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Richard's Drum Universe

About the blog

FREE DRUM LESSONS!!! This blog will incorporate drum lessons, drum patterns, music theory, advice, random drum related stuff... just anything related to drumming, teaching them and learning how to play them. This service is provided for free. Hopefully, you'll find it useful.

New Blog Coming Soon

Waffles Posted on Sun, June 23, 2019 18:32:29

Pretty soon this old blog will be turning into a funky new one housed in WordPress. Once the migration process is complete, I’ll start posting on a more regular basis. And the subject? Pretty much ANYTHING to do with drums, drumming, drummers, and music. It’s going to be a learning experience for me because in spite of being a drummer and drum tutor, I wouldn’t say I’m a super-drum-geek (others may disagree)! I like music, and one of the components of music that I like is the rhythmical element, and it just so happens I play the drums and know a bit about it.

It’s an adventure and I’m certainly going to learn a lot of new things which I’m looking forward to sharing with you, dear reader. But only once I have a proper WordPress blog, and that’s what I’m waiting for. As I mentioned, my hosts are currently in the migration process… and I don’t mean they’re flying to Africa for 6 months. Once it’s complete, all the old blog files will be under the jurisdiction of WordPress, and I can start anew. Until then…. watch this space.

New teaching room

Waffles Posted on Thu, August 20, 2015 20:02:58

After many months (well, almost a year) of preparation, which involved removing all of the fixtures and fittings of a kitchen, I have finally moved into my new drum teaching room. Here’s Joel pondering the wonders of “Odd One Out” from the Trinity College Grade 8 syllabus. Or maybe he’s just appreciating the delicate shade of yellow I chose for the walls?

Sonor SQ2

Waffles Posted on Sat, March 07, 2015 11:07:33

I don’t get too many opportunities to play my Sonor Kit. As is the case for many drummers, my best drum kit remains in cases most of the time. The Sonor SQ2 is a top of the range kit and it sounds amazing. This one has maple shells and a Rosewood veneer and I’m using Istanbul Traditional cymbals (good for rock) and a 19″ Zildjian Constantinople crash ride (good for jazz).

Happy New Year

Waffles Posted on Thu, January 01, 2015 12:43:22

Where do the days go? Here’s to lots more drumming in 2015! It’s going to be GREAT – I can just feel it.

Joel Cane

Waffles Posted on Fri, November 28, 2014 12:50:37

Congratulations to my student Joel Cane, who drums for the Enderby Youth and Concert band. In a recent brass band competition he won the ‘Best Soloist’ award for his playing during a piece called “Fascinating Drums”. The band also won the Leicestershire Brass Band Association Open Context (unregistered section). Keep up the good work, Joel!

Drummer’s Elbow – Active Release Techniques

Waffles Posted on Sun, July 13, 2014 11:52:04

If like me, you have ever suffered from tennis elbow, you’ll know what a nuisance it is. I’ve only really had it badly once, most of the time it’s just a constant nagging pain in the background. I used to get it when I’d carry the shopping home. By the time I’d get to put the bags down, I wouldn’t be able to bend my arm! And then there was this gig I did in a large working men’s club, where only my bass drum had been mic’d up. During the interval I received reports that the drums were lacking power…. I took this as a criticism, that I wasn’t putting enough into it. Actually, it was just the way my kit was sounding against everything coming out of the P.A.! I played really hard in the second half to compensate this and at the end of the night I had a tingling in my hands (early signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) and then next day I had really bad tennis elbow. This sucks, I thought.

I’ve put up with it on and off for the best part of five years, when recently I asked one of my students, Tom (who just so happens to know stuff about physiotherapy through his work as an athletics coach coacher) and he showed me a few things that would help reduce the pain and eventually eradicate it.

Because, let’s face it, drumming, like athletics, involves a lot of repetitive action which puts a lot of stress on specific muscle groups, joins, ligaments, and stuff…. and yet, how often do drummers warm-up? And I don’t mean warming-up by playing paradiddles. I mean stretching and twisting the arms and fingers BEFORE picking the sticks up. As a drummer of nearly 30 years I honestly say that until now I NEVER did stretching exercises before playing – and here lies the problem!!!

Tennis Elbow (which I think we can rename Drummer’s Elbow) and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be treated with some basic physio called ‘Active Release Technique’ which the following videos explain.

This first video explains the theory:
on the forearm…
// different but same idea…
// of the forearm…
Thanks go to Tom Crick for sending me these links.


Waffles Posted on Sat, May 17, 2014 02:07:18

When I have my composer hat on I am always interested in writing music with complex rhythms. There’s a lot of fun to be had trying to play weird time signatures and note sub-divisions but the problem is finding other musicians that share this passion.

Generally, musicians find rhythm ‘difficult’. I’ve played with some extremely talented musicians who get ‘stuck’ when it comes to rhythms that are a little more intricate than maybe they are familiar with. Certainly, complex rhythms are harder to sight read but that doesn’t mean they can’t be played! Counting the rhythm out is always the first step; however, it’s also important to be able to ‘feel’ a rhythm.

Take for example, playing a triplet, a three-note subdivision. Most people can feel a triplet even if they aren’t a musician. But what about a quintuplet… that’s a five-note subdivision, where you play five notes in the space of four, e.g., five semiquavers instead of four. That’s a little bit harder. It’s harder still to play five notes over two beats, i.e., five quavers in the space of four (if we’re in 4/4, that’s five quavers in the space of two beats). I’ve always practised ‘feeling’ these sorts of rhythms because you can’t really count them out. They’re not easy to play accurately either. Feeling them is the best way… with a metronome clicking away, of course.

Here’s an example of a piece which contains some fairly odd sub-divisions. I’m learning to play this at the moment and although I’m getting close to nailing it, I still find it hard to play without a click.


To four on the floor or not?

Waffles Posted on Thu, March 20, 2014 12:58:57

Last week, a gentleman came to me for a trial lesson. Although he’d started playing many years ago, he was reconnecting with the drums after a 30 year hiatus. He expressed a desire to become a better reader which I was happy to help with. I always give the same advice on this one which is that the way to improve your sight-reading is to do it all the time. Look at some music everyday and over time you will start to recognise things you’ve seen before. This is what sight reading is all about… pattern recognition. When you’ve played a standard swing rhythm on the ride cymbal before, you don’t need to count it out every time you see it written out because you know how it goes; you recognise the combination of crotchets and quavers, the pattern of the notes.

This particular gentleman had some experience of reading but felt like he needed to improve in order to play in ensembles. At one point during the lesson he relayed a story about a rehearsal or audition he had attended where he was instructed to play ‘four on the floor’ (four bass drums on the counts 1, 2, 3, 4) during a swing pattern.
“You can’t do that, can you?” he asked.
“Yes, you can, but they have to be light or feathered bass drums”, I replied as I fumbled around for some written evidence to backup my claim. I eventually found a sentence in Jim Chapin’s classic 1948 book on jazz drumming, Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer relating to the opening set of exercises.

“Though the bass drum is not written in these first exercises, it is assumed that the drummer will play straight four or two with the foot while practising.” p. 3c.

This quote was clearly not enough to convince him and I could tell he thought I was incorrect. There wasn’t time to fumble around for further evidence during the lesson, but yesterday I found little bit more, this time from John Riley’s 1994 book The Art of Bop Drumming.

“There has been much discussion in recent years about whether or not the jazz drummer should play quarter notes on the bass drum (commonly referred to as ‘feathering’). All ‘bop’ drummers played time on the bass drum, and this much is clear: if the quarter-notes are too loud they will ruin the time flow, and if the bass drum is left out the time doesn’t feel grounded. Drummers consider the quarter-notes on the bass drum too loud if they are audible at all within the ensemble. They should be ‘felt, not heard’….” P. 11

So, ladies and gentlemen, there you go. It’s all about having control over your bass drum pedal. In an ensemble situation, if you’re required to play ‘four on the floor’ keep it light. Don’t whack it!! Use it to reinforce the sense of pulse (maybe to double an upright bass) but don’t play it like a rock thing ‘cus you will be wrong! (and unmusical)…

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