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L.A. Beat

Drum Beat #6 — Talk to your bassist

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Hello and welcome to column #6.  Thanks for all of the support you have shown.
This week's lesson is centering on getting to know your bass player.  As you start to gig you will always have to be in touch with the bass player. If there is a bad bass player you might as well just do your best to keep things together.  
Take the time to have sectional rehearsals with your bass player. Sectional rehearsals are where you get together with just one of the players or maybe a few to practice your parts together without the distraction of the band and what the band as a unit is trying to rehearse. Break down the songs with the bass player and come up with parts that work within the context of the band. Even try to create parts where your bass drum pattern matches with the notes the bass player is playing.  Try and come up with parts that are syncopated together over many bars of the song instead of just a few. In other words create a pattern together that is 8, 12 or 16 bars long instead of a simple four bar pattern.  
Now of course do not get so fancy that the parts you create do not fit the song or material you are playing. There is a fine line between creativity and over doing it. If you are a full time member of a band do this quite often with your bass player and the quality of the band's sound will increase immensely. You will find by doing this that not only will you be able to create an awesome groove but the overall sound of the band will take on a professional sound. The rest of the players will be able to create parts that work easily because the rhythm section is laying down such a groove that the parts they create work better and overall the sound is not cluttered.  I will say it again, get to know your bass player. You will be happy you did.

Conceptual thought #6 — Practicing at home

This week's conceptual thought centers on the notion of practicing at home.
How many times have you been at a rehearsal and everyone is playing their instrument or practicing their parts while rehearsal is going on. This makes it impossible to get any real work done at rehearsal because there is basically chaos going on. When the band is not playing the song usually there is discussion going on concerning tempos, notes, dynamics, etc.  Not a lot can get done if one of the players, especially the drummer, is tapping his drums or practicing parts while people are discussing these finer points of the execution of the material. Arrive at rehearsal prepared so you do not have the tendency to do this. If your parts are not working discuss it with the other members or take notes. Then go home and work on your parts. If another member of the band is practicing their parts between songs kindly remind them to please be quiet so something can actually be accomplished.
If you are not reaching someone and they keep doing this it is easy to stop them.  Simply look at them and say "Hey man, practice at home".  It almost always works because it causes them embarrassment. Live by this credo and you will not only be a hero in the rehearsal setting but because it is the professional thing to do.

 Lesson #6  — Proper stick size
This week's lesson is make sure to use sticks that are the correct size for the music you are playing as well as them being in good condition. So many times I see drummers use the same size and weight sticks for all of the genres they are playing and it drives me crazy. It does not make sense at least to use a baseball size stick to play light jazz or a small stick to play heavy rock. Experiment with stick sizes and lengths that suit you. When buying sticks take them from the package and make sure they are not warped or not the same size. The brand I like the most is made by Vic Firth. They are each weighed and paired together to be the exact same weight and guaranteed not to be warped. Be conscious of the tips of the sticks.  I personally hate plastic tipped sticks. They produce a bad sound especially on cymbals.  Granted they may last longer but the sound quality you sacrifice is significant. Please do not use a set of signature sticks just because one of your drum influences endorses them. Take the time to find out what works best for you. You will be glad you have taken the time to be selective in your stick choice.
Have a good day and we see you in a couple of weeks.
— Stanley Jackson, special to L.A Beat
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