MinusDrums.com - An Interview with Ken Florentino

  • Posted on: 19 April 2012
  • By: sheldonkreger

I recently discovered a great website while looking for drumless backing tracks to practice - MinusDrums.com.

After digging through the impressive collection of drum set play alongs, I was excited to get behind my drum set and make some noise. It's really easy to get caught up in hand technique, speed drills, coordination work, and endless Youtube searching rather than playing music. And, for a lot of musicians, we aren't always in a position to be committed to a band. Drumless tracks are a great way to practice playing music.

And, with over 600 songs on the site, you can practice just about any style of music you want!

After exploring the site, I sent Ken Florentino - who manages MinusDrums.com - a few questions to learn more about him and the company. I quickly realized that Ken is a cool guy, and that he is working hard to expand MinusDrums.com to become an even larger library of drum set play-alongs.

Ken Florentino Interview

Sheldon: When did you start playing drums?


Deciding What to Practice on the Drum Set

  • Posted on: 19 March 2012
  • By: sheldonkreger

One of the tricky things about being a drummer today is the abundance of educational materials available. With so many options for my practice sessions, I'm always overwhelmed. Sometimes I feel like I want to rail the kick drum. Other days I just want to pound on my practice pad. Here's a breakdown of the process I go through to make the most of my practice time.

Maintenance VS Development

Musicians, athletes, scientists, engineers - really any high ability individual - is going to face the challenge of maintaining a skill set. If you've ever jumped into a math class after some time out of school, then you know what I'm talking about. All of the details of algebra are going to be gone, and you'll need to spend some time refreshing your memory before you can expect to learn new concepts.

Gary Novak Videos

  • Posted on: 12 January 2012
  • By: Sheldon Kreger

I really don't have much to say here, other than that Gary Novak is an absolute master drummer. His playing is powerful, energetic, and rigorous. In fact, he is the only drummer that even vaguely reminds me of Vinnie Colaiuta.

For those of us who really love fusion music, it's easy to see the unique contribution Novak has made. Simply glancing at the lineup of musicians he plays with in these videos gives perspective on the quality of his playing - even if you've never heard of him. Big names like Eric Marienthal, Chick Corea, Allan Holdsworth, Mike Miller, Micheal Landau, Steve Tavaglione, John Patitucci, and many more stand out on Gary Novak's Drummerworld profile.

Pro Drummer Interview: Joe Crabtree

  • Posted on: 6 December 2011
  • By: Sheldon Kreger

With over 20 years of playing experience, Joe Crabtree isn’t just a professional drummer. He’s one of those hyper-obsessed, fanatical nerds who truly lives his art. Whether he’s transcribing a Dave Weckl fill, touring with Wishbone Ash, or designing software to analyze polyrhythmic, multi-limb orchestrations, Joe eats, sleeps and breathes the drums.

I had the great opportunity to speak with Joe Crabtree after finding him on Youtube. Looking through his channel, I was shocked. “Could this guy be REAL? It’s like we have EXACTLY the same taste in music!” It was a very pleasant surprise.

So, I decided to send Joe an email explaining our similarity in taste. I also gave him a few recommendations - especially the Lyle Workman album “Harmonic Crusader.” A few days later, I got a response back from Joe. But, not just an email message. Joe decided to transcribe the entire Gary Novak solo from the Lyle Workman song “Nothing Left Unsaid.”

This. Was. Awesome.

TableDrum: Drum with Your iPhone

  • Posted on: 17 October 2011
  • By: Sheldon Kreger

I recently recieved a message from Emanuel Dohi, a reader whose company - Dohi Sweden - has created a fantastic iPhone application called TableDrum. So, we decided to publish an interview about the software. The idea is that you play any variety of surfaces with your hands, your iPhone "hears them," and then awesome drum sounds are triggered! Check out the video:

If you are looking for a way to jam out on the go, TableDrum is DEFINITELY for you. I find myself tapping, pumping, and jiving all over the place. I usually just get confused looks as people flee away from my madness. However, with TableDrum, I can show them that I'm a real musician! Awesome!

Here is the question/answer session with Emaneul Dohi, Creative Director at Dohi Sweden.

What inspired TableDrum?

Double Stroke Roll Techniques

  • Posted on: 4 September 2011
  • By: sheldonkreger

Double strokes are a fundamental movement used on the drum set. By playing two strokes with a hand, we open opportunity to move the opposite hand to another part of the kit. However,there are many ways to play doubles on the drum set.

The first way to play doubles is by using simple rebound to force a second hit. As the stick bounces up, we restrict the motion and actively squeeze and push the stick back into the surface of the drum. Although this is probably the easiest way to get doubles, there are many shortcomings to this technique. The second stroke does not come through as clearly as the first, which can give a roll a strange lope. Things sound uneven and often sloppy. Another problem is that there is no way to force this motion on a soft surface. I almost never use this technique because there are much better ways to play doubles if you spend some time developing the skill.

Drummer of the Event: Jaki Liebezeit

  • Posted on: 23 August 2011
  • By: Sheldon Kreger

I will begin my Artist of the Event series with a German drummer named Jaki Liebezeit. This series will feature drummers who are extrapolating true, revolutionary artistic expression on the modern drum set. Later, I will also be posting an introduction to the work of Alain Badiou, whose philosophical effort has maintained the possibility for truly new forms of art to emerge. Check www.personality-development.org for this content in the next few weeks.

Drum Practice Pad Rudiments: Using Two Pads to Hear Patterns

  • Posted on: 8 August 2011
  • By: Sheldon Kreger

For a few years now, I've been doing all of my drum practice pad work on two pads at a time. This opens up a whole new world of practice away from the drum set. By simply using two different kinds practice pads, different sounds are created. This allows the brain to better adapt to the phrasing that each motion produces. In other words, you train your mind to hear the sounds that are possible with the use of any pattern you desire to play. It is easy to layer ostinatos for grooves, or to simply take a paradiddle and split it between the pads.

Although I do not maintain many rudiments as part of my playing vocabulary, I have personally benefited greatly from practicing the ostinato patterns on two separate practice pads. Claus Hessler's book with Dom Famularo - "Open Handed Playing Volume 1" - contains several sections which require coordination with the hands before the feet are inserted. These kinds of exercises lend themselves very well to the two-pad practice work.

Todd Sucherman: Methods and Mechanics II Preview

  • Posted on: 8 August 2011
  • By: Sheldon Kreger

Todd Sucherman, touring drummer for STYX, has announced the production of the sequel to the award winning "Methods and Mechanics" drum DVD. I own a copy of Methods and Mechanics, and it is fantastic. There is a fair amount of technical material on the original - double bass fills, rudiments across the drum set, and so on - but the real treasure was in just watching Todd play. He also offered great advice about making a career of drumming.

Here is one of my favorite drum performances of all time from the original Methods and Mechanics DVD.