Motown Classics For the Soulful-Minded

This epic list of Motown hits should be on everyone’s Spotify, Tidal, Beats (or whatever streaming platform you use) playlist. Some great drummers on these recordings, such as Benny Benjamin, Uriel Jones, and James Gadson. Original post with embed code can be found on Mojo:

Lynyrd Skynyrd Death Toll Rises

Tragedy is not irrelevant to the Lynyrd Skynyrd lifeline. The preceding chapter to a heart-breaking rock and roll story was written earlier this week with the loss of original drummer, Bob Burns at age 64. What appeared to be a routine ride home on a Friday night in Cartersville, GA ended up as a fatal crash into a mailbox. “It was raining, and he was not wearing his seat belt,” Georgia State Patrol spokesman Tracey Watson told the Associated Press.


Lynyrd Skynyrd was of course a leading charge in the Southern Rock sound, contributing anthems such as “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Simple Man” and “Freebird.” The musicians themselves were no exception to the sex, drugs, and rock and roll mentality. They tested the boundaries of live on a regular basis, coping with drug and alcohol addictions and frequent police run-ins. “We’re kind of like an old dog that ain’t housebroken,” Singer, Ronnie Van Zant told The Post in 1976. Over the years, the band became marred by violence, tragedy and death.

Burns’s death is impossible to absorb without recalling similar tragedies that claimed the lives of former Lynyrd Skynyrd bandmates Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gains in a 1977 plane crash. Following the accident, Lynyrd Skynyrd essentially fell apart. Since that dreadful day, other band members have also passed from diseases. With the loss of Burns, Larry Junstrom and Gary Rossington are the only two original band members still living.

In the 1980s, some members got back together for a reunion tour with Van Zant’s younger brother, Johnny, as lead vocalist. Several early members — including Burns — were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. It is unclear what the future is for Lynyrd Skynyrd at the moment, however, we can be sure the music will live on as it always has.

4 Steps to Strengthening Your Practice Routine

Whiplash-5547.cr2It would take every finger on the cast of Whiplash to tally up the number of reasons my students have claimed they were unable to practice between lessons. OK, fine… I get it. Drums aren’t the end all be all for EVERYONE. Sometimes I guess the geometry homework or taxes take priority. However, I think this goes beyond not having time to practice. Often times, young drummers aren’t sure where to start. You’re welcome in advance… I’m about to save you.

Set a schedule: This is helpful for drumming and also life. With tools like Google Calendar, it has become very easy to make, keep, and change your schedule as needed. This way, you know school is from 9:00 to 3:00, the big math test is Friday, Lacrosse practice is Tuesday at 6:00, and Real Housewives is on at (come on, really?). Once you figure out the priorities of your week, you then know the holes, or…. opportunities. Keeping a schedule is a discipline but one that has worked wonders for my efficiency on and off the drums.

Decide your level of commitment: Is this a hobby? Is it your career? Knowing how seriously you take your commitment to drumming will allow you to decide how much time you want to invest each day towards practicing. There isn’t exactly a rule but you will begin to notice what works for you. If you simply aren’t practicing ever and can’t really force yourself to, have fun with it at your leisure but you’ve probably accepted you won’t see much progress. If you aren’t practicing but are trying to make more time for it, try starting with 15 minutes a day. You can clear 15 minutes to practice every day if you really want to. If you have serious goals for yourself, its imperative that you decide what those goals are worth and how much time you are able to devote to setting yourself up for success.

Know what to practice: This depends on your objectives. No matter what styles you are most proficient in, all drummers will benefit from consistently practicing the following: stick control, metronome work, hand/foot coordination, dynamics, rudiments, and technique. When you are invested in developing competence in specific styles, that is a conversation you need to have with an educated drum teacher. If you are seeking drum lessons in philadelphia or via skype, let me help you with this.

Discover the magic number: Rather than writing an ambiguous article without any real milestones, consider the following depending on which category you fit into:

  • Hobbyist with other priorities – Start with 15 minutes a day. Try to make more time if your heart desires.
  • Hobbyist with some free time – 30 minutes a day. If you have more time, see what happens when you strive for an hour.
  • Drum Student – If you are invested in your development, in school for music, or taking lessons to accomplish a goal, an hour a day is your minimum. 2 hours a day is sufficient to truly see some results.
  • Perfectionist – These are the students who are extremely committed to drumming success. This means you are studying several disciplines and seeking improvement in a variety of areas. There is no possible way you can improve your stick control, rudiments, afro-cuban competence, jazz timing, speed, song lists, and transcribe Elvin Jones cuts in less than 3 hours a day. If you don’t have 3 hours a day to put into this, you probably don’t fall into this category.
  • Professional – Drumming is your life. As much as I love drumming, I admittedly don’t fall into this category. These are people touring, working with multiple bands, doing session work, producing, teaching, and have probably experienced several failed relationships because those sweet DWs in your basement are the true love of your life. While the 9 to 5ers are working, you should be too. This is a 6-8 hour a day commitment in addition to the necessary networking and business initiatives that must be kept up with.

While there isn’t a perfect science, there are definitely ways to structure your practice routine to set yourself up for success, whatever that means for you. Please contact me if you need any assistance in this department.

#DrumStudentTabloids: Egidijus Jonca

photo 3While our native languages cause the occasional blip in communication, it is the language of music that allows Ega and I to connect in the studio. Having never sat behind a drum set before, Ega came to me with an interest and a plan to develop his musical competence beginning with the rhythmic side of things. Back home in Lithuania, Ega has friends who are active in the music community and is now making strides to match their talents. In my humble opinion, he is doing a great job and without the convenience of a drum set to practice on. Even more impressive to me is his commitment to meet weekly with his bike being the primary mode of transportation. Now, we didn’t have a particularly messy winter but there were some cold, snowy days. Yet Ega never has an excuse not to show up. That is the kind of determination that makes someone great at anything. I have no doubt in my mind that Ega will one day regroup with his musician friends in Lithuania to flaunt the rock solid chops he is developing on the drums.

#DrumStudentTabloids: Neil Humphreys Goldenthal

photo 1 (2)It’s rare to come across a 14 year old that wants to learn Snarky Puppy songs and drum grooves in odd time signatures but rare is AWESOME at The Jon Ardito Drum School. Neil has been with me just over a month and we are having a blast. If you asked him, he’d call himself boring but in my opinion, Neil is a unique dude with a lot of character. Music is embedded into his world, possibly due to the influence of his grandfather who currently owns a jazz venue in Arizona. Neil plays guitar as well, and has dabbled in the Paul Green School of Rock system. He is clearly invested in getting a music education from all angles, both melodically and rhythmically, and from an array of sources. I love seeing this, as it further establishes the well-rounded nature of a musician in the making and suggests a sincere desire to learn.

Neil also writes for the school newspaper at school and has ambitions to study neuroscience when he’s older. Remember when I called him “well-rounded”? I often write about ties between brain function, health and drumming. In my research, there is a pretty common thread in these worlds so I’m not too surprised Neil possess a skill and interest in both. Keep doing what ya do, Neil. The future is bright!

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