|03-15-2012, 02:03 AM||#1|
Julian Percy and me...
Julian Percy and me..
This is Julian Percy...
He is a monster...
I have only encountered Julian’s playing through the internet. The guy was a genius drummer. Technical and controlled. He changed the way I play drums. Although he never knew (and never will, unfortunately). And at the time, I didn’t realise either. In fact, I didn’t much like the guy....
In 2006 I posted this message onto this board here. I had just recorded a version of Alien Hip Hop, and was very pleased with myself. Having posted on the board here, I sat back and waited for the accolades to come rolling in. The first few comments were pretty positive. Then Loreman (Julian) came on and posted this...
Needless to say, I was more than a little upset. He had torn my playing to pieces. On top of that, he openly criticised how I had presented my playing to the world and criticised a couple of other videos that I had posted on the web. I sat at the keyboard and pondered scathing replies. Who the hell was he to tell me my playing sucked? That the stuff I had practiced was not up to scratch? Hadn’t he heard the bands I had played in?
But instead of immediately replying to him, I waited. For three or four days I mulled over his criticism in my head, going back repeatedly to his comments. Feeling pretty bad to say the least. Then a flash of realisation dawned upon me. He was right. My playing was sloppy. I was reaching far ahead of where I was actually capable of playing. In essence I was faking it. It was good enough to pass the ears of an amateur but once scrutinised by a master drummer, all the faults came to light.
Armed with this realisation, I resolved to remedy the problem. To go right back to basics and almost start againg technically and with my attitude towards playing. This was the beginning of a long journey that I’m still on now, which began in earnest the moment the guitarist of a band I was playing with gave me a copy of Mike Manginis Rhythm Knowledge parts 1 and 2. I read the books in a day. Then re-read them over and over for a few weeks.
“Once you think you have got it, you probably haven’t”
“You need to know it so well that you “CAN’T make a mistake”
“It’s better to spend more time practicing less things” (better to practice 2 things for half an hour each than 6 things for 10 minutes each.
(these are paraphrases btw)
My world began to change. Here was a guy who understood the meaning of the word “Mastery”. I began watching all of his videos, observing how he applied his principles and ideas to the drums.
I came upon a single realisation that has shaped my playing to this day:
“There are only the basics”
I had jumped into “advanced playing” way too quickly, thinking that learning 7 over 5 would make me a better player. Which it never did. Because....
“You get better at that which you practice”
If I wanted to play well in a band, learning complex polymetrics was not going to do it, because I rarely played those patterns with a band.
So, I sat down and thought “What do I want/need to be able to do that I can’t”.
Single strokes. The most basic rudiment of them all and yet arguably the most difficult. What I really wanted to be able to do to play the music I love (metal and prog) well. And that involved a total command of the single stroke roll. At the time I was practicing all sorts of complex stickings and patterns, which sounded great in the practice room but didn’t translate as well to a band situation.
I asked myself, can I play any phrase, dynamic or lick using just single strokes in any limb combination? The answer was emphatically “No”. And so I began to practice the “Clockwise/Counter Clockwise” method proscribed in Rhythm Knowledge Vol 2 (here is an article detailing the basics for those of you who haven’t read the book http://www.drumheadmag.com/web/page.php?id=10 ). In addition I purchased the play along CDs and began counting everything out loud using Mike’s not quite doubled system.
I went from spending 10 minutes on a single exercise to spending around 90 minutes on just single strokes between the limbs.
My playing improved. Because I was focusing on accuracy and placement, as well as counting everything out loud my timing improved and I became more confident and relaxed. At this point I began playing with this band http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EJW...feature=related
Anchorhead led me to focus on my kick drums. Because it was very heavily influenced by Meshuggah, the emphasis on the kicks was important. I still practiced Manginis methods on the bass drums but couldn’t execute a ruff on my feet (rlr-lrl etc.) .I picked up a copy of this
And used exactly the same approach, staying on one exercise for up to 90 minutes at a time.
Along the way I learned to compose. This made the biggest difference of all. Writing drum parts made me much more acutely aware of what works and what doesn’t. And quite how much I overplay all the time!
Eventually Anchorhead folded and I managed to put together a new band.
I wrote this tune all on my lonesome (including the solos) which was released on our album.
I learned the following from Julian:
1) Focus on the basics. There is nothing else.
2) Everything takes longer than you think it does. Stay with a given exercise/concept for at least 6 months, preferably a year and practice every day if you can.
3) Never tell anyone how good you are. That is not for you to say. Just keep your mouth shut and let your playing do the talking.
4) One thing at a time. Really focusing in on one aspect of your playing yields greater results than trying to do 20 things at once.
5) Be patient. This will take years. Get used to it and enjoy the ride.
Which brings me to where I am today.
I have always wanted to develop really fast singles round the toms like Dave Lombardo, Virgil etc. In addition I wanted to develop more controlled power and endurance in my kick drums. Speed has never been an issue for me, but endurance has, and sticking with the “you only get good at what you practice” I decided to practice with speed and endurance in mind.
To that end, I devised a practice system to tackle the issues. The system believe it or not is based off of my weight lifting regime. I use a system called Stronglifts. You can find it here www.stronglifts.com. It works. And it’s extremely simple. I had such great results that I wondered if the principle can be applied to drumset. So I designed this:
How to develop lightning speed, precision and power
The pursuit of speed on any instrument is a common desire amongst musicians. There is a great deal of material written on what to practice, which exercises to choose etc. But very little written on exactly how to achieve high levels of speed and technical prowess without injuring oneself or giving up early on due to plateauing (not being able to go faster than a given speed).
There are essentially two areas that need to be addressed in the pursuit of power, endurance and speed.
Intensity and Speed
Firstly, intensity. The biggest problem with how people practice is that they do not practice at the same level of intensity at which they wish to perform. Intensity in this instance is a combination of volume and speed. In order to reach maximum intensity without injury a very gradual approach must be taken. The number one reason people fail at this part is lack of patience. They start too fast and put the speed up way too quickly and as a result they stall very quickly. This leads to rapid de-moralisation and ultimately quitting. In order to allow your muscles the time necessary to adapt to the new stresses being placed on them it is necessary to start at a very slow speed. If you are a novice, 40 b.p.m. is plenty. If you are an advanced player, 110 is a good place to start. A good rule of thumb is to find your maximum speed for a given exercise and halve it. This will initially seem too easy, but these exercises become very intense very quickly.
In addition, you must increase the tempo very gradually over time. Increasing more than 2 b.p.m. per practice session will again lead to early stalling and de-moralisation. Patience is the key. For some exercises, 1b.p.m. per session will become necessary. As the exercises become more intense the time between tempo increases becomes wider. Initially, you put the speed up once per session. Then once per week, once per month and once every three months. This may seem slow initially, but if you practice 3 times per week for twelve weeks this will yield in increase of 72 b.p.m over a twelve week period. There will be minimal risk of injury and the speed will be controlled.
I have chosen the time limit of five minutes per exercise. This is simply because I believe that five minutes is plenty long enough to play anything at a high tempo. When following this system, do not exceed this time limit. When you start, it will feel quite easy for you to do five minutes on a given exercise. Do not be tempted to do longer. The exercises will become hard soon enough and when you reach the higher intensities, you will struggle to complete five minutes. If you do increase the time you will stall earlier and risk injury. Remember, do not change the system. Follow it exactly as it is written and you will get maximum results!
Rest for a minute in between exercises. This will increase as the exercises become more intense.
What to do when you stall
As the intensity increases you will eventually reach a point where you cannot go faster for a given exercise. This is the point at which most people give up, because they do not know what to do. When you stall it is not the end. Simply complete the exercise as best you can. Next session stay at the same tempo for that exercise. If you stall twice in a row for a given exercise, simply decrease the speed (De-Loading) by 10%. For example if you stall at 100 b.p.m. twice in a row, you decrease the speed by 10b.p.m. (10% of 100) to 90 b.p.m. and carry on as before. After two speed decreases in a row on a given exercise, you simply switch to increasing the speed once a week. After two more decreases in a row on a given exercise, switch to speed increases once a fortnight. Finally after two more decreases in a row, switch to once every week. Then to once a month. At this point you will be nearing the top of your tempo and endurance range.
The tempo increase of 2b.p.m. per session is a good amount for steady progression. There may come a point where you feel that increasing in increments of 1b.p.m. This will usually occur at higher intensity. Increasing in jumps of 1 b.p.m is fine. Adjust as necessary, and as long as you follow the system laid out above, you will not go wrong.
I advise that you do a warm up set of single 4s at 50-75% of your current max for that exercise. Then proceed with the routine as written.
How fast can I get?
Your ultimate top speed is limited by your genetics. Eventually you will reach a point where you physically cannot go any faster. However, you will not reach this point for a long, long time, in all probability years. By following this system as it is written you will be able to fully realise your technical potential in the most efficient way possible.
I am shooting a series of video blogs to document my progress. The blog will discuss the challenges and difficulties I have discovered as well as any tips I think are useful. In addition I will be posting some tunes using the techniques I develop. This is meant to be a living experiment. So that you can see an idea taken from concept to completion.
I want this to help other drummers who have similar goals, and to see if the simple stronglifts concept applies to drums in this context. So far I have reached 172bpm 16th notes using the exercise detailed in the video. I will be shooting another video tomorrow to update my progress.
I would like you guys to help. I used to visit this board all the time and figured it would be a good place to try this. Comments, advice and tips are all welcome. If you think it looks like a good idea, try it out and let me know how you get on. This may well not work. So far it seems to be working, but I’ll never know unless I give it a go. My goal is 200 bpm 16th notes for 5 minutes. At that point I’m going to buy myself some sky toms!!!
Last edited by The_Setite : 03-15-2012 at 02:48 AM.
|03-15-2012, 02:05 AM||#2|
To those who don't know, Julian died some years ago. It's one of the few regrets I have in my life that I never thanked him for his honest criticism. And for his music.
|03-15-2012, 05:43 PM||#3|
Wow, that was one lengthy post! Very interesting and profound though, thanks
for writing it!
How much time for practicing do you have during a week? Do you have a day job?
"After all these years of playing, I still feel like I've barely scratched the surface!" Virgil Donati
|03-15-2012, 06:11 PM||#4|
I think in these times with youtube etc., where all these talented drummers from all over the world post their sick licks and so on, the knowledge that the art of playing the drums is really an art almost gets lost. It's really, really hard to play incredibly good, and not for 2minutes, but for a 2h gig! And it doesn't even matter in the first place if the gig consists of pop songs only, or fusion with a million notes I believe. You can tell a good drummer from whatever notes he plays in whatever style. Although of course being able to play the money beat for 2 hours still isn't the same than playing interactive and complex jazz music, of course.
"After all these years of playing, I still feel like I've barely scratched the surface!" Virgil Donati
|03-15-2012, 09:46 PM||#5|
You are welcome! With regard to practicing, an hour a day is the maximum I can do, and sometimes only half an hour. I am self employed (hypnotherapist would you believe, and I teach music too) so my hours are flexible, but I can be very busy. That's one of the reasons I am trying this out.
As I say in the post, I use a weightlifting system called stronglifts. I got amazing results from it. Its designed for the amateur weightlifter and only takes 3 lots of 45 mins a week. There are a few reasons I believe it works
1) It's simple and easy to remember.
2) It's progressive. You can see where you are improving.
3) It consists of only 5 basic lifts.
4) It tells you what to do when you stall.
No. 4 I believe is the single most important factor, because its the point where most people give up.
I wanted to design and test something that would do a similar job on drums. That was aimed at the "average" drummer wanting to improve in a solid
trackable fashion and not lose motivation. Something that could be done in three lots of 45 mins per week.
And so here we are . I have just shot another installment and will post it over the weekend. I had some interesting developments with foot technique and grip. I also made a ton of mistakes so there are some funny moments...
Thanks for your comments!
|03-17-2012, 05:33 AM||#6|
LOL! Either you type very fast or that post seriously ate up
a large portion of your practice schedule for the day. Julian
was one of the cleanest, smoothest players ever. My only
regret is hearing him only with backing tracks.
"Give The Drummer Some"
|03-17-2012, 08:19 AM||#7|
I often think about Julian.
We established a good rapport and exchanged
a bunch of e-mails along with comments here and there.
He was such a nice guy. And a brilliant, brilliant drummer obviously.
Last edited by morgenthaler : 03-17-2012 at 08:21 AM.
|03-17-2012, 03:33 PM||#8|
Your experience is a nigh -- almost comical -- direct reflection of my own. I was a pretty decent drummer but had a bit too much confidence for my own good. I was overreaching to pull things out of me that I either hadn't yet 'earned' the privilege to execute or simply couldn't understand, and it ended up as a poor imitation.
Because of a misunderstanding between my band mates and a drummer -- a 'name player' at that -- I was (verbally) knocked on my ass. As a result, I picked myself up, dusted myself off and got 'married' to the click. Mike's RK books also because a fantastic supplement. I still think the fellow could've gone about it in a more mature fashion, and perhaps you share the same sentiment, but it certainly did more good than harm. Good luck!
All things me!
|03-18-2012, 11:04 PM||#9|
Shaftninja, I must say thats a relief that someone else has had the same experience. It was awful at the time but in the long run, I believe it has helped a great deal.
I do think he could have been more polite, but then I may well not have taken any notice of him. It's a tricky one. Sometimes being kicked up the ass hard is the best way.
P.S. "married to the click" I'm nicking that phrase! ;p
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