SKF NOTE: Re-listening to familiar music CD’s or re-reading old books and magazines for the first time in a long time can reveal surprises. For example, the March 1985 Modern Drummer “Ask A Pro” section has an Elvin Jones gem.
Pre-internet, MD’s “Ask A Pro” offered readers a way to ask questions of their favorite professional drummers. In March 1985, MD reader Mike Pandino of Miami, FL had a question for Elvin Jones.
Elvin still had almost 20 productive years ahead of him in 1985. With Elvin gone 12-years, his words of drumming wisdom jump off the 31-year old MD page, like a diamond half buried on a sandy beach.
Mike Pandino: What suggestions can you give for developing independent coordination?
Elvin Jones: First of all, a person has to realize that as soon as you say “independence,” you’ve lost the concept of coordination. There really is no such thing as independence as far as the body is concerned. Coordination is a natural part of the body’s function. When you walk, that’s coordination. You could say that it’s independent because the feet do not come down together at the same time, but it’s all coordinated. It’s all part of the same thing just like the drumset is all one thing.
To learn coordination effectively takes a great deal of practice. You need to start by doing things that are very simple — even ridiculously simple. That helps you to understand what you are doing, because the simple things develop into the more complex things. There are any number of books that address this problem. The main thing you have to do is start simply and put in a lot of time.
Not knowing you personally, it’s difficult to advise you except in general terms. A teacher/student relationship is more appropriate for addresssing topics such as this. But there’s no secret about the theory and philosophy.