Sunday, July 07, 2024

Drum lesson with Murray Spivack

Here's a rare thing, a famous drum teacher, Murray Spivack, giving a drum lesson to Louis Bellson: 

The portion with Spivack is dedicated to basic stuff: holding the sticks, making basic strokes, and playing rudiments. 

I think Louis Bellson was a lot more influential on drumming— via the clinics he used to do in the 60s/70s— than he gets credit for, and a lot of this technique style filtered down to me as a student in the 80s, via a number of people. 

It's interesting that in my playing, I've need to work out some things that are contrary to this technique; at least I needed some other things in addition to it. Doing every stroke as an up-down, for example, has you stopping the rebound at the end of every stroke, or double stroke, and puts the top of the stroke— which determines how loud you're going to play— in an undefined kinetic area, where you are only for an instant. 

When working on pure technique, I am more down-up oriented now, which makes for better dynamic control. And instead of practicing stopping the stick down low after each stroke, we're practicing getting ready for the next note quickly, which can't but help your speed. Also, generally, this whole approach frontloads each stroke with a lot of extra stuff between the beginning of the movement, and the bead actually striking the drum, all of which affects timing— having to lift the stick before playing a note, and leading the stroke with the arch of your articulated wrist, with the bead of the stick trailing that. It's not inconsequential— in drum corps, we had to train to get a precisely timed attack when starting the stroke with a lift. 

Clearly a lot of great players have used this technique, and it has worked well for them. As an excellent professional drummer using a similar technique, I found myself needing some things not directly addressed by it.    

There are some other small, interesting things: Spivack singing a Flam Accent #1 starting with a pick up. And when Bellson demonstrates double strokes slow to fast, or “open to closed”, in old terminology, at the fast end his roll becomes multiple bounce. Which was always my understanding of the term closed, but I've never seen that actual change in stroke type done in practice. My teachers all taught open (meaning double strokes) and closed (meaning multiple bounce) rolls as different things, not as a continuum depending on how fast you're playing. In fact Spivack does correct him on that, asking him to play his doubles more open, and not switch to a multiple bounce roll. 

It's very cool to hear from somebody who was an active drumming professional as early as Spivack was. I'll be looking through Stone's Technique of Percussion to see if there's an early mention of him. 

[h/t to Buddhadrummer @ DW]

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