Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer
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Jojo Mayers Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer is recommended for drummers of every age, style and skill level. The double-DVD, 3-hour set is available from the Limited division of Hudson Music and covers a wide range of information on drumming technique, from the most fundamental to the most advanced. Filmed in crystal clear digital video and audio and shot at a variety of locations in and around Manhattan, Secret Weapons explains closely guarded and never before published secrets of the great masters as well as Jojos own approaches with special features like animated graphics, practice exercises and troubleshooting tips.
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These type of instructional DVD's are shortcuts, but are the next best thing to lessons, I feel.
This DVD fulfils that educational need for me - I find I can go back to it every so often. Anything that shows drummers that they do not need to hurt themselves by playing too hard by showing that natural physics should be made to work for us is very welcome. I think that in itself is a secret weapon - it's also VERY obvious, but there must be a few drummers out there who think they've got to look like they are in pain whilst playing and confuse that with making an effort.
Hopefully this DVD shows them that they need to think about how they move and why some techniques may not be good for the arm, wrist or hand.
If an instrumentalist wishes to perform (and be paid to perform) well into their 60's or beyond, they will need good technique - that probably holds true for any instrument. What Jojo does on this DVD in a lighthearted but fully accurate manner is show that the modern drummer has quite a few options available - in the way of using different strokes and grips.
It is likely he will enlighten you to some extent, depending on how much you already know, of course.
I won't use all of the techniques he describes, but the DVD did (and continues to) show me that I need to be aware of how my hands move and whether they are hurting whilst I'm playing at a gig. If they are, then I change what I'm doing. I can't do that if I don't have options - this DVD equips you well.
It will depend on the style of music you like to play and you may find some of the ideas to be a bit like 'tricks', like the one-handed roll.
Those who like to play full out rock may see that Jojo can play in a jazzy way and may follow that interest - in that case, may I also recommend Steve Smith's DVD, 'Standing on the Shoulders of Giants'.
Beginners should still have a reliable teacher who knows these techniques to correct any minor mistakes. Moeller technique, especially, can be detrimental if not practiced properly and can create more strain instead of relieving it. Check to see if your teacher has studied with any players who focus on hand technique (Joe Morello, Jim Chapin, Dom Famularo, Danny Gottlieb, etc.)
The only point in the video that I did not agree with was using the middle finger and thumb as the fulcrum for german grip as opposed to the index and thumb. It's a personal preference, but I have never felt comfortable playing that way. If the grip is used improperly, that can be another source of strain and impede your development as a player.
I think this is a great instructional video. The only competition of which I am aware in this particular niche are the Joe Morello technique DVDS. Morello's DVDs are wonderful and I recommend them, not the least because they have some of Morello's fantastic playing. But Mayer's DVD is even better than the Morello DVDs. The principal reason is that Mayer covers a broader range of techniques, ranging from the "free" or Gladstone stroke to the Moeller techniques and its variations to the one stroke roll. In addition, Mayer's explanations of each are as clear, detailed, and understandable as one could possibly want. Each technique is broken down into constituent elements, explained in depth, depicted both slowly and up to speed, and accompanied by recommended exercises for developing facility with the technique. There is enough practice material for years.
Mayer is a good person to present the material. He is not annoying or self-absorbed. He comes across as sincere, intelligent, knowledgeable, and concerned.
I was not familiar with Mayer before this DVD but am now a real fan. The segments in which he does some playing are a real treat. He is versatile, musical, and *incredibly* fast.