On The Beaten Path: Beginning Drumset Course reviewed
(mtebaldi | Posted 2010-12-11)
Learn drums; A simple keyword search that will easily result in hundreds of options to choose from. Most of these book and DVD titles will share the same path of how one can learn the art of drumming. Since the goal is the same, sometimes the best way seems to be the only way. But only sometimes… Recently I came across an instructional guide book series that gives a little twist on the “learning drums” methodology, a three volume collection that is intended to teach any aspiring drummer the most important music genres through the use of famous hit-song beats created by some recognizable masters of modern drumming. On The Beaten Path: Beginning Drumset Course Vol. 1, 2 & 3 written by Rich Lackowski caught my eyes by offering this exciting way of learning the basics of drumming. The following describes my thoughts regarding if Mr. Lackowski’s method can really put one on the right “beaten” path.
In volume 1 of On The Beaten Path, Rich starts from the most basic of basics by introducing the drum set components and positioning, stick and foot techniques and music reading. From there on you will be following the footsteps of famous drummers with each beat/lesson excerpted from one of their hit-songs. Focusing on the Rock genre, volume 1 of On The Beaten Path goes from the wonderfully simplistic grooves of Meg White to Bonham’s remarkable D’Yer Mak’er’s initial drum fill, passing through Phil Rudd’s rock basic beats and Dave Grohl’s modern rock grooves. With a quick bio/introduction of the drummer behind each beat, Rich dissects each part of the groove patterns, so one can easily understand how it was created. And one doesn’t need to fry their neurons once the staff gets more complicated. The book comes with a CD with all the grooves contained within, played by Rich himself, allowing the use not only to more easily understand the beat, but also to improve their music reading and vocabulary. This first volume ends with a little more information about the general anatomy of an acoustic drum such as drumheads and drum sticks types and selection, as well as the most common and user friendly way of tuning the kit. The only thing I find to be missing from this first volume of On The Beaten Path is a section about basic drum rudiments. Even though they are usually not the most exciting things to practice, in the end they are a strong foundation needed when developing great drumming technique (in my opinion anyway).
After a quick recap on music theory, volume 2 of On The Beaten Path dives right back into beats and fills. This time with 63 drum patterns excerpted from famous Blues and Jazz songs. Beats from songs such as “Manish Boy”, “Sweet Home Chicago” and “You shook Me” will get you into the blues, while “Chelsea Bridge”, “Moanin’” and “So What” will bring you the jazz. Throughout the three volumes of On The Beaten Path you will see tips, terms and drum concepts that will improve the user’s knowledge of drumming little by little while they go through the lessons, which becomes a great way of not overloading a beginning drum student with too much information at one time. Some of the concepts touched throughout the books include flam, drags, double stoke, buzz rolls, rim shots, stick shots, cues, first and second endings, polyrhythm, sextuples, ritardando, accelerando and many more. Cleverly, at each point these concepts are introduced, Rich follows the explanation with an example of how the concept was used in the following hit-song’s beat. And that’s how On The Beaten Path methodology works, unveiling the basic concepts of the art of drumming through some of the best examples we might find easily in the contemporary music, giving users a great point of reference for the new vocabulary and technique they are learning. No boring examples or exercises, the focus of On The Beaten course seems only on the fun part of music, which is, as silly as it may sound, the simple fact of playing it and feeling it through a song.
Like Vol. 2, On The Beaten Path Vol. 3 jumps right from the beginning into 43 more beats and drum fills, but this time the book touches other music genres such as Country, with the use of songs like “On the Road Again”, Funk, through songs like “You Can Make It If You Try” (some words of wisdom here for sure), and Reggae by jamming with “One Love” and “Buffalo Soldier”. Volume 3 even takes the user south of the border with Brazilian Latin beats from “Girl From Ipanema”, “Desafinado” and Phish’s “Fee”. Continuing to build on what was started in the previous volume, the user is brought back into Jazz with some advanced patterns using beats from “In Walked Bud” and fills from “So What” and “Blues Walk”. On vol. 3, Rich also teaches beats in different time signatures such as Neil Peart’s “The Trees” and Nick Manson’s “Money” as well as concepts of half and double time found on Lars Ulrich’s “Whenever I May Roam” and Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee”. The third volume of On the Beaten Path finalizes with a very nice example of tempo manipulation using the famous song “Stand” from Blues Traveler.
With clean graphics combined with direct and simple writing, this collection truly sets itself apart from all other educational drum books. Every page kicks open a new perspective of the drum universe through an easy-to-learn and enjoyable methodology. With On The Beaten Path: Beginning Drumset Course Vol. 1, 2 & 3, Rich Lackowski blends effectiveness and excitement, so anyone can learn basics of the art of drumming by having the greatest drummers of our time as their teachers. Without tedious exercises like ones found on many drum learning books, Rich takes a drum student on a journey throughout drumming history and knowledge that will make him (or her) enjoy every single moment.
On The Beaten Path” Beginning Drumset Course Vol.1, 2 & 3 can be purchased at www.alfred.com or at your local music store. The three books retail for $9,99, $14,99 and $14,99 respectively.
Rich Lackowski’s also wrote award winning “On The Beaten Path: The Drummer’s Guide to Musical Styles and the Legends Who Defined Them”, “On The Beaten Path: Metal”, and “On The Beaten Path: Progressive Rock”.