Lessons from a Master teacher
Effective Practicing For Musicians By Benny Greb Book Review
It arrived, I've read it, I'm about to try it out for 90 days and see what happens to my drumming.
Benny outlines the rationale of organized practice is a humorous and unique way. The preamble until you get to his EPM systems chapters is good sense and common knowledge among professional musicians. But it gets interesting with his practice system.
Let's start at the beginning.
Organizing your practice space. He recommends imagining the setup of your perfect space, then assess your situation and arrange you space as close as you can to this ideal. I can now say my space looks different. I'm up and running now with 3 flicks of switches, boot my DAW, load the preset and Bingo, I'm ready to go. Books are in place, pencil and journal are ready. Up next a kitchen timer, I'm going to use an old iPhone for this purpose. Benny Greb has some true insights into learning.
1. Quickly name your favorite musicians of your instrument.
2. Now note what you admire about each of them.
3. Now consider your top 3 choices.
4. Now rate yourself 1 to 10 on your skill with the qualities you admire in their playing. Do not give yourself a 5.
5. Now when you practice, practice those to improve those qualities.
6. Buy his book.
Stayed tuned for the results of his 90-day practice regime.
They will remain nameless, because I love them madly.
1. Showed up regularly with booze on their breathe. It was a small room man. Did you think I couldn't smell it?
2. Distracted, with better things on their minds than attending to my needs. Yikes!
Now on to the great and influential who must be named:
Ali Jackson. He gave off a quiet confidence from his enviable track record of recorded performances with the world's finest musicians across genres. His message? Serve the music and make it feel good, real good.
The bassists and drummers met with Ali. We were paired off together and one group after another played time for Ali and the rest of the class listened. My partner was a young musician from Austria. To say we were pumped was an understatement. Ali counted off the time, it wasn't slow, and off we went. It was one of the most intense musical experiences of my life.
Then he asked the class, "what do you think?" They are responded with this comment and that. We stood there and took it on the chins.
Ali came to our defense. "No, they locked up the time, it felt good, they stayed in their lanes, I liked it"
The bassist and I walked proud for the rest of the week.
All the drummers are in the room together. One after another we played this simple pattern, I played the piano for some of the drummers. When it was my turn, Ali played the piano for me! What fun we had!
What a simple pattern. Did we all make it sound good, inviting, and fun? Nope. Only one quiet German in the corner and Ali made it sound cool. The rest of us were stiff, rushing, dragging, floundering around in subtle ways. Lesson learned. Keep it simple, make comfortable and inviting for the other musicians to play on. When I played with Ali on the piano, it was like floating on a cloud.
David Story: Professional pianist, drummer, composer, and educator. Well into his 5th enthusiastic musical decade, David works with adults pursuing musical dreams in the autumn of life, while he maintains an active presence in the Toronto arts scene.