Tag Archives: Advice For Drummers

Practise Schedules – February Blog 2016

Practise Schedules – February Blog 2016.

I realise that practise is a topic that I write about a lot in my blogs and I don’t in anyway mean to come across like a broken record by constantly repeating myself on the subject, but the bottom line is this: If you want to be great, you have to practise! 

Unfortunately there is no quick way to suddenly become an amazing musician (or amazing anything for that matter). It takes years of hard work, time, and of course, good quality practise. The great news however, is that ‘genius like status’ can be achieved. It just takes the right mixture of determination, self-discipline and motivation.

With each year that passes (and as I get older and take on more responsibilities), the more apparent it becomes that I no longer have the luxury or messing about on my instrument for hours on end while my parents take care of all the household and bill duties. (Ah, those were the days, ha ha).

Having a well worked out practise schedule still allows me to get a sufficient amount of time to practise and learn new ideas on my instrument and I firmly believe that putting together a schedule (as disciplined as it may sound) will really help you on your journey to becoming the best musician you can be. 

So with that in mind, here’s my recommendation on how you can alter your daily lifestyle to include your ‘creative needs’ and become a better musician at a realistic pace, whether it’s daily/weekly/monthly or yearly, and whether you’re a part or full time musician. 

Rather than sharing my personal schedule with you, I’ve worked these out based on stereotypical assumptions, and highlighted potential practise times in red. They can of course be applied however you like in order to suit your own personal needs.

Let’s start with the part time musician. Your day might look something like this: 

6am   – Potential practise for an hour
7am   – Wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast etc.
8am   – Leave for work
9am   – 5pm – Work
5pm   – Leave Work
6pm   – Eat dinner, relax with family etc.
10pm – Potential practise for an hour
11pm – Sleep

Now for the full time musician. Your day (provided you’re not touring heavily) might look something like this

9am   – Wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast etc.
10am – 2pm – Potential practise for 4 hours
3pm  – Eat lunch and load gear for tonight’s gig.
4pm – Potential rest/nap (if required), otherwise plan gig logistics (set lists, merch etc).
5pm – Leave for gig
6pm – Sound-check. Socialise, eat dinner, warm ups
9pm -12am – Actual performance
12am – Load gear and leave gig
1am – Sleep

In each scenario there are good times for potential practise sessions and it varies for everyone. Some people might find practising for 1 hour is too little, whilst others might feel that 4 hours is too much (especially given that the average human can only process new information for short periods of 45minutes at a time before the brain needs a break). Needless to say, the above examples are simply a guideline in case you don’t know where to start. 

One of my guitar teachers (a wonderful man named Luke Van Der Merwe), helped me work out my first ever practise schedule and it completely changed how I approached my time at my instrument. So, while I wish I could take credit for the above way of thinking, I have to mention him. If you ever get the chance to watch him play, you totally should. 

Anyway, until next time, work hard, play hard and practise – diligently. 

Travis Marc.

P.S – Don’t forget to follow my personal account on Twitter – @TravisMarc

Episode 2 – Roy Burns

In episode 2 we talk with the one and only ‘Roy Burns’, who was the second drummer to ever grace the cover of the Modern Drummer Magazine and has been credited as the inventor of the art form we call drum clinics.

He is also one half of the Aquarian Accessories company and was the original writer behind the wonderful concept articles we now see in the MD magazine. Playing wise, Roy has performed with a list of A – list artist including Benny Goodman and Woody Herman. He was also the house drummer for the Merv Griffin Show as well as the Monterey Jazz Festival. Enjoy, and don’t forget to rate and share with your drummer friends. Check it out –

https://soundcloud.com/ukdrummerpodcast/episode-2-roy-burns

Roy_Burns_Drummer

Sometimes opportunity doesn’t knock – January Blog 2016

Sometimes opportunity doesn’t knock on the door – January Blog 2016.

Ah life… It’s a funny thing. Most people are either content with where they are, or trying to break down barriers in order to get to where they eventually hope to be.

It’s with this in mind that I wanted to write this months blog, as it’s important to remember that while attempting to claw one’s way to the top and open as many doors as we can along the way, that it’s very easy to miss some of the windows of opportunity that might come to us, purely due to the fact that we’re too focused on our end goal (whatever that may be).

Recently, I was in the studio with a great band., who were recording their debut album.
I was hired to record a few guitar parts on the record and was itching to have a go on the drumkit that had been hired for the drummer on the session. As I wasn’t that close with the band, I decided to act professionally and simply just track my guitar parts.

During the recording process, a few comments were made that made me think that the band weren’t completely happy with their drummer or his parts, but again by trying to remain as professional as possible, I held back my comments that I might be able to do what they wanted ‘drum part wise’ in a better way (no one wants to be ‘that guy’, especially when it’s not even your own band).

While on quick a break from the actual recording process one day, I thought I’d have a quick play on the drums before we hit record again, but not knowing me, the drum tech that had been hired for the day didn’t think it was a good idea and so for a third time during the session I again decided to remain professional and convinced myself that I didn’t need to play the drums and went back to my guitar.

Anyway, fast forward two or three months and as suspected the band seem to have released their drummer and hired a new guy to fill his position. They also have some amazing dates booked in on their new tour, with support slots of some absolutely massive bands…

Now, while I’m super happy for them (they were terrific guys) I can’t help but think that perhaps had I made sure that they had the chance to see what kind of drummer I am and what I could do on the drums within their genre, that when the decision came to replace the above mentioned drummer that just maybe I might have been considered as a potential replacement. Not to say I would’ve, but I might have been. The worst part is, that I’ll never ever know and I have no one to blame but myself.

So, while I do believe that upholding professional standards should always be one’s priority, I think that maybe we should also trust our instincts and take advantage of the moments we’re in as we might miss opportunities that are right in front of us. After all, sometimes opportunity doesn’t knock on the door, it lightly taps on a window.

Until next time, keep on practising, take those opportunities, and remember the harder you work, the luckier you’ll get.

Travis Marc

If you can’t join em – November Blog 2015

If you can’t join ‘em, try someone else – November Blog 2015.

There are countless sources dedicated to drumming out there. Some cover topics from clinics to gear reviews, whilst others focus on interviews, blogs, podcasts, or even the selling of 2nd hand drum gear.

Regardless of what their main content is, I quite enjoy most of these sources. I think that there’s room for them all and they can be pretty cool to use to better one’s own playing or insight into drumming as a musical instrument. Plus, all these platforms (websites, social network groups, pod casts, interactive video lessons etc), really help give us drummers the impression that we are all part of one big supportive drumming ‘family’, which we don’t often get to see with other instrumentalists.

I’m part of more drum groups and websites than I care to admit, (especially given my often over-opinionated views on social media in general), and even though I don’t often get involved with many forum-type conversations,  I do enjoy reading some of the banter between complete strangers on topics such as drum sizes, laughing at some of the drumming jokes or the odd moans and groans regarding expensive gear, or the comparison of how big the space for the drum set up was on someone’s last gig.

I have noticed though, that some discussions seem to get a little heated every now and then, and have on occasion even seen a couple instances where a group of individuals will sometimes stick together and almost ‘gang up’ on someone because it’s felt that this specific individual has the wrong opinion. This makes me wonder if we’re really as close as we all sometimes imagine. I mean at the end of the day they’re just personal opinions and different personalities and opinions aren’t always going to relate – that’s just human nature. Plus, as much as I love drumming, it’s important to remember that it’s just drumming – we’re not exactly saving individual’s lives over here people. So things really don’t need to get too heated or mean, do they?

If you’re one of the individuals who has felt bullied within a group or forum-type situation I would like to apologise on behalf of these mean spirited “drummers”. Please remember that most drummers, (especially those without anything to prove to others), are usually really supportive and keen to share their knowledge. I guess just like any other industry there are some people out there who don’t want to break bread and share with others. It’s a pity, but give them time, they’ll come around one day. My advice to you is to forget about them and don’t spend another minute letting someone else’s words or opinions put you down. Take a look at your own diary, if you’re getting bookings there’s no need to worry about these other people.

The drumming community can be incredible. It can be a wonderful and supportive place where you will make some truly great, lifelong friends, and if you haven’t had luck making friends within a specific group/site/forum/whatever, try somewhere else. Or as this month’s blog title says – if you can’t beat ‘em, try someone else.

That’s it for now, have a good one everyone. See you at the LDS. Practise hard.

Travis Marc.

Be Prepared – October Blog 2015

Be prepared – October Blog 2015.

There’s an old quote that says ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’. It’s a saying that can be applied to most aspects of life, but can be particularly true for musicians, whether they’re hoping to be viewed as sidemen in other people’s projects or as musical artists themselves.

If you’re a regular reader of these blogs you’d know that practise is a topic that I’ve written about many times over the last year. It’s a subject that I’m extremely passionate about because simply put, I really enjoy the way that practising and working on ‘myself’ makes me feel. The reality though, is that while some people do spend time on trying to make their craft better, there are many musicians who find the process boring and mundane.

While that’s perfectly ok, (each to their own at the end of the day), I often wonder how prepared these types of musicians might be if they were to suddenly have the opportunity to play in a musical situation away from their usual musical comfort zones.

Hypothetically (and purely for example purposes) lets’ say that you are a hard rock drummer.Your band just finished touring and you’re going through a bit of a quiet period. Money is running a little low and you’re super close to taking a part time labouring kind of job before next year’s tour begins, when suddenly you get a call to tour as the drummer for a new emerging reggae type act. Would you be ready?

If the answer is yes, then my friend you have done your homework. You’ve put in the time and should feel confident that you can take on some work out of your usual comfort zones and do a good job while doing so. If the answer is no, well then you should get back in that practise room because you have unfortunately done no preparation and will end up ‘winging’ the gig should you accept to take it. In which case you make yourself and the musicians who hired you look extremely amateur, which isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is once the gig (or tour, or whatever they were hoping you could do) is over, they will never call again because there will be someone out there who is simply better prepared and suited for their situation. You’ll then feel terrible about yourself and probably go take that part time job you were dreading having to take while your own band was taking some down time, because mentally you might convince yourself that music simply isn’t meant for you.

So what can we do to try and be as prepared as possible, should that random call (or email) come one day?

Practice.
I’m not going to preach about this one, if you don’t know what it is, go check out the previous blogs.

Broaden Your Horizons.
Stop playing or practicing that John Bonham chop that you’re so great at and start focusing on things that you’re perhaps not too good at. If you’re a punk drummer and struggle to play slow, try playing along to some ballads. Likewise if you’re a jazzer, listen to and start trying to play along to some Megadeth etc, etc. It’s all going to make you better and a more rounded player, which will ultimately make you more prepared for gigs out of your comfort zone.

Focus On Your Weaknesses.
But don’t beat yourself up about them. Make notes about the aspects of your playing that really need work and well, work on them. Eventually, you’ll find that the mistakes you frequently make are no longer mistakes and you’ll feel pretty good for it. Don’t get too cocky though, because there is always room for improvement.

Find Your Own Voice.
It’s tough out there, and many drummers are after the same gigs. While it’s great to be after the sideman job as drummer for the latest popstar, there might already be someone who gets those calls before you do. Instead focus on a few aspects of your playing that give you your own voice that people will want to call you for. But while developing this voice, make sure you continue to broaden your horizons in case that random gig does come about.

Only Be A Yes Man If You Can Really Do The Job.
While we all want to believe that we’re drummers of all styles, if you do get a call to do a gig that you don’t feel you can truly do justice, please don’t do it ! You’re going to embarrass yourself and tarnish what might be an already established reputation. Rather recommend the gig to someone who you know, could do the job. Trust me, people will remember this type of honesty and start to trust your judgement should your recommendation check out. Plus (more often than not) if the person you recommended got the gig ever gets a call for a gig they can’t do the favour might be returned.

Good luck, and I’ll chat to you all next month. Keep rocking.

Travis Marc.