I LOVE this book. Vic Firth sent me a bunch of books, sticks, and other fun goodies last week and this was in the pack. To be honest, this book has been on my radar for a while and I'm really glad that Vic Firth sent a copy over for me to check out. I've been looking for a new general lesson book for my drum students for that past year or so. I've been using Andy Griffith's Progressive Rock Drumming since I started teaching drums. It is a great text, but it is a little dated (1986) and therefore some of it's subject material doesn't apply as much as it did when it was written and they miss out on some more modern examples and techniques. As much as I love massive 80s rock drum fills, it's time to bid this book adieu. 

So, what's so great about Wessels' book? Here's a quick breakdown of a few points that I like thus far:

1. Diversity. Many styles are covered in an easy to use, overview-style format. 
2. Backing Tracks. There are over 40 songs to play along with in this book!
3. Stick Control. The attention to rudiments and stick control is a great addition to a lesson book. 
4. Layout. The layout of the book is visually appealing, and makes for a fun play along. 
5. Modern. Published a couple of years ago, this book contains pertinent examples to modern drumming. 

Let me elaborate on a few. Books with backing tracks (songs without drum parts) are nothing new. But the tracks here are great! Not cheesy, elevator music but good, solid tracks for each genre. I am going to enjoy playing these and I know my students will too. One of the downsides of learning grooves in the Progressive Rock Drumming book is that after you learn the groove, what do you do next? This book takes almost every groove and example and gives a play along track to let the student play the groove with a band. Great concept! The tracks are perfect and never boring. You know it is a great track when the student plays and sounds better on a groove just by getting the chance to play with the track. These tracks take exercises and turn them into music!

Most lesson books give a lesson or two on basic stick control and examples at the beginning of the book and then move on to 'practical matters'. If you don't continually revisit and build upon your sticking, you won't be able to play more complex material later. I really like this about Wessels' book. Not only does he give some great sticking exercises and rudiments early in the book (including singles, double strokes, and paradiddles in THE FIRST LESSON in an example that reminds me of this awesome Joe Morello exercise), but he continues to build on these throughout the book by introducing more sticking exercises and rudiments! Great concept that is easily overlooked by most drum lesson books.

There also some small patterns, grooves, and fills that I haven't seen very often in other books. There's an entire section on upbeat ride cymbal patterns. This is a (somewhat) simple concept that can add a lot of diversity to a groove and give the student lots of ideas to play with, but this is the first time I have seen it laid out this well in a lesson book. The approach to jazz and world styles is also fantastic. They are easy enough to play (with some dedicated practice), but still approachable for the novice. 

There is something in here for everyone, from the earliest beginner through the advanced intermediate. I will be sure to post a more thorough review once I've used the book for a semester or two with some students, but I look forward to seeing what my students will do with this book and hopefully using some of the playalong tracks for the recital this year! 

You can buy this book and/or download a FREE sample with over 20 pages of the book and 7 play along samples here
I stumbled upon this today and had to share it. First, watch these videos and I'll discuss my ideas below!

In Dreams: Lord of the Rings

Bach 3 Part Invention No. 10

One aspect that has been lacking in my students is the ability to play with others. This is largely due to the fact that they take private lessons so they don't often get the opportunity to play with others. This year I am excited to have some of my drum students, guitar students, and (hopefully) bass guitar students play together in bands for the recital. They will be performing a range of songs from Switchfoot to Kutless to Los Lonely Boys. I think it will be a great addition and a fantastic opportunity for students to experience playing together.  

But there are many different facets to guitar playing! One that (for some reason) I had never really considered was guitar ensembles. As you can see from the videos, there is a wide range of music (from classical to pop) that can be covered and it is definitely more exciting than playing alone! I am still gathering material, but I am looking forward to starting to work with a few students this week and hope to have something worked out for the recital in May. If this sounds like something you or your child may be interested in, please let me know!

I leave you with one final video. Enjoy!

Pirates Theme