The Troupe
This drummer's journey with other drummers.

Rehearsal: July 22, 2009

A bit ragged tonight, especially at the start.

Probably a couple of reasons for that:

It was hot.  It was in the high 90’s / low 100’s all day, and even towards 7:00 PM was still at 91 degrees outside, so we all felt pretty drained to start.   We had to have the air conditioning on during the entire rehearsal.   I honestly should have given everyone about 20 minutes to cool down, settle in, rest a bit and then get started.

It was a busy week for C and D, who both admitted to having not done much practice.   That means we need to knock off some of the rust, and get back in a groove before we can really start getting in good work.

The dreaded MetroGnome.  (It makes me happy to think of it as a wrinkly little sourpuss, dressed in bright greens and yellows, with waxed eyebrows and a unisex haircut.).  A MetroGnome is very useful, but with most of the drummers still so new it can be pretty intimidating.  I think we are better off using it individually as we practice during the week, and letting our rehearsals be a little loose at this point.   Loose equals fun and fun equals motivation.  Sadly, K (with his professional guitarist background) swears by the MetroGnome and brought his out right off the bat.  Put a bit of a damper on us, and made the first 20 minutes somewhat tense and uncomfortable.  I should have been more proactive in just turning it off and starting out loose, but my inexperience was really showing last night.

We went off the rails early, and I had no real clue how to get us back on track.

My plan for the rehearsal was:

  1. Start with the basic performance piece.
  2. Do some speed and stamina building exercises in the middle.
  3. End with a new rhythm, and some call and answer theory and practice.

The first part, going in cold to the basic performance was a minor disaster.  Off time, off groove, off track, it was simply awkward, no fun and a bit embarrassing for all of us.

The first part last night threw me off so badly I skipped the stamina and speed exercises entirely, and went right to a new rhythm, hoping to salvage some fun out of the evening.   That actually worked out ok, with all of us doing a call and answer jam together and ending the rehearsal on an up tempo note.

I talked to my wife (the professional dance instructor, choreographer and troupe leader) after to figure out a better way and she came through for me with a simple solution.

My wife thinks that I can prevent that problem by having us do some warm up drills to start us out.  Doing some simple stuff, such as a “Doum Tek Doum Ka Slap Tek Slap Ka” riff will loosen us up without any pressure.  This will also allow me to hear how well everyone’s tone is progressing.  Adding in a couple of Roll Drills, such as “Tek Ka Tek” and “Ka Ka Tek Ka” should give us a bit of fun as well.  Then we can start the basic performance piece and hopefully have some groove going.

So, hopefully some upside will come out of the off-kilter rehearsal.

The downside to last night is that I now need to talk to K about relaxing a bit, and giving the new drummers (himself included) some space to have some fun, make mistakes, and learn, before he breaks out the ruler and starts whacking hands for being off tempo.  And I need to talk to C and D a bit about practicing diligently, at least 3 times a week.

There was some talk about getting together on Friday this week, so hopefully that happens and we can get our groove back.

I certainly have a long way to go as a leader.

Practice.  Practice.  Practice.

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