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After long last… the seventh installment of the Risen Drums Video Lesson Series is here. Sorry this one took so long. Hopefully the next few episodes will arrive at the scheduled “bi-weekly” rate.

This lesson is about technique. I don’t usually like to teach about technique, because there are so many different perspectives out there, and many great players to stand behind each technique idea. But, this particular technique is one that I’m very fond of and I think it’s almost universally acknowledged as the superior method.


Episode 6 of the Risen Drums Video Lesson Series is here. Check it out…

A revolution in my thought process for playing drums took place when I was in high school at a regional Jazz festival. Pianist Lawrence Hobgood had a trio there to play for one of the clinics, and playing drums for Hobgood that day was a drummer named Paul Wertico. I’ve never spent too much time listening to Wertico, so I can’t say that his playing has influenced me much, but I learned something extremely important from observing him that day.

The trio’s set was great. Wertico played very well, and took a couple smoking solos. After they were done, I made my way up to the stage to take a closer look at the drums he was using. I noticed something that I have never forgotten: his snare and toms had quarter-sized dark circles (from stick markings) in the dead center of the heads, and the rest of the heads were totally clean and white. I couldn’t believe it. The accuracy and consistency required to make all your strokes land within a 1-inch diameter in the exact center of the drum was something that I had never even considered. I thought about my drums at home… they had markings ALL OVER the heads, and the darkened circles from heavy use were at least 6 inches in diameter. From that point on, I worked as hard as I could to hit the drums in the center every time I played anything.

Hitting the drums in the center produces the best tone. That is a fact. It’s true that you can get some cool sounds from hitting the edges of the head, but that should by no means be your standard target. Up until that day at the Jazzfest, I had merely been aiming for the drum when I wanted to hit it, and not the center of the drum. Now, when I think about hitting the rack tom, I remember to try for the dead center of the head. That’s the “revolution in my thought process” that occurred. It’s a simple adjustment to the mental aspect of playing drums, but it will make a huge difference in your sound.

SUMMARY: Treat the drum like a dart board and aim for a bull’s eye every time.

Alright.  Lesson 2 in the Risen Drums Video Lesson Series is up and running.  Check it out, and then post any questions that you might have here – I will do my best to answer them.

Meanwhile… here’s a little follow up on the lesson.  While the heel/toe adds a cool sound to your grooves, I should stress that the technique is not supposed to be your default way of playing the hats.  Any technique, no matter how cool it is, will be ruined if you use it too often.  Everything in moderation.  I probably use the heel/toe about 30% of the time… and that of course means I’m doing something else on the hats for the other 70% – maybe toe/heel (the reverse of heel/toe, which I explained on the video), or maybe heel hits only, or perhaps some sort of hybrid pattern.

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