I've been steadily practicing 3-4 days a week for about 2-3 hours. I've been working on hybrid rudiments and spending some time working on Wilcoxon's rudimental solos at medium tempos. They are wonderful for sight reading and for variety. My goal for the snare drum is to alternate between the Wilcoxon book, the Freytag Rudimental Cookbook, the Pratt solos, and some classical etudes from Mitchell Peters, Cirone, and likely Delecluse. For now, I'm focusing on improving my rudimental control, my non-dominant side, and my sticking technique. I'm keen to improve my open roll and eventually apply these concepts to the drum set. In the near future, I plan to work on some fairly challenging solo literature. I feel generally comfortable with the etudes and my tendonitis hasn't been too limiting, which is encouraging.
Working on the vibraphone is a different story. Today, I spent an hour working through scales, triads, warm-ups, four-mallet chord voicings, and just finding where things are on the instrument. I noticed that my shoulders and lower back got tense. I was also holding my breath at certain points. I took a break and stretched out. That helped. Working at a slow tempo (60 B.P.M.) really made me aware of my breathing. I concentrated on stick heights and shifting my weight while remaining loose with the pedal. Tall order! I adore the vibes but have quite an uphill journey to feel as comfortable as I do when I play the drum set. I will say that playing piano reinforces the chord voicings. I didn't feel quite so lost when finding options for dominant chords around the circle of fifths. That came easier than I thought it would. I'll get back to it tomorrow. I ordered the Jr. Hannon exercises for the piano which will help with playing scales and building some basic technique. I hope to incorporate that next week.
Earlier in the week, I played to some recordings on the drum set. That was both fun and illuminating at the same time. I noticed that my jazz time needs a bit more energy to stay on top of the beat. When playing along to Tony Williams' drumming, I lagged behind a bit and noticed that my right hand got tense. Once I relaxed, things locked in much better. Right now, despite having worked on a lot of independence, I'm focused on generating a vibrant ride cymbal feel. I stripped away the other elements and tried to focus on that. Just like when I play the vibes, I notice that some tension comes up when I'm uncomfortable. Unlike years ago when I just fought through it, I'm trying to correct these issues by detaching and releasing any tension. It's not easy and I have a lot to work on, but, I'm enjoying the process. Practicing, for now, is fun and a joyful experience. I've missed it so and am glad to be back at it again.
Until next time.