Drum Circle Magic Part Eight: And the Beat Goes On
3 September 2009 568 views No Comment
By Francesca Bolognini Welcome back to the circle. In previous columns, I have presented an overview of some important historical, practical, and spiritual aspects of drumming and shared various experiences which might be helpful to initiate or deepen your personal practice. This brings me to a key component of any successful approach, practice. We do not improve without it. For some, this comes easy. A bit competitive, they tend to use repetitions as a way of burning nervous energy. For others, it is a scheduled routine, not without pleasure, to accomplish a goal. But if you are like me, you sometimes need motivation. Translation: inspiration or fear. Either one will do nicely. Inspiration, the preferred stimulus, can arrive in a number of ways, often from hearing a moving piece of music that makes you want to pick up your drum. I recommend exposing yourself to good music on a regular basis to keep this feeling alive. Put on hot CD’s, watch music clips on youtube, or go to concerts to see live musicians and watch their hands. With youtube you can replay and pause to study technique, but it is hard to beat the excitement of a live performance . The point is to connect to a source that makes you want to participate, even if only in your living room and your dreams. Just reading about a culture or a place will remind me how much I love the music and I will need to play. The other force capable of stimulating some good, “cram for the exam” practice is fear. All you need is an upcoming event where you will be expected to play, possibly a bit better than you have in the past, perhaps with other more well rehearsed players and presto! You’re in business. I find myself in this position from time to time because I tend to accept or create performance challenges. At these points I am often employing techniques either beyond my normal skills or pertaining to a pattern or drum with which I am less familiar. Practicing may take more than one form. Playing along with a piece of music is a great way to get the feel , but usually this must be preceded by much repetition of a practice pattern to create a muscle memory. I frequently do this, like many musicians, while watching TV, a habit that can get on your partner’s last nerve. But it does yield satisfying results in the chops department, “chops” meaning technical skills. Getting together often with other players helps to both encourage these developing abilities and test your progress. Just play. The more you do, the better you will become. There are so many benefits to the act of drumming it becomes a win - win. So pick up that drum, give it a good work out and see how much better you sound and feel. And until next time, keep the beat!