4) READING MUSICAL NOTATION
Q: “How can you make a drummer stop playing?” A: “Put a sheet of music in front of him!”
One of the most popular myths in the musical community is that learning to read music somehow takes the feeling out of your playing, and that it can impair your ability to improvise. I like to make a comparison between learning to read music and learning to read literature. I never heard of anyone saying that learning to read literature has negatively affected their ability to speak with feeling, or somehow stifled their ability to have a conversation. Reading literature opens up endless possibilities for enjoyment, creativity and education. For a musician, the same can be said for reading musical notation.
Learning to read musical notation has been a great boon to my musicianship, helping me to break down and understand difficult concepts and patterns, being able to jot down ideas when recording them wasn’t an option, and generally giving me more confidence as a musician. The greatest benefit was being able to study from all of the excellent instructional books that are available.
Tip: When learning to read music, spend an equal amount of time learning to write it, also known as transcribing or notating. Knowing how to write the notes reinforces your ability to read them, which generally speeds up the learning process.
5) OVERALL INTELLIGENCE
Q: (To Drummer) Can you spell Mississippi?
A: (Drummer) The river or the state?
Many famous drummers have displayed all kinds of bad behaviors and questionable judgements over the years. This has led to some poor perceptions regarding drummers and their general intelligence levels. However, many scientific studies show that children with as little as nine months of music lessons increase their IQ by an average of three points. Another study showed that musicians generally achieve higher grades than non-musicians, particularly in math and other conceptual areas of study. Studies with adults show that learning to play a musical instrument can help with memory retention, enhance brain function, and also help to ease stress. Studies with senior citizens who play an instrument show a tendency toward being more active and alert, and decreases symptoms of anxiety, loneliness,and depression.
Tip: Don’t believe the hype; playing music is good for you and your brain!
Certain stereotypes might always be there, but ultimately we are the ones who can choose to avoid falling into them. Remember to treat your drumming and musicianship with love and respect, and it will give back to you more than you can imagine. And remember to laugh at the drummer jokes!
Q: “What’s the biggest lie told to drummers?”
A: “Hang on a minute and I’ll help you load your gear.”
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Matt D. teaches drum lessons to students of all ages in Austin, TX. His specialties include rock, pop, jazz, funk, soul, blues, hip hop, Americana, country, Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, reggae, Caribbean and African styles. Matt joined the TakeLessons team in January 2013. Learn more about Matt, or search for a teacher near you!
Photo by sidonath