Tag Archives: Drummer Chats

Music and how we listen to it – March Blog 2015

Music and how we listen to it – March Blog 2015.

I was born in the 80’s and therefore grew up in a time when cd’s started replacing cassette tapes. I really enjoyed listening to cassette tapes and remember my brother and I walking around our local neighbourhood with our walkmans on thinking that we were the coolest kids on the block.

Once I heard about cd’s, (or compact discs as the older folks were calling them). The idea of no longer having to listen to a stretched, slowed down or out of pitch song on my cassette walkman seemed revolutionary and I could’t wait to see (or should I say hear) what they were all about.

As I got older, I embraced the idea of full albums and as I made my own money to buy my own music, I became obsessed with purchasing full artist discographies rather than one-off albums or singles like most of my friends. I became quite loyal to artists that I felt did something musically that I liked and didn’t ever really buy into the idea of only listening to the ‘radio single’ from an artist that I enjoyed. This concept seemed ridiculous, mundane and boring and my attitude was, and still is one that questions, why I would only want to hear what the radio was telling me was ‘cool’? Surely, there were other artists out there that were good that weren’t getting mainstream exposure?

So discovering artists and studying their musical progress and monitoring their musical growths/declines from album to album became a bit of a hobby of mine and I would go above and beyond trying to find new music that I might enjoy. I also found that once I made the decision to become a musician myself, that the years of intensely listening to music and trying to figure out what made some songs good and other songs bad really helped my own creativeness, and gave me a musical advantage when performing amongst some of my not so musically inclined friends. I would always have reference points in my head that I could potentially compare things to or steal from. Heck, even Sting said that the greats all borrow from someone right?

Fast forward a few more years and I still buy albums. In fact, the only real difference between me now and then (besides no longer owning the walkmans or disc mans), is that along with cd’s, I also buy lp’s. While I do own an iPod and smartphone and on occasion purchase music in MP3 form off platforms like iTunes and Spotify but I personally still prefer the feeling of a physical album in my hands. I like reading the linear notes and seeing where artists recorded, how long they recorded for and who played on specific tracks.I even read the thank you’s to try and connect the dots between certain artists that might share relations in some kind of way.

I teach a fair amount of music lessons nowadays and meet people of various ages from a lot of different walks of life. Something that I’ve noticed over the last few years among a lot of my students is that music doesn’t really seem important to a lot of them. There’s no need to have any musical heroes anymore and a lot of them have not listened to more than one song from any specific artists.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel that everyone has the right to listen to music however they like, but with record sales at the lowest that they’ve ever been and illegal downloads at an all time high, it does make me think that if people took the time to discover music and become interested in artists from a creative standpoint rather than thinking of music as a disposable art form, we might be able to lift the music industry back to a point to where it might become important, exciting and original again. Remember the times when a kid with a dream and a guitar could turn the world upside down and make everyone feel like they were part of something, when last did an artist like that really break through?

I think about how important music is to me and how specific albums really helped me through certain points in my life, and it makes me wonder why so many people don’t take the time to flex their audio creative muscles, especially when you consider what music can do for you emotionally. Music can remind us of someone we loved, cheer us up after a hard day, take us back to our childhood (even if just briefly), or help us feel nostalgic about moments that we will never ever have again. It can also push us through a hard gym routine or pump us up for a nerve wrecking job interview. The power of music is (and can be) simply amazing.

If you have one (or some) favourite albums, think about how exciting it was listening to them for the first time. If the album was really important to you I urge you to listen to it again and see how it can transport you back to that same time and place you were at when you first heard it. There are still amazing songs and albums getting made everyday. The problem is that they’re just not always being heard, or is it maybe that we just aren’t taking the time to really listen to them anymore? It’s hard to tell.

Do a little audio digging and you might find some listening gold. That’s it for this month, be good to each other and practice hard.

Travis Marc.

Todd ‘Vinny’ Vinciguerra Interview

Todd ‘Vinny’ Vinciguerra Interview by Travis Marc. 2015.

I first discovered Todd ‘Vinny’ Vinciguerra in 2013 while paging through a copy of Modern Drum Magazine, for which he had written some double bass building working outs that I thought were completely unique. I decided to do some research and was happy to discover that Todd was quite an in demand player as well as an established drum author. I decided to make contact to see if he’d do an interview with us, and he said yes, here’s what he had to say.
ToddVinnyVinciguerraDrums1 Continue reading

Effective practice – February Blog 2015

Effective practice – February Blog 2015.

Practice is a subject I find myself talking about almost daily among fellow musicians or students. Thankfully, its a subject that I never really get bored having conversations about and luckily from a practical stand point, it’s an activity that I actually really enjoy doing, because I know that even a short amount of practice every day can show really amazing results.

Being able to play (or learn) a musical instrument can be extremely rewarding and I consider it a blessing that I realised at a young age that playing music was/is what I wanted/want to do with my life. I consider my musicality a blessing and have therefore always tried my best to be very diligent about learning my craft and therefore my practice schedule.

When sitting down to spend some time on your instrument it is important to make sure that you are practicing effectively though, and not simply playing the things that you’re already good at or the same things you’ve been playing everyday for years. Playing is fine (and fun) but if you really want to improve you need to put a plan together, knuckle down and work at it.

Here are some things that I feel have really helped me over the years, perhaps some of these tips will help you too…

Try and forget about all the other day to day stuff you’ve still got to do or anything else that might be weighing you down. A clear head helps you concentrate and focus on what the task in front of you is. Play through your favourite things, like grooves or fills that you’re already good at and get them out the way, this allows you to feel good about why you’re about to practice and let’s you clear your head to work on newer concepts and ideas.

Set yourself some goals in relation to your instrument. These can be small things like trying to learn a new fill or bigger things, like wanting to prepareĀ for your first clinic. Regardless, goals are important so that we can strive for new heights.

Monitor your practice schedule in a diary or journal. Mark down tempos and your progress with whatever you’re trying to do, heck even give yourself little compliments if you think you did well for the day. This gives you a clear and precise indication of just how much you’re practicing, what you’re practicing, and how it’s going. At the end of each week or month go through your diary entries and assess how you’ve done. This is a great confidence builder and can really make you feel good about all the work you’re putting in.

It’s much easier to be inspired to practice if you’re trying to emulate your favourite players and it’s important to try and imitate and copy your heroes in the beginning stages of your musical journey, (as long as you don’t become cheap carbon copies of them). Having someone, or someone’s skill set to aspire to is a great motivator so check out some of players from the music you like. If you don’t know where to start, simply pick up a music magazine and start with someone you like the look of, alternately you can scroll around on a streaming site like YouTube or Spotify for a while – you’ll soon find something or someone that you might want to listen to.

When you’ve worked on whatever it is you’re working on for a while. Reward yourself by playing to some of your favourite songs or exercises. It’s kind of like stretching after a good gym session, and can convince the fun part of your brain that you’ve just been playing/having a good time (the whole time), which makes things fun and satisfying, kind of like eating a dessert after a savoury meal.

Lastly, if any of the above ideas still aren’t helping you and you find yourself getting frustrated or negative towards your progress or music you’re trying to make, STOP. Take a break, go watch some tv, take your dogs for a walk or grab a bite to eat. Anything to get your mind off of what you’re doing. Frustration only makes things harder and when things get harder we become more frustrated, which in turn breeds negative thoughts, which in turn breeds more negativity. It’s a vicious cycle that is really best avoided. So chill out, and remember it’s supposed to be fun.

That’s it for this month. Be safe, be good to each other and practice hard.
Travis Marc.