Hey guys! Sorry for the delay! Life has been kind of crazy this month. 

Originally I was going to title this blog, The Importance of Groove. Then, I got a call to go record so I was going to call it Preparing for the Studio. Later I got a call later that the recording session got postponed. The next week I found out that I was passed over for a gig by a good friend of mine who went with someone who had better "feel".  My ego was bruised and I was feeling much less confident in my ability to play so I was going to write about Attitude and again the Importance of Groove\Feel. THEN I got the call that the recording session was back on. It's funny how God works things out because  I swear the session was the perfect object lesson on ALL of the topics I wanted to cover...

I leave my house at 6 am on Saturday (yep, even musicians have to wake up early sometimes!), drive two hours to the studio, and get setup for an 8 am session. After waiting for more than an hour, the leader of the band finally finished laying scratch tracks [note: scratch tracks are tracks that provide the basic feel of the song for musicians to record to but are later replaced with 'real' tracks] and I was ready to go! (or so I thought). 

I got together with the bandleader last week to discuss the two songs we were going to record and practiced accordingly (Preparing for the Studio). The bandleader said that he wanted to make one song sound really "poppy". So, I put on my pop drummer hat and played a take...only to hear this from the control room, "Umm....That was good....could you play it again....but, this time without the fill......or..." I would do another take and change it up a bit just to hear the same thing about 15 times...which is both frustrating and makes you feel like you don't know what you're doing. 

I didn't complain and did my best to give the band leader what he wanted (Attitude). We finally got a solid take and it turned out great! I ended up playing solid quarter notes on the kick and crash to give the chorus a poppy kind of drive and it made the song feel really good (Importance of Groove). 

Now I tell you guys this because I want you to know that it was actually a GREAT learning experience. Even losing the gig with my friend turned out well because I now know that I need to work on my feel. Because I didn't complain in the studio, I will get called back for possible gigs with the engineer because he said that he couldn't tell me how many other drummers would get really upset if they were told to "not play that fill here". 

So here's the take home advice guys: 


1. Keep practicing 

2. Be flexible (be a team player) 

3. Keep grooving (remember that playing simple and clean is ALWAYS better than playing your "hot new fill")

4. Play to the song

5. Even when you are feeling kinda down about your skills, Keep playing and Have fun with it!!

If you stick with it the gigs will come....that friend that went with someone else called me to play next week because his other guy couldn't make it....( I guess be reliable has some advantages too...)
                                                                                                                   - Justin

Exciting things in the works here at stickandstrum! This week I ordered some drum mics and other recording gear. By the end of the year I'm hoping to have some video lessons posted. I know a lot of people (myself included) are visual learners and sometimes it's just a lot easier to do something when you can see someone else do it. I'm looking forward to being able to post some warmups, guitar licks, strum patterns, drum fills, grooves, etc. Video lessons will serve two main purposes: reinforcing what I teach in lessons to current students and offering instruction and ideas to non-students. 

Video lessons are something that I have always wanted to be able to offer students. I know how frustrating it is to sit in a lesson and begin to grasp something and then completely forget it when you go home to work on it. This semester especially, I have noticed a few key areas where I think video lessons would really benefit students between lessons:
  1. Strum Patterns: I have quite a few students learning chords and how to strum this semester. It's a lot easier to follow when there is someone guiding you along. It's an entirely different situation when you're at home alone looking at a sheet of paper and trying to figure out what to do!
  2. Drum Warmups: There are a few warmups and ideas that I've talked about this semester that not all of my students have fully grasped yet. One of these is the Subdivision Warmup. This is another example where it's sometimes just easier to watch and play along.
  3. Particular songs and exercises: There are plenty of random songs and exercises from the lesson books and elsewhere that I've been working on with students this semester. I'm really looking forward to being able to post videos of these songs to help students out between lessons. 
  4. Chords: Simple videos playing through various basic chords so that you can see and hear them as you work through them at home.
If you aren't a current student, I think that there is still tremendous benefit to watching and learning from videos. Nothing replaces one-on-one instruction with a teacher that can guide and correct you, but the right videos can go a long way to lay a solid foundation. 

So, until I get some videos up here is a great drum site that I frequent and highly recommend!

Drummer Connection

I love this site. You will definitely be hearing more from me about Drummer Connection and Billy Ashbough. Billy has some great lessons ranging from beginner to advanced. He's a solid drummer (having played with everyone from *N Sync and Britney Spears to Tim Mcgraw and Gloria Esteban) and a great teacher. I've learned a lot from him and I highly recommend these videos. There are hundreds of videos ranging from drum rudiments, to fills, to setting up your set, to stick twirls. The site also features drumless tracks that you can play along to. Great site.