Archive for the ‘djembe’ Category

A Guide to Picking & Buying Your First Drum Set

October 28, 2013

 

By Will Smith Drum and Percussion Instructor at The Lesson Studio,

            Congratulations! You are just beginning the great adventure of learning to play the drums. It is my hope that after you’ve finished reading this you will feel more comfortable making a purchase of an instrument that fits you and your budget. If you have any questions please notify us so we can help you with any additional needs.

            Let’s start with how to read the following pages. You’ll be looking for a few important key words. The term hardware refers specifically to any part of the drum set that holds the drums, cymbals and hi-hats. When buying your first drum set you should aim to find a package that includes the hardware, this will be cheaper and easier. Keep in mind many higher end drum sets will not be sold with hardware.Drum sets are another one of those investments where you “get what you pay for”. If you choose to find a set that costs more or less than you’ve budgeted, make sure you investigate the reasoning behind the change in price and what you may be gaining or loosing as a result.

            Now let’s discuss the eternal battle of electronic vs. acoustic drum sets. Each has its strengths. Pick the option that suits you as an individual, if you struggle with turning a computer on/off you should probably not go the electronic route. I have an affinity for acoustic drum sets because the instrument makes the sound that I hear…not a computer. There’s just something about the good ol’ fashioned way that makes sitting behind an acoustic set more comfortable. The electronic set will save room and takes up much less surface area, it can also keep parents from having to wear ear plugs or talk down crazy neighbors. Choose wisely!

            On the note of noise, many products exist to muffle or eliminate the majority of sound coming from both electronic and acoustic drum sets. For electronic drum set simply plug in a pair of headphones, for acoustic drum sets you can purchase “SoundOff” mutes to completely eliminate the majority of sounds or “Moongel” damper gels to prevent excessive resonance.

            Remember the process of learning the drums is half muscle memory & half muscle memory…that is, your arms/feet & your brain as a muscle. Often times having a drum set in front of you helps to remind you that practicing the proper motions and techniques can be rewarding. Think of your practice time as time at the gym and your playing as lifting weights…the more you lift, the stronger you’ll be. They make heavier sticks if you plan to take that statement literally 😉

            After working closely with Billy from The Drum Shop (303-402-0122) in Boulder, CO we were able to put together a few packages that will make this process even easier. But don’t take my word for it, DO YOUR RESEARCH! It will only help you feel more at ease after making a purchase. The packages that follow this guide vary with what they offer please ask questions to make sure you are getting everything you need.

Advertisements

Using Audiation as a Key to Successful Musical Learning

March 12, 2013

by Will Smith, Drum instructor at The Lesson Studio

As a young man my father taught me an important lesson that has stuck with me ever since. He said, “Think before you speak.” These words were simply my dad’s way of preparing me for the real world. Lucky for us musicians a parallel exists in the music world so I can share with you a derivative of my dad’s advice. I’ll say to you “Think before you play.” I’d like to expand a concept called audiation to help you do just that, “Think before you play”.

Audiation is a musical tactic often overlooked by a vast majority of musicians even though they use it every day. Let me clear things up for you! Audiation is defined as a high level thought process involving mentally hearing and comprehending music even when no physical sound is present. Let’s give it a shot together, sing in your head, without making any physical sounds, the song “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. Amazing! You have just used audiation. This is an excellent habit to begin using during your practice times because the beauty of audiation is that we can sing and move all in our brain without ever having to sing or move physically.

What does this mean to us as music educators?

1) We should first acknowledge the pioneer of audiation, Edwin E. Gordon who identified the key concepts behind the process of audiation and encouraged the adoption of this process into every music educators’ tool belt. Gordon suggests that in order to audiate while musicians perform music through imitation, they must be able to do the following: sing what they have played; play a variation of the originally melody; play the melody in a different keyality, tonality, or with alternative fingerings; or to demonstrate with body movements the phrases of the melody.

2) We should incorporate these strategies into our lessons even if at a minimal level to help our students become stronger musicians. I like use the old elementary P.E. basketball example. “Imagine the basketball going into the hoop when you let go of it.” This is exactly audiation in sports form… tell your students to “think the first phrase through from m.1 to m.9” then to play exactly what they were able to audiate. I promise you will notice an immediate difference in the confidence a student has in their ability to play that certain phrase.

3) We should use this process as a key for improvisation skills. As a music educator, I am always striving to teach my students to think on their own and on their feet! Improvisation is a great strategy to use with students especially when accompanied by audiation. Using audiation helps the students get to a level of achievement where they feel comfortable looking away from sheet music, but then remind them that the sheet music also exists in their mind, and audiation can unlock that musical manuscript.

I’ll conclude with a note from Gordon’s website (http://giml.org/mlt/audiation/): “Through development of audiation students learn to understand music. Understanding is the foundation of music appreciation, the ultimate goal of music teaching.”

Will Smith, Drum Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Will Smith

Percussion Instructor – Luke Emig

July 2, 2010
Luke Emig, Percussion Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Luke Emig

By Elizabeth Gold, Correspondent of The Lesson studio

Although Luke Emig started playing the saxophone in second grade band class, when he heard a friend playing drums at age 12, he got hooked on the beat.

“I like the groove and feel and rhythm of drums,” he says.  “Plus playing the drums uses all limbs and gives instant gratification.”

Luke’s early challenges with drums stemmed from the conflict between counting and just playing.  “I didn’t know it at the time but timing was my biggest challenge,” he says.  “At 12, using a metronome can be tedious and nerve racking – especially since I was more interested in just having fun rather than being a professional.

“The way to get the right sound, however, is to use the metronome – it doesn’t lie.”

When Luke started playing drums in Roswell, Georgia, he began with heavy metal and then moved into regae, ska, punk rock, jazz, jazz fusion, Afro-Cuban, and Brazilian music.

What kept him interested and continuing to study the instrument?

“Playing them has always given me a strong creative release,” he says.  “The coordination aspect came easy to me, and I started playing with other musicians early on – that kept me going and learning.”

Luke says he’s liked teachers along the way for different reasons.  One for hanging out, being personable and not pressuring him too much.  And then at age 16, he hooked up with a teacher who “whipped me into shape and taught me theory.”

He credits that push and demand as what got him ready to go to University of California, Berkley to study music.

Today Luke plays with two groups.  “Playing music is such a rewarding experience.”