early steps in playing drums – is ‘what is the role of the drummer?’ This is actually quite a difficult one to pin down as answers can be subjective and at least partly reliant on genre & context, but common responses might be: to keep time; to hold the band together or to create a rhythmic framework; to structure dynamics or perhaps to signal changes within the music. To whittle the focus of our art down to one catch-all phrase could be to deliver a great injustice to the history and players of our instrument. The role of the drummer – even in the simplest of conditions – is all these things, and so much more. Continue reading

Good Practice

Practice Tips for Drummers

Practice time is often at a premium, so I thought I would offer a few words and ideas on getting the best out of the time you do have.

It is also quickly worth mentioning – for the benefit of those readers who don’t practice at all: don’t sell yourself short! Developing your skill as a musician plays a big part in enhancing the joy of playing and if you can kick-start some kind of regular practice routine, I would guarantee you’ll get more reward from your drumming. Practice really does work! Continue reading

Beat Displacement & Cantaloupe Island

Cantaloupe Island tutorial.

Here’s an interesting and fun rhythmic concept, accessible to players of all levels: ‘Beat Displacement’.
I’m going to reference this directly to an equally engaging and highly musical tune: Herbie Hancock’s ‘Cantaloupe Island’, which features the genre-defining talents of Tony Williams on drums.

Although this tune is widely regarded as a ‘jazz standard’, the feel is in ‘straight eighths’ (as opposed to the more common swing/dotted jazz ride rhythm). The ‘beat displacement’ content is displayed here within the snare drum line, pretty much right through the track, landing neatly alongside the bass emphasis. Here are a couple of bars taken from the drum part:

  • Ride cymbal at the top – and if you’re just starting out playing drums, try leaving out the pedal hi hats to begin with. Continue reading