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"Being a drummer is like being a professional athlete in that you have to be in shape both physically and mentally. A lot of people, when they see a drummer playing a repetitive groove for three minutes, might not realize how hard that is to do. It's difficult to put the whole package—good technique and a musical approach—together."
"A samba groove, for instance, involves a lot of physical motion. Drummers have a hard time doing it well. Some say it's that students need to learn more about Brazilian music, which, of course, they should, but I think the answer is less complex than that. When we focused on this groove in one of my labs, I was surprised to find that it had more to do with the physical thing than with style; most people can't do it because their bodies can't go 'boom-chick-a-boom' together with the music."
"I've been going back more to a holistic way of looking at things. People have been trying to learn styles as though they're different languages, and that carries with it all kinds of booby traps. Somebody will say they don't want to learn 'spang-spang-a-lang' [ride cymbal beat], because they don't like jazz. And I'll say, 'That's not jazz, that's a rhythm.' The more people separate things and say, 'This style is different,' or 'You don't know that style; you're not from there,' the easier it is to escape a whole lot of things that are common to the language of any instrument. With drummers, I say, 'Let's learn mechanics; learn to play rhythms and train your body to play, and then we'll apply it to styles of music.'"
"I want my students not just to know the joy of playing, but also to develop the ability to interact with others. This includes knowing how they look and sound to others and how their actions and attitude come across. And it includes focusing on listening to others. Whether you're with a small group or a drum corps of 130 people, when everyone's doing something together and it clicks, it's an amazing feeling. There's nothing like it, nothing even close."