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       Ask the Editor

    Here are some of your letters about drums
    and percussion. Please feel free to write us anytime.
      I'm a crappy drummer How do I go about practicing?
      Double bass drumming Rules to a drum-off competition?
      Left hand not up to par What is a double shuffle?
      Who is the best drummer? Traditional Grip or Matched Grip?
      Can you help me with this tune? How do you know if you're overplaying?
      What is the best drum site? Playing with 2 drummers in a band. *New
      Lack of Motivation *New How do you pick the T-shirt winners? *New

    *** Cool Drums Stuff! ***

    Hi there. I wanted to ask you: Every time I sit down and play drums, I play the same things every day. Whatever I play, it will turn out to be the same thing every day, and that makes me think I'm crap. It makes me think that I'm a really crap drummer. Please help because it makes me think that I wanna quit drums and it depresses me. But I love playing drums and I keep playing the same thing every day and I don't know why? Please help? - Arjon

    Hi Arjon, This is a common problem. I don't want to oversimplify this but you should take private lessons for awhile from a teacher that will push you and stimulate you. He (or she) will help you make your playing more creative and fulfilling and will keep you excited about playing. Sometimes we just need an extra push to get going again. Keep your spirits up and don't quit. You're just going through a slump. We all go through it now and then. Thanks for writing and good luck to you.

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    My name is Jonathan and I am very dedicated to becoming the best drummer I can be. However I have run into a roadblock so to speak. I really struggle with my double bass work. I practice everyday except Sunday for 2-3 hours. It seems like I am going nowhere though. I can play fast, but not for very long. I try to work on stamina but I can't tell a difference. I haven't been able to find any teachers anywhere. I try to check out other people who play drums, but I can usually outplay them. I bought a DW 5000 Delta 2 pedal thinking it would help. The pedal did increase my precision some but not stamina. I am in a band and they are happy with the
    way I play, and everyone tries to tell be I am so good, but I am not happy. Every time I see someone like Terry Bozzio or Mike Portnoy play I realize how bad I suck and how far I have to go. But I think the patience and sweat would be worth it. Any help would be appreciated.
    Thank you. - Jonathan

    Hi Jonathan,

    If you're putting in the practicing time you say you are, don't sweat it, it will come. In our country, we come to expect things right away. We get a bit spoiled sometimes and are accustomed to instant gratification. If we go out to a restaurant, we want our food right away. If we order something through
    a catalog, we expect it right away. And so on.

    Unfortunately, the growing process is not always like that. Have you ever tried to watch a flower grow? It's
    impossible. Yet it seems like overnight these things just pop up into beautiful creatures of God.

    While you may get a nice lick or groove down in a short period of time, many other things come much slower. This is natural and to be expected. Think about it for a minute; if it were truly that easy, then everybody would be that good. But you see, only the guys that stick it out and persevere get "really" good.

    It's not easy and that's why not everyone plays like Mike Portnoy or Terry Bozzio. Those guys have spent hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours practicing through the years. Take my word for it; it did not come right away. While some are more gifted than others, it still usually comes down to a lot of hard work and patience. "Patience" is the key word here. Again, if you're putting in the time and getting "quality" practice in, then you "are" getting better. You just have to be patient because you can't always see your own progress.

    With your practicing and drive, I highly recommend a good qualified teacher. Try to go out and see the best players in your area. Ask the salesmen in the music stores who the hot guys are in town and seek them out for instruction. If they are respected teachers as well as players, they should be able to guide you and keep you challenged, as well as help you with any bad practicing habits, etc. Good, quality instruction is invaluable and I highly recommend it, especially for the "serious" student. Just think of how the Olympic athletes train. Put yourself in that state of mind and seek out your own professional trainer.

    One last word: Stay positive and work on your inner spirit. I know that this may sound a bit strange but 'who you are inside' will dictate how well you cope with situations in life. The more together and confident you are as a person, the more success will come your way in all aspects of life. Confidence comes, not only by being a respectable player, but also from having good self-esteem. If you feel good about yourself, you will go much farther in life.

    No more "I suck" OK? You don't suck at all. You simply have high expectations of yourself. There's nothing wrong with that, but stay positive in the meantime and "know" that, if your band is telling you you're good, then that's a great achievement to be proud of in and of itself. Chalk that up as a milestone and keep on pushing forward with a positive spirit.

    We wish you luck!   -DB

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    My Dearest Drum Bums,

    Excellent work on the website. It's very helpful. My right hand is very quick for a novice. But my left hand is not up to par. In my locality there are no drum teachers and the nearest one is 60 miles away. I've been playing drums for about a year now and mostly by ear and videos is the way I've been learning. Any help in this matter would be great. By the way, Tony Royster is the man!!!

    Eric Levi-Bellefontaine, OH


    Hi Eric and thanks for writing.
    I highly recommend isolating the left hand and working on just it for long periods of time. Put on a favorite CD and practice different combinations on a pad. This makes it more fun and you'll find yourself able to practice longer. Also, practice your rudiments (particularly singles and doubles) starting with your left hand. This is very important as it places emphasis on the weak hand. Finally, take singles and create accent patterns that work the left hand specifically.

    I hope this is helpful.


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    Dear Drum Bum,

    Who is the best drummer?

    Although it often goes against popular opinion, there is no "best" drummer. We'll often agree on a "favorite" according to our individual tastes and standards, but to find a "best" of something would literally take all of us agreeing on the same thing all of the time. That being said, the next best thing is to take popular opinion polls such as the other responder was referring to. This is done on a regular basis by the large drum magazines such as Drum! and Modern Drummer. To make it fair, they keep things in categories because what a rock drummer considers the "best" is usually far from what a jazz drummer would consider the "best". And so on.

    To take this a step further, you also have to determine whether you're talking about technique, groove, overall musicality, or other factors. While someone like Dennis Chambers might be considered one of the better technical players in the world (or at least that we know about), I think many would give the "groove" determiner to another artist such as the late Jeff Porcaro, or a Manu Katche type player.

    Remember too that in our world as we know it, we often let popularity determine who we think is "best". There are many players that do not grace the covers of magazines that would absolutely blow you away if you were to see them play, whether it be amazing chops or the most awesome feel (or both). They are the "undiscovered" that deserve more recognition than they often get.

    Till next time..      

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    I'm a drummer in a band and have to play a cover of "Midnight at the oasis" of the Brand New Heavies. It's quick and funky, but I do have a difficulty with hearing the bass drum or kickdrum in the basic rhythm. Can you help me with this?

    Thanks in advance,

    Han van Yperen

    Hi and thanks for your question.

    Unfortunately I don't have The Brand New Heavies version of this, but I can mention a couple of things. Try playing it on a stereo system or PA system with a graphic equalizer so that you can dial in the low/mid frequencies (if you haven't already done that).

    It's important to note that it's not necessary to play "exactly" what they're playing as long as your getting the same groove and feel. Additionally, you and the bass player should be playing similar (if not identical) parts. Tape yourself (the band) playing the song and see if it has the same groove and feel of the record. If not, then you can keep modifying your parts a bit until it happens. This method is used often with bands when the parts are hard to hear on the recordings.

    As a last resort, you could always write Modern Drummer and get them to ask the drummer on the recording what part he played. An answer is not guaranteed but it's worth a shot.

    I hoped this has helped some.


    Drum Bum

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    First of all, congrats on your incredible achievements thus far and best of luck on continued success. I am a drummer with not great organization. I know that hours of practice is the only way to improve, but I could use some direction on how to approach a typical day of practice to improve my skills. Also, my bass foot is way too sluggish and it throws my time off all the time. Can you suggest some practice tips?

    Thanks for taking the time to help us, the mediocrity's....

    Keep it up!

    Hi Todd and thanks for writing.
    When organization is difficult, it's best to start with a "list of priorities". Determine what it is that would benefit you the most from practicing drums and make an actual list. This could be a specific beat for a song in your band or maybe a certain fill that you've been having trouble executing. Follow this list and do not stray from it until it's accomplished. You will be tempted to start "jamming" on things that are familiar to you but try to resist this temptation and stay to the list.

    After you've tackled the "very important" things than you can move down the list to the normal routine which should include things like rudiments, styles, reading, drumset, etc. (See our list of things to practice at http://www.drumbum.com/whattopractice.htm)

    Concerning your bass drum, I can suggest a couple of things. First, practice the samba bass drum pattern excessively. This will help you with speed and overall dexterity. Next, try to include your foot into simple patterns that you play such as sixteenths"1 e and ah", where "1 e and" are the snare and "ah" is the bass drum. (just make them up!) The more patterns you practice like this that get your foot involved, the less your foot will be a hindrance. It will start to become more like one of your hands.

    One more thing: Practice with a metronome or drum machine as often as possible so that you're patterns are precise. They're not worth much if they can't be executed properly in the song.

    And lastly: Drumming is fun, yes. But it also requires a work ethic. There isn't anyone standing over us making us do it so it's up to us to provide our own motivation and perseverance. Find people and articles that inspire you to be your best and shoot for the stars!!

    I hope this has been slightly helpful. Best of luck to you!


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    I was visiting with my first drum-teacher & some other people a few days ago. My first drum-teacher & I had both had a solo jam session & I thought that I might have caught up to, or passed my first teacher. So, we found a few people, & got a few opinions. A few people said I was the better drummer, & a few people said he was the better drummer. So, we decided to have a drum off, but I have no idea what drum-off competition rules are & I figured that you would know something about it. So I come to ask you...
    What are the drum-off competition rules? What exactly do you do in a drum-off?

    While I'm no expert on the matter, I can provide some insight. Most drum-offs involve prepared or improvisational pieces. They usually have a specific time allotted for their performance and skill is determined by technique (chops), creativity, dynamics, finesse, solo structure, visuals, etc.

    I know it's all in fun but I'm not a big fan of these competitions. Emphasis is often placed on chops instead of the entire picture. Many drummers "shine" through their interaction with other musicians in a band setting much more than they would by themselves in a drum clinic or drum-off type of event. For example, imagine having Dennis Chambers and Peter Erskine on stage together with just drums. Most likely everyone would favor Dennis because of his blazing speed and "in your face" drum fills. But Peter's playing should never be underestimated. In addition to his amazing technique, he also has a "touch" and "depth" to his playing that is absolutely astounding and it is best heard in a setting with other musicians. I truly think that these two artists are both great in their own right. I can't imagine trying to pick a "best" one.

    I hope this has helped a bit. Thanks for writing and good luck with your drumming career!


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    I often hear of the "Double Shuffle". What is that and how do you play it?
    - Paul Fisherman

    Thanks for writing Paul. The double shuffle is also referred to as a "Two-handed Shuffle" or a "Texas Shuffle". Popularized by veteran Sam Lay, it's played with both hands
    simultaneously playing the shuffle rhythm* and creates a nice thick groove often heard in country, blues and rock. (Play the bass drum and hi hat together on all quarters while
    accentuating 2 and 4 with your hands.)

    *The shuffle is played with broken triplets.
    Start with a basic triplet pattern:
    1 and ah, 2 and ah, 3 and ah, 4 and ah

    Simply replace the "ands" with a rest.

    -It's also worth mentioning that your left hand (or weak hand) must be in top shape to allow this beat to lay back into the groove and "feel good".

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    What do you think about traditional grip as opposed to matched grip? - Marcel Luney

    We slightly favor the matched grip. Studies have shown that there are greater physical advantages to using this technique. However, we're not convinced that this should keep you from playing traditional if you wish. You don't have to look very far to see some of the best players in the world using the traditional grip. This should tell you something. Also, some of the greatest drummers of our time used this grip including Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa and many more.

    Many pro players actively use both grips and interchange them at will depending on how they approach the song. Some play primarily matched grip but will switch to traditional to play swing because it allows them to approach the music with a different feel and/or mindset.

    We truly feel that whether you learn to eat your food with chopsticks or a fork, the end result is relatively the same. Both are respected methods and have proven to get the job done efficiently. It's all in what you get used to.

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    I was just wondering how someone would know if they're "overdoing" it, playing the drums? For instance, adding kicks and fills often.. Thanks a lot, Matt - Drummer

    Hi Matt,
    "Overdoing it" or "overplaying" is often subjective. The kicks and fills you play should be relative to the music you're playing at any given moment. Some players choose to play more and some choose to play less. Some are criticized and others are complimented.

    It's understandable how this can be a dilemma. The best advice I can give you is to strive to have a complete vocabulary to allow you to handle many situations from styles to soloing. From there, you'll need to gauge the amount you play by factors such as how your band mates want you to play and what the individual song calls for.

    Younger or less experienced players will sometimes have great intentions by playing certain fills, but they might meet some hostility. This is often due to the fact that the ideas are good but the executions of the licks are off. If a fill is not properly executed, it will sound bad and sound like it doesn't fit the song. Often times the fill isn't that hard but the timing and execution can take awhile to master. The key to this is to "over-learn" the fills or licks so that when you go to play it, it will be effortless and you can execute it more cleanly and deliberately.

    *** Cool Drums Stuff! ***

    Assuming everything else is in place, and you're still getting beef for overplaying, you may want to consider joining a band that allows you to express yourself freely on the instrument. As drummers, our role more often than not is supportive so we're expected to lay a "solid" foundation for the other instrumentalists to play off of. Joining a jazz, fusion or progressive type of band should allow you to have more of a "voice" in the music and give you more self-expression if that's what's desired. Many drummers have a band on the side just for this outlet. It seems the more chops you have; the more of an outlet is desired so that you can freely express yourself on your instrument.

    Finally, I want to emphasize again that it's important to "stay true to the song". Let the song you're playing dictate how much you should play. Resist the temptation to always be filling up space. Space itself is a valuable and important "necessity" in music. Have you ever noticed that some people talk forever and seem to say very little? Others can say the same thing in a short, concise sentence and have it be just as effective. Well, the same is true in music. It is not always necessary for one to say a lot to have a great impact on the song or the listener. In many cases, "less is more".

    If all the above has been considered, it then simply becomes a matter of individual taste and subjectivity. Some musicians want a drummer to play more of a timekeeper role and others appreciate a drummer that will "play out" more and contribute more to the overall dynamic of the song. It's a matter of teaming up with those musicians that best compliment your playing style.

    Let me add one more thing: Listening to board tapes (CD's) is one of the best ways to be objective about your playing. Often while were in the midst of playing, we may think that it sounds OK but when you listen back, it's often surprising how "wrong" a fill can sound. It's often a very eye-opening experience for those that haven't done it. Also, invite other reputable, more experienced drummers out to hear you play and get their opinions of whether they think that you're overplaying or not. Their objective advice can be invaluable.

    Matt, thanks for writing and I hope that some of this has helped. Good luck to you and keep striving for excellence!

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    What is the best drum website on the net? Or what are the top 10 drum sites? - Shreek

    Why DRUM BUM of course? Seriously, it's all in what you're looking for. If you like marching drumming than you should go to marching sites. If you want famous drummers, you should go to websites that specializes in that (drummerworld.com). If you want drum tips, we recommend drumtips.com. Of course that's one of ours too but we do think it's one of the best out there.

    Often, sites that rank high in Google or Yahoo are popular. Of course this isn't always the case but just visit them and see for yourself. Watch out for drum websites that look popular but are just crammed full of affiliate links and not much else. They're just out for the buck and aren't interested in quality content.

    Lastly, ask your friends what drum sites they like. This will often lead you to some winners. Please support those drum sites that obviously have a lot of time and energy invested. It is very expensive to run a high quality, high traffic website and your support is needed and appreciated. - Thanks for writing Shreek! (Hey, what kind of name is that anyway?)


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    Hi there, Drum Bum. I've been playing for almost two years now and I'm loving it. Recently I've switched to left handed for a new challenge. I am currently in a band that has two drummers so we have all the drums we own in a half circle. The other drummer plays right handed while I play left handed so we are sitting next to each other. Though we enjoy playing together and seeing what new things the other has picked up or learned, we are also finding it hard to follow and keep beat with each other. When we get together for band practice we have a tendency to make other band members mad at us cause we'll take off and leave them behind. The band tells us all the time that we're good drummers, that we both have two different styles and sounds (which they say they love). Would you have any tips on how we could play together (or even meet half way) without losing our individual styles? Any suggestions that'll help the drummers and other band members better practice and play together would be of great help to us. Thanks, Danielle

    Hi Danielle,
    First off, I think it’s a wonderful idea to have two drummers playing simultaneously. Although not a new idea, the crowd always likes it and that will help make your band more marketable.

    You said you recently switched right-handed to left-handed. This in and of itself may be causing more problems than you realize. Most people don't just start playing left-handed overnight (especially after only playing for 2 years). It usually takes a lot of practice to be able to establish a comfortable groove this way.
    Long hours of warming up with left-hand lead helps, on the pad and drumset. Play along with CDs before playing left-handed in your band. If you've just started playing that way, that's probably some of the reason it isn't feeling good to the band, regardless of whether or not you're playing with another drummer. Don't think that because you're on the opposite side of the drum setup, you have to play left-handed. There are remote hi-hats, numerous clamps and ways to set up drums to accommodate you as a right hand player. You should be able to still play right-handed on the opposite side if you want to.

    You said you and the other drummer take off and leave the band behind. Unless I'm misunderstanding you this sounds like a simple rushing problem. You two might be getting a little excited and gradually speeding up. A simple remedy for this is to practice diligently with the metronome. Do this on your own and then get together with each other and practice to a drum machine. This will do wonders for your internal time and will help you play better together.

    Lastly, with bands that have two drummers it is extremely important to listen "intently" to the other drummer as well as the rest of the band members. It is critical that you two play as one. This is no different than two singers harmonizing together. The goal is to sound like one voice. Your individual styles are not in jeopardy but you must be careful to not step on each other. If he/she is playing busier, you must lay back and play as simple as possible, and visa versa. Play to compliment each other and make it feel good. If you two practice a lot together, you will see a major difference on the band stand.

    To summarize... Tips for bands with two drummers:
    - Listen intently to one another.
    - Play as one (like 2 singers harmonizing together)
    - One drummer can play more simply while the other plays a bit busier.
    - One drummer can play hi hat and bass drum while the other drummer plays ride and backbeat.
    You both don't necessarily need to always be playing the same thing.
    - One drummer can switch periodically to hand percussion. This helps keep it interesting and less predictable.
    - Get together with the other drummer to practice on your own away from the band. Use a drum machine to play along with.
    - As you play together as two drummers in a band, don't forget dynamics. The rhythm section should breathe, not necessarily run over you like a freight train all night long.

    I hope some of this has helped. Thanks for writing Danielle.

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    Chat about Drums and Drumming at DRUM CHAT

    Hey guys, I was just wondering how you go about selecting the T-shirt winner each month. Do you ever pick winners from outside the US? - Joe Beishord

    Hi Joe,
    Mostly we just pick randomly. Occasionally we'll hand pick someone who's comment made us laugh or inspired us in some way.

    Yes, we've had many international winners but not near as many as in the US. For some reason, we get a lot more US people sign up. We've never been able to figure out why since we ship quite a bit all over the world.

    Keep in mind everyone that, aside from being eligible to win a free T-shirt, Drum Bum newsletter subscribers also receive periodic coupons that save them money on purchases. We also offer numerous tips, links to new websites, professionally written drum articles and drum lessons, industry news, bits of wisdom, and much, much more.

    Denny Fridken wrote:

    "Any teaching that reflects integrity and compassion for our fellow beings is a wonderful thing.
    Drum Bum, I take off my hat (oops-not wearing a hat), I take off my head."

    Thanks Denny. By the way, keep a lookout for a his new musical comedy, "SWISH". You may be seeing it soon in theaters near you!

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    I have a djembe, not much but a start. I used to go to a club all the time and dance my butt off, (hard core beats) and an acquaintance of mine would play his djembe and it was amazing. I love the rhythm of beats for its deep trance and meditative qualities, for it's presence and the way it moves me. It drills itself into my core. I feel euphoric when I listen, dance and feel the music. I want to get back into doing it, drumming for a long time and just going into a trance. Beats have always been my passion. I am lazy though. Unmotivated. But once I start I love it. I have so much fun. What is the problem? Where can I start? What could I do? What can I read to give me that jump start again? My djembe has sat in my living room for months along with 2 guitars. I need some suggestions on good albums to listen to that have deep progressive beats. Thanks for your time.

    Every drummer, no matter what age or whether or not they're professional or hobbyists, goes through a slump now and then. It's pretty normal and I wouldn't get too upset over it.

    While I wouldn't suggest a particular album (it's way too subjective) I would say to go to a record shop in the section of music that moves you and sample a number of selections until you find something inspiring. You could also borrow friends albums of like interest.

    One trick that I use with students is to ask them to only practice or play their drums for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. This will sometimes be enough to want to play a little bit more and will often turn into a much longer session by default. We often find more enjoyment out of things when we don't feel such a sense of obligation or ongoing commitment.

    It's a strange psychology that makes us quit or postpone something we love. I'm not sure I've ever understood it but as long as you recognize it, then you have the capacity to rise and conquer. I highly recommend motivational books or tapes as well (found in libraries/bookstores under "self-help"). There are also very inspirational movies such as "Shawshank Redemption" (among numerous others) that leave you with a newfound sense of excitement and perseverance toward your passions.

    I hope this has been of some help. Good luck to you!


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