I had a great time yesterday giving guest lecturer session at Leeds Beckett University. Dr. Tenley Martin invited me to speak with the university's drum students about general technique (the session description can be found at the bottom). Thanks Tenley for the invitation and enjoyable day.
Preparing for this session caused me to reflect on the influential technical teachings I've experienced over the years. Within this session, I wished to consolidate, share and humbly present some of these teachings. The contents of the lecture/workshops was very much a product of the teachings of three technical giants I've had the pleasure to learn from; Malcolm Garrett, Jim Chapin and John Wooton.
Malcolm Garrett has been teacher at (Royal) Birmingham Conservatoire for well over 20 years and was my drum teacher between 2000-2006. I believe that a powerful teacher's voice and teachings live on through their students and Malcolm's voice has been consistent throughout my career as a performer and educator. When I'm stuck with a technical problem I consult the 'Malcolm in my mind' for guidance and solution. Malcolm is a technical master, perennial student of drum technique and advocate (and compassionate critic) for his students.
I remember meeting him after a performance at PASIC which provided an impromptu moment for him to express some pride - but then get down to the serious business of 'sorting me out'! "Well done Jason, great performance. Now, we need to talk about your left shoulder. What are you doing? I've been telling you about this for years! Look, look, this is what you're doing (CUE UNNECESSARY RAISED SHOULDER IMPRESSION)! How's that helping you!!!....". Whether Malcolm is physically present or not, he continues to teach me every day. Thanks Malcolm.
Malcolm was a student of the late, great Jim Chapin (1919-2009). Malcolm would invite Jim to the Birmingham Conservatoire every couple of years to give masterclasses on technique and swing coordination. Jim was/is the great authority on these subjects and the author of one of the most influential drum texts ever (Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer). I'd recommend checking out his instructional video, 'Speed, Power, Control, Endurance' which distills his teachings and what he learnt through study with Sanford Moeller himself.
Through Jim's stays in Birmingham, he would give extra private lessons for anyone interested and I'd go and get a full 1:1 session. Jim's energy and enthusiasm was infectious. I learnt a lot in these lessons but arguably more in the lengthy conversations, whisky in hand, which would take place over the afternoon and into the night. Jim was a walking history book and would share the stories gathered over his life through teaching, well, pretty much everyone.
Another big influence on my technical understanding and approach, and another student of Jim Chapin I believe, is Dr. John Wooton . I first met John in 2008 at the International Percussion Festival in General Roca, Argentina which he and Tim Palmer and I (Maraca2) were performing. His teaching of the 'real rudiments' (https://www.drumeo.com/beat/the-real-drum-rudiments/) and his book 'Dr. Throwdown's Rudimental Remedies' have been constant companions since watching his class in Argentina and, later, at the Birmingham Conservatoire where John gave a masterclass. Since that pivotal meeting in Argentina, John has been a great supporter of Maraca2, (helping us to get over the US for clinics and masterclasses and introducing our evening concert at PASIC2013) and an influential, and often vicarious, teacher for me.
The teachings of these three great technical masters inspired my thinking and authorship of the 'Dictionary of Percussive Motion' (the .pdf can be downloaded for free here https://lau.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/17580/). The idea of this text was to codify all the possible movements which can take place across two limbs within a beat (with certain conditions) to conceptualise drumming/percussion-ing a 'dance' of choreographed movements which take place across time and space towards communication of emotion. This text, and the session in Leeds, is very much a product of 'Standing on the Shoulders' of these technical giants who I humbly, inadequately, pay tribute to through my own teaching every day.
Stick Kinesthetics: Developing Technical Efficiency For Healthy Hands
Do you want to play the drums with increased ease, efficiency, control and free of pain or discomfort? These workshop session will develop your healthful drumming through investigation of the relationship between the movement of your sticks, your body and the sounds produced both in your musical imaginations and upon the drum kit.
The workshop will begin with an examination of the fundamental stroke types that are implicit within ALL drum/percussion playing and how these are applied within typical sticking scenarios. This will lead to a more in depth analysis of the rudiments of drumming from the perspective of greater efficiency and bodily health. Your own technical barriers and challenges will be examined using these efficiency tools towards greater quality of sound, range of dynamics, range of speeds and increased control. Coordination of stroke types between limbs will be developed through examination of the ‘Dictionary of Percussive Coordination’ so that ease of motion can be achieved across limbs and rhythmic frameworks.