Roy Haynes Drum Clinic: ‘Nobody Teaches Like That’

SKF NOTE: This segment is from my interview with Roy Haynes at his home on November 15, 1978. According to my notes “It was raining, traffic was heavy, a chilly…evening, and I was nervous about meeting him. We had spoken on the phone a few times.

Roy Haynes

Roy Haynes

Roy Haynes is a clinician for the Ludwig Drum Company and he’s a favorite at Symposiums. He told me about his means of communicating to his audience, and a bit about what exactly goes on at a Roy Haynes drum clinic.

“People are hungry for the naturalness of music,” he explained. “There are some people coming up today that don’t even wanna hear words! They don’t even want to relate with havin’ to write something on the board. They want you to tell them and show them how to do this. There’s some clinics — the real ones — where they’d rather have you play than talk,” Haynes stressed. “There are also the other ones that are not real. They’d rather talk about drums rather than display it.”

Suppose Roy Haynes is giving a demonstration, and someone asks him what he just did. How does he explain the technique?

“You don’t have to give them a name for it. Whatever it was, you can show ’em. Everything don’t have a name. Especially if you’re creative. If you’re gonna play the same thing over and over again, and you gonna play only things you got a name for and that you know — you’re gonna be limited!

“But,” he continued, “if you’re gonna create while you even doing that — that’s gonna blow their mind! The real people. Even if they’re not real, they’re gonna feel so much in what you play that they gotta say, ‘Oh man! He’s incredible.’ They gotta, man.

“A lot of people fight the truth, and the truth will always outlive B.S. and lies. And when you display with creativity and emotion…. Hey, man!” Roy breaks out in a big smile.

“I’ll tell them [clinic attendees] right from the beginning, my classes are gonna be different from any other classes. They’re gonna be relaxed and we’re gonna get into the instrument.

“I let a lot of ’em come up and play. I had a thing where I was lettin’ ’em do four bars of silence and four bars of playing to see who could really feel it. And it took off into such a thing!

“Nobody teaches like that.

Roy Haynes with Stan Getz Quartet

Roy Haynes with Stan Getz Quartet

“‘Do four bars of silence,’ I’d say. First I’ll count it off for you so I know where the tempo is and everybody knows where the tempo is. And there’d be four bars of silence.

“That gets back to what I was saying before. Even if you have a few bars of silence, you still count that. And that’s my conception. What I just told you is a lesson in itself, man,” Roy said.

“I try to be truthful.” Roy continued. “I like to be able to look at my kids like this.” [SKF NOTE: Roy gives me a long, piercing stare, holding it as he continues speaking.] “I like to be able to look at anybody like that when I say somethin’.

Stan Getz used to say I looked an audience dead in the eye. I say, ‘Well, how do you feel? How do you all feel out there?’

“Not sayin’ I’m the most truthful cat in the world,” Roy said. “I’m not saying that. But that’s the way I feel. And I feel good.”


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