“A lot of times, people think power means bashing on the drums. I think of my power as trying to be solid. Trying to be definite about what I’m playing. If I’m sure about what I’m playing — even if it’s a mistake — the band is gonna be going with me.”
I remember a phone call with Larrie in the early 1980s. I was in my Modern Drummer office. Larrie was, I think, in Nashville. What a nice guy. We were talking about what it takes to become a studio drummer. I don’t remember if our conversation was an interview for an article, or for backgrounder information, or just shooting the breeze. It might have been an introductory phone call.
At any rate, my take away from that phone call, was Larrie’s story about one piece of simple advice a fellow musician gave him about reading charts. It was advice, said Larrie, that enabled him to evolve from being a poor sight reader to a very good sight reader in a relatively short time period. Improving as quickly as possible was important, Larrie said, because it was the difference in earning a living or not.
Larrie said the gist of the advice given was:
Most of the notes you see on drum charts will be quarter notes and eighth notes. Take Ted Reed’s Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer. Practice reading Reed’s quarter/eighth note exercises playing the quarter notes on your bass drum and the eighth notes on your snare drum.
Larrie said practicing that way with Syncopation helped him relax and gain confidence reading charts. And developing the quarter note/bass drum, eighth note/snare drum habit, he said, gave him a strong foundation to build on.
Final Note: Yamaha Drum Company gets points from me with this ad. I can’t think of another drum company approving a photo of one of their artists playing their drums with taped drum heads!
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