Keep An Open Mind.

When I was younger I was heavily into pop punk and metal; That was my 11 year old life. When I started drumming and having lessons my mum told me that if I wanted to be really good it might mean having to learn something like classical music or other genres. In my naivety I didn’t listen. Time went on and I eventually was introduced to funk, reggae, hip hop and more. It was then that I learned to love my instrument for its abilities and that genres don’t define it.

The Devil Is In The Detail.

You may be into a particular style of music, that’s fine it’s called ‘taste’ and you are most certainly entitled to it! However if you truly want to learn an instrument then you have to keep an open mind when learning. As a Jazz drummer try not to see Metal as a waste of your time. I’m not saying you have to listen to it and enjoy it but learning the specific beats, grooves, phrasings and techniques of that genre will give you greater creative choices and abilities over your instrument. You may never use a blastbeat in Jazz, a One Drop in Metal or a triplet shuffle in D’n’B but you may experiment and adapt those things or the techniques used to execute them into your playing.

It is often genre that introduces us to an instrument but don’t let that limit you or your playing. A drum kit is a universal instrument not bound to any trend, style, genre or era. Its uses and applications are limited only by your imagination. Think of it as a pen or paintbrush, merely a tool with which to use in a form of expression. 

Blurry

For a long time musical genres had fairly clear boundaries and bands would clearly define themselves or be defined by others as; ‘rock’, ‘jazz’, ‘funk’ etc. Whilst there are many bands that still fit these generic terms, music nowadays and in particular people’s musical tastes are vastly varied and the lines between genres are blurry at best. There are countless memes mocking the ‘I listen to everything’ person and how do you truly describe the music of Bring Me The Horizon, Twenty One Pilots, Fall Out Boy, Machine Gun Kelly and the like? Musicians nowadays have varied musical interests and tastes themselves which shape the way they create and as such music in general has become a hybrid of styles.

If that came across negatively to you then I apologise. I truly think it is fantastic and fully support it. I of course do have my own opinions on how some bands execute this broad range of musical influences but on the whole I love this new age of creativity! There are of course always going to be bands and artists that write music that doesn’t blur lines and is somewhat ‘genre pure’ if you will, and that’s amazing too. Just look at the likes of; Greta Van Fleet, Steel Panther and Rancid who all are clearly defined by an exact genre and are incredible at it too! 

I Wish That I Knew What I Know Now, When I Was Younger

The Faces wrote an amazing song called ‘Ohh La La’ back in 1973. One of the lyrics from it is ‘I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger’. Education is always trying to provide people with knowledge, hopefully sooner than later. Roro where are you going with this? My point is this, if you take my advice NOW and explore all genres and what your instrument is truly capable of then you won’t ever have to regret not learning something sooner. Learn how to listen to music from a analytical approach from time to time to truly learn your instrument. Stay true to your musical tastes. Be a metal head, ska junkie, jazz cat or funkster but learn a 3 2 clave, a One Drop, Blastbeat and shuffle and see how you can adapt and incorporate it into your own playing. That will make you unique. That will showcase to the world who you are and what you are truly capable of when you sit behind a drum kit. 

I’m not saying you HAVE to love all genres and be fluent in them all but rather keep an open mind, experiment and don’t pigeonhole yourself unnecessarily. The whole reason genres exist in the first place is because people like you and I have experimented with what is possible to create with an instrument.