Separate – Learn Faster

Well, here it is.  My first official blog post.  I can\’t believe I am doing this, but here it goes anyways.  I am going to try to post once a week about different things I\’ve learned as a teacher, performer, and student.

Ever since I was a child, I\’ve been obsessed with taking things apart and putting them back together.  Legos.  K\’nex. Pens.  If it could be separated and put back together then I was going to do it.  Most of the time I got it all back together pretty fast and easy.  Sometimes I struggled remembering how to place the pieces together.  And sometimes I just couldn\’t figure out how I even took it apart, so I would give up and throw it away.  This has carried into my adult life as I work in the kitchen trying to take apart and fix a dishwasher, or garbage disposal.  Beyond that, it has carried over into my career as a musician.  Let me explain.

As I began to learn the way that I need to take apart things to put them back together, I tried applying that same method to learning different things on the drum set or piano.  Let me give you an example on the drum set.  We can separate something in music in many different ways.  Measure.  Each Quarter Note.  Individual Notes.  Different Limbs.  Lets take a basic example that many drum students start out learning within the first couple weeks.  The \”Four On The Floor Groove\”

Here it is:

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For this example lets take the idea of isolating different limbs.  Starting with just the kick drum, start playing the kick drum on 1, 2, 3, 4.

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Remember to try this with a metronome to make sure everything is even.

Now lets move on and try to add the snare drum.  This is going to happen on beats 2 and 4 and will look like this.

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Really focus on hitting the bass drum and snare drum at the same time on 2 and 4.  This is going to make it much easier when the high hat is added in.

The high hat is the hardest part to add in, so lets isolate that by itself.  This is going to play straight eighths the whole time.  This will be counted 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &.  Again practice this with a metronome and try to keep it even.

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Once that is down, try to listen how the snare drum and bass drum fit in with that.  Start with just the bass and high hat.

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Now try playing just the high hat and snare.

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Now that we have taken this groove that was maybe difficult to understand and slowly put it back together, try playing the original groove just as it is written.  Remember to start slow.  Just because we took it all apart and put it back together, doesn\’t mean that we are able to play everything super fast.

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Now this may seem like an extremely basic example.  But I encourage you to try this on something that has been extremely difficult for you.  Take a measure playing only the left hand part on piano.  Then learn the right hand part.  After that, slowly incorporate them back together and see if that is easier for you.  If you are trying to learn a song on bass or solo on guitar, try isolating each note.  Then play each beat individually. Piece it all together, and you\’ll find something that seemed impossible, is absolutely doable.  This method may not work for everyone, but I have worked through this idea with a lot of my students, and even in my own learning.  The speed of growth that I see through this method is substantial compared to what I see from trying to attack a hard piece of music head on without breaking it down.

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