Saturday, December 06, 2014

Micheal Shrieve on Whiplash

I'm not going to say anything more about the new hit drumming/jazz education melodrama Whiplash until I've actually seen it, but I will let you know about another great drummer, Michael Shrieve, sharing his thoughts about it with Dave Segel, at The Stranger. Editing/commentary in brackets is mostly Segal's, partly mine. I've compressed it slightly— do go read the whole thing.

I was excited to see Whiplash, of course, because it's about drumming, but I had several issues with it. That approach to teaching [physically and verbally abusive, dictatorial] is something I really don't care for. I think it's more damaging than helpful. It's [fine] to be inspiring and tough, but it's gotta be done with love, a different kind of attitude. 
[...]music's not a competition. 
As far as [Miles Teller's character, Andrew Nieman's] technique and the portrayal of him working so hard that he's bleeding, that's completely unrealistic. [...] You can't get speed without relaxing. You can't get speed and control with your hands like that, getting bloody. If you're getting blisters, you're doing something wrong. It's not to say you're not going to get them when you're learning. But you're holding them too tight if you're doing that. 
[...]let's say you have [a great band director;] he's gotta be strict and tough to get a great performance like that [... b]ut all those kids loved him, you know? They're not in fear. Music is supposed to be joyous, but of course you have to work at it. And I know it's the same with classical piano competitions for kids and violins. I think that that sort of approach is probably more abusive with piano and young kids going to those competitions and going for those placements with certain schools. It's very competitive. Jazz is a personal journey, too. You've gotta love that music and work really hard. That kind of teacher is a detriment to any path of improving in a way that brings joy and life to the music. 


  1. Lisa Clarkson2:28 PM

    Just curious, why did you not link the Stranger's interview with Pat Thomas, who liked the movie and specifically said that Kid MIllions' criticism was "speaking out of ignorance?"

    It just seems like you've posted a lot about this movie you haven't even seen yet, but are strangely selective about what you are linking to. It's almost like you are confirming a literally ignorant viewpoint that you've already set your mind to.

  2. Hi Lisa- Thanks for commenting. I hadn't seen the interview with Thomas, so I wasn't being selective in not linking to him. I don't know anything about him, so I don't have any reason to trust his judgment of the movie's accuracy. Little of what he says in that interview speaks well of his knowledge of jazz and college-level jazz education, frankly. I'm not judging him, I just don't have any basis to trust his opinions. Peter Erskine, Michael Shrieve, and George Colligan, who I did link to... well, they are known experts, and their opinions are authoritative.

    I have made it clear that I haven't seen the movie, and that my discussion of it is based on the clips, photos, press, and what others have said about it. And though, if you reread my comments, I haven't actually said a hell of a lot about the movie, everything I have seen of it looks like a joke— at least as far as it's accuracy in re: its subject matter is concerned. Like, it doesn't take an ornithologist too much exposure to tell if Daffy Duck is an accurate representation of avian behavior.

    Anyway, thanks for visiting— I will see the film and give it a fair review when it comes to a second run theater, or becomes available on video. tb

  3. Should that not be Waterfowl behaviour Todd?...Just playing Devils Advocate..

  4. I have run afoul- so to speak- of the avian subspecies particularists. A prickly faction. This could get ugly.