i can read….innit

I was never in the top group of reading 360 in primary school, cause I’m a bit fick innit:


‘Very good Philip, now can you please get back to work, I need those reports done by tomorrow.’

‘Sorry sir.’

‘Can I have my book back please?’

‘Yeah, its a good read, I like this Lad character’

It also took quite a long time for me to be bothered to understand musical notation, after all, I could play already, so who cares?

In some ways it doesn’t really matter if you can read, but it’s definitely an advantage for passing information on, or understanding what someone else is on about. Its good to know your demi semis (not a type of house) from your 8th note triplets. The best reason for this is to make yourself sound smart when chatting with a group of musicians.

Also, as I mentioned in my last post, youtube is a great source for information, and most of the time they will use notation as a way of passing on the information.¬†From a personal point of view I would find it very difficult to teach unless I had the aid of books and print outs. As a result, I teach sight reading to all beginners, so we’re all on the same page, so to speak.

This could get you started (that isn’t me btw):


cult of youtube

Youtube has an endless supply of music, it also has an endless supply of funny cat related videos, but try not to get caught up in that side of it. I wish I was 15 and could learn all over again with YouTube available, the new generation of musicians have it lucky.

When you are young, you have time and an endless enthusiasm and work ethic for practice. Or if you’ve been forced to learn an instrument, you have an endless enthusiasm for staring into space, or counting dust particles. I would have probably locked myself in the garage for hours learning new stuff everyday with the aid of YouTube. I will note that my drum kit was in the garage, I wasn’t learning the old bike, Frank Zappa style (see below).

I was self taught, and was lucky enough to be able to understand what was going on (somehow) when I listened to tracks to gain a pretty good back catalogue of grooves and fills thanks to Mr Collins, Mr Copeland and Mr Peart. However sometimes that can only take you so far. If I had the time and enthusiasm of my younger self now with all that was available, I’d jump at it. So if you are young (or unemployed), take advantage of the endless free lessons and watch as many cover videos as you can, because its invaluable stuff.

I’ve just realised when reading back over this, I may as well have written:




When I was in work last week I mentioned to someone that I practiced on my own, and their reply was ‘awwww’, like I’m a loner who can’t get a date, well that is true, but not in musical terms. Do most people think all drummers need to have ‘real’ musicians around them to make their feeble existence worth while? Obviously they have no idea that a drummer has to ‘shed’ all the time, in fact, most of the time I prefer it. Most musical projects I have been involved with do not relate to what I practice in my own time at all. Playing in a band situation can require a completely different set of skills: dynamics, subtleness, locking in with the bass player, and to sit there and listen to the singer blab on about how he wants the drums to be ‘minimal’, or ‘do you have brushes?’, or ‘do you have an egg shaker?’, in fact ‘do you just want to go home?’. Usually when I practice on my own I’m trying to get some ridiculous Tower of Power groove which I’ll never use, or mostly likely never remember, or attempting to get the perfect swiss triplets. I’m not sure I’ve ever used crazy chops like that when it comes to a band situation, but its good to have them there if the situation ever arises.

Obviously I over thought the whole situation, but there you go, drummers insecurity. Its probably the same with most musicians, I’m not sure Rachmaninoff had an entire orchestra there when he was practicing either.

But in summary, be a loner, and be proud!

Here’s some loner related music:

back on it

When I moved from Belfast to London in February it took a fair while to properly settle in, and as a result my musical mind went in hiatus. Living in a top floor flat with barely enough room to swing a cat, or maybe even a gerbil, has meant practice has been minimal, in fact non existent. Until now…..

I found a handy wee practice studio in WIllesden called oktopus¬†music about a month ago, and have been going every week since. They have two big rooms with decent kits and decent cymbals, which is a huge rarity in my experience of practice rooms in the past. I thought when I went the first week I would be utterly rubbish, but fortunately a lot of what I could play months before remained in my muscle memory, I just lacked ‘match fitness’ so to speak. During my time at uni I thought through out the year I got steadily better and was playing my best come June time (probably like footballers). Then the summer came, I went home and became lazy, and in September time it would take until June to get back everything you lost in the summer. So I’m going through the same process again now, trying to get back to were I was. It can be a bit frustrating, but as long as you find something to push yourself, its also rewarding. I’ll keep you posted on my progress as best I can.