What Makes A Good Drummer?

Being a musician that’s part of a band, I can’t tell you how much of a difference it makes when you have a solid drummer behind you. If you don’t have steady rhythm, that stays in time and is alive with soul, then the entire music just won’t “pop” the way you want it to.

Whilst I can appreciate that there are many different types of drumming styles, genres and rhythmic based instruments out there, each “drummer” that I’ve come across that has an amazing ability, shares the same qualities.

So what are those qualities? There are many, but the main categories that they fall into are the following:

  • Practice
  • Passion
  • Song-writing understanding
  • Chemistry
  • Present moment awareness

If your drummer has all of the above to a high standard, then you have yourself a great drummer. If not, don’t fear as not all drummers are born with these qualities or amazing abilities. Let me tell you why, and it’s actually the first bullet…


Every amazing drummer I know used to practice for a silly amount of hours per day, until rhythm is all they know and think about. When they’re on the bus, train, taxi, eating dinner, sitting watching TV, it’s always present within them. Me and my old band’s drummer used to use Dartford Cabs to travel to our rehearsal space, he used to tap constantly on his knees the entire journey there and back! To truly master a craft, you have to live and breathe it.

I think most drummers out there have the potential to be fantastic, but in order to do so you have to put the TIME & EFFORT into becoming fantastic or it just won’t happen for you. Nobody became the best at something through laziness or doing something half-assed.

The second point, PASSION! If you don’t play with your heart and soul whilst drumming you won’t create a decent groove. You need to feel that rhythm with every cell of your body, as you will seduce the rest of the musicians playing with you and ultimately the music. Once you lull in your fellow musicians they will create even better music with you, and thus a phenomenal piece of music is written or performed.

This leads me into point number three, “Song-writing understanding”. Every great drummer I’ve worked with has the ability to chime in with song-writing. They have vision, and know what part should come next or “how it should go”. Having this ability helps guitarists, bassists vocalists and whoever else is in your band move on, instead of getting stuck in mood points.

CHEMISTRY! If your drummer isn’t locked in with your playing and style then it will be evident in your performance or music. You must learn to gel as musicians, the best way to do this is to play together as much as possible and spend some social time together often. Then you will feel like musical family, and from this comes much better song-writing and musical performance.

Present Moment Awareness: ALL great drummers have the ability to live in the moment whilst playing drums. This is a vital skill, as it means that the music stays *alive* with life and soul. It keeps the other musicians on their toes as it draws them in to. A feeling of “anything could happen” is always present. Drummers should always give you eye contact and be looking around for cue’s from fellow musicians. This is also a part of the chemistry bond between you. If your drummer is always staring at his kit and never looks at you, the communication and relationship between you isn’t forming well and that needs to change.

SO whilst there will be people that disagree with my findings they are just that. This is what I’VE personally come across when working with amazing quality drummers. They all share the above traits. And I’m certain that if you’re a drummer or looking to become one, you need to master these traits as they will help transform you from a regular/average beat keeper, to an insane beat bonanza!

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Which Music Soothes You?

I get asked this question quite a lot, and to be honest, I have quite a few different answers! What I’ve found though is that it totally depends on what mood I’m in, and sometimes it doesn’t have to be slow, spacey music that does the trick. Depending on what I’m doing, and how I wish to relax myself, that will determine which music I wish to listen to that will soothe me.

“Gary, what the hell are you on about?” Haha, stick with me here I have an explanation! If I’m chilling at home, and I fancy zoning out for a while I’ll stick something slow, spacey and very relaxed on. That’s kind of the stereotypical thing to do. Something that’s usually acoustic music, nice gentle vocals if any. Sometimes I’ll even use mantra music or Buddhist chanting music on and it’ll do the trick. It depends which way I want to go with my relaxation session.

However, if I’m driving and want to stay calm and relaxed, I might listen to something that takes my mind off of things, but keeps me engaged on driving. For example, some form of rock or heavy music usually does the trick for me here. As I’m focused on driving and momentum, whilst also being motivated by the music. But overall the experience soothes me as I’m enjoying myself and not being bogged down with mind activity.

This reminds me of when I was in a cab the other day. I hired Dartford Cabs as they’re said to be the fasted in the area, I was in a rush to get to a party. The taxi driver had some upbeat dance type music on. Not the typical thing that I listen to, but for some reason it pre-framed where I was about to go, therefore it relaxed me and set the tone for the evening.

What I’m getting at here is that “soothing” music doesn’t necessarily have to make you melt like butter into a bed or the couch. It can simply make your mind activity less erratic, and put you “in the moment” not really thinking about anything in particular. It’s kind of like meditating but less focused.

Sometimes I find that the most soothing times when I’m involved with music, is when I’m actually playing it with an instrument. If I’m playing something I wrote or a song I love, I’m so in the moment and relaxed whilst playing it that it soothes me. My mind is completely drawn to what I’m playing, rather than anything else. So I feel at one with the music, therefore I’m calm, relaxed and not fussed about anything negative.

It’s important to understand that music can soothe you in any environment, in any scenario. Once you get this into your brain, you’ll find that you can relax yourself in any situation and you can draw from the music around you something quite spectacular and meaningful. It’s like having a tool or switch that you can push whenever you wish to, that will automatically take your mind off any boring or negative thoughts.

I hope this helps guys and gals!

Till next time…

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The Song Writing Challenge

If you’re a musician, and you get to the stage where you feel you want to write your first “real” song, where do you start? I can remember this feeling, I’d written some riffs on guitar and bunched some chords together, but I didn’t feel they were that great. I wanted to write a decent song that wasn’t just thrown together for the hell of it.

Music is art, and it shouldn’t be rushed. I feel it should come out at it’s own pace naturally. However, depending on the mood you’re in this can be a fast or slow process. Ever heard the phrase, “the song just wrote itself”? I love it when that happens… But sometimes it just isn’t the case.

You can get song writing urges at the weirdest of times and occasions. One of the most popular is when you go to bed, and you get a tune in your head or a lyric idea. Then you find yourself buzzing with energy and you just can’t sleep. The only way to cure that is to get up and write that song or part!

I actually got an idea for a song whilst travelling to a friends wedding in a taxi! Man, I rarely get in cabs as it’s not exactly the norm for me, but this one was insane! It had leather seats, loud music, lots of cool stuff, you can actually check it out at this site Dartford Cabs It got me so pumped up this tune just appeared in my head. Then I couldn’t shake it all day ha!

The state of mind we’re in or the “mood” has to be right for the song that’s being written. For example, if you’re feeling angry or uptight you might not want to spend time on a slower more romantic style song and vice versa.

My first real success with song writing came from when I got in my first proper band. I had a tune pop into my head, and for some reason the song writing aspect didn’t seem so hard. It was like I knew what should come next from some sixth sense! All of a sudden I had a three minute single type tune, which went on to be that bands most popular and requested song, and it was my first ever “real” song I’d written.

So if you’re a musician and you want to get into song writing, I think the best advice I have for you is to just let it flow naturally. Don’t try to add things in or push the song, as it’ll turn out bad. You need to let it produce itself when the moment and mood is right. Songs can easily be rushed, just the same as any art. But if you let them breathe and reveal themselves at a natural pace, then you will write a true piece of art.

Also one final piece of advice. If the song is not writing itself and the music or lyrics just aren’t coming to you, LEAVE IT (for now). Come back to it later when you’re in a better mood or in the “zone”. When this happens to me I usually leave a song and come back to it, OR you can take a walk and do something else for a while, then you’ll find you might be ready to finish it off or write the next part.

I hope this post has helped a few “newbie” song writers out, now go write some tunes!

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What Makes A Good Musician?

I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I’ve encountered this debate. Between myself and other musicians, or just friends and family who aren’t musically talented.

The argument can be very frustrating with those that aren’t very interested in music, or simply listen to what they’re “told” to or brainwashed to my the media. They think a good musician has to write using easy chords, melodies, in 4/4 timing and the usual stereotypical stuff. Don’t get me wrong, some mainstream songs that use that formula are catchy and good to listen to, but in terms of musicianship and talent, I think it takes a little more than that. That’s my opinion, but I respect other people’s inputs too.

When I had this discussion with an actual musician who takes themselves relatively seriously, it’s a much more in-depth conversation. For example we’ll talk about the ability a musician has on an instrument, how they improvise and jam, or how they use song-writing.

In fact I remember talking with a friend who’s also a drummer recently about this topic. We were sitting in a cab on the way home (thank you very much Dartford Cabs!). We ended up agreeing on what is TRUE art, and what isn’t.

For me the best type of musician is someone who can not only create beautiful music out of simply picking up an instrument and playing something brand new on the spot, but they can write influential music that’s is teeming with life!

What do I mean by that? I mean it JUMPS out of those speakers into your ears and makes you listen. You can’t help but listen because it has you so entranced by its wonder. After all isn’t that what all great art does? If you see a painting or picture drawn by an artist, and it makes you stop in your tracks in awe and ponder it? Surely the best musicians and artists can’t be those of the “background” music on the radio or at events. The artists at the top of their game force you to stop and look or listen to what it is they’re doing.

Unfortunately due to the way mainstream media and marketing works, they feel most of these types of artists aren’t “sellable” which is ridiculous. Therefore most of the greatest musicians in the world don’t get much exposure anymore. This wasn’t always the case, you can see throughout history artists, musicians, actors and dancers all got the recognition they deserved. From Mozart and Picasso to James Brown and Jimi Hendrix. But these days it’s a completely different story, it seems we’ve gone totally the other way and now glamorise almost the lowest level of talent. Of course there are some exceptions, but just by taking a look on MTV or the latest chart hits, you can see what I mean!

So my question to you today is, what do you think makes a great musician?

We all have our own idea and opinion. But I urge you to look into this question yourself, and if you find yourself talking about some of these recent chart toppers, see if you really believe they deserve the titles they’re receiving.

Although it seems unlikely that this new world of media and marketing is going to change, it would be great if even to some degree this article would help open up some people’s eyes to what a truly talented and great artist is.

After all what is the definition of art? (Taken from Google search) “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

When you’re next listening to the radio and those latest chart hits are playing, read that back to yourself and think, does it fit the description above? Is it true art?

I do apologise for the amount of negativity in this post haha! I will be getting upbeat soon, I promise hehe.

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Music Makes Things Easier

For the time I’ve been alive so far, one thing I have noticed is that music makes a lot of life situations easier. It’s almost like it can take the edge off of some harsh and negative circumstances we may find ourselves in.

One example is a break up. There are so many songs that people listen to almost on repeat daily to help them get through break ups, divorces and things of that sort. The music can help them tune into their emotions, thus giving them attention which will allow them to fully express them and eventually move on from them.

Music can make boring chores easier. How often do you stick on a CD, the radio or your iPod when doing the dishes, hoovering or any other boring house-hold chore? It makes it so much easier as you’re focusing on the songs you can hear, and before you know it you’ve finished your house work.

Kids and teens put on music when doing their homework, to make the atmosphere more enjoyable and fun.

A great example of this is when people exercise. If you go to any gym, there’s almost always music playing in the background. This helps to motivate and stimulate people so that they enjoy their workout, and put some effort into it. Or if you’re at home or going for a run, you’ll most likely put some music on your headphones or on a CD player (if at home) to make the exercising less tiring and more enjoyable.

There’s a good lessen and tactic here to be used if you currently don’t really enjoy a daily chore or “thing” you have to do often. Stick on some music whilst performing that task, and see how it makes it much easier on you. It takes away the “mind chatter” of, “I can’t be bothered to do this”, or, “this is just too boring”. Instead of focusing on those thoughts, you’re thinking about the music and getting things done!

So my top tip for you today is this, LISTEN TO MORE MUSIC. It keeps your mind active in a good way as it’s not being filled with negativity or bad thoughts. It helps you achieve more things in the day, and it keeps your energy levels up. How often do you see people in bad moods or a little “off”, then their favourite new song comes on the radio and they bounce up and are drastically uplifted. That’s the effect music can and SHOULD have on each and every one of us.

That’s all for today folks!

Wanna ask me about anything in this post? Contact me

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It All Started With The Blues

I’m back again! Did you miss me? (c’mon Gary keep it together..)

My post today is going to be about how commercial music as we know it today, came to be. And as the title of this post suggests, it all started with the blues!

African American slaves would sing whilst performing work tasks, chanting sounds that would shape early blues music. This soon moved onto stringed and percussive instruments. In fact, some of my favourite blues music from the early days or recording is simply one man singing and him keeping time by clapping his hands. The piece is so inspiring and carries a lot of weight to it, but it’s just a man singing and keeping time with his hands.

This can also be heard in other recordings where artists would keep time with a stomp box, and a simple one stringed guitar!

If you like blues music, then you have to love that early acoustic sound which was usually played with a “slide”. What’s a slide? Well a lot of the time you can pretty much use anything that glides nicely along the strings as a slide, such as a beer bottle. But most of the time people wear them on their pinky or preferred finger, and it’s like a little metal tube. This is placed on the strings and moved around to change pitch and note. It has a really cool sound!

It’s said that the most influential blues artist from these early days was Robert Johnson who wrote the famous “Crossroad Blues”. He recorded 29 songs using his unique blues slide style whilst fingerpicking, and it shaped blues musicians for the rest of time (well up to date really).

From here, as the music scene evolved blues took artists in a number of different directions. One of which was jazz, another Rock’ N’ Roll which eventually evolved into Rock music, heavy metal and more.

From these artists we saw electric guitar gods such as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Gary Moore, Stevie Ray Vaughan and many, many more.

Eventually the blues scene turned into R’n’B music. This used to stand for Rhythm and Blues, but for some odd reason its correct term is now Rhythm and Bass. I guess music took another shift in the past 20 years, for the better or worse? You decide…

But I think whoever you are, even if you don’t like blues music in general, you have to appreciate its huge influence of how it shaped the music industry we see today. It made the artists we know to be legends!

So to conclude as I started this blog post, “it all started with the blues”…


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Let The Music Begin…

Yes! Let the music begin :)

(Has Gary gone insane? Jeez where’s the “x”  button on this page already)

Allow me to explain myself… I was wondering what I could make this site about, and it occurred to me the best theme I could give it, would be to go with my favourite pass time, hobby and passion in life…. MUSIC!

I actually play and write music myself too, so I’ll be talking about song-writing, playing music and general tunes I enjoy and want to help promote. I don’t care who you are or what you do, everybody loves music. Not all kinds of music are enjoyed by everyone I understand that, some people don’t like classical music whilst others adore it and vice versa. My taste in music is VERY broad, so I’ll keep my topics are varied and wide as possible so I can please mostly everyone with each blog post I make.

Before I begin talking about a musical genre, or anything else related allow me to give you some info on my musical journey so far!

Whilst growing up from the age of, well 0 I’d witnessed my father playing music. To cut a long story short, he’s a musical genius. He plays the piano like a virtuoso, went to Cambridge, he’s a pitch perfect singer and also made a dent in the music industry with his own music. He also played piano for Chuck Berry and Manfred Man.

Growing up with this musical inspiration around the house all the time it’s no wonder that music became a main passion for me when I grew up. Watching him in awe singing and playing the piano at home, or watching him on Top Of The Pops in the 80’s, it all just made me smile and want to do it myself.

My parents came of age in the 70’s and yes they were punks in the UK. Years later they also got very “hippy” like, so I always had a wide variety of music being played in the house as a child. Everything from classical music to Nirvana was played on a daily basis.

When I was 4-5 I remember vividly listening to Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix (they weren’t in my house playing music, I’m sure I would have had a fit, plus members of Zeppelin and Hendrix himself was dead at this time, well and they still are). I had a small cd player, and would play air guitar to the music. I was a little rocker!

Growing up at age 14 I found a battered electric guitar with 3 strings left on it in a skip (rubbish bin for any Americans reading). And so I made it my quest to become the best guitarist I possibly could.

I studied music as school, and got pretty decent grades. I then went onto music college and perfected my skills. I was in and out of bands for years, and I learned how to write some pretty decent music of my own.

This leads me up the the present day with my musical venture. I’m in my own band at present, writing and performing my music!

So there you have it :) that’s a rough map overview of my musical life so far!

In the coming blog posts I’ll be going over some of my favourite musicians, genres, song-writing stuff and anything else that’s related that pops into my head.

See you in a day or so!

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Hello To You All!

Hello everyone! My name is Gary and this is my new site :) I’ll be putting more content up here ASAP so come back tomorrow to read it.

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