It’s been a long time since I have an opportunity to drum at all, nevermind at the studio, so I thought this is the perfect opportunity for a blog post.
A couple of things actually led up to this:
- I have a Pirate Studios voucher from my wonderful sister
- Want to try out my new Ear Peace hearing protection
- Someone actually messaged me about doing another drum post at some point
I’m not sure what said person is expecting but I thought this is better than nothing.
When I was booking my session a few days ago I immediately went for a morning slot for the slight cheaper price giving me two hours in the wonderful Studio 19 at their Digbeth studios.
In this post I will be talking about my general drum routine when I get a chance to go to the studio. I will include links to everything at the end of the post including a Spotify playlist of any music mentioned.
What do I take to the studio?
- A drink – usually water but if I’m low on energy maybe a soft drink
- A snack – again…energy
- Headphones – both my Urbanears Plattan ADV Wireless and my JBL T110
- Drumsticks (no sh*t) – I usually take two pairs of Vic Firth 85As
- Practice pad – great to stick on the snare whilst warming up; Vic Firth 12″
- Hearing protection – for when I am not using headphones; Ear Peace HD
The drums at the studio aren’t actually too bad – usually. They have a range of drums in the different studios; some without cymbals. In the studio I was in the kit is a Natal five-piece with Stagg cymbals (a hi-hat, crash and ride). I tend to remove one of the toms from the kit because since I’ve been playing without I’ve actually become a better drummer.
The hardware is basic but functional if you’re gentle with it. On an occasion I was faced with a broken kick pedal and I had to find a replacement during my paid time but usually the service and equipment here is pretty good.
First things first is adjusting the kit so I actually can play it. I’m very short…just pushing at 5’2″ so that is a lot of adjusting. And usually knowing my luck, the last person to play the kit is an actual giant.
Basically the snare and the hi-hat needs to go lower is the main focus; oh and the stool made taller. I then remove the unwanted tom – usually the smaller of the two – and bring the cymbals closer in just so I get an easy reach. The sticks I have are a decent length (16″) which help but I still like the ride cymbal especially to be as close as possible without getting in the way. This way I have access to the bell of the cymbal giving me a wider range of sounds.
I hit a few issues with the kit I had paid to us on this occasion. I immediately noticed the tape on the bass drum skin…I mean who would not?! There was obviously a small tear that had been patched up with a lot of tape. It was holding up the whack of the kick pedal just about but the sound wasn’t pretty.
And then there was the snare. Initially, I was impressed as the snare drum is not the usual one that’s with this kit but as soon as I struck it I knew something wasn’t right.
It sounded as if the snare was broken or faulty so I turned over the drum to check. It was an ugly sight.
Not very impressive.
I like to do a few physical warm ups just to prevent any strain to my back which I have a reoccurring issue with. For a while I was drumming with a back support but I’ve got myself to a point where I don’t think that is necessary; which is good because it was restrictive.
These exercises are nothing strenuous just simply stretching out the arm, shoulder, neck and back muscles slightly so I don’t strain anything. I then do some hand warm ups, some of which were taught to me by Vijay from the Kaiser Chiefs.
Using my practice pad, I turn off the snare of the drum and stick it on top of the skin. After this I do some simple “Left, Right” exercises just to continue the warm up of my hands.
Today, I started with playing a couple of songs which I know well and don’t have a problem playing.
“Hole In My Soul” by Kaiser Chiefs
“Centuries” by Fall Out Boy
These are all great tracks to not only play at the beginning of a session but also experiment with. Make them all more exciting to play. I don’t play any of them like they were originally written.
I then thought of songs that I would perhaps like to learn – right now every track by Calva Louise is up there.
“Getting Closer” by Calva Louise
I chose this track to learn as not only does it have a strong, steady beat but also there are points where the drums are more active making it a very interesting song to play. So after listening to the track through once I give it a go – I tend to just delve straight in when learning songs.
Mistakes are always going to be made, it is never going to work first time, but once a track is nailed it is very rewarding.
I usually then go back to a track or two I’ve attempted to learn in previous sessions. This gives my mind a rest from the new track and let’s me mess around a bit.
“Champagne Supernova” by Oasis
“Everyday I Love You Less And Less” by Kaiser Chiefs
Neither of these tracks I have absolutely nailed yet but playing them is fun and leisurely. At the end of the day, that’s why I drum.
Usually, I would have a crack at learning another song but due to all the faffing about trying to get the kit to be usable my plans changed.
Recently I’ve been finishing up with a track which isn’t difficult to play and is kind of the perfect “warm down” song.
“Tomorrow I Love You” by Nick J.D. Hodgson
At this point, I am usually pretty exhausted and time is coming to an end so I focus on tidying the studio up for the next person. This includes putting the tom back.
The walk back to my flat is always a good time to reflect on the session I have just experience. I am always very chilled out after a good drum regardless of how well the session went.
Yes, there were several frustrations during the session. Not only the state of the kit but I also got a painful blister on my hand – which has never happened before – that made the session a bit difficult. However! It was actually the best I have ever drummed. I felt like for the first time in ages I made progress.
I played without caring about how well it was going. I was free.
And, my new ear pieces are awesome.
PMA – positive mental attitude.
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