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Tips, thoughts & information on music & drumming.

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As a participant in several online musician/songwriter forums, I can attest to the fact that the "lessons" question, is a fairly common one. It's natural to be curious about how others acquired their knowledge & skills. Many players are self-taught, but many take the formal lessons route. I actually recommend a combination of both. I'll spend the remainder of this blog elaborating on my preference & sharing some tips on how to get the most out of formal lessons.


Let me begin by giving you a bit of background. I was a drum student 44 years ago, followed by several years as drum instructor. I became a novice guitar student 17 years ago and in recent years, have done some basic instruction in that capacity. My point is........I've seen the pros & cons of lessons from both sides, several times, with various instruments. Bottom line.........I speak from experience!


Freelance music instructors are an extremely diverse group. When I say freelance, I'm referring to teachers who either:
- teach from home or
- teach in conjunction with a music store or some other type of retail entity (on or off-line)

In the US at least, these are the most common, readily available type of instructors! Their skill levels, knowledge & basic qualifications run the gamut from virtually unqualified to extremely gifted. There is no certification process and no standardized list of requirements. In most cases, instructors are completely unregulated. What I'm getting at here, is that the responsibility for choosing a decent teacher rests entirely upon the student. Buyer beware, or in this case....student beware!


Unfortunately...this model, which makes the student, or student's parent responsible for selecting the teacher, has one serious flaw. It assumes that the student (or parent) is qualified to make the selection....that they know what to look for. In many cases, they don't! Hopefully, I can offer a little assistance in that area. Here's a short-list of qualities that I look for in a teacher/instructor:


1) Reasonable competence as a player - They don't have to be great, but they should come across as being at least comfortable with their instrument.


2) They should seem more concerned about your learning, than about feeding their own ego by dazzling you with their ability & brilliance.


3) They should not only allow, but encourage questions from you. As a student, I never walked into a lesson without having at least 1 or 2 pre-prepared, written questions! Don't trust yourself to remember. Write them down! Typical lessons are only a 1/2 hour long. It's easy to get rushed, busy with something else, or simply forget....write them down! Always remember that the instructor is only half of the equation here. The other half is you! You're paying this person. Make sure you're getting your money's worth! This is the area in which a combination of self teaching & formal instruction can be most beneficial. Trust your instructor to guide the direction of the lessons, but don't hesitate to do extra reading & research on your own. This is where many of your weekly questions can come from. Use your teacher's knowledge to help you gain a better understanding of how all these musical concepts work together. Show initiative, be inquisitive & get them to share as much of that knowledge with you as possible. In doing so, believe it or not, you're probably making their job a little more interesting.

*One quick caution about on-your-own reading & research. Try and stick to concepts that you're already somewhat familiar with. When it comes to music theory, skipping too far ahead isn't a good idea. Chances are.....if you've ventured into material you're not yet ready for, you'll know it. It won't make any sense to you! Whatever the subject is...don't panic. You're just not prepared to deal with it yet. Yes, this too...is on my list of past mistakes.blush.gif The funny thing is though, when the time is right....and you're able to place that information in the proper context, it'll make perfect sense to you. The trick is that the fundamentals always need to precede the more advanced concepts. Fundamentals are the building blocks. Skipping over them would be like trying to learn how to read, without first knowing the alphabet.


4) This final quality is a little hard to describe, but it's also the most critical for an instructor to possess. They need to be capable of remembering what it was like to be a student! If they can't, it's unlikely that they'll be able to explain things to you in an understandable way. If your teacher has forgotten what it was like not to know, you'll begin to see that within the first few lessons. Even though it not their intent, teachers like this tend to frustrate students. Too many times, frustrated students become ex-students. They walk away, assuming that their inability to understand is somehow their fault........and they never pick up the instrument again. Obviously, that's not the end result you want! Always remember that a teacher is there to be of benefit to YOU......not the other way around. Regardless of how brilliant & talented they may be, if they can't find a way to pass some of what they possess...onto you, it's a waste of your time and money! With this type of situation, my advice is simple......find yourself a different teacher! I did!


When I first decided to take up guitar, I did what many folks do. I walked into the closest music store & signed up with an available instructor for lessons. Many times, new students don't even have the opportunity to meet the instructor before signing up. I didn't. However, I did have an advantage over many new students. I'd already spent time on both sides of this student-teacher equation and I knew what to look for! So.....my first lesson rolled around and I met with my instructor. He was a 21 year old, 4.0 GPA, pre-med student at a prominent local university. I'd played with enough good guitarists in my day, to recognize that this guy had skills! Anyway, if I had any doubts, he was only to happy to remind me of it....often wink.gif. In his defense though, he seemed like a genuinely nice guy & appeared to have nothing but good intentions. Unfortunately, as an instructor, he did have one pretty big problem. He didn't have a clue how to teach beginner or intermediate students! Apparently, his own knowledge had evolved to the point where everything seemed simple to him. Rather than bore his beginner students with fundamentals, he decided to dig right into subjects that he considered more interesting. As part of my 2nd lesson, he proceeded to explain to me how a diatonic major scale & it's relative natural minor scale, are essentially identical. The only real differences being the starting & ending points of each....& the fact that the same note holds a different numeric position, depending on whether it's part of the major or minor version. If I've just lost some of you, I apologize. For those of you who do understand the concept, so did I.............one year later!
I'm one of those people who still has every note, from every lesson he's ever taken. A year after that 2nd lesson, I pulled out my notes...looked them over and the light bulb went off in my head. After an additional year of guitar method & theory, it actually made sense to me! I understood exactly what he was trying to tell me. I also understood how completely insane it was for him to think it was appropriate to teach that in a 2nd lesson. But there-in lies the problem. In his mind, the concept was no longer difficult. Because he understood it so well, he'd come to believe that everyone would. He had simply forgotten what it was like not-to-know. Needless to say, he didn't remain my teacher for very long........3 lessons to be exact. I went to a different shop & got myself another teacher. My second teacher was also my last. He was very good at what he did. I wasn't unkind about leaving the first guy, but I did leave.


In closing, I'd like to offer one last suggestion. Before you decide to change instructors, take a good, hard look at your part of the student/teacher partnership.
- are you actually practicing regularly?
- are you asking questions?
- are you genuinely interested in learning & improving?

If you're not, the best instructor in the world can't help you! A good teacher can make an immense difference, but even the best can't teach someone who's not interested in learning! Be honest with yourself because there's nothing to be gained by placing blame where it doesn't belong. If it's you, fix that! If it's them, try a different teacher.

Thanks once again for your interest!


Tom Hoffman
Songstuff member profile


I'd like to talk about learning a 2nd instrument and why that can be so beneficial......particularly for drummers. Many of my blogs, including this one, are inspired by lessons that I learned the hard way. By exposing you to my perspectives, I hope to provide you with some food-for-thought. Even if you choose to repeat my mistakes, perhaps you'll correct them more quickly than I did.


Most well-rounded drummers end up with a reasonable understanding of rhythm, timing, time signatures & dynamics. Typically, drums don't offer much exposure to the concepts of melody, pitch and harmony. That's a shame, but it's simply the nature of the beast. Because it's not essential knowledge for drummers, it's generally not taught. Unfortunately, that lack of knowledge leaves a huge hole in a drummers understanding of....and overall appreciation for music. It certainly did in my case. I simply didn't realize it at the time.


During my 9 years as a drummer/singer in various bands, I was perfectly content to concentrate exclusively on those 2 skills. Why....I'm not altogether sure? I guess I had convinced myself that widening my musical scope would somehow detract from the focus on my primary instrument - drums. Looking back, I realize that was complete nonsense! But, as they say.....hindsight is 20/20. Honestly, if I had it to do again, I wouldn't hesitate to take advantage of the excellent musicians I had around me. Off the top of my head, I can think of several who would have shared much of their knowledge with me for free. Oh well! I guess in the final analysis....whether we learn, matters more than when. blush.gif

Fact is.....I did eventually expand my musical horizons.


For anyone wondering about specific instrument recommendations, both guitar & piano (keyboard) deal with melody, pitch and harmony. Certainly there are other instruments to choose from, but guitar & piano (keyboard) offer one big advantage over many others. Both are capable of playing multiple notes simultaneously. In other words - chords. Chords & harmony are inseparably linked and are vital parts of the overall musical puzzle. Guitar & keyboard also offer the widest range of practical applications. Either will allow you to:


- recreate recognizable parts of your favorite songs


- play strictly for your own enjoyment


- play as part of a band


- write songs


- any combination of the above


An overwhelming majority of songwriters choose either piano or guitar as their primary writing instrument. My personal choice was guitar.


Finally....learning a melodic instrument aids dramatically in developing your sense of pitch. As a drummer, even a singing drummer, you may think you hear pitch well now. I did! But, it's simply amazing how much better you're able to scrutinize it after a few years of dealing directly with it. I first began to notice the difference in the accuracy of my hearing a couple of years after beginning guitar. I was listening to some of my old vinyl albums, from back in the 70s. Pitch imperfections in some of the vocal tracks were smacking me right in the face. These were songs I had heard hundreds of times before! It wasn't like I was listening any harder now. I was simply hearing things I hadn't been able to before. In one particular song, which happened to be a long-time favorite of mine, the main vocal in the first verse was really sharp. Honestly, it was tough for me to believe that I'd never noticed. Fact is though....I hadn't! It had been there all along.....I just couldn't hear it. At least not like I hear it now. Unfortunately, this is one of those things that truly needs to be experienced to be understood. So don't take my word for it.....go experience it for yourself!


That's all I have this time. Thanks for your continued interest!


Tom Hoffman

Songstuff member profile




It's amazing how large a role perspective plays in determining how someone views a given situation! For the definitive professionals of the music industry, the digital 2000s have been an endless onslaught of issues & obstacles. On the other hand, for dedicated amateurs like myself.....it's difficult to imagine a better time or more opportune circumstances.


Even as an amateur, I'm regularly exposed to discussions & information concerning the current state of the commercial music industry. My overall impression is.....
- At the very least, it's in the process of undergoing a serious structural make over
- At the worst, it's seen as irreparably damaged & seriously hindering going forward

My best guess is that reality probably lies somewhere in-between. Anyway, I do sincerely feel bad for all the talented folks trying their best to survive in the midst of these changes. But, as with everything else in life, change is inevitable! Sometimes things improve, sometimes they get worse, but they never remain the same for very long. That being said, I hope that all of my friends & acquaintances come though OK. It's tough to see bad things happen to good people.


Meanwhile.....for amateur singer/songwriters, conditions are the exact opposite. Things are absolutely great! As long as financial gain isn't the driving force behind your musical endeavors, these are truly incredible times! It's tough to admit that I feel so good about something that's having such an adverse effect on others, but that's the reality. With all of the focus on the downside of this changing market, I've seen very little written about the upside....hence the reason for this article. Our digital 2000s just happen to be a good example of how....even a negative change, doesn't necessarily generate a negative effect for everyone.


When I re-involved myself in music 17 years ago, the internet was still in it's infancy. When I began writing songs....2 years later, it never dawned on me that the internet would offer me a means by which to get my songs heard. Not just heard, but in some cases heard all over the world. Go figure! As if that's not cool enough, the majority of the time this can be accomplished at no cost to me. Honestly, if someone had told me that 15 years ago, I would have thought they were delusional. Yet nowadays, we have it at our disposal:
- musician resource websites like Songstuff.com.....full of free information & tips on how-to
- online songwriter forums, like Songstuff.com.....an excellent way to get outside perspectives & feedback, to continue developing our skills & to interact with other writers all over the world
- countless music showcase sites.....myspace, reverbnation, facebook, soundclick, soundcloud, etc.
- youtube & other audio-visual media sites, which allow us to showcase songs with visual accompaniment
- internet radio, both large & small scale
- free editing software like audacity, which among other things is great for creating original ringtones. Come-on...hearing ringtones of your songs every time your cell phone rings. Tell me that's not a hoot! I also make mine available as free downloads on 2 of my websites. Maybe I'll hear one on someone else's phone someday.....even cooler!


Prior to the internet age, we home-hobbyist writers had very few options. Realistically, once our songs had been played for family & immediate friends, they probably would have ended up on a shelf down in our basement. Short of attempting to place them with a label & turn pro.....what else could we really do with them? Not much!

Thanks to the digital 2000s, that's no longer the case! Fortunately....for once, we happened to be in the right place at the right time. Despite the absence of financial gain, we now have avenues available to get our music heard. In my mind, that makes a huge difference! Despite my love for the creative process of songwriting, I do recognize that the end result would be somewhat pointless if no one ever heard it. Music is meant to be heard!


In addition to all of the new reference & distribution opportunities I talked about here, the digital 2000s have also brought about many positive changes in the area of home recording technology. I'm not going to bore you with all of the details, but in a nutshell....
- much more can be accomplished, at a much lower cost
- it's possible to achieve a more professional sound
- the process itself has become simpler for a single individual to handle

To use myself as an example, I'm still not able to duplicate the production quality of a professional studio, but I can get much closer to it than I could have 15 years ago.


In closing, I'd like to offer some friendly advice to anyone out there who's been toying with idea of pursuing songwriting as a hobby. Now's the time to get in! As great as current conditions are, they probably won't be this way forever.
As always, thanks for your interest!


Tom Hoffman
Songstuff member bio


Even though this is a blog, I'd like to point out that this particular entry is based strictly on my personal opinions & experiences. I'm fairly certain that other points of view exist. These just happen to be mine.


Our continued use & glamorization of labels such as "gifted, naturally talented & inspired" in connection with musicians & writers, greatly contributes to the public's misconception of what it takes to become one. Anyone who's proficient in either of those capacities knows full-well that sincere desire, prolonged dedication, personal discipline and hard work play a much bigger part!


It's somewhat understandable that we musically inclined folks enjoy attaching a certain air of mystery & inaccessibility to what we've learned. Making it sound as if one needs some indefinable quality to do this, helps us feel good about what we've done......even a little superior perhaps. In plain terms, we're stroking our own egos!


I don't have a problem with how it effects us. My issue is with how it effects those who haven't yet learned......the aspiring musicians & writers out there. Unfortunately, they're left to wonder if they possess these qualities and how they even go about the task of figuring out if they do. It's a great injustice for us to place the emphasis on the wrong attributes, especially in this day & age of instant gratification. Too often, the end result is someone owning an instrument that they never learned how to play.

How many times have you seen a friend or relative...........

- buy an instrument

- try for a month or two to learn it- get discouraged because the skills weren't coming to them quickly or naturally

- decide that they "don't have whatever it takes"

- quit and never pick it up again?


Too often!!!!!


I guess there is one hidden benefit to this trend, if you're an instrument retailer. I would imagine that the lower, price-point end of the instrument market has grown significantly in recent years. I'm just not sure that benefits anyone, except low-end retailers!-LOL


The point I'm interested in making is a simple one. Generally speaking, except in the case of some type of prohibitive physical issue, the single biggest thing a person needs to be capable of learning an instrument is sincere desire !


Plain & simple.........

1) you have to want it

2) recognize that it's a long process requiring a continued effort on your part

3) commit yourself, up-front, to doing what's necessary to learn


Do yourself a favor & forget all the nonsense you've heard about talent & natural ability. If you truly possess those 3 things......you can learn to play! Will you be great? Who knows! But you will be able to play and have a competent knowledge of the instrument. I think things like talent & natural ability do play a part in determining the difference between who becomes a moderately good player & who becomes a great player, but not in who's able to learn to play. I've approached every instrument I've ever learned in exactly the same way. It's never a question of whether I can learn it, it's simply a matter of how long it will take me and how much effort will be required. Talent can effect how quickly someone learns & how far they progress, but again........not whether they're able to learn! If you want-to, you will!


As far as I'm concerned, it's no contest...........................I'll take interest & sincere desire over aptitude anytime!


Tom Hoffman

Songstuff member profile




Unless you've played in a cover band, you're probably not aware of this little tidbit. Generally, the drummer will spend less time picking-out & learning parts than anyone else in the band. I played in bands for 8+ years of my life. When it came time to learn new material, I was the envy of every guitar, bass & keyboard player I ever played with!-LOL

Those are the times it's particularly good to be a drummer!


It's not that we're a lazy breed. It's simply the nature of the beast. Here are a few of the reasons:


- drum parts are easier to hear & pick out in song, even in today's environment of over-produced studio cuts


- our parts contain fewer unfamiliar components


- in most cases, parts don't need to be learned as exactly as some of the more familiar, signature parts of a song


- drummers don't have to deal with concepts like melody, pitch, harmony, chord voicing, achieving a similar tone & effect, where to position a lead on the guitar neck.....and how to make one guitarist sound like 3 or 4 on the CD.

Alas, ours is a simpler task! happy.gif


On the other hand, when it comes to setting up & tearing down equipment, you'd rather be anyone but the drummer.

The proverbial shoe is on the other foot. blush.gif

When the job is over, the guitar player wipes down his guitars, put them in the cases, unplugs his amp & pedal-board, covers or cases them......and he's off.

Yes, it seems that what comes around, goes around!

The time we save on learning parts, we spend on grunt work later. Go figure!

Of course, if you're financially able to carry a road-crew, the work load isn't nearly as uneven.

But, if you're doing it yourself, the drummer does get the short-end-of-the-drumstick (pun intended).


Anyway......that's all I have for now. Hopefully you found this inside information interesting.....or at least amusing.

Next time the subject will be "Dispelling Musical Myths". It's a bit of a departure for me, as it deals more with music in general, than drums & drumming specifically. Check back in a couple of weeks & I'll have it posted.


Tom Hoffman

Songstuff member profile







For those of you who've never been part of a band, there are some fundamental guidelines that most bands adhere to. One of those guidelines is that the drummer should always serve as the band's rhythmic center! Much like the function of the conductor in an orchestral setting, the drummer is responsible for setting the pace. No.....I'm not trying to worsen the clash of egos that's an inevitable part of the band experience. This is simply the way it works!

If anything, hearing it from someone outside of your immediate group should reduce the potential for disagreement amongst yourselves.





If you're a drummer, accept this as one of your responsibilities.

If you're a guitarist, keyboard player, singer, etc....for everyone's sake, please recognize that this is the way it needs to be.

Have you ever wondered why so many bands locate the drummer near the center of the stage? One fundamental reason is ease of access. The other band members can more easily see and hear them in that center position. Everyone plays toward that same rhythmic center....not to one another. While there are other elements involved in accomplishing a tight sound, without adhering to that one basic principle, you can't get there! Regardless of individual proficiency levels, if the keyboard player is playing to the guitarist, the guitarist is playing to the bass player and the singer is taking his timing cues from the keyboard player.......you'll hear that in the end result. It will not sound tight!


This principle also applies when recording final tracks. For you non-drummers......if at some point in your future, you hope to write & record fully arranged versions of your own material, you need to be aware. As a general rule, when recording the final version of a song, that final drum track is recorded first. This is done because it's not possible to center every other instrument around the drums, if there are no drums. ^_^


Seriously....even if you work alone like I do, that drum track is used as the rhythmic center for every additional instrument track laid down. When I record the guitar tracks, bass track, keyboard track, or misc. percussion tracks to a new song.......I'm playing along with that previously recorded drum track. It's my foundation!


For the sake of clarity, I'm not a user of MIDI technology. This "drums first" rule may not apply as strictly for MIDI users. That's outside my area of expertise.


My next blog entry will be called "What Comes Around, Goes Around".....the yin & yang of drumming in a band.


Tom Hoffman

Songstuff member profile




A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend who's an aspiring drummer (and will remain nameless.....for a price wink.gif ).

He got himself a full drum set a while back and began taking lessons. Long story short....after just a few lessons, he had to stop....at least temporarily. He was still playing and learning what he could on his own. Apparently, his hands were fine, but he was having a problem with his bass drum speed & general technique. I believe his exact words were - "my bass is so terrible it's not even funny". He did remember his drum instructor telling him to "always keep on his toes for the pedals", but not much beyond that. He asked if I had any tips or advice that might be helpful. Since helpful is my middle name, I elaborated a bit on what his teacher had already told him & gave him a list of things to try.

Then it occurred to me......

  • there may be other folks out there experiencing this same issue
  • this topic had all the makings of a good blog

To begin with, there are several schools of thought on whether to play flat-footed or on your toes. For the most part, I'm in agreement with his teacher. I've always preferred playing on my toes. The disadvantage to that approach is that balance & weight distribution become big issues. To help offset those issues, here are a couple suggestions:


1) Stay with the "on your toes" approach for bass drum, but try playing off your heel for the high hat foot. If you keep that heel planted most of the time & only your bass drum heel is kept elevated, I think you'll find that many of your balance issues disappear. With that left heel down, you have much more stability & leverage to utilize on that bass drum side. You'll also find it very helpful when doing crash cymbal work or moving extensively around the set for fills.


2) Stool height & placement are possible issues. Again, this goes to balance. Experiment with various seat heights & with moving closer to....or further away from your set. Eventually you'll land on a position that seems most comfortable. Try that one for a while and see what you think. I'd love to tell you that there's only 1 correct place to sit, but that's simply not the case. Much of it has to do with your height, weight, overall fitness & personal preference. As you take your stool higher, more of the action fall on your upper leg & hip. A lower stool position tends to rely more on your ankle & knee. It's common to see drummers sitting so low that their knee ends up even-with or higher than their hip. Personally, I prefer a higher perch. My upper leg actually slopes down somewhat... toward the bass drum. But again...it's all in what you find comfortable.


3) Try adjusting the amount of tension on your bass drum pedal. I use more than a lot of folks. The more you increase the spring tension - the harder it will be to push the pedal down, but the more effortlessly it will return to the "up" position. You can also adjust the length of your mallet shaft....higher or lower. Unfortunately, there's no quick answer. Much of what I've suggested is simply trial & error. With the hands, things are at least a little simpler. There aren't nearly as many adjustment options or variables to deal with. Good luck, but most of all...try to have fun doing it!


As supplements to this article, I put together a couple brief demonstration/drill videos.






That's all till next time.....when the topic will be "Center of the Rhythmic Universe". I know it sounds a little pretentious, but hopefully it's useful. It deals with fundamentals that every gigging musician should know.


Tom Hoffman

Songstuff member profile




Back in part-1 of this blog, I made the statement that new drum students don't need an actual set of drums to begin the learning process. In fact, I went so far as to suggest that starting out with just a few tools offered some real benefits. I promised to supply you with some reasons, so and here they are:


1) The student finds out very quickly if their primary interest is in having a new toy, or actually learning to play an instrument. Sitting down at a table, with a pair of sticks & a practice pad isn't glamorous. It's simply the means to an end.


2) It gives the new drum student something to work towards and sets-up a connect-the-dots kind of thinking. It becomes immediately obvious that there will be no drumset, without practice & authentic-prolonged interest. In my case, I wanted to be a drummer, wanted drums, understood from the start what I needed to do to achieve those goals and did it. Basically, if you do the work & spend the time, you get the prize. It's simple, direct & it works. Whether you're the prospective drummer or the parent, there's simply no downside to handling it this way. At the end of the process, you'll still have the drums you wanted, but you've earned them. Knowing that feels good!


3) It establishes a starting point - your hands. Drums are a tricky instrument in that they utilize both hands and feet. That's a bit overwhelming to think about. The trick is.....don't try to master it all at once. You tackle it in smaller steps, beginning with your hands. Because you only have sticks, a pad and a book, you're not faced with the temptation of trying to do it all right away. For new drummers, the hands are always the first thing addressed. Once you've begun to develop a basic level of comfort in utilizing your hands, the feet slowly come into play. At that point, you'll need at least a basic drum kit.


One last comment on this subject. If you are taking lessons in connection with a music store, beware of any instructor who tries to tell you that you have to buy a set before you begin. Chances are that instructor has a commissioned sales arrangement with the store & will personally profit from his advice. Not that I have anything against making money, but your instructor will need that money just as badly in a few months, as he does now. blush.gif Trust me...I know!


Next time I'll talk about utilizing your feet, some of the issues which spring from that and a few suggestions on how to deal with those issues. Once again, thanks for your continued interest!


Tom Hoffman

Songstuff member profile




Once you do get a set, here's a brief video tutorial covering essential beat patterns to get you moving in the right direction.



As the title indicates, my next couple of blog entries will deal with what tools you need to begin learning drums, when you need them and why. If you happen to be the parent of an aspiring student, I think you may be pleasantly surprised. smile.gif


Unlike most instruments, you don't need a set of drums to begin learning. Many instructors advise waiting a few months before purchasing a drum set. My first teacher did & consequently, that's how I learned. I started with:

-a pair of sticks

-an instruction book

-and a practice pad

That was what I practiced with for the first 3 months. To this day, that's the same arrangement I recommend for anyone starting out. It's exactly what you need.....no more & no less. It offers other benefits too, but I'll deal with those in part 2.


*This is probably a good place to mention that many instructors recommend starting out with heavy sticks. I agree! It may seem a little counter-intuitive, but learning with a heavier stick will build strength in your hands & wrists quickly. Once you've done that, it's a simple task to trade-down into a smaller, lighter size. You'll find that you instantly gain speed & agility when you do..........and that's the pay-off! thumb23.gif


Check back in a week or so for the next installment (part 2). I'll try my best to make you a believer in these recommendations.


Tom Hoffman

Songstuff member profile




In my last blog entry, I was talking about some of the reasons why playing with other musicians makes sense for up & coming drummers. I promised some more reasons this time & I'm a man of my word - drum roll please......




- It'll help expand your musical horizons. When you're around other musicians (guitarists, bass players, keyboardists), you're exposed to elements of music that drums simply don't deal with. Drummers aren't taught concepts like pitch, melody, key structure and songwriting. Those topics don't have much relevance for drums. But they are incredibly important to the understanding of music as a whole.


- It helps you to develop a sense of when to apply some of the things you've learned.

Like I've said in past tutorials......just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Knowing how to do something and understanding when to do it are 2 separate things. Many times your fellow musicians are your best source for feedback. If you'll allow them to, they can really help you in figuring out what works & what doesn't in a given situation.


Well.....I've tried my best to make my case. I do feel pretty strongly that.... to be an aspiring drummer, you should also be an aspiring band member. The 2 work really well together!


It's not my intent to discourage anyone from taking up the drums. I'm simply trying to provide a clear picture of what to expect and why. Too many new students become discouraged, bored, frustrated, disillusioned....and simply quit!

If someone takes up the drums and quits 2 months later because it's too hard, I can't help that.

What I'm trying to avoid, is someone quitting because they don't understand the limitations of the instrument.

If you're wanting to learn drums because you........

- love everything rhythmic

- love doing physically challenging things

- want to play with other musicians

- enjoy being part of a group & working with others

- are looking to use drums as first instrument & learn additional ones later

- like to be noticed & make noise

.....then welcome to the club! drums.gif


On the other hand, if you're taking up drums because you.......

- want an instrument to sing-along-with

- have no desire to be in band, would rather play to entertain yourself, family & friends

- think that you'll be able to actually write songs as a result of learning drums

- are strongly interested in concepts like melody & harmony

........you may be better off taking up guitar or piano. blush.gif


That's everything I've got for this installment of the blog. Next time I'll talk some about equipment requirements & recommendations...............

What you actually need, what you don't, why & when.


Tom Hoffman

Songstuff member profile




In recent months, several of our Songstuff members have expressed an interest in learning drums. That's great...drums are a great instrument! For those who don't know me, I play drums as well as guitar, bass guitar & some keyboards. Playing those instruments has given me the opportunity to see the similarities & differences first-hand. Bottom line - drums are different in a number of ways. With these next several blog articles, I'll share some of those differences. Hopefully, I can offer you an advantage that I didn't have......information from someone who's already been through it.


- Are you interested in becoming part of a band? Believe it or not, this is a vital question. Drums really don't have much melodic capability. Their primary function is rhythmic. The dedication & degree of difficulty involved in learning drums, is comparable to that of traditional melodic instruments like guitar or piano. The difference is, once you've become reasonably proficient, the more melodic instruments offer a wider array of application choices. Drums don't! With drums, once you've achieved a reasonable skill level, the next logical step is to combine your abilities with those of other musicians.

Doing that helps you:

1) Continue progressing with your instrument. Playing with others gives you a specific reason to practice and further develop your skills. No one enjoys looking bad in front of others. That's a great motivator!

2) Remain interested in drumming. I hate to say it, but this is not a little thing! As much as I love drums..........by themselves, they're just not that interesting! I was lucky. I really wanted to be part of a band! For me, drums were a means to that end. Without the band setting though, I seriously doubt whether I would have remained a drummer more than a year or two.


Don't let me confuse you. Knowing that you want to be in a band, doesn't mean that you need to have a band ready & waiting. It just means that you do have the desire at some point in the future. When I started taking lessons, I don't even think I knew another musician. As my skills began to progress, that issue pretty much took care of itself. Trust me.....when you're ready for a band, you'll figure that part out. No sweat!


The next installment of the blog will add to this list of reasons. Till next time!


Tom Hoffman

Songstuff member profile




Hello To All!

Up until now, I've been a blog virgin rolleyes.gif . Yeah, I know, I'm probably a little old to be any kind of virgin, but there you have it.

Since I started writing drum tutorials for this site, I've found that I keep coming up with little bits of information that I'd love to pass on in the articles. The problem has been.....finding appropriate places to include them.

It finally occured to me (with John's help), that maybe I shouldn't be concerned with trying to link these bits to a central theme. They could simply be passed on as regular blog entries.....so that's what I'm gonna do. I'll be making new entries on a regular basis. I'd expect the first tip/tidbit to post within the next week or so. Hope you find them worthwhile & please feel free to comment.

Tom Hoffman

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