The behind the scenes work at proficiency at anything is fairly boring in most cases. And as is the case with most disciplines, there is a wealth of stuff to work on when it comes to playing drums. This weekend I focused on mechanical issues and getting a level of comfort back with my hands. I joked with my wife that creativity sometimes just seems to be a disciplined version of ADD. She laughed and gave me one of those puzzled looks. “Basically” I said, “I find many detours from my initial vantage point to when I stop. Inevitably I come up with a cooler concept than what I started out with and my practice session takes a 180 degree turn from where it started.” And it’s true. I started out with a certain set of exercises that I envisioned working on and ended up writing out a series of ideas that I had never thought of before. I’d make a terrible teacher because even at my most disciplined state I am still trying new things and can’t seem to stick to a well-intentioned plan.
I went through a book yesterday that I have been using since 1983. The book is entitled Stick Control and it has been a tool used by countless percussionists for eons. Over the years as I have met other drummers I have come to the realization that everyone seems to have their own version of how to practice the exercises. I love the creative ways that others have adapted this book to help their playing. The pages are now tattered and are literally filled with notes and suggestions from when I started practising with a purpose.
It felt like having a conversation with an old friend. A trip down memory lane on the one hand but one with the promise of new direction and purpose.