Sorry for the delay between blogs recently its been a manic time, with the usual stuff, gigging rehearsing teaching etc.. which brings me to this weeks blog, the Drumshop’s very own teaching facility, Drumstars.
On Saturday I popped in the shop to see Wez and his Drumstars team Phil and Amy. Wez was very welcoming and allowed me to sit in and watch one of his lessons, the lucky culprit was 10 year old Dylan Thompson (no relation lol). He told me he started playing the drums because his dad is a drummer, although, Dylan said that he is better than his dad now!! Dylan has been playing for 3 years, and also plays trombone and flute. As I arrived Dylan was just having his picture taken for winning the Drumstars Drum Cover Competition, you can see his winning entry playing Mario Bros here.
In his lesson with Wez he was working on Grade 4, covering a Jazz piece, his feel was superb for such a young player and he was hitting all the phrasing with excellent set ups. Throughout Wez was giving great little tips, for example explaining a heel-toe method on the Hi hat 'chick’ to help stay in time, and always relating what is being learnt into the real world, giving examples of real situations that Wez has come across himself, showing a great understanding and experience. Wez is constantly taking notes of progression and future things to look at. Towards the end of the lesson Wez then follows the concepts that have been used within the grade 4 pieces with a popular song. In this case it was a Stooche track featuring Travie McCoy, incorporating the triplet fill ideas that they had been looking at into a different style. Dylan was taking everything in and wasn’t missing a beat! He is an amazing young drummer and will be an outstanding musician.
Each teaching booth is funky in design and very well equipt, with flat screen tv’s to watch drumming DVD’s on, 2 yamaha DTX 500K Electronic drum kits with XP100SD snare heads, a Yamaha PM3 monitoring system and an Ipad.
At Drumstars its not just the kids that are having lessons the parents are too! I popped into see Phil and he was giving Amanda Gill a lesson, they were looking at the Adele track Rolling in the Deep! Amanda was finding it hard to improvise and jam along to a song, so they had chosen that track to play and have fun with, as Amanda is just playing the drums for fun while her son has lessons with Wez, “Phil is very patient and we have a good laugh, I just really enjoy the experience” says Amanda.
Sadly I didn’t a get chance to catch up with Amy and her student Luke Haggerston at the time but popped in to take a quick pic. They were engrossed in a grade piece, so I didn’t want to disturb.
I asked all the tutors 3 questions: Why they started playing drums?, One top tip?, and what they think is the right path to succeed as a player?
“ I started playing drums aged 11, it was that or the flute and drums seemed cooler!”
“ My tip would be always find enjoyment in what you are learning or what you do! Once you get the hand pattern or groover right through concentration, hard work and repitition the 'play it like you stole it’ “
“ I think to succeed as a player you must practice, listen, and become a musician not just a drummer! I’ve ben playing for 20 years now and would happily say I’ve only just grasped this in the last year, when you’re 17 you think it will all fall at your feet however you need to apporach your playing and career with a much older head on your shoulders while not loosing touch with your 17 year old enthusiasm, innocence and originality. I think the young guys that succeed from an early age find the right balance with this. "
“ I got my first drum kit for Christmas when I was 6 years old, but didn’t take it up seriously till I was 13, as I thought I was going to be right wing for Tottenham, but it wasn’t meant to be! At School I had been learning Piano for a few years, I went home from school one day and saw Nirvana playing 'Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and Dave Grohl was beating the life out of the drums, and i thought to myself 'That’s the coolest thing I’ve seen! I’ve had a drum kit since I was 6, why the hell am I playing the piano!?’ So I went to school the next day and asked to have drum lessons. As it happens I massively regret giving up the piano, but thank Dave Grohl everyday for inspiring me to play the drums. "
Phil’s top tip:
"Be creative!! To me this is the most important part of drumming (and music as a whole). Take the things you learn and use them in your own way, it’s amazing how much you can do with a simple idea, If you learn a new rudiment, groove or fill, experiment with it and try and play it as many ways as you can. "
“ I feel the path to success is to believe in yourself. Whatever your goals are, you can achieve them, but you’re probably not going to do it without making some mistakes and some failures. Be nice, enjoy what you do and don’t be afraid to take a few risks! "
“ There is no particular reason or influence that made me want to learn how to play drums. I just always liked the thought of being able to play drums. From a young age I used to drag my mums pots and pans out of the cupboard and bash away with wooden spoons. As soon as I was old enough to start drum lessons at school I started, and I loved it!! "
“ My top tip would be to stay relaxed when playing and learning. If you find something quite difficult, don’t play it to the point you are ready to tear your hair out, stop! Have a break, chill yourself out and when you’re relaxed, try it again."
“ Every teacher will tell you practice makes perfect. It is really important that you practice what your teacher asks you to practice, as your teacher will only give you exercises to practice that are going to improve your playing. I think it is also very important that you mess around on the drums once you have practiced what you should have been practicing. Every drummer has a different style and messing around on the drums plays a very important part in finding your own style. Practice, but Have fun!! "
All the tutors at Drumstars have a fantastic rapport with the students, and create a relaxed and friendly environment. Teaching is something very close to my heart, both of my parents are teachers and I have been teaching alongside my playing for nearly 15 years now. I have experienced in my past great teachers and not so great teachers and i like to think that have a good understanding of what a great teacher is and I can honestly say that the Drumstars team are a great educators who inspire each and every student in a fun and enjoyable environment. Check these guys out!!
Well it’s about time I got some beauty sleep, once again thanks for reading and I’ll try my best to keep these regular again.