Steve Smith-Drumset Technique/History of the U.S. Beat Set
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In disc one of this 2-disc set, Steve explains hand and foot technique in ground-breaking detail and gets to the core of what drummers need to know in order to improve their feel and technical skills. In disc two, using examples by an all-star band, Steve explains the evolution of the drumset in U.S. Music -- how the drumset was first used in all the major styles of U.S. Music and how closely related all the styles are. Special features include xtensive bonus footage including alternate-take drum solos, a brilliant hi hat solo with a hi hat tutorial, alternate band takes, a camera-switching option, optional running commentary by Steve, a listening list, more.
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Steve is an amazing drummer and this is good to watch on a long airline flight because it's not about drumming with him, it's about him drumming for your information.
For shear drum playing knowledge the Tommy Igoe and Joe Morello videos are a better investment and you can get them right here on Amazon (that's where I bought them :-)
Good luck and good music to all
Now, as for the instruction. The first thing I picked up was, and yes I will admit it, I have been holding my sticks wrong all of these years and couldnt figure out why I couldnt develop hand speed. And it is such a simple exercise. Then came the feet. Did anyone know about that double toe to heel move? Steve can make a single base almost sound like a double. Truly amazing stuff, and again, what a simple exercise. Are we picking up on the common denominator here? He truly makes his instruction easy to understand and practice. I am currently trying to reinvent myself as a drummer having given it up during a marriage where someone in my life saw no value in beating on drums.
Now for those of you who are wondering if it is worth the cost. Well lets just break that down. What is it worth to you to be able to truly improve your expressive talents. Really folks that what drumming is, you dont want to sound like the other guy, you want to sound like you. Get this DVD set it it absolutely worth the money. And prepare to be humbled by the true master of the drumset. Happy drumming and thanks for reading.
The History portion is on the second CD, and I think that CD alone is worth the cost of the package. But the first CD is packed with great stuff, as well. I have spent most of my time playing back Steve's explanation of grip (BTW, pausing the video is a great way to see the details), having come to my own conclusion that how you hold the sticks is a very large part of the difference between playing okay and playing great. (Somebody is saying, "Duh!" But I'll bet a good majority of today's drummers don't give much thought to grip once they learn the paradiddle).
Steve's pacing in dissemination of information is easy to follow and, compared to similar training videos, well articulated. As always, the key is to resist the tempation to spend all your time watching Steve's solos rather than meticulously digesting the stuff that will actually improve your playing. (I'm actually getting a great deal of insight comparing Steve's demonstration of grip with Joe Morrello's explantion of the same topic on Joe's DVD).
If the DVD set has any shortcomings, I would say the extra digital material in the form of PDF files are lacking. Having had the opportunity to take a lesson from Steve, I asked him for insight on his practice routine. He told me to get and watch his DVD (nice sales plug, Steve--grin). I pushed him on this and asked if there were any secrets he might have held back from the DVD. He said no and indicated that there was an excellent PDF containing some great practice helps. So I expected to find some sort of planning tool, something I could actually print out and use. What I found was a single page of (albeit good) tips on better practicing, one or two of which I personally disagree with.
Other than that, if you are serious about taking your playing to the next level, the money for the DVD set should be no object.
Some people may not care for his style of playing (jazz fusion), but even they can't dispute the thoroughness of his lessons.
His second DVD 'History of the US Beat' sees Steve evolving his kit to resemble those of the time he describes. He covers 'eras' like early New Orleans jazz, big band, rhythm and blues, rock'n'roll, funk, and more, always giving a short(ish) performance to demonstrate. At the end of this second DVD, Steve and his band (Vital Information) play seven complete tunes featuring applications of the techniques explained on disc 1.
It's fairly pricey, but for two DVDs jam-packed with quality instruction from one of the world's great drummers, it's very much worth it. It's suitable for beginners and intermediate drummers alike, and with a multitude of extras, definately deserves the big 5 stars.