Famous students include Bobby Schayer (Bad Religion). The Decibel System I created over 15 years ago is a method-based curriculum that emphasizes:
D stands for DRUMS
I overlooked the actual drums and cymbals themselves in my early days, my mistake. I figured it’s punk rock, any drums, any cymbals, good enough. Now I know better. An average drummer with a good kit that’s tuned right will get picked before some whacky Ninja with chops but no tone. Pick batter and resonant drum heads that match your kit. Here’s how to tune your drums for maximum performance.
E stands for ENDURANCE
Don’t burn out on the first set when you have to pull an all nighter. Move efficiently, conserve energy (I used to bring a 12 piece drum kit to a 4 piece gig. Unless you have a drum tech, that gets old). A hard hitting drummer is an athlete so don’t abuse your body. Want to play faster? Let gravity to do most of the work, play at the speed you want by staying relaxed.
C stands for COORDINATION
Some of the earliest great drummers were tap dancers. Patterns such as paradiddles are rooted in dance. Study beats that develop independence. Play along to John Bonham on the Immigrant Song. Play slow to learn complicated patterns. Pick songs that are fun to play and build chops.
I stands for INTELLIGENCE
Most live drum solos are like a sneeze, you know they’re coming and there’s nothing you can do about it. Up your drum IQ and don’t sound like every other drummer! Study Latin, Afro-Cuban, Reggae, Jazz and more as tools to spawn your unique style. Get creative, check out Yusef Lateef, he’s playing a clay pot he bought in a market.
B stands for BASICS
They are called rudiments for a reason. Learning them does not have to be a drag, LoL. These tools combine a variety of techniques with the goal of improving hand speed, power, and control while offering flexibility. Practice drum rolls accenting the second beat on each hand. Spice up your drum brakes, beats and solos with rudiments to make it fun.
E stands for EARS
Listen to the different frequencies. Do your cymbals (highs) and bass drum (lows) leave room for other musicians? I know, it’s a surprise coming from me (my idea of good taste is a high school cheerleader) but seriously, let’s not overplay. Listen to the best drummers, aim for unpretentious playing, with an awareness of dynamics (playing at the right volume) that support the song. May “big ears” be on your gravestone.
L stands for LIKE A GOLFER
Focus on grip and stroke, skillfully strike drums in the center. I can always tell a new drummer is at the door when the knocking speeds up and they don’t know when to come in. Kidding aside, practice with a Metronome to learn how to keep time, so no one calls you “Speedy.” This will get you ready for click-tracks. It’s all about “feel.”
~An amateur drummer died and went to heaven. He was waiting outside the pearly gates when he heard
the most incredible fast and furious drumming coming from within. Immediately he recognized the playing
and rushed to ask St. Peter if that was Buddy Rich playing drums inside the gates. St. Peter responded:
“No, that’s God. He just thinks he’s Buddy Rich.”~