Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Erskine on practicing

An exchange about general practice topics, from Peter Erskine's 1978 Modern Drummer interview with Gary Farmer.

GF:  [W]hat would an ideal practice routine consist of?

PE:  When I work on the snare drum, I try to get my hands in good shape. When I was working on the matched grip I concentrated on stick height, angle and feel. When I'm practicing on the set, I try to practice basic timekeeping. Every so often I'll play around the drums.

GF:  Would you suggest practicing on the pads, or a set?

PE:  Both. I think practicing on a pad is good because you can work on wrists and hands. You're not driving everybody nuts with the loud, distracting sound of the drum. On a pad, you can get a very objective look at how you sound and how you're playing. But I like practicing on a drum set, getting a cymbal feel going. Part of playing on a drum set is getting a sound out of it.

GF:  Have you ever tried a practice pad set?

PE:  Yes. They're pretty good, but I like to see a drummer practice as much as he can on a drum set. I never had a practice set, but I've always meant to buy one. I think they'd be good for working on independence. What's more important is the sound you get out of your instrument. The music you make. The feeling, the groove that happens. The mere technical end of drumming doesn't interest me that much.

GF:  You're more into the sound aspect?

PE:  I'm technically oriented to some degree. I've got a fair amount of speed, but that's just like a trumpet player trying to play high, or a drummer trying to play fast. Buddy can play more than just fast — and swing. Maynard can do more than just play high. It's something they're noted for, but it doesn't nearly do them justice as musicians. Young musicians get seduced by the extravagance available on an instrument.

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