“When I am ... completely myself, entirely alone... or during the night when I cannot sleep, it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly.”  -- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” -- Gustave Flaubert

“I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.”  -- Haruki Murakami

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”  -- Pablo Picasso

“I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.”  -- Charles Dickens

“Order and simplification are the first steps toward the mastery of a subject.”  -- Thomas Mann

"Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows
Like harmony in music; there is a dark
Inscrutable workmanship that reconciles
Discordant elements, makes them cling together
In one society..."  
-- William Wordsworth (1770–1850), British poet

Drummer's Survival Kit

      Drummers, do you have a Drummer's Survival Kit? Every drummer should have a stick bag of course. In stick bags we carry things like drumsticks, soft and hard mallets, brushes, blastix, drum keys, and other assorted odds and ends.

It's those odds and ends and just how important those little things can be to performing well on the gig I want to focus on here. Little things like string. If you have a snare drum it's quite likely the small parts that keep your snare drum together could break or become un-fastened when you least expect it. How many of us have had those snare attachments fall apart right before the curtain goes up?

With a little string you can tie that snare drum up strong enough to get you through the night and on to the next date. 

Wire can also be a life saver. On more than one occasion I've had that most important but often neglected piece of drum hardware refuse to cooperate and do its job when it was most needed.

The thing about Drum Pedals that we seem to take for granted is that they work all night long, they get kicked and get kicked hard, for hour after hour, every night if you're a club drummer. Eventually that pedal is going to complain about all the abuse it's getting and just refuse to work.

That's where a little bit of wire can come in handy. It should by strong wire. Strong enough to withstand several hours of hard kicking. Newer pedals are most often better that the older designs, but most of them still rely on at least one spring somewhere in their design. The only things that can be used to fix a broken spring are a good pair of pliers and a piece of thin wire. You'll need to wrap this wire several times around what's left of your spring and the place where it's supposed to be connected. Sure, "why not just carry extra springs?" you ask. There is a very good reason why carrying extra springs is only part of the answer. Extra springs are fine if it's your pedal and you have the right kind of spring. But if you are a traveling musician, you're likely to be in situations where you aren't using your own set and carrying around your own pedal all the time can be inconvenient at best.

Sometime you might be playing out in the middle of nowhere, with no music store for hundreds of miles. The music just doesn't sound the same with no bass drum.

If you can fix it, you'll make your fellow musicians so much happier, and you'll enjoy your own playing just that much more if you know you are ready for anything.

Take a good long careful look at what you need to keep in your stick bag. It can pay dividends when you least expect it. Your drumming can take you anywhere you want to go. Work hard, be supportive of your fellow musicians, have fun, and above all -- Keep The Beat.

Reading Sheet Music Can Save Your Life . . .

       Drummers -- there are several good reasons for learning to read drum music. This story illustrates one good reason. Here is a true story from my own experience.

I remember a time when I was working with The Diamonds, and as the rhythm section, we were hired to be the back-up band on a 10 day tour with The Platters, a world famous vocal group from the 1950's.

The Platters were supposed to show up a day before the tour to rehearse with the band for the show. But, because of transportation problems, the Platters didn't arrive until just a half hour before show time. We were opening the tour that night at a college in southern Oregon.

The house was packed, completely sold out, standing room only. Just before the show was scheduled to start, the Platters' musical director walked in and handed me a stack of charts and said, "follow me".

Fortunately, I had spent some time while in college reading simple concert band charts. While I wasn't a proficient reader at the time, I could read enough to make it through the show that first night. The tour went on playing to packed houses each night and was a tremendous success, with standing ovations every night.

If I hadn't had a basic ability to read charts, I would have washed out. Being able to find your way through a drum chart can be a life saver on some gigs. Even having enough knowledge to read changing time signatures from a piano, or horn chart can be vital to the working drummer. Today, I use and write charts for virtually all my recording work.

Not every situation you find yourself in as a drummer is going to require that ability, but it's good to have it when you need it. Over the past twenty years, I've had to use charts for most of the shows I've done.

Often I've been in situations where there just wasn't time to rehearse with the band. Sometimes the music director only has time to throw out a piano or horn chart and then it's ". . . away we go," and there you are in front of five or ten thousand people. In that kind of situation, you have to make it work, and you can with a little forethought. 

Virtually, for everything I do these days as a side man player, I'm provided with either a drum chart, a piano chart, or simply a chord and lyric lead sheet as a road map to the tunes at hand.  It can be a life saver if you only have time for one rehearsal before you go live before a real audience.

Your drumming can take you anywhere you want to go. Work hard, be supportive of your fellow musicians, have fun, and above all -- Keep The Beat.

A Time of New Beginnings

      It was only a few short months ago when it all began, or it may have started many years ago, this will be a question for the historians to debate.  All I know, is that one door closed and another opened, and now I am following the open path.  I was a common ordinary kind of guy, one of the corporate workers at "The Big Company," when I got the call from the folks in middle management telling me, that my position was going away.  This set in motion a whole series of changes.  But first, I had to step back and think about what I really wanted.  I could have just pushed for another similar position in "The Big Company," but I felt there was actually a brighter and more exciting future on the outside, so I made my choice and left the Golden Handcuffs behind to persue my passions, to follow my heart and see where it leads. So now, only a few short months later I have to confess that I am living my dreams.  I've always wanted to live the creative life, and now I'm doing that, focusing on writing, making music, doing more and more photography, painting, drawing, and really thinking about life, and about the issues of our time.
       So, I'm very happy to be launching this new blog.  As The Time Keeper's Journal grows and expands, I plan to bring in some of the creativity and share it with my readers, and maybe help others to have the courage to go after their dreams and goals, to venture out beyond the simple day to day world of working just to make a paycheck with the hopes of really making a difference, or at least leaving a trail of creative effort, and works of art that can be enjoyed by those who follow.