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The Zen of Drumming
An Innovative Mind, Body, and Soul Approach to Peak Performance
Bobby has put out a three-hour DVD called The Zen of Drumming. The hype reads, "Rock shares a lifetime's worth of drumming knowledge and inspiration as he bases the program on his innovative mind, body and soul approach to peak performance. Other video highlights include: A healthy eating section where Rock discusses and demonstrates some of his superior health for musicians; eating concepts, a segment on mentally preparing for a performance, and the many philosophical food for thought sections that tie in effectively with the video's unmistakable Zen theme."
I'm into drums and the health thing myself, and I've also meditated in conjunction with my martial arts training, so the video sounded intriguing to me. Here's what I discovered.
After the solo, he talks about developing the proper mental environment that enables one to play at a consistently high level. Next, he identifies the gear in his huge touring drum kit, including: seven various sized toms, four bridge drums (that use Peavey's Radial Bridge technology), three timbales, three tube of doom drums, two Bobby Rock snare drums, and a solid brass Sonor snare. And that's not all. He also uses a slew of Sabian cymbals, cowbells, and nine foot pedals! He has five of the pedals for his left foot (he plays one with each toe - only kidding!) and four for his right foot. By placing his foot halfway between pedals (I'm serious now), he can get a bass and hi-hat sound simultaneously with one foot or a hi-hat and cowbell, etc. Cool.
Mind, Body, and Spirit
Bobby's breakdowns of the various rhythmic patterns here will be of great interest both to beginning and intermediate level players. Not only does Bobby show us the exact parts he's playing but he takes it a step beyond this, explaining the importance of special techniques like ghost notes.
He also breaks down some of his fills and explains how varying them from night to night in the same song can keep things exciting and creative.
Practice Pad & The Octopus
Here he demonstrates how to develop ghost notes and how to use different stick levels to infuse your playing with dynamics. He also shows how a simple pattern that is played on one sound source can be changed into a complex sounding creation simply by playing each hand on a different sound source.
Bobby stresses the importance of practicing rudiments and applying them to the kit. By taking what he demonstrated on the pad using only two sound sources, Bobby demonstrates how a simple rudimental sticking pattern can be made to sound extremely complicated when played between multiple sound sources on the drum kit. He calls this simple one-bar pattern the Octopus and he plays it on 22 different sound sources! Real cool.
The camera work and editing on this video is top notch. I like the way the editors included small insets in various corners over the full screen to show what Bobby's feet are playing, while not loosing sight of what's happening on top.
Breakin' it Down
Bobby not only breaks down his own patterns but also explains how you can go about developing patterns of your own in the woodshed. He gives you much food for thought here as he demonstrates right hand ostinatos against various left hand patterns, eventually working up to full four-way independence on his huge "Zen" drum kit.
Especially check out the way Bobby plays a steady rhythmic pattern with three limbs against a left hand part that varies in tempo from fast to slow and back again. Very cool.
Back to the Pad
In addition, he demonstrates exercises for developing your weak hand and explains how he developed a faster Single Stroke Roll.
He offers plenty of good tips in this segment like eating four to six smaller meals a day and sticking with raw foods for superior health.
The Emotional Aspects of Drumming
Bobby plays the third and final selection from his CD "Out of Body." He then breaks it down. This time concentrating on the last of his three critical drumming elements, the emotional (spiritual) aspect.
In this segment, Bobby explains his visualization technique that utilizes Zen based breathing and meditation. Bobby tells us to breathe in while visualizing a white light entering our body, and breathe out while visualizing a white light leaving.
Back to the Pad
Bobby covers his concept of working with a metronome and demonstrates exercising with weighted sticks as a way to warm up your upper body in preparation for playing the kit.
The Zen of Soloing
He also discusses his use of the multiple foot pedal setup to play a clave pattern with his right foot and reverse clave with his left foot, while playing various patterns with the hands against the ostinato foot patterns. You'll find quite a bit of useful material for the woodshed in this section.
Monotony is the Key
Like a wise sage, Bobby summarizes "The Zen of Drumming" by relating an ancient Zen story that contains a lesson any modern drummer can use.
The closing of the video features some exclusive "Roadcam" footage of Bobby playing an extended drum solo, which was filmed on tour.
The Zen of Drumming: Bottom Line
You'll find a ton of vital info in The Zen of Drumming that will keep you in the woodshed for a long time to come, whether you're a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player.
The bottom line is: If you're looking for some good ideas and you don't mind practicing to be able to play them, you'll find The Zen of Drumming well worth the retail of price of $39.95. I highly recommend it for anyone who is serious about the art of drumming. And you can purchase it at a discount here: The Zen of Drumming
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