Every once in a while we all have to go through this. You get to a point where you want to play new stuff. You want to get another genre under your belt. You want to expand. In the quest to get new vocabulary under your belt, as we all know, there is a time for research, then development and finally integration into your playing.
The research part IMHO is sometimes the LONGEST part. If you count the time in which you started getting exposed to the music, started digging it and then finally started working on playing it. In many cases this turns into a whole sideline, especially in the life of a drummer. For drumset especially, knowing the style and deciphering the vocabulary, feel and groove is essential. You become (for the rest of your life) an ethnomusicologist of sorts. A field researcher if you will. Preferably traveling to the places where the music you are trying to learn originated. And if thats not possible talking with people that come from the countries of whatever music you are trying to learn. It should be part of your job. Of course listening to the new music, getting to know some artists in that genre is essential in this phase. This is kind of a magical time, since the new thing is so fresh, it inspires you and gives new energy to practice when you arrive to the practice stage.
Then comes the practice stage! Hahaaaa! This is sometimes disheartening because maybe things are harder then they seemed. When you really analyze and breakdown the nuts and bolts of something, There are lots of details and technical things to look at, practice and absorb. This can sometimes take …years. The most efficient way of dealing with this is to have a very well thought out and professional practice schedule. If you are working at random it will double the time you need to get something down. A professional practice schedule keeps your mind straight when you are in this phase. One of my great teachers told me to withhold my creativity in this stage. Don’t get emotional over learning new material. Keep a detached concentration about it. Keep your mind focused on absorption and dont drift around. Creativity comes later when you are playing the music.
Of course there is no feeling in this world like noticing your progress, finally getting something down, and being able to flow with it in music. A huge satisfaction. Something to live for!
Once you finally have it going and you are playing the music, the creative process can begin. New ideas maybe come easily, maybe not. In this stage you can draw upon the countless hours you have spent shaping your voice and personalty as a musician. It helps tremendously to be an artist when approaching creativity. This is something sometimes people outside the arts have no connection to, or maybe don’t have a connection to on a daily basis. Not knowing even where to begin, perhaps. But as a “muso” it’s second nature right? A blessing! Enjoy this time as it can really lead to doors opening for you in many areas. Not only in music, but in your health and mental well-being.
Through the whole process of expanding your drumming, the biggest joy is just being behind the kit. Feeling the body work for you. Feeling the energy, the adrenaline, like a kid again! Having fun…doing something on planet earth that so many only can dream about. Doing something worthwhile…in this short life. Doing something of significant value.