Nic’s blog  
 
Nic's Blog #10
 
The Chronicle Articles #1
9/02/10

   I've watched the face of the Austin music scene change quite drastically over the years. In many ways it has grown exponentially and has dwindled by attrition. The amount of music venues has grown while the variety of music has declined. The amount of musicians making a living playing music has declined and I'm venturing to say that amount music being put out thats taking some bold chances is also in decline. The fact that we have more experts to show us what they know, may in fact be a problem. Great music is art first and a product second. Doing all the things it takes to be popular is removing the art stain that made it interesting in the first place. I've been a drum set music educator over the last sixteen years in Austin and have experienced a shift in the mix of students I see. I was getting a fair amount of working musicians interested in honing their craft six to seven years ago. The amount of semi-pros interested in upping their game has declined sharply.

   Before thousands of bands moved to Austin, one group would play a venue for the entire evening. One band, might have been the house band for the week. Starting on a Tues or Wed and playing

   Through Sat night or Sun night. That would incorporate 4 hours per night for four or five nights 40 on 20 off net 160 minutes A 4 night engagement would net 640 minutes of live performance per week even if you couldn't play to begin with you had 640 minutes of performance practice not including the practice involved in putting 160 minutes of entertainment together. At this rate you can get really good just by playing. With 3600 + bands 167 venues you're lucky to play one 40 minute set twice per month. So when I say music lessons are for everyone this means you, the musicians that don't play anymore than 80 minutes per month with four practices per month obviously ain't gettin' a lot of music play'n time in. Your not honing your craft very much and if you think the product your producing in this small segment of time is as good as you can do. You obviously have a great ability to elude yourself.

   One of the most powerful tools of music communication is the reading and writing of music notation. There is a misunderstanding about music notation and it's value in our modern music society. The fact that no one has a music stand in front of them except some old jazz people and occasional orchestra pit during show performance helps contribute to the misology

   Very small nuances may in fact be the difference between the mediocre and the great musician. Learning to apply these nuances is in the reading and analysis of music greats before us. There is a misconception about reading music and the benefits it can bring to your musical endeavors. True, that a another musician bringing a written drum part to play with there song might be highly unlikely, as is the remote possibilities of you bringing a music stand to Maggie Mae's. However, in preparation for these events, reading music notation may be an invaluable tool. Tony Williams arguably the greatest jazz drummer ever, said, "People try to get into drumming and after a year they're working on their own style. First you must spend a long time doing what the great drummers do... Drumming is like an evolutionary pattern.

   To reach out to larger audiences your level of performance should set you apart and drawing on older music can be a great starting point to increase your virtuosity. Selling music requires some extensions of the past fusing new ideas. Ideas, that aren't so far off the beaten path that no audience can understand them. That requires music study. A look at now along with a good working knowledge of the past. With these basic foundations in place you can set out to create new music. Many young musicians convince themselves as to a mind set that "all that can be tried has been tried". The reality check for this is, the most minuscule particle of dust being the amount of ideas tried verses the vastness of the entire universe in ideas not tried.

   I've become the self appointed ambassador in the art of reading music notation. I'm setting up new challenges as the savior in the art of reading music notation and these articles are my next step. I've invented software, Nic's drumset writer (www.drumsetwriter.com) to help drumset musicians that can't read music and a new drum book: drumset for musicians who don't want to be dummies...

   The road to improved musicianship starts with the language. Recently meeting my wife's uncle for the first time has reminded me of the power of eloquence in speech. He feels quite different than I politically yet as he spoke I hung on every word. When others state their political views, I'm usually so upset that they don't think like I do I have a tendency to shut down. In his case his remarks were put forth with such eloquence and grace I was mesmerized. Isn't that what we all hope for when making a musical performance, to hypnotize our audience have them so entranced in our offerings they can't look away from our performance.

   If you tried to come up in the education system as an illiterate you would have missed out on some incredibly interesting facts and methods about anything you attempted to learn. The same goes in music, the details about how it works are in the reading. If you gloss over the listening material you can easily learn to play some drum beats. These drum beats are the atmosphere, the background for music, that's only one element in place. If you want to entice a large crowd at an event, the more elements you have in place and incorporated into the picture, the larger variety of personalities you might entwine.

   That doesn't mean to say you need to be busy playing a bunch of stuff that doesn't apply. It means that you need to be an expert at time sensitivity, pressure sensitivity and be on the inside of the music you are performing. Studying the greats and understanding what they have been doing and are currently doing is a the road less traveled.

   Music is forever changing, the people that buy it are as fickle as your first lovely brunette girlfriend with blue eyes. In reality record companies want the largest amount of people possible to buy there products. Maybe your first consideration shouldn't be what type of music do we need to play to get signed. Maybe being experimental and traveling down that road less traveled can be the "toll road" to where you want to be.

   Reading drum set notation really isn't much different than reading tabs. In fact you'll see many similarities between them. The big advantage in notation is going to be accuracy. In tab when the going gets complex it becomes a lot more difficult to read than notation.

 
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