What I Teach
Physiology Coordination Application Timing Vocabulary Concentration Olympic Training Knowing
New students learn to use the arms close to the body while turning the wrists. The first lessons might be without sticks to place the forearm bones and understand elbow motion. Our sticks were taken from us and given back a week or two later when having proper hand position and arm motion.
I teach large motions at FFF. Large motions teach coordination better and faster than small motions. The strength of FFF can perform at PPP. The opposite is never true. The great tenor Pavarotti taught new vocal students to scream. He was teaching them to use their lungs and diaphragm to support loud notes.
"When I teach a student, the parents think I'm crazy. I teach them to scream. It isn't much for the first few weeks, but volume is screaming, yelling is what must come first. The old singers are the best. We are very, very good."
Luciano Pavorroti - Virtuoso Opera Tenor
Beginners first learn four basic stickings:
Double Stroke Roll: The most musically and technically important
Single Stroke Roll: Most basic coordination sticking for filler notes
Paradiddle: Easiest Lead Hand Switch rudiment for coordination
Flam: The most difficult rudiment, very useful for competition and drum set coordination.
Many of the Standard 26 American Rudiments are taught individually with additions such as the Tap Six Stroke Roll, the rudiment of choice for drum set performance, the Quad (four alternate notes with an accent on one) and others, especially from the Flam family. Backsticking is later taught once the student has a reliable physical template. When enough rudiments are learned, their coordinations and accent patterns create strands of music. The "Standard 26" from 1933 was created to save competition drumming from the influence of Vaudeville, who made sounds for acts as accompaniment and did not need to perfect drumming skills. The result was a William F Ludwg/Gus Moeller attempt to place historically relevant rudiments in the order necessary to play Civil war "Camp Duty." Fife and drum corps, who had the best players of that time period, considered this a two year learning process relying heavily on breakdowns. If learned correctly, all the speed, coordination and execution necessary to become a good drummer are present. It still works when combined with additions such as Swiss and Pipe band variations. The "26" gave drummers of yesteryear excellent coordination and with the use of arm technique - speed.
To perform in an ensemble, notes must be placed perfectly in time by controlling accent rebounds and making accents and interior taps sound the same between players, coming from the same attack height. Work is centered around speed, distance and direction a stick must travel to remain in time. With experience, the student understands the difference between errors a judge will catch and those the student knows occurred but judges will miss. This difference in perception is to the performers advantage even playing a short decay instrument like a snare drum, if timing and execution has been refined via the style physiology.
Expand the recall choices available to the musician including diddles, flams, changing note bases, buzzed notes and rolls and introduction of dotted phrasing using Swiss and Pipe Band interpretations. Dynamics are part of nuance. One should be able to recall and pick wisely from a built up memory during ad lib situations and not stumble over syncopation. Building a large vocabulary helps when mixing different music genres, especially when performing on drum set.
A good artist keeps the eye moving around a painting via composition.
A good musician keeps the listener moving from idea to idea. With a strong vocabulary of technical ability, the number of musical choices increases, especially useful on drum set. These include note spacing and sweetening, note base, metric modulations, implied melodic lines used in drum corps writing, accent pattern counterpoint and textures such as condensations, buzz vs open contrast and note saturation.
More memorized and executable variations allow for more creativity.
Bone Weight Behind The Notes
Accents are supported with the weight of the arm. This gives far better articulation and note contrast.
Notes in between accents (interior notes) are supported by the bone weight of the hand. Players who do not use grip strength tend to drop the second note of a 32nd note diddle or roll making it quick to the head and condensing the diddle out of time. It also weakens the second note to the first.
I teach two wrist turns for two notes putting the weight of the hand behind the second note as opposed to dropping it (with only one wrist turn per diddle). The difference becomes obvious as a student tries to execute difficult roll-flam-rat-drag passages. The "strength of the second note" of diddle allows one to "think through the style" and concentrate on execution knowing exactly where the bead is and when it will hit the head.
The ability to "think through the style" under pressure and remain consistent musically is the goal. In World Class competition, the difference between first place and all others is concentration. The top 2 or 3 in any discipline will be similar physically. The separation occurs in the mind. It is noticed as confidence. This holds true for any audition. You know you can or you don't.
A senior corps I was with as a 12 year old practiced on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7 to 10pm. The instructor - Jay Tuomey - would stay with anyone who wanted till 2am. We worked in front of large panes of glass that acted as mirrors. When there was criticism, everyone knew what not to do. My father would pick me up on these school nights at 2am. It was 14 hours of instruction per week by the best instructor of basic form I ever saw. He taught physiology for drummers.
Each individual has a different coordination template, bone mass, length of forearms, length of fingers and ability of the wrist hinge to turn due to the joint and tendons. Sons of Liberty Fife and Drum Corps members perfected how understand how to perfect each type of individual situation back in the 1950s.
This is relevant today for line drumming or drum set. You might see 10 snares that look like using one style but the mastery of these gentlemen was that you were actually looking at 10 different styles that looked like one, maximizing the potential of each individual.
I was around them long enough to understand what they did. Like Ancient Greek sculptors, Earl Sturtze and the Sons of Liberty drummers, took the art to its physiological limits. They took the time to figure it out. Their results are timeless.
It is what I teach.
Winning championships at the highest level involves perfecting the art of concentration - not emotion.
The best two or three at anything will be physically very similar. It is concentration and "knowing" that separates them. Those that think they can will lose. You either know or you don't. Hoping and wishing melt user the duress of high level competition. It all goes back to what is built upon the basic form and physiology - having the reliability to "think through the style" under duress.
Technique and physical training builds consistency.
Consistency builds self confidence (individual or group).
Concentration builds perfection and trust.
Trust builds knowing. (You know before you go).
Knowing builds competitive dominance and winning.
There is always that individual or group who has the training, confidence and trust to know they will win.
An Olympic Example of "Knowing"
International Alpine skier Jean-Claude Killy was attempting to win his third gold metal at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. Practice sessions had been cancelled due to blizzards, ice and rain. They would have one trip down the giant slalom for gold.
Jean-Claude stood on top of the hill the day before the race. When asked what he was doing he replied, "I go down the hill!." Reporters thought he was feeling too much pressure. As a teenage Jay Tuomey student, I knew he was memorizing the course, going down it time after time in his mind, practicing his concentration. At that level, the top 5 are all capable. The mind wins.
The day was almost a white-out of snow - a blizzard. Skiers on television would on camera, then disappear in a white cloud. It was dangerous. There were crashes. Two excellent times were posted. Jean-Claude went last. He was fast out of the gate and announcers screamed when he almost wiped out a third of the way down. He made up time then almost crashed again. Behind and in trouble, you could see see the tips of his skis miss the poles by inches. Fractions of inches. His body was hitting the poles. Killy took the last hill just before the finish line and stuck the landing. Thousands of training hours came down to having the strength and technique to execute one landing others did not have the training to do.
Jean-Claude Killy won his third gold metal by one one-hundredth of a second. There is something to be said for preparation. The masters always teach it.
Competitive drumline instruction involves accurately judging where the students ability will be months in advance. Basics are everything. Many units do not take the time to teach basic style. High school music teachers somehow have come to believe their visual program is more important. It catches up with them when improvement stops mid-season. An exercise package determines their strength, endurance and coordination capabilities. The music will mimic these elements, A guess must be made in October where the line will be at in August for drum corps, January or November for a marching band school line. It is the instructors job to take them a level chosen beforehand. In this manner, inexperienced members can learn ensemble and competition music over a longer period while still learning technique.
Preliminary arm motion taught by Sons of Liberty instructors. There is a preliminary motion - a lift - of both hands to get that weight into the attack to make it stronger and faster if sweetening is performed.
Power is put into the attacks and carries through into the remaining notes between accents. The arm bone weight is used for power, grip strength for control and wrist turns for grace notes.
I am the inventor of Olympic Training for drummers using what Olympic coaches term "Interval Training" after seeing the Summer Games in Mexico on TV in 1968. The idea was to increase the amount of measures of a rudiment against time with good execution. In his book, "The Theory and Methodology of Training", Tudo O. Bompa, head of the Soviet Block Olympic team, states that his concept was first used in 1974 for most of his athletes. Drummers were ahead of him as the Anaheim Kingsmen were "tracking" in 1969 - doing quarter mile laps around a track for endurance. They tested their opponents mental state in warm-up parking lots. It works for any competitive purpose.
Olympic Training involves using opposite ends of the sticks (5% more weight), practicing on old books (resistance for power and grace note control) and placing a thin to medium thick towel over the practice surface for strength training. Half the rehearsal can be done without your coordination pattern changing from the performance stick weight. It pays huge dividends.
The Standard 26 American Rudiments from the 1933 NARD meeting were set in an order that teaches Civil War War Camp Duty
The order that I teach is based upon coordination difficulty and stickings needed to perform modern competition material with a focus on lead hand switching and development of the left hand lead, which improves the normal right hand performance lead about 20%. Flams are given more weight for coordination purposes and the textures of other genres such as Swiss, Pipe Band and orchestra are added to the vocabulary.
Basic Combinations: Double Stroke Roll, Single Stroke Roll, Paradiddle, Flam, Quad, Triplet
Alternate Lead Hand Switch Stickings: Single Stroke Ruff, Four Stroke Ruff, Seven Singles, Thirteen SIngles
Basic Double Stroke Roll Rudiments: 5 7 9 17 (The 11 and 13 are eliminated)
Ruff & Diddle Rudiments: Three Stroke Ruff, Drag, Lesson 25, Drag Paradiddle, Double Drag Paradiddle, Paradiddle Diddle
Basic Flam Rudiments: Flam Quad, Flam Triplet (switches lead hands)
Extended Diddles: Double Paradiddle, Triple Paradiddle
Basic Multiple Bounce: Triple Stroke Roll (the fulcrum remains tight while the back of the hand allows for bounce and regrip)
Flam Diddles: Flam Paradiddle, Flam Tap (both bounce rudiments)
Open & Tap Double Stroke Rolls: Open 6, Tap 7, Tap 6 (The best speed rudiments for used energy.Used on drum set).
Ratamacues & Extentions: Single Ratamacue, Ratamacue Septuplet, Ratamacue Nontet
Soft Flam Coordination: Flamacue, Flam Quad – Accent 3 (The accent of the flam is soft with the accent elsewhere)
Basic Backsticking: Backsticked Ruff, Backsticked Paradiddle, Backsrticked Drag (hand to hand)
Multiple Drags & Ratamacues: Doible Drag, Triple Drag, Double Ratamacue, Triple Ratamacue
Basic Buzz Textures: Buzz Roll, Buzz Triplet, Buzz Paradiddle (a different grip and regrip technique)
Backsticked Diddles: Backsticked Double & Triple Paradiddles (a different grip and regrip technique)
Short Duration Single Stroke Rolls: Single Five Stroke Roll, Single Six Stroke Roll
Accented Textures: Stutterdiddle, Stutter Drag (softer accent and lead hand switch)
Texture Variations: Swiss Army Sextuplet, Windmills, Pada-Fla-Fla, Flam Triplet Accent 2, Swiss Sextuplet
Buzz Coordination: Buzz Drag, Buzz Ratamacue, Open Six Stroke Buzz Roll (wrist and forearm coordination)
Lead Hand Switch Flam Coordination: Flam Drag, Flam Ratamacue (competition rudiments)
Difficult Lead Hand Flam Switches: Inverted Flam Tap, Flam Paradiddle Diddle, Flam Double Paradiddle
Training for solo work with increasing difficulty uses Olympic Training Techniques.
Advanced study involves inverteds, buzzes with the accent or the diddle and accents that switch making coordination harder.