Drum Views

I believe that my views of Drumming and the "job" of the drummer in a small musical situation are not that uncommon. In fact I would think that they are pretty much the rules that all drummers believe in.

One of my biggest beliefs, is that a drummer can not be considered a "great" drummer unless he is able to play all types of music. I call this my "Neil Peart" rule because a few years back, I saw Neil play with the Buddy Rich Big Band at one of the scholarship concerts. There were at least five or six other great drummers there that night playing with the band, but through the entire night, the crowd kept chanting for Neil. I'll admit, I was excited also, because I really like the way Neil plays with RUSH. I have a few of the bands CD's, and always considered him one of my favorite drummers. However, I was in for a shock when he started playing with Buddy's band. It was evident that he was not comfortable at all with Big Band music, and he was really struggling. His cymbal rhythm was not correct, and he was unable to play his Hi-Hat on two and four for the entire song. In short, it was very surprising, and for a fan, VERY disappointing. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a Neil Peart fan, but now I consider him a great "ROCK" drummer, rather then a great drummer period.

Neil has even admitted this, and to his credit has begun to study Jazz and judging from his performance on the second "Burning For Buddy" CD, he is making progress.

All of this just proves my point, that if you want to be a great drummer, you have to be able to do it all. Most of the names that I put on my list are all Jazz Drummers, but I have heard most of them play all types of music. Buddy Rich was known to have more Rock charts with his big band, and he could Rock as well as he could Swing. Louie Bellson can do it all, and of the more contemporary drummers, just listen to Steve Smith cut it with "Journey", "The Buddy Rich Big Band", and his own Fusion band "Vital Information". All of these musicians are inspirations. The second reason why these guy's are inspirations, is that of the ones that I have met personally, they have all been very friendly. This I believe is a fundamental difference between those that are great, and those that think they are great. The great ones consider all other drummers and musicians as part of the "family", while those with a chip are only out for themselves. Even Buddy Rich was always nice to me when I met him or asked for an autograph. After every concert I ever saw, he made himself available to talk with fans and young drummers. In this regard, Louie Bellson is tops. The man has class like you would not believe! Over the last several years, I have met him at least five times, and was always greeted with the same professionalism and kindness.

The third and final opinion I will list here is more of a mission of awareness. Those of us that play drums are at a unique disadvantage of having to deal with possible hearing loss. I know this is the last thing you want to hear if your a drummer, but believe me... I know from experience!!

A few years back, I was diagnosed with Meniere's Disease. This is a disease that causes vertigo attacks as well as a plugged ear feeling, and ringing in the ear. Fortunatly, my virtigo attacks are not all that common, but I do suffer from hearing loss, and let me tell you, there is nothing worse for a musician then not being able to hear. It's frustrating, and most of all it can ruin your career.

My answer to this was getting a pair of custom made ear plugs that fit in my ear and have filters that just "attenuate" sound rather then muffling it. These allow me to hear the proper range of frequencies that we all need to balance our sound with that of the group, while protecting my ears from further damage.

If your serious about music, you'll look into getting a pair of these!!

These are just a few of my views on drumming and related issues. In short, I believe you have to be able to play all types of music, always treat others with respect, and protect your hearing!

More views will follow as time permits!

Louis A. Stavris