Nic’s blog  
Nic's Blog #9
Interview By A Student

Q: Have you done anything besides drumming in your life?
A: Yes, I ran a wholesale company for 17 years. I was making quite a bit of money but I didn't enjoy what I was doing, in fact I dreaded going to work everyday. About sixteen years ago I had a sales persaon at my company that was the leader of a church band and had recording equipment at his house. He knew I was a drummer and invited me to record some tracks. I went on a Saturday morning and thought I wouldn't be there very long and promised my wife I would be home for lunch. At about 11:30 AM I called home and told my wife that maybe I would meet her for a late dinner. That night I went up to the studio to practice and continued to practice every night for about the next five years.

I took a small business class at ACC and I was required to write up a small business plan for the course, I dreamed up the drum studio idea for the plan. I showed the plan to my wife and she encouraged me to do it. At first I taught at night and worked during the day at the wholesale company. After a while I closed the wholesale company and started teaching full time. I've never looked back, even though I don't make as much money, I'm happier and we manage to get by (we don't get to take vacations very often but somehow it all seems worth it for my wife as well, I'm a happier person and easier to live with.)

Q: What is your advice for beginning drummers?
A: I think that in the beginning you need to crawl before you can walk. That is to say, you can't take yourself too seriously in the beginning. Take in as much as you can but don't pressure yourself too soon. Everybody is different, you have to know what works best for you to accomplish your goals. Playing music if a big commitment if you want to be outstanding (I don't mean to stand out because you are so far off the beaten path that you are a joke.) I mean to learn about music practice what others have played and from knowledge create your own style. It may take as long as it takes to be a doctor or a lawyer and the monetary rewards may never come your way. Lots of people play music as a hobby, it can be a really great way to get away from your daily life.

Q: How many hours do you practice?
A: Not including teaching but including writing, I spend about 5 to 6 hours a day. These days I write a lot more than practice but I still split the two things up by playing what I've written.

Q: What are the names of the books you've written?
A: I've written three books (all are still works in progress to some degree I'm constantly updating and re-editing those books.) I'm just finishing my fourth book "Drumset For Musicians That Don't Want to be Dummies..." The new book is more mainstream than my last books. I teach a lot of beginning adults and musicians that have played for a while but hadn't had much formal training or none.

I'm convinced the lost tool for drumset musicians is understanding that by reading music notation they will be able to play the instrument better and not keep running into the creative wall. I don't think in the same terms as most drummers and when playing in a town like Austin, where the majority of the musicians are self taught, it can be a problem to find compatibility. I though by teaching and letting these musicians see the multitudes of possibility that I could impact the system and get a little more going for the drumset musicians. I came from a world of musicians that practiced from 9 to 5 and thought that someone here might find that commitment an interesting situations. I'm in my 16th year of doing this and finding that compatibility hasn't happened. The musicians spread themselves thinly over multitudes of projects and ultimately aren't able to create the type of music I want to play.

Q: What were some of your favorite performances?
A: I love Terry Bozzio's drum solo called "jazz for one." Jonny Kujawa and I have been attempting to transcribe it this summer. When I was 12 years old I went to New York with my teacher to birdland for Gretch night. I got to listen to Max Roach play "the drum also waltzes." I have been playing solos in three four ever since.

Q: What's your favorite thing you've done in your life?
A: I think playing in a band right after college, Beggar's Opera. We practiced from 9 to 5 everyday Monday through Friday, even when we played during the week we still got everything back into the practice room by noon and practiced until 5. I'd like the same type of commitment from musicians now as we had then. We wrote our own music, we could jam our own music and call up pieces of our own music that we weren't using in the show to tie together jams and everyone would be blown away at how we pulled if off night after night in our live shows.

Q: Some people say drums aren't really a musical instrument. What would you say?
A: The way most play the instrument I'd have to agree, but that's the sad part, to many coming from ignorance has created a path to destruction and disillusion about the instrument. It is in fact a musical instrument, with less notes than a piano, however notes that have pitches and durations and can be part of the melodic structure of music as well as the rhythmic path.

Q: Would you ever consider playing any other instrument?
A: I do, but not very well. Being the obsessive compulsive character I am, I would need to devote my life to playing the piano. However I recommend it to all drummers. Learning to play a melodic instrument will help you to become a better, more informed musician.

Send your drum questions to nic