5 tips for drummers who feel “stagnant”, by Mr. Anonymous

Over the years I’ve been asked by friends and fans and drummers what my approach is to practicing. I’ve also been asked to teach or give advice to drummers who feel stagnant and bored with their playing. These are my top 5 recommendations:

#1 SIMPLIFY….go back to just a hat kick snare and tom……youll be inspired because you dont have the usual places to throw your sticks which will change your brain’s habit of performing the same fills youve always done.

#2 Go To YOUTUBE….because there are so many cool instructional videos in all styles…jazz reggae death metal funk punk….whatever youre into…..and pick ONE(only 1) to try to learn. picking ONLY one is key because there is so much stuff on there that its overwhelming and you’ll end up distracting yourself trying to learn 10 different things at once….like the term “baby steps”, think of a baby taking his first steps. he’s not simultaneously trying to read, learn the alphabet, and get his potty training under control…it’d be impossible!  so use your practice time on just one new skill.

#3 TWENTY MINUTES….commit to ONLY practicing or playing for 20 minutes a day so that you are excited to play each new day…and in that time work only on the new lick/style/fill …and then reward yourself in the last 2 minutes with playing the stuff you know(if you need to)….or reward yourself one day a week with 20 minutes of playing whatever you want

#4 START SLOW…any new technique you decide to learn, start PAINFULLY slow to the point where it doesn’t even feel like a drum beat or rhythm….there is always a tendency to want to play something fast instantly but FORCE yourself to play SLOW SLOW SLOW until it feels automatic like breathing. Every musician or martial artist or athlete started at the same place as you(the beginning) and they all started just as slow as you….so relax and enjoy this part because you’re only at the beginning once.

#5 EMBRACE THE STRUGGLE… this is the MOST important concept which i liken to the “filling of a glass of water”…learning drums or guitar or martial arts or any skill is like filling a glass full of water…its just a matter of showing up and doing it!!! and the the time spent doing it is like the water drops going into a glass…each drop represents the minute you spend struggling and even though you feel like you suck when you’re attempting a new skill, you ARE getting better and you ARE getting closer to your goal in the same way that each “drop” IS filling the glass….and it actually becomes fun to be at the bottom of that hill so to speak because you know you cant get any worse than when you started on the very first time….and gradually things will start to fall together as your body and brain learn the new technique.

It’s Not The Cost That Counts… an article about Mr. Anonymous drumming

It’s not the cost that counts…

Quite a few years ago I went to school with a fine drummer named Jeep MacNichol. Jeep is perhaps best know for his work with The Samples, but nowadays he’s doing his own thing as Mr. Anonymous. I hit Jeep up for some info on his gear, and he came back to me with some surprises.

His words reinforce the old truth that good sounds aren’t made by drums alone, but rather by drummers with chops who are recorded properly. It’s not the cost of the kit that counts, but the skill and knowledge that goes into playing it and recording it. Here’s what Mr. Anonymous has to say about the drums and recording technique used on his new album, Champion Sound:

I purchased a used Gretsch Catalina kit on ebay … 18″ kick, 14″ floor, 12″ tom, 14″x 5 1/2 ” snare. We recorded the kit with just 3 mics and modeled the micing EXACTLY like Rudy Van Gelder used to track the drummers on all the blue note albums in the 50’s and 60’s. He had a great approach for capturing the sound because in working with a lot of those drummers, he wanted to capture the sound as a single instrument. He was quoted as saying something like “…a jazz drummer thinks of his kit as a single instrument and sound rather than the individual elements like the hi-hat and the snare and the tom, etc…and my job is to capture their intent and what they want to say on the instrument as a whole rather than separating the sounds of the individual parts of the kit.”

So we put one mic pointing between the hat and snare, one mic about 4 feet in front of the kit pointing directly at the drummer’s chest, and one mic about a foot in front of the kick…we also had one overhead pointing directly down on the kit…and all the mics were ribbon mics and mixed through an analog board and slammed with compression.

So check the tracks out here(the album is called Champion Sound) http://www.mranonymous.net/musicblog/music/ and tell me that you ever would have thought this was a simple Catalina Gretsch!

Here’s the humble kit.

Listen to more tracks here.

Posted by disclaimer at 8:49 AM