Dear fellow drum-nerds!
Happy (belated) New Year!
Yes, we are living in rough times and Germany is living under a full lockdown again and it doesn´t look like it is going to change anytime soon. Devastating for the whole country and not just for us musicians! But forgive me, I am a little corona tired, that is why I don´t want to write about that issue and our challenges with it. I rather write and talk about uplifting things like the second greatest thing in the world: drumming 😉
There is a very old debate amongst drummers: what is more important, groove or chops?
I definitely don´t want to fuel the fire, but maybe add some food for thought.
There is no question: if you want other musicians to ask you to play with them or book you for a gig it is definitely a combination of both. No musician, no matter what style, wants to play with a drummer with a weak groove or bad feeling. Besides keeping good time, you have to make your fellow musicians ”feel good” and be able to lock in with your playing.
Also, no one really likes to play with a drum-robot, who might be ultra-fast and has chops like lightning, but no heart and soul in their playing.
On the other hand imagine a drummer on a gig, with great feel, but no speed and stamina, hard punch or chops, in order to really make the band cook at some points of the night.
Not so cool either, right?
Like so often in life, the truth lies in the middle: you have to have a certain speed, stamina, and endurance, but also a lot of dynamics to really make it through a longer gig. But it´s also important, that you have to have a good groove and heart and soul for the music you play, otherwise, it is pretty pointless to go on stage.
What´s really interesting is the fact, that there are soooo many tutorials and online lessons out there that try to help you to improve your speed and chops. But there are just a few really good lessons on how to improve your groove. Very often the groove lessons are more or less technical lessons on how to improve your time and micro time and how to come up with new ideas and there is nothing wrong with that. But not too many people teach the most obvious fact, that if you want to improve your groove, you HAVE to listen to and play along to the groove masters of music history, such as The Meters, James Brown, Earth Wind & Fire, Funkadelic, Kool and the Gang and many others. You can work on shift of accents, your groups of fives, seventh, odd meters, etc. for the rest of your life, but if you´ve never played along with JB or EW&F it is very possible that you´ll never sound funky.
That is why I was so happy when groove monster Adam Deitch came into our studio, one year ago, wearing a t-shirt with the picture of the founder and drummer of Earth Wind & Fire, Maurice White and in his first tutorial for Drumtrainer Online, his introductional sentences were: „ All pocket drumming comes from James Brown“. There is nothing more to add here.
We´ve just uploaded an excerpt of that tutorial “Funk & Pocket playing“ to YouTube and I highly recommend to check it out, if you want to improve your groove:
But since I´ve written that also speed and endurance are important to become a good drummer, also check out this great tutorial by the amazing Thomas Lang, which we produced with him some while ago. I am very proud that it was recently released by the legendary DrumChannel from Los Angeles:
Last but not least an update on our upcoming courses :
Our next Drumtrainer Pro-Training on weekends (Certificate of Higher Education – Professional Drummer) will start in February. Due to the pandemic, we might postpone the first weekend and teach some topics online. That course is fully booked.
Our Drumtrainer didactic-course (Certificate of Higher Education – Musikdidaktik) will start In April. This course will be taught in German only.
The next 12-month Pro-Training (Certificate of Higher Education – Professional Drummer) will start in October 2021 and hopefully, we will be able to teach this on sight again.
If you are interested in these courses, just write to us and we´ll arrange an online assessment examination very soon.
So, Ladies and Gentleman, wherever you are: stay safe and sound and maybe use the lockdown for working on your groove and chops!
I am looking forward to the, hopefully soon, end of this pandemic and to meeting some of you in person here at Drumtrainer Berlin.
All the best, Dirk Erchinger (CEO)