Friday, October 19, 2012

Beat Down


     Today I'd like to talk a little bit about something that includes somewhat of a misconception: that anyone can play drums (by "drums", I mean a kit). This isn't true- well, maybe not to a degree.
     Anyone can do a really simple beat with about ten minutes of practice- maybe not well, but they can. Given this, there are few who can play complex beats to moving music. When it comes to already active musicians, this doesn't change: there aren't many who can play a drum kit, mostly because they have never tried.
     But why haven't they...?
     There really is no reason for this. I mean, sure, you can say you don't have a kit available to you- I'll accept that, but I think you should really look around to see if there is one which you can use, because percussion is a good skill to have, as any type of musician.
     I'm a woodwind player; I play the saxophone (soprano, alto, tenor), and I'm quite good (if I do say so myself...which I do). Despite this, I'm truly horrible at percussion- I don't know why, but I can't get my hands and feet to do separate things reliably. With this, I did what any normal person would do: I gave up.
     But not for long.
     Eventually (recently), I really put in some practice at the local high school band room (as there's a kit there). I actually got a lot better through this practice: I can do some basic rock, swing, blues and bossa beats. I put in this effort, even though I'm a saxophonist, for some very good, yet simple, reasons.

     I put forth that every musician should learn at least some basic drumming. It builds up the sense of rhythm and gives you some insight into keeping time. Also, being able to have that experience under your belt allows you to understand the beat to which you're playing along- identifying greatly with the music. Understanding all parts of the music you play is very important.
    Now, of course, and as an aside, I'm talking about drum kits, so I'm talking about jazz, pop, rock, or any of the like. A concert setting (concert band, symphony etc.) won't really have a kit in the way that I mean.
    So with this short message, take with you my advice: pick up a pair of sticks and learn some rhythms- it'll truly further your playing ability and style.

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