If they had an AA type of organization for music addicts, I would be a top-qualifying candidate. My first fix came at the age of four when my dad eagerly played Bill Haley’s ‘Rock around the Clock’ on the furniture-sized, wooden record player. Since then, certain combinations of artists and musical genres have been known to lure me into a fanatical state. My need and desire to play music was born out of this fanaticism and as it stands today, I recognize two distinct personas making up my musical whole: The Fan and The Player. Everything I do as a player, in some way, relates back to the experience of being a fan. –It is this fan/player relationship, which instills a sense of purpose into my practice, and also prevents me from falling into the category of: Drummers who ‘drum for the sake of drumming’.
As a drummer, I would say I’m self-taught. -Yes, I went to school for music, but I failed in finding a true mentor: Someone who was wise and willing to guide me, personally, through my musical journey. It turned out that my real ‘teachers’ were those students around me, who at a young age, were literally doing things I couldn’t comprehend. It was as if these students were speaking a special language in which I felt excluded. This led to a strange inner conflict: On one hand, I was amazed and inspired by the new potential music held for me, and on the other hand, I felt a strong sense of frustration for the fact that I had a lot to learn, and no clear way of getting where I wanted to be.
This is when I began looking at things very closely: In an attempt to discover a ‘window’ into their knowledge, I spent an excessive amount of time studying great players throughout history. I looked for common factors pertaining specifically to their greatness, which in turn, exposed my shortcomings.
One of my first discoveries was a divide between the learning methods these great players used, and the way music was taught in the curriculum at school. -There’s more to learning music than what can simply be taught in books. For example, I’ve discovered that spending a great deal of time on movement has dramatically improved my playing; -more so than practicing paradiddles around the kit. By focusing on how I move, I’ve decreased the time spent practicing patterns, which require seemingly endless repetition. -This firms my belief that how we play directly affects the outcome of what we play.
While I will always be the student at heart and in practice, my goal is to pass on the things I’ve learned, which have led to 30 successful years of touring, recording, practicing, and learning. It is my hope that, in much less time, students can benefit from the things that I otherwise had to learn ‘the hard way’. Thank you for being part of my legacy… I hope to be a part of yours.