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I got back last night from the Jason Harms UK tour. It was a really great experience all around. I think my favorite gig was this one at a club called the Boston Dome in London…

This is a very funny account from Cosby about his younger years as an aspiring jazz drummer…

I’ve been in London for the past few days, and I saw this dude in the downtown area near Picadilly.  I admire his effort and attempt to raise awareness on this issue.  I don’t particularly admire his electronic drums, but, you can’t win them all…

Here’s a clip of the kit I’m using on the Jason Harms UK tour…

I am departing this afternoon for Europe, where I’ll be for the next couple weeks.  Jason Harms is doing a short UK tour, playing in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and London.  I definitely won’t be posting on this blog much while I’m gone, but the itinerary of the trip is at jasonharms.com, and you can follow the updates of the trip at Jason’s blog.  I’m bringing my new Flip camcorder, so there’s going to be plenty of video footage…

So I just picked up one of those new Flip camcorders. It is completely awesome. 8 gigs of HD footage = 2 hours of recording time. I tried it out yesterday at a session at Skyland Studio, and I’m really impressed.  It gets pretty good audio for something the size of my cell phone.

The session was for the new Miss Minnesota, but I forget her name right now.  She’s doing a record to raise money for a MN charitable organization of her choice.  I’m using the house DW kit at Skyland, which is always fun to play on. I also got a new ride a few weeks ago off Craigslist… a 21″ Paiste Dark Energy. This was the first studio run with that cymbal, and it is SO BOSS.  Much thanks to my new friend Dan Noraker for that one.

The new album from Look Alive is now complete. I am not kidding.

alreadynotyetphotowithdots

We’ve been working on this record for 20+ years. Now I am kidding, but seriously, it’s been a REALLY long project.  Well, now it’s done… and, it’s available… for free.  I am definitely NOT kidding about that.  We probably won’t have an official “release show” until the Fall, but we’ve put the record up on Derek Webb’s totally awesome Noisetrade site.  Go there and pick up a copy.  Like any other Noisetrade album, you can choose either the “pay-what-you-want” option, or give 5 email addresses of your friends who you think might like it.  That email address option is actually the most helpful for us, because Noisetrade sends out a notification to those 5 addresses, which simply says that you downloaded our album for free.  It’s a great way for you to get the record, and for us to get the word out.

PS…  The recent Ryan Paul & The Ardent record can also be found on Noisetrade, in addition to Jason Harms‘ 08 release.  Just browse the records using the A-Z option and get whatever you want.  And, I highly recommend picking up Matthew Perryman Jones’ Throwing Punches In The Dark, which is also available on Noisetrade.

57658621I hung out with my friend Bill last week, and he’s a huge cymbal head. He knows TONS about modern and vintage cymbals… tones and history.

I realized after hanging with him that I know very little about the fascinating history of these instruments, so I did a little research on the topic just now. Regardless of your brand preference (personally, I really enjoy Paiste stuff), the fact is that the Zildjian Company has had the most influence on evolution and development of drumset cymbals. Check out these videos if you want to learn a thing or two about that.

Oh man. I bought a copy of Nirvana’s Nevermind last week at a thrift store for $1. I haven’t owned this record since junior high. The drum tones are CRAZY awesome. I heart Dave Grohl.

I will say that he possibly overuses the crash cymbal on most of these tracks… but who cares. It’s so rocking. I mean, listen to the fill at 0:47 of “Drain You.” SO HUGE. Is it just me or is he underpinning the 16th snare notes with 8th notes on the kick there?

My students say this a lot. I used to say it a lot too, back in high school when I didn’t know better.  I say “didn’t know better” because I have a different take on things these days.

Another phrase showed up at a lesson yesterday.  A student was having trouble with an exercise, and I told him to focus hard and go slower.  He said: “I am focusing, but I think my arms just don’t want to do it right.”  I’ve heard that phrase many times from other students, but this time we stopped and talked about it.  The phrase is related to “this is too difficult,” in that it places the blame on the pattern or your arms, and not on YOU.

The way I see it is this: your arms have no mind of their own.  They do what they’re told to do.  Now, sometimes the arms are told to do something by habit or by discomfort.  This is problematic for drummers, because it can give the impression that you don’t have control over your own limbs.  But, this is not true.  We ALWAYS have control over our own motor skills (with the exception of illness or injury).

So, a more accurate version of the phrase above would be: “my arms just don’t want to do that, and I’m not currently putting in the mental effort to MAKE my arms do what I want them to.”  That sheds light on the real issue.  It’s not your arms’ fault for being “unwilling” to play the rudiment/fill/exercise/whatever – it’s YOUR fault for not using the very real control that your mind has over your arms.

Many times I think I’m focusing on doing something, but I’m really not.  I intend to tell my arms and legs what to do in trying to master a difficult pattern, but I’m really just hoping that they’ll figure it out on their own.

So, anyway, after discussing this with the student, he tried the exercise he was working on again and immediately had much more success.  I asked him if he thought the exercise felt easier after out discussion, and he said yes, and told me that he felt like he had a clearer picture of what to focus on.

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