Mike called a couple of days ago to ask how I was doing during the pandemic. Things about the same, nothing new. How about you? He tells me, no work, but I’ve been practicing a lot of things, I haven’t thought about in years. Like what? Excitedly he explains, snare drum marches. Haven’t done them for so long, I recognize how sloppy my technique has become. Each day 15-20 minutes on a pad or drum playing marches. He admits playing marches was never his favorite form of playing, but, “I’m beginning to see an impact on my overall playing.” Also, working out of the Charley Wilcoxon books. Playing the exercises with proper sticking (how it is written) is a bitch! Yeah, I spend another 20-30 minutes on those. I concentrate on sticking. Articulate…that’s the trick. I do them slow. Seems like after a few days my hands automatically pick up speed.
So, Mike, what else is happening? Oh, did I tell you I bought a guitar? Just learning basic chords so far. This is the first time we’ve spoken in about eight months. At that time the pandemic was a few months old and no one anticipated it would last this long. He was very upset that all of his band’s gigs were canceled and no end in sight. He actually was verging on depression. As a friend, I attempted picking up his spirits. Things will be cool, matter of time…cure will be coming shortly. He was despondent! Now, the man is focused on improving his game and showing signs of positivity. I asked how he was learning guitar. YouTube. Personally, I would rather be one on one with a teacher, but with a pandemic, choices are limited. He looks at YouTube videos with beginner guitar basics, technique, etc. and practices. He claims, “I can play a few chords and I’m learning another instrument. Maybe it will help my drumming.” Can’t hurt.
Our conversation reminded me a of TV show with Woody Herman. One particular segment featured Woody giving a clinic in a high (or middle?) school. He explains the benefit of learning and playing an instrument. A major benefit, whether professional or not, is the ability to go into a room and forget the day’s frustrations by playing your instrument. How to change a chaotic day into a beneficial one. For Woody, this was a spiritual event. No big surprise and I never forget the message.
Mike and I wrapped up our conversation. I was totally surprised at his turnaround. From a depressive state of mind to enthusiasm. I wanted some of this. Yes, I wanted the enthusiasm. The energy and focus on something of which I have control.
At that point, I decided to listen to Mike and Woody. Time to practice and work on what needs work. Spiritual or not. Pandemic or not.

2 Replies to “BUTT KICK”

  1. Playing marches is an art form, in itself. Technique, musicianship, it’s all there. In addition to the Wilcoxon, spend some time with Jack Pratt’s Modern Contest Solos.

  2. Barry, been practicing soooo much.. good for arthritis in my left hand.. all the Delacluse books that I purchased from Drummers world plus many more.. unfortunately no gigs… but great for these times.. a real challenge.. and definitely feels good mentally. Stay well.. lift a glass of red to the good times.. best Gary Rynar

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