Discipline in music performance
True story from this week. Each month, my friends and I play at a recording studio in Etobicoke: guitar, bass, drums. I bring a new tune. It is a shuffle I had written for a student. Now the set up.
Twenty-five years ago, I was playing jazz piano with a poet in a Queen Street club, we opened for a blues band. Our hippy dippy poetry set went well. During the blues set the band invited me up to sit in. I am thrilled. They yell piano solo! I wail through and finish triumphantly. I look to the band leader for affirmation of my brilliance. He says, 'nice jazz solo buddy." I am crushed. So, I went home and learned to play the blues.
Fast forward to this week. I did it again with the drum set. Too much jazz in my blues! I was comping on the snare drum instead of focusing on the pop of the back beat. My drum coach heard it right away. I immediately heard what he was saying. I was being too clever. So, I now focus on the snare drum, keep the bass drum down, minimize my fills, and no comping like a jazz guy on the snare drum. Next session, my shuffles will be simplified and popping.
The moral of the story. When we accompany on the drum kit, keeping disciplined and focused for the entire song is difficult. It is easy to get bored and want to fill: here, there and everywhere. This goes for jazz too. In pop and rock drumming with a singer, this never happens, I can play my part and stay out of the way of the story telling. However, in instrumental music, I must stay on my toes, or I will over play.
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