The Facts Are Friendly

You can’t make good decisions with bad information. The better your information – the more facts you know – the better your decisions are. What tempo to start the song off on, when to play what fill, what you choose to do to prepare for the show – these are decisions we make, and we want them to be good ones.

I’ll give you the bad news first: If we don’t know whats going on, or think we know but are wrong about it, we choose poorly or end up guessing. Have you ever try to shoot a basketball without looking at the hoop? The results are not encouraging.

Now here’s the good news: The facts are friendly. When you figure out how things work, you can get the results you want. For example: How do you start a song at the right tempo? There are a few things you need to know. First, you need to be able to recall the song. If you can not recall the song (by this I mean like a radio playing in your head), you need to know the tempo – write it down, memorize it, and use a click track, or a memory of the right tempo as a proxy. Second, is there any reason why you want to move the tempo around? Can the singer get the words out fast enough? Will the guitarist rush the heck out of the chorus?

Here’s another example. The wrist doesn’t actually turn. The wrist is a complex joint that does 3 things: it bends up and down, it bends side to side, and it spreads the fingers. If someone actually tries to rotate their wrist, they will end up using a lot more effort and energy than if they allow the joint that *does* rotate (the elbow – a.k.a. radioulnar joint) to do the work it’s designed for. The facts are friendly. When you understand how this works, it becomes much easier to play faster, move around the drum set more accurately, use less energy and get more and better sound. Most importantly, it prevents pain from misuse and repetitive motion injuries. See how nice the facts are?

OK OK OK – Lets say that I want to set the World’s Record for single strokes, but I only have one arm. What about them apples? That doesn’t sound friendly to me! The big caveat here is that the facts do not allow you to do anything you would like, as if in a dream world. That’s not what this means. The facts are what they are, and if you don’t like them, well, that’s tough. If you are blind, that’s a fact, and that may not be what you want. If you go around acting like you can see, then you may walk in front of a bus. Knowing the facts – in this case knowing that you cannot see – will keep you becoming street pizza. The facts allow you to move about the real world effectively.

Simply knowing the facts makes playing the drums really easy. So much of drumming is based on simple knowledge. However, in order to know something you must experience it first. There is no learning machine from the Matrix (think “I know kung fu!”). The really friendly thing here is that all you have to do – in order to increase your knowledge, is have the right experience. Luckily, most of us have a lot of experience with music already – even those of us who have never played anything before. Simply listening to music teaches us most of what we need to know. (I’ll write a blog about this soon. I have scientific research to back this up). You can get a long way with a minimum of effort, with the right perspective. That’s a key ingredient for being a talented students, btw.

Unfortunately, mastery takes a lot of time. But why would you want to master something you don’t enjoy?  And if you do enjoy it, whats the problem with putting in the time?  Gosh darnit, I gotta go have some more fun.

See what I mean? Friendly.