Do you remember that game from your childhood? Someone would stand in front of the classroom and say things to do, but you were only to do them if Simon says.
Simon says... touch your nose.
Simon says... clap your hands.
Do jumping-jacks. --- Ohhhh...Simon didn't say! You're out!
In case you didn't know, the drum teacher for Drum Ambition is Simon. So, for the past year or so, I'd go into the practice room, watch some videos, play for a bit, then come out and tell my husband, "Simon says this and Simon says that..." For this blog, I'm compiling my four favorite things Simon says:
Simon says, "Count out loud"
This is probably the number one thing he stresses in all of the videos. Why? Because drumming is all about rhythm. It's not good if we're speeding up or slowing down all the time.
Simon says, "Start with slower tempos"
Drumming, to me, always sounds cooler when it's faster, but what I've learned with Drum Ambition is that learning to play new beats slow builds control. I've always appreciated the way Simon teaches in slower tempos. I can't tell you how many times I got frustrated (before Drum Ambition) trying to learn something online and the person teaching plays, maybe, the first example somewhat slow, but then speeds up. It's like they're showing off! Arrgggh! Simon's not like that. Sometimes he'll show you one of the beats faster, just to show you "where you can take it," but he always stresses the importance of starting with slower beats and working your way up. He'll say, for example, start with 50 bpm and then go up in increments of five.
Simon says, "Learn to read music"
A lot of Drum Ambition right now is geared towards beginners. Because of my piano and choir background, I can read music fairly well. But I've found these early lessons, especially the notation lessons, to be really helpful. Sure, I may have been able to identify eighth notes from quarter notes, and I can count basic beats, but can I play them? Can I do eighth notes with my right hand and quarter notes with my left foot? Re-learning to read music has helped me with my coordination. Also, it gives me power. It's like learning to read books for the first time. It's opening a whole new world to me, which brings me to my last Simon says for this blog post...
Simon says, "This will give you some musical options"
That's what these lessons are all about. I can build grooves and fills from the lessons to create my own solo pieces and play to my heart's content. The things Simon teaches are the basics or core lessons every drummer should know.
Simon says other things, but these are the ones I hear him repeat the most. I can almost hear him over my shoulder when I'm playing, "count out loud," or "start with slower tempos."
Drumming is difficult. Don't get me wrong. I still have a long ways to go, but I think as long as I do as "Simon says," I'll get there.