Music Learning Systems - Guitar, Piano, and Drums


An Invite from The Paradiddler

by Omar on February 2, 2009

in drum cover, Education

Hi all!  Welcome to another edition of The Paradiddler.

In recent weeks, I’ve been observing more closely my playing in hopes of improving it.  We all want to improve, right?  It’s so gratifying when you’re able to figure out something new, or nail that part that’s had you banging your head (instead of the skins) for so long.  Me?  I’m just trying to get my groove on.

Maybe this applies to many of you, but I just don’t have the time to practice as much as I want to.  If it was up to me, I’d be playin’ all day (or ‘all night’, as Peter Criss sang on the classic “Beth”)!  That’s one whammy against me.  Another one is that I spent many years without touching a drum set.  Many years.  I air-drummed so much that I was convinced I could just sit down and play.  Well, any time I had a chance to sit behind a drum set at a music store I was rudely awakened.  It’s not that I ever thought that playing drums was easy.  That’s what ignorant folk say!  I just felt that I understood them enough that I could at least play the songs I was familiar with.

But of course, there’s more to it than that.  For starters, kits at a store are not positioned to your preference, so since I had no clue what my preferences were, I was, well, lost!  Also, I had no sense of bounce, so playing was erratic.  I may have been playing rudiments, but only because it was in the song I knew, not because I knew I was playing them.  And oh yeah!  I never took lessons (gads).

Anyways, I’ll write another article soon about how I got to where I am now, but suffice it to say that I now have my kit, and I love it, and I still don’t play it enough!  Plus the fact that I refuse to play it after dark (and that’s yet another story), well, the ‘end is listless’.  But since I do have my drums, I play as much as I can, trying to develop a groove, but I have a ways to go yet, for sure.  That’s where you come in…

I recently recorded myself playing “Limelight” by Rush (my favorite band).  Any Rush song is challenging (heck, any song is challenging!).  I’d like you all to critique my playing.  That’s right, I’m exposing my wounds for you all to heal.  I wasn’t looking for perfection, but I just wanted to view myself so I can check myself (‘before I wreck myself’).  And by the way, everyone should record themselves so you can see your flaws, and work to correct them.  You might not ever know you’re doing something wrong unless either someone’s watching you, or you’re watching yourself!  I’ve definitely noted some things I’m doing wrong, habits I’m developing that I need to correct, so I’m working on it.

Lemme get you started.  One thing that’s important is some good headphones!  I noted that my timing was off at times, and it was due to the not-so-good headphones.  It doesn’t matter how much you turn up the volume, if you have really cheap headphones with weak sensitivity, your drum sound may overmatch what you’re hearing, hence the problem with timing.  I’m going to go for the Metrophone headphones, since they include a built-in metronome, and I can kill two birds with one stone, per se.  That’s one thing that will improve my playing. (You can obtain these and other music goodies from the music affiliates in the sidebar, if you're reading this at the web site).

Although this has less to do with technique, another thing I need to do is to add a dedicated ride cymbal.  Currently in my kit I have a Sabian 18” crash/ride cymbal.  I like its sound as a crash, but for me, its ride sound leaves something to be desired.  It just sounds like a crash being used as a ride, instead of having a distinct ride sound.  That being the case, I’m concentrating on when to crash the cymbal during ride beats, and at least for me, that’s too much to concentrate on!  Once I add a ride (oh, and maybe a china as well 🙂 ), I will be able to focus more on the song that on the kit.

Anyway, how about you?  You have any suggestions?  Please watch and let me know!  It’s a free-for-all, and maybe others can see your suggestions and take something to their kit that they can improve on.  I hope you enjoy it!



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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John February 4, 2009 at 2:27 pm

I wont comment on your ability to play Limelight, because I am simply intimidated by “the Professor” and generally only play Rush tunes in the privacy of my own home.

That said, my only comments are that you are tentative when you strike, you don’t look comfortable with the strikes you make on the cymbals or the drums. Almost like you are not sure if that is the right one, but from the sound of your playing you were in line with the music. You just need to look more confident.

Secondly, for a cross over player, your left elbow is kicked out very high and away from your body, which will tire you out. I would guess lowering your snare may correct this and give you a little more stamina for long performances.

Lastly, smile!

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Omar February 4, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Hi John.

Thanks for the input! I so appreciate it.

Yes, you are absolutely correct about my tentativeness, and I hope all who watch can learn from it (and not play that way, unless it’s on purpose!). That’s a bad habit I developed over the years of something I call the “Too Much Consideration for the Neighbors” syndrome, where, you want to play hard, but you’re not sure what the neighbors will do! It’s not always that way, but I actually didn’t notice until I saw myself (and now you’ve confirmed it). That’s something that I have to practice out of.

I noticed the position of my left arm as well. I actually don’t know why I play that way; I don’t notice it while I’m playing, but I will give that extra attention as well.

And yes, I am actually having fun, but I know the moment I smile my timing will fly out the window. I’m just concentrating too much. Must relax!

Again, thanks John. I look forward to hearing from you again! And let’s take note, everyone!

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