Well, what strange times we find ourselves in!
If someone had said to me this time last month that I’d have just endured - sorry, enjoyed - two weeks of social isolation with my family, and that I’d be looking at a lockdown for the foreseeable future, I’d have thought they were getting an early start on April Fool’s Day. But no, here we all are, getting used to a new way of life.
And how does it change things for Ravebugs? Well, I’ve had to move almost all of my activities online! I’m so happy to report that this has worked really well with drum lessons. My students are able to connect via Skype, FaceTime or Zoom and have a full lesson. I am able to both see them at their drums and demonstrate techniques etc to them on my own kit. I have also started giving students access to a student ‘portal’ on the Ravebugs website, which allows me to share music and charts with them. For my younger students, parents can also see their child’s progress, contact me and track how much practice etc is going on. For students that don’t have their own kit at home, I have been modifying lessons so that they can still learn while using a practice pad, and we have even been enjoying using Facebook Live to broadcast drumming sessions to viewers in their own home who want to make some noise on everyday household items such as washing baskets, buckets and jugs!
It’s a bit of a different story of course when it comes to the live performance aspect of my work, this has become a bit impossible since all pubs, bars, cafes and theatres closed, however I’m in regular contact with all my band-mates and we’re still putting music together, recording separately and sharing it between us so that we’re able to keep the momentum going.
Prior to starting Ravebugs, I worked with computers and saw many developments over the years, but I could never have dreamt what a difference the technology would’ve made to our lives today during the lockdown. How lucky are we to be able to do things like drum lessons, and even to be able to just stay in touch with others in our community, all from the safety of our own homes?
#stayhome #keepsafe #keepplaying
Bit of a different one this week.
We are certainly living in crazy times at the moment with schools closing and entertainment venues shutting while we all stay home self isolating ourselves. So I thought I would let you know what we here at Ravebugs are doing to try and help relieve boredom, and help our students continue to learn their instrument. I have mentioned before that we do offer lessons over Skype, FaceTime Google hangouts etc for anyone that wants a ‘virtual’ face to face lesson. These work just like normal lessons but you are sat at your drum kit or practice pad in the comfort of your own home. These are a great solution for those already having lessons as we can continue to practice and develop the skills that you are currently working on.
In the next few days we will be doing some Facebook livestream events that will be suitable for everyone. These will include a bit of bucket drumming, some info on building a ‘Junk Percussion set up and generally some fun things to do with music. We may also stream some lessons for anyone that might be interested.
There is also a host of videos to watch on the Ravebugs YouTube channel and we will be adding much more over the coming weeks so please check that out and if you could subscribe to the YouTube channel that would be amazing. Talking of social media please check out the Ravebugs Facebook and Instagram offerings as we are also trying to build those as well..... Of course if you have people you would like to share these with that would be brilliant and we certainly would appreciate it.
Anyway that’s enough from me, you are probably busy stopping the kids from killing each other 😂 Stay safe, be nice to each other and don’t hog all the toilet rolls!
So what can you do if you want to have a drum lesson but can’t make it over to our studio in Eastbourne?
Luckily help is at hand. We can offer full lessons over Skype, FaceTime, Google or any of the other popular video messaging services. All you need is a web cam, a microphone and a way to connect. You could also just use your smart phone or tablet. As long as we can see and hear each other then you are all set.
Once we have arranged a date and time, all you need to do is be sat at your kit and connected to Skype or whatever messaging service we are using. I will then contact you at the agreed time and your lesson will begin. After your lesson I will send over an invoice which can be paid in whatever way suits you the best. It’s as easy as that.
Probably the one question I get asked more than any other is. 'should I buy an electric or acoustic drum kit'. Rather unhelpfully the answer to this, and most questions around learning, is that it depends on your situation and what you want to use it for. Both types of kit have their pro's and con's, their supporters and detractors. Its probably easiest for me to look at each type separately.
These are great if you are short of space as many of them are on a rack that easily folds away reducing the space required when not in use. They are also good if you are likely to upset the neighbours with your practice. Having said that however they are NOT silent and you still get a lot of stick noise from them as well as noise transmitted through the floor from the bass pedal. There are several solutions available to help with this though. Another nice feature of most electric set ups that my drum students certainly like is they have built in metronomes and also the ability to plug in a music source so you can practice with your favourite music and hear both the music and your drumming at the same time in your headphones.
Nothing beats the sound and feel of acoustic drums. They just sound better and as they physically move air, unlike the electric alternative, you can actually 'feel' what you are playing. They do take up space though and can be extremely loud. In fact when using acoustic drums in my studio here in Eastbourne I always insist that students wear ear protection. Don't let that put you off completely though. There are a whole range of dampers, pads, covers and even mesh drum heads that can be applied to help keep the noise down.
At the end of the day the choice is yours. Here at Ravebugs I am always more than happy to advise, set up and even source the perfect drums for you if you feel a little overwhelmed by the choice out there.
Until next time.
keep drumming and have fun.
What does it take to become a successful musician? This is a much bigger question than it first appears. First we must decide upon what we class as success. This differs from person to person. For example do you class success as being the multi-millionaire rock star doing a sold out world tour? Or do you just want to be able to play your instrument with confidence. For some, success is being in demand and the phone always ringing with more opportunities, while for others it is simply being able to make a living and pay the bills. Whatever your vision of success is will be personal to you so only you can say if you are a successful musician.
In my case it very quickly became clear that I was never going to be the legendary rock god that I thought I was. So, after much thinking about what was important to me and what I wanted to achieve in life. I realised that I just wanted to get paid to play my drums. if I could make enough money to pay the bills and feed my family, then I would be a happy bunny. As soon as I saw this it took a lot of pressure off of ‘trying to be a success’ and made the path to achieving my goal a lot clearer.
Nowadays I am lucky enough to run a successful music teaching business, I do the occasional theatre job, I record drums for people, play in a band and also dep for various artists. I’m not a household name or playing to 1000’s of adoring fans but I am playing my drums every day and helping others on their journey into music.
Whatever your definition of success may be. Enjoy the journey.
Metronomes. love them or hate them they are a fact of life and we, as drummers, need to get used to them and treat them as our friend.
Us drummers have one job and that is to keep time. It doesn’t matter how fast or clever or cool we are. if we cannot keep accurate time for the band, orchestra, dancers or whoever else we are playing for, then we wont have a job for very long.
So what is the best way to get on good terms with the click? It’s the same answer as everything else... Practice!
First of all grab yourself a metronome. Nowadays there is no reason to buy a metronome, there are loads available fr free on your smart phone, tablet and computer. in fact if you type metronome into Google, Google has its own metronome!
Next set it at a nice easy tempo. I would suggest nothing higher that about 80 bpm.
Now play the following for about 5 minutes a day:
4 bars of 1/4 notes
4 bars of 1/4 note triplets
4 bars of 1/8 notes
4 bars of 1/8 note triplets
4 bars of 1/16 notes
4 bars of sextuplets
4 bars of 1/32 notes
Then reverse the order back down to 1/4 notes and repeat all over again.
in no time at al you will be playing perfectly in time and happily using the click.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Students often ask what is the best way to practice. The easy answer is a little and often. Drumming is definitely one of those skills that benefits from repetition. This is because most of the time that we are working on something new it involves some form of muscle memory or to put it slightly more scientifically... we need to create and strengthen neural pathways in our brain. A couple of good examples of this are walking and riding a bike. At first, when you start trying to do either of these things they seem impossible but after time and patience they become second nature.
I usually recommend 10 minutes or so of drumming practice per day, every day. This is so much better than trying to cram an hour in once a week before your lesson. Also people are so busy these days that just 10 minutes is not only easier to schedule into a busy day but it can also be your reward for getting something done or a nice way to relieve stress.
So that brings us to... What, should we practice? This depends on circumstance and where you are. If you are away from home, or you don’t have access to a drum kit, then doing 10 minutes of rudiments and sticking exercises on a practice pad can work wonders. You will genuinely be surprised at your improvement if you spend 10 minutes a day on paradiddles for example. If you are lucky enough to get behind a kit, then you can play rudiments, practice whatever you are working on during your lesson and also just play to some music, as this helps develop your musical ear and exposes you to different sounds and techniques.
Whatever you do remember... Drumming is FUN! So go, enjoy yourself and stop treating practice like a chore.
What is the perfect age to start learning drums? The answer to this is a difficult one. It depends on so many different factors. What do you want to get from your lessons? How often can you practice? How seriously do you want to take it?
These are just some of the things that you should ask yourself before your first lesson. There are no right or wrong answers but knowing if you just want to “Have a go” or become a rock star or theatre musician can help your music teacher shape your lessons to suit you.
Over the many years that I have been a drum teacher, I have had students that have always wanted to play the drums and are now ticking off a line on their bucket list. I’ve had kids that liked the idea of playing drums and then decided it wasn’t for them, Ive had professional musicians who want to brush up their skills, people wanting to take grading exams, retired people wanting an unusual hobby and even someone who was preparing to enter a music degree course.
It really doesn’t matter what your motivation is, how old you are, if you are left handed or right handed a boy or a girl, have never played anything before or are a multi instrumentalist. The important thing is you enjoy it!
Tuesday 7 January 2020 saw the sad passing of a truly great and inspirational drummer. Neil Peart was the drummer and lyricist in Canadian progressive rock band Rush. Over the 40 years that he played and toured with them he wrote some of the most inspirational lyrics and drum parts in rock history.