Tag Archives: Blog Therapy

It’s the Season to be jolly – December Blog 2015

It’s the season to be jolly – December Blog 2015.

Wow, I can’t believe the year is already over! It seemed like it was only yesterday that I performed at some year-end functions and celebrated the start of 2015, and now I’m busy (or about to) do it all again for 2016. Plus, yesterday one of my students told me that she’s been coming to me for lessons for twelve months and I honestly couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t have guessed that it was more than six months. Where does the time go?

Something that I always tend to think about around this time of year is just how many special occasions we as working musicians miss in regards to various family or friend related events while we’re out on the road gigging or doing PR for upcoming projects (you know the ones: birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, New Year’s Eve etc.). I really can’t tell you how many times that I’ve personally said to my wife that I’m going to gig less, or take a break for a few months (and meant it), but then that phone rings and I’m right back out the door. I guess that it comes with the territory though and I firmly believe that it only takes turning the “right” people down once in order for them to not ever want to call you again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I love my life and I’m bringing this all up simply because it’s the Christmas season and I’m very excited because for the first time in a very long time, I’m going to be able to spend some real quality time with my family and friends over this busy period. Heck, I even turned down a gig for the 24th (which is something that I would not usually do, but it was a friend’s gig and he was really cool about it) so that I can celebrate Chrimbo with my wife and her side of the family.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this, it’s great doing what you wanna do for a living, and if this is your passion you need to follow it. It is easy to keep thinking that we’ll spend some ‘quality time’ with those we care about tomorrow while we’re young and not really thinking too far ahead, but what if (heaven forbid) tomorrow never came?

You always hear stories about people on their deathbeds saying they wish they had worked less and spent more time with those they love, and maybe they’re right? So on that note I’ll end on this: if you have a couple of days off this year, maybe rather than polishing your cymbals or browsing eBay for 2nd hand drumming gear try spend some time doing the “little” things with the important people in your life. After all, it’s Christmas and I’m sure they’d appreciate your time, especially if your time is often spent away from home.

Until next time, merry Christmas and thanks so much for all your support this year! May 2016 be even more kick ass than 2015 was and stay driven. Oh, and come January we’re launching the official “UK Drummer Podcast” so watch this space and make sure you check it out!!!

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.

Passion – September Blog 2015

Passion – September Blog 2015.

My goal behind this months’ blog idea is a simple one…

I want you to understand how important passion for your instrument is, how having passion can help you to improve faster as a musician and even how it can be a ‘make or break’ factor in regards to your career.

To start let’s look at the definition of the word ‘Passion': Passion is a strong feeling of enthusiasm, or excitement for something, or about doing something.

If we look at some of the worlds most accomplished people, it’s often easy to see how passionate they are about the things they love and more often than not, how their driving passion (along with lots of hard work) has helped them get to where they are. Think about it. Can you imagine Dave Grohl having done the Sonic Highways series if he wasn’t passionate about music? It would be interesting to see what someone like Gregg Bissionate’s career would’ve turned out like if his passion didn’t shine through like it does. Obviously hard work and time are huge factors too, but would the work or required effort even have been done if it wasn’t for the initial passion or love these personalities had to start off with?

Recently, I seem to have taken on a small influx of drum students who, although on the surface appear to want to play the drums, don’t really seem very interested in the actual instrument, the influential players who came before them or ever practicing in order to try and improve. In fact most of them (stereotypically speaking) just want to bash things, rather than taking the time to realise that there’s so much more to drumming than simply trying to break them. When asked about what music they like and want to learn, I find I’m often answered with an “I don’t know”, or “I don’t really care about music” type of attitude.

After lessons like these, I tend to find myself thinking back to my early years as a drummer and, as old as it makes me sound, I wonder about what drumming and music in general will be like in the next twenty (and more) years.

I think about how I couldn’t wait for Friday’s to roll around so that I could get to my weekly drum lesson, show my teacher the progress I’d made and see what we were going to do next. I would go through such effort to find out about drummers and different techniques and concepts.
I try think about what elements might be missing from the mind sets of my students and what I might be able to do to help them be more enthusiastic about what I’m trying to teach them.

The missing ingredient, as far as I can see (and I’m probably stereotyping of course), would definitely appear that there’s a lack of passion in these types of individuals and I personally feel that the wanting to learn (as great as it is) simply isn’t enough. After all if you can’t be passionate about what you’re wanting to do, or at least passionate about working towards what you’re hoping to achieve, is there really any point?

This is purely my opinion, food for thought you might say. I’m not trying to deny anyone their place in this world and I believe that every single person (rich or poor, old or young) has the opportunity to ‘make it’ in whatever field they’re trying to be successful in. All I’m saying is, if you can’t find a reason to want to do what you’re doing, and be somewhat passionate about it, you might be setting yourself up for failure from the start.

Until next time, keep pushing, keep working and keep doing whatever it is you’re doing. Just do it to the best of your ability.

Travis Marc.

Stop worrying about everybody else – July Blog 2015

Stop worrying about everybody else and start worrying about yourself – July Blog 2015.

Ah, musicians… We’re probably among some of the most confident people walking the planet, yet isn’t it interesting to see how quickly that confidence can take a knock when we feel that we aren’t doing well enough, especially when comparing ourselves to others in our same industry?

Which brings us to our July blog amply titled ‘Stop worrying about everybody else and start worrying about yourself’. Spiteful right? WRONG, because when I say the above phrase I don’t mean it in the charitable sense. I’m not saying that we need to become self indulgent and no longer look out for our fellow man. If history has taught us anything, it’s that while having self worth is important it can sometimes get confused with greed and arrogance, and these are traits that could easily contribute towards our own downfall. So help each other and love your neighbour as much as possible, mmmk.

I am of course meaning to use the above phrase in a career context that will hopefully allow you to stop complaining about others (and yourself), stop comparing yourself to your peers and focus on your own achievements and goals. At the end of the day music is art and art is open to interpretation. It shouldn’t be judged or seen as competitive, it should be enjoyed and made with thought, love, effort and pride.

So, how do we stop comparing ourselves and our playing ability to the new ‘wow check out this guys amazing chops video of the week’. Hopefully these simple steps will help you…

Don’t compare – Unless you maybe know the person personally, you have no idea what the person you are comparing yourself to has had to go through to get to where they are now. You don’t know how much time, effort, blood, sweat and tears they’ve put into the things that they’re doing, so don’t for a second allow yourself to base your own self worth on their achievements.

Focus on your own thing – Even if you’re striving to reach the same level as a player, writer, composer or pop/rockstar. The only way that you’re ever going to get to where you want to be is by focusing on your own goals and working towards them. Trust me (as someone who has done it in the past), beating yourself up mentally about something or someone that you wanted to do or be is a complete waste of time. Plus, think how much you might’ve been able to achieve if you put that same time into productive use.

Take it all with a pinch of salt – While social networks (yup I’ve mentioned this before, see the blog from January), are great for connecting with friends, and networking. A lot of it can be deceiving, so if you’re timeline is anything like mine and all you’ll see everyday are pictures and videos of your friends touring, gigging, teaching, practicing and traveling the world while having the time of their lives. There is no need to compare yourself, believe it or not these same people see the same thing on their own timelines and here’s the kicker – some of those posts even come from your personal page. However, if this affects you in a way that makes you think you’re not doing well, put your phone down and limit your time on these platforms. After all every second away from FB or Twitter contributes towards extra time in the practice room right?

Work hard and don’t believe the nay sayers – Pretty self explanatory really. Hard work pays off. So put some elbow grease in, stay humble, always give 110% and you’ll see the work start to come in. Sure, there are going to be some nay sayers along the way but don’t let them upset you, rather use there words as fuel to allow the passion inside of you to burn even brighter than before.

Keep a gig diary – When those gigs start to come in and you can see your diary or calendar taking shape each month and you suddenly realise that you’re actually making enough money to pay your rent from ‘music’ you suddenly won’t want to compare yourself to anyone else anymore. Sure you’ll still see videos of Olympic/Alien musicians that will make you think ‘gee how the heck did he/she do that’, but you might actually start to realise that there is enough room in this industry for everyone and that even little ol you deserve your place :)

Wicked, well I hope that this helps some of you. That’s it for this month, oh and remember, practice doesn’t make perfect but it sure as hell helps :) Stay safe and have fun.

Travis Marc.

Inspiration away from your Instrument – May Blog 2015

Inspiration away from your Instrument – May Blog 2015.

Anyone who’s ever really taken their instrument seriously will probably tell you that practice is the key to truly defining what you are able to do musically while performing. It’s like that old mantra says ‘practice makes perfect’. It really does. I suppose it just depends on what you define as perfection.

Sometimes though, practice itself is not the hard part for a lot of us musicians. The hard part is actually finding the inspiration/motivation to want to practice when we know that getting better can be a very long, lonely and boring task. For me personally, if I set my mind to it I find it quite easy to get into a routine that allows me to work on the things I’m trying to achieve, and even if there’s not enough time in the day to do it all I believe that visualising the things I’m trying to play can be just as beneficial and rewarding. But, just because I’m able to do this and feel that I have a strong sense of self discipline doesn’t mean it’s always something I want to do and finding the motivation can be difficult sometimes.

A few years ago a friend of mine (who happens to be an incredible drummer) decided that he no longer wanted to do music professionally and wanted to rather focus on a normal 9 to 5 type career as the pressures and uncertainties that can come with being a full-time musician had made him loose some of the passion he had for his instrument. He was really excited about his decision, and happy that he could once again play drums on his own terms and not just because he had to keep someone else in a band happy or follow ever changing drumming trends just to be regarded as a good drummer. After a few months he even started to tell me how it was the best thing he’d ever done and that I should try find something away from music to inspire myself the way he was somehow doing with his new hobby drumming career.

And so, after months of trying to think of different things that might interest me I came to the conclusion that away from music, there really wasn’t much that I felt happy giving my time up for (family and dogs aside of course). I decided to take a slightly different approach and use the things that were inspiring me as a guitarist to motivate me on the drums, and the things that were inspiring me as a drummer, motivate the way I approached my drumming. I decided to start paying more attention to tones and sounds on my drums in the same way a guitarist would mess about with pedals and different amps. On guitar I tried to think more about how drummers would play specific rhythms I was trying to play and started to sequence drum rudiments in the same way that a guitarist might sequence chords or scales. I found all of this extremely motivating and started listening to music in a completely different way, which kept the inspiration flowing.

The above approach started making me think about how a lot of actors get into certain characters that they’re playing and only ‘change back to who they really are’ after filming various movies (think of actors like Leonardo DiCaprio or Al Pacino), and I tried to start ‘playing certain characters’ while on my instrument. If I was playing a ‘Beatles’ song as a drummer – I tried to be Ringo. If I was trying to play a really heart felt guitar solo, I’d pretend I was Clapton’ etc, etc. It all helped to keep me motivated and become a better musician.

Once again (as with previous blogs) I’m not in anyway trying to say that you should want to copy other players and sound like them rather than being yourself, (after all, only you can sound like you). I’m simply saying that the above method has worked for me and it might for you too.

You knows, you might find inspiration/motivation by watching the latest action movie featuring Dwayne Johnston or reading a book about a nurse who had tried her best to save dying soldiers during the war. It could even come from the way certain dancers appear to completely defy gravity. There are no rules, the choice is yours, (even Buddy Rich was inspired by Bruce Lee). So go for it, and be the best that you can be (not because it’s you job) but because you shouldn’t accept anything less for yourself.

Travis Marc.