Say good bye to the self critic.
The first thing I suggest we do when we are going to learn how to drum is to let go of the inner critic. The voice that say’s, “you are not good enough” or “you can’t do this”. Maybe you have this or maybe you don’t. But I find many people psyche them selves out of learning. They might see a part demonstrated and say, “I can’t do this”.
There are many reasons this can happen, but if you change your thoughts to “I can do this” it becomes much easier to learn. Decide you will have fun and you will learn before you ever begin your study session. You can indeed “do this”!
Surrender. This is a much over used new age term but it really applies here. Drop your concern what others may think of you. What the teacher may think of you or your classmates.
That also means dropping your ego. Relax about who you think you are on the drum or who you think you are supposed to be. Just be a student like the rest of us. We are all students! Learning to play is a surrender of ego. We have to let go in order to let in. Drumming is about surrender.
Real drumming, the drumming that happens when people listen to each other and are drumming together in harmony is about groove. I call it “Groove Consciousness”.
To achieve groove consciousness one has to surrender. In this case it means letting go of our need to control. You let the rhythms happen through you. Of course you tell your hands what to do, it’s not careless.
I am talking about letting go of the need to control the situation and those around you.
Remember much of the time rhythms in their traditional form were put together for community and unity. To bring people together. And for movement, especially dancers. To motivate, to make people move. For purposes other then the self. Groove consciousness creates inspiration for movement.
Its all about simplicity. Keep learning and playing simple. Many people can not hold a simple or basic rhythmic pattern and some choose not to, feeling that a simple traditional or non traditional beat or rhythm that repeats is not interesting.
This type of thinking is limited and based on a false definition of drumming being all “creative expression” or more so that holding a repetitive part is not creative expression. I repeat this is a big mistake .
Changing a continuous part a little bit each time, or a lot each time does not necessarily equal creative expression as our egos would lead us to believe. The controlling mind and the ego thinks you are doing more, thinks you are creating by changing. More is better is not really true for drumming and percussion.
It’s a “not good enough as is” mentality which never explores that which we already have. It’s an interesting need we have to fill holes, to tinker, to not accept as is.
However, I contend we do indeed already have enough to express with simply by playing deep groove on the pattern we have.
If we were to play a simple or basic rhythmic accompaniment part fully, to its fullest possible expression and the part was fully rocking the effect would be much greater as it would then effect the group and spark the group as whole helping to engage and further the group creative expression as a whole rather then your own small singular self expression.
I’ll explain further. If you are holding a rhythmic pattern that repeats and you are in your head thinking such as thinking about taking out the garbage, what’s for dinner or when is it going to be you turn to solo, then it may indeed not be fun to hold a part.
However, if you approach the part or pattern like it is a living breathing entity, a pulsating groove. And if your goal is to take this pattern or part and make it rock with feeling and soul, then you will have a completely different experience.
One that is not only enjoyable to you, but to those you are playing with as well.
There are many different ways to learn drumming. Some ways are technical, mathematical and in our heads and other ways are more body/feeling based. Neither is right or wrong, it’s just different approaches.
For many of us the fun and the thrill of drumming is catching the spirit, it’s about how it feels in our bodies. Getting out of our head and into our body. And if you like this and you want to learn more then you need to study drumming with someone, with people who can help you get to where you need to go. We want to address, to look at and deal with whatever our “weak side” is when learning and drumming.
Often we pick teachers who make us feel comfortable, but do not challenge us or give us what we may need which might be something that is not comfortable at first.
Often a student of any level will say they do not like a new rhythm or part and later on they come back loving it.
Rhythms, parts, phrases are like people. Even more so they are like friends. We have to make new rhythms and concepts our friends. We surrender and let them in.
Sometimes when we meet a new person who is very different then us, who we do not understand who is unfamiliar we dont like them. How many times have you heard someone say, we did not like each other at first and now we are best friends or maybe they got married perhaps? Often.
If you have had this experience before, where there was someone you did not like and later you did, think about the point, the moment when the change occurred, when the thought or feeling happened that said, “wow, I like him/her”. It’s a magic moment and this happens with rhythms and patterns the same exact way.
With learning drumming the concept of “more is better” is not the best approach to learning.
Refining what you already have, learning to hold and create, to feel and convey deep groove, the love and joy that comes from a sensational rhythmic structure being played and felt is good enough!
I personaly am always working towards perfecting a few things rather then dabbling here and there is the way to go in my opinion.
You have to have a leap of faith. You have to believe in yourself and of course your teacher.
If you have a voice telling you anything negative in your head don’t empower it. Let the thought float by. Because I know, when i am teaching you, you are going to get it. You are going to learn it.