Drum Lesson And Practice – June 29th, 2019

Yesterday was the first tuition I’ve had in two months. Gareth was great. Started me back right from scratch, really. We went right back to basics. We worked on stick grip, rudiments, grooves and fills.

I can’t really talk a lot about it…not really going into much detail. And it felt a lot to take in yesterday because I was so apprehensive about it, but really excited too. There was a lot to take in. Well, it felt a lot yesterday and because I’m so anxious about it all, not everything sinks in immediately.

I checked with Gareth that he wouldn’t mind me recording the lesson. He was fine with that. I won’t be sharing any of that, but I will still share a bit of my own practice here and there.

I’m really thankful that he’s okay with me recording because as it was with Cherisse, upon playback, things register better. My brain absorbs the information better and I always have it to reference it.

I’m about halfway through listening to yesterday’s lesson…and I just lost it. Gareth had me playing along to (rather ironically) No Woman No Cry…and I just started blubbing like a fool. I could just feel it and I could see him in the room with me, helping me keep to the beat, dancing around the room to it and it was just lovely thinking about it…and I just lost it, I feel like an idiot! (I’m crying all over again typing this out! I’m such an oversensitive idiot.)

I’ve just wanted this for so, so long. It was like the 8 year old me was in that room yesterday, learning.

As you get older…once you get to adulthood, you just think all this stuff is just too late. That it’s too late and you’ve missed your chance and it’s all gone. “Don’t bother now. It’s too late. You’re too old. You can’t afford it. And you’ll never learn. You’ll never pick it up. Your mind is young enough. You won’t be as much of a sponge.”

I still feel like that. The adult me says…”You’re 48! Why bother now? Where’s the money gonna come from? How will anything sink in?”

And then I was listening to the lesson and how it was all sinking in and just listening to the playing. Hearing myself play to Bob Marley…and it’s joyous and liberating and wonderful and that 8 year old is there inside saying “Wow. This is cool. I’m getting this. And my teacher is cool. And we’re having fun. And I’m learning and playing…”

And now my face is an absolute mess!

Such a silly cow.

So yesterday was wonderful. And I still want this. More than ever.

But how I continue to do? Who knows…

We’ll see.

Drum Practice – June 23rd, 2019

Woke up mega tired. Didn’t sleep that well. Had silly trivial things (in the context of things) on my mind. Set out early today and got to Mill Hill in plenty o’ time.

I walk past the entrance to a park on my way to the rehearsal rooms each week. So with a bit of time to spare this week, I thought I’d take a quick detour. It’s an ordinary looking park. A decent size for play, etc. A few dog walkers were about. A lady passed me with her cute little Pomeranian in tow. I sat on a park bench for a few mins, setting the world to rights. Lol

I try and hit the studio each week without any overriding feelings of anything. Nothing too positive or negative. Just trying to stay balanced. It obviously doesn’t always work!

I’m getting used to the little routine I have when I enter the room to set up. Get the little recording device out and get that going. Grab the iPod Touch, over-ear headphones and ear protectors, to alternate between them as and when. Adjust the kit. It still drives me nuts (adjusting the kit), but it just has to be done. The day I have my own kit, and it is just ready for me every day….I’ll be kissing my drum kit with a greeting! Lol

I had two goes with my mix of songs. I tentatively tried to play along with fills and things. Really not as easy as it seems it will be doing the stick practice at home.

I also tried playing the backbeats to Glittering Prize. OMG! If Mel Gaynor was no longer with us, he’d have been rolling in his grave today! Lol. If he ever hears my attempt, he WILL die! Lol. 😂😂😂😂

But instead of just getting frustrated and angry, or despondent and disillusioned…I just tried to make it fun today. Just resign myself to it – in a positive way. Just accept there’s a way to go…but just relax. Just try to enjoy the time more. It’ll make the learning easier in the end. I spoke over the top of what I was “playing” and just took the piss out of myself.

One drumming session at a time. Tiny smatterings of progress MAY just happen that I don’t detect. I dunno. I’ve just got to get into the habit of embracing the frustrations and accepting them happening and see them as fun too. What I am doing is fun! I get to make a racket and hit and bash things for two hours.

This week I just tried to play along as confidently as my lack of actual musicality and expertise will allow. Just to loosen up and just have fun. I’ll even share a bit of my stuff on here, just because I think they’ll be funny. Just me waffling and playing and giving “critiques” to myself on the fly.

Next week, I am very, VERY excited about. AT LAST! I get tuition again! Not with Cherisse, as she is still on the road with Kelly Jones at the mo…and I think will have a few other things after the tour ends. So next week, Gareth will be my tutor. I really am overdue some tuition time. There is stuff I want to get moving onto and implementing. I need some routine with this. If I am serious.

I just feel like…I started the commitment, so I need to give it a good old stab for a while, you know?

Anyway. Appalling but funny snippets to come…and YAY to next week!

Drum Practice – June 2nd

Hadn’t been feeling the best the past few days and suffered a mild vasovagal syncope near miss in London on Thursday in the queue to get into Broadcasting House for a recording of The News Quiz. Sadly, Miles Jupp’s last one. Didn’t know that when I got the tickets.

I could feel the wave. Sat down on the pavement. Controlled my breathing. After several moments, it passed.

I also had…let’s say “an unexpected visitor” on Wednesday…so, yeah. Hadn’t been feeling great. Ended up flaming knackered from London on Thursday. Always do the walk from St Pancras to Broadcasting House and back via Euston and Great Portland Road which is the same distance I have doing my walking for the drum practice – 10km.

So, I’ve walked a half marathon within the space of three days…no wonder I’m knackered!

ANYWAY. Despite feeling very not in the mood for going, I dragged my sorry arse out today. I had already booked my 2 hour session and already paid for my train ticket. So, I know that isn’t a lot of money for most people, but under my current circumstance – £16 is a lot of money for me to squander. I wasn’t having it!

And, you know…certain other factors help keep me driven. A little nagging voice that says “no one likes a quitter!” was nattering away. Even though I was backchatting to it, saying, “I don’t care what you fucking think. Sometimes…there are just…circumstances. Shut the fuck up! And anyway….just for YOU, I ain’t quitting! Not this week. So, button it. Arsehole!” Lol. Yes…I have those kind of ridiculous internal monologues.

Ultimately I just thought, “What is there to lose?” I’d booked my time and my train. I had lots of walking to do, yes. That was the thing that I was least in the mood for, to be honest. But…I did it.

Electrical failures meant trains were delayed and cancelled. Mercifully not MY train. It was delayed by several minutes, but not cancelled. I arrived 10 minutes late and I needed to leave 10 mins early to make a train home that would allow me to get a bus back nearer to home…just for this week, so I had a break from all the walking.

The session went good. There were some things hindering me, as usual. Adjustments to the kit that I successfully made. So that was good. I couldn’t get sound from my iPod out of the amp/monitor thingy. It seemed wired up right…but I just couldn’t hear anything. So I just practiced beats. And I worked on integrating some hi hat pedal play. I felt it was time I needed to work on that, so I gave it a go.

So, yep…the session felt pretty good. Here are a couple of audio snippets of what I was working on…

Lol. That end bit is my “Fuck this – I’m shit!” wail of exasperation.

I’m very, VERY tired. The trains coming back were delayed and cancelled still. So my 2.10pm train to get me back in time for the bus to get me closer to home was delayed and meant I’d miss the bus. So…I did all the walking I’d usually do and I was KNACKERED. AM knackered. But feel kinda good. Feel good in that the session felt like it went well.

Listening back to some of what I recorded today, I sound…okay. Never gonna set the world on fire at this point…but at least I sounded kind of adept today.

Baby steps.

From Disheartened To Determined: This Week’s Drumming Practice

I am booked in for two hours drumming practice from midday and I get to the train station a few minutes before 11am for the 11.21 train. Except…the 11.21 train is cancelled, and there is a train to London at 11am that would eventually get me there on time (a service going direct to St Pancras International. I’ll have to turn back on myself to get to Mill Hill but it would still get me there before midday). But I need to collect my tickets from the machine first. That takes a couple of minutes. The train has arrived in the meantime and is sitting on the platform. I try getting through the barrier with my ticket but it won’t let me though. I have to call for assistance and wait to be let through the barrier. Seconds tick by. By the time I am finally let through, the train doors close and even though it is still at the platform and stationary, I can’t get the doors to open.

I miss the train. I contemplate getting on the next train to St Pancras but toss up whether I’ll actually get there any earlier than waiting for the next all stops train after my cancelled one. I decide it’s best to wait for that one. I end up 30 mins late. Bum!

The rehearsal room is great. A good size. Nice and bright. A great kit set up. All good. Those things really made a difference compared to how it all felt last week.

I felt much better at the kit this week.

Towards the end of my session, I decided to film myself for a few mins. I don’t really know why. I watched it back when I got home and decided to share it on FB. An exercise in being a glutton for punishment, I guess. To thicken my skin. To say “Yes, I know I’m shit…but I WILL get better!” To show progression!

That’s it! In 6 months from now….a year from now…I can watch this clip back and say to myself “Remember when you were shit? Or when you felt shit? And you didn’t think you were going to get any better? Look at you here! You didn’t think you were going to be doing the things you are doing now back then. You’ve progressed. And you will continue to progress.”

I want this! I want to be able to play to a standard. Do I want to be able to join a band? Unless I get REALLY good…no, not especially. That’s all too late. But I want to be able to play good. It’ll take some time to get to that standard. A minimum of a couple of years. Possibly more at this age. I’m old!

“Aunt Fanny” (“personify your inner voice – make her an old, cantankerous aunt” a lovely fellow SM fan offering me support suggested to me this week) has been muffled some right now. (I chose Aunt Fanny, because that is what I resolve to give her of myself and my time – sweet Fanny Adams.)

I know I have a while to go, and Aunt Fanny will try and make her voice heard ALL THE TIME, but if she goes on too much, she will definitely be shown the door!

Anyways…here’s the clip. Enjoy!

Roll on next week!

The Value Of Recording Yourself

Cherisse’s best bud and fellow drummer extraordinaire, Emily Dolan Davies, shared a piece of advise several months back in a YouTube clip and I followed it last week and it is already proving invaluable.

I felt silly, yes! I felt silly for taking it along with me and I almost just left it in my handbag because I just thought I’d seem like a crazy thing but I am already SSOO glad I took it with me!

Right, so – Emily’s piece of advice – her biggest piece of advice for any drummer learning (or pros getting stuck on new techniques they wanted to learn but it wasn’t going in) … and she was adamant on it. Record yourself!

And she said she wished she had taken the advice earlier than she did, and wished that she had known of or thought of doing it when she started out.

Based on her saying that, I took a little Zoom recorder with me to my lesson with Cherisse on Wednesday. And as I say, I almost left it in my bag and said nothing. Too scared I’d sound a flake for wanting to record myself after one bloody lesson.

But already my circumstances are making this invaluable. I can hear myself getting the hang of things on playback. Yes! I’m appalling! My time-keeping is woeful but I know listening to it back that these are things that I can improve on with practice.

I can go over things from the lesson. Just listen to them over and have it sink in.

I have no kit, but I can hear beyond that what I need to practice on. It has given clarity and focus to the things I need to work on.

And I know I am only two lessons in and I know I will always be learning. But before I played back Wednesday’s lesson this afternoon, I would just be doubting myself.

I AM awful. My rhythm sucks! But I can hear it in myself that I pick things up fast. Well, I sound as if I do. Am I deluding myself? I hope not! Will I join a band in the future? Doubt it (but never say never)! But if someone down the line asks me “got any special talent?” I may just have enough bravado in a year or two to reply “yeah. I play drums.” I would love that.

And Cherisse is so fab and just SSOOOO encouraging. Honestly. She just makes me believe I can do this. It’s just so good. So, so good.

So, if you think it’s nuts. Don’t! Hearing myself back today, and hearing what I need to practice on until the next lesson, etc… I don’t feel like I’m some time-wasting dreamer. I can obtain some decent level of skill here. If I am willing to put the hours in. To practice (anyone around Luton willing to give me some time on a kit to practice on?).

I love it! I want this! Thank you so much, Emily, for this advise.

Drumming Lesson One – The First Of Many

It was fab. Just really fab. Cherisse is awesome and put me at ease and is just a fab teacher. I had the best time and I just want to do it more and more. I was drumming away to bits of Chelsea Girl, Back In Black by AC/DC and Queen’s We Will Rock You. It was just really brilliant. I’ve been smiling away all day.

Thank you so much for today, Cherisse. I really hope this will be just the first of many lessons.

If you are thinking of having lessons – I cannot recommend Cherisse highly enough! Check out her Instagram account for enquiry details.