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The Drummers Adventure

After the six weeks in Tarrytown and a lot of fun with Cornelio drumming in the streets of New York, I went to East Hampton where I could stay at Mark Baechles home for a couple of days (who is a member of the Basel Drum Group “Ueli 1876”) before I would head to Indianapolis for my first Pasic.

These days with Mark and his wife Charmaine were very comfortable and it was such a cool time with them. I haven’t expected it to be that good but I had a wonderful time there and Mark really did a lot with me even though he should have been working. Charmaine cooked phenomenal. Although it was a short stay there, it seemed to me more than just three days. Mark and I had very interesting chats about a lot of things like Basel drumming and fasnacht, his life as a film music composer in the United States and other interesting things about life in general. After three days in the Hamptons, we went to Brooklyn. I can say that I we got really good friends in a short amount of time. I admire him a lot and he’s another mentor for my life.

In the next weeks, I went to Pasic (Percussive Arts Society Indianapolis Convention) and it was very cool. I couldn’t say if my performance at the 20th Heritage Concert was the highlight – although I am extremely grateful I could participate by the request of Jeremy Marks from the U.S Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps – because there were so many extremely impressive clinics from incredibly good drummers which always also answered some questions in the end and it was so informative what they were saying about drumming but some also about life and mindset for example. I also liked the expo hall a lot, I have never seen such a big community which was interested in percussion.

I saw the performances of these four drummers which were amazingly great:

  • Keith Carlock
  • Omar Hakim
  • Mike Miley
  • Alison Miller

Boston Crusaders’ philosophy and approach to their drumming:

  • The three components to enable an explanation of their drum style: arm, wrist and fingers
  • Usage of technique controlling the rebound of the stick is very important
  • Training is different from performance (For example they play music for which the goal is not to play it perfect but just to get better individually)

A method for the technique rebounding the stick correctly demonstrates this video from Bill Bachmann very good too, in my opinion. (You see they start each stroke on the maximum height which makes sense because you always want the stick to be the same height again after it touched the surface. I think it’s a very good technique of teaching this skill which is essential for each drum-roll-rudiment you tryna execute on a drum.)

It was a superb experience and truly remarkable being always welcomed at the booth of Loyal Drums or Pulsa Musica.

Dave Loyal who is the owner of Loyal Drums is a veteran from the Old Guard and owns his shop. He had created a new drum pad, the Eviciton Pad and it’s obiously built to annoy your parents or neibours. It’s even this loud that you can name it a drum, and it’s very portable too! After Pasic, I could also sleep at his place for one night. Thank you, Dave!

With Alexander Nedelkos, David Panzl and George Willis from PulsaMusica I spent a lot of time too at Pasic. They are all very generous drummers who all have their own and unique story. Especially Alexander became a very true friend of mine and I loved to talk with him. I hope I can make it to Greece to another SIRD event which will be organized by Alexander himself in September but I don’t know yet…

Meeting Phil Andrews which soon will join the U.S Old Guard Drumline – after we texted a lot on Instagram a few years ago about participating in DCI and teaching drumline – was very nice and unexpected too. I also got to meet the two Prosperies (both are phenomenal drummers too) which also was very cool. Here are some more pictures of this weekend:

After this hugely inspiring event and a lot of positive spirit, my journey continued and I went to WVU (West Virginia University) to hold my first clinic about Basel Fasnacht and Basler Drumming. I prepared a lot before and just tried to make my powerpoint as good as possible. I had no problems with my English whatsoever although I expected it. I had not needed to redeem the offer from George if I would have problems explaining something, so that’s true success!

I can definitely say that this was one of my best experiences in my life so far. It was not how you would probably think it was, the room was not big. The audience counted about 20 students, so a very small setting. But it was so enriching for me because I really think I could teach them a lot about the Basel Fasnacht and that it is rather a feeling than just marching a parade with costume and mask.

Here is a quote from the book “Lifting the Mask” which tries to explain the Basel Fasnacht in English (If you are a Fasnächtler and you haven’t heard about this book, you need to get it.)

“Maybe Fasnacht is best compared to the old mythological bird, the Phoenix. It shines in all imaginable colors. It burns in a consuming fire for three days – and then must die. But it will always rise out of the ashes. Forever new. Forever beautiful.”

The students even asked more questions than I had expected and they were very curious about this essential part of the culture from Basel in Switzerland. The conversations with the students and their teacher George Willis, where I could stay during my time in Morgantown, were very confirming based on my knowledge about the art of Basel Drumming. And I even got some of them excited for their trip to the Basel Fasnacht if they’re gonna make it. Thank you all for your curiosity and also willingness to learn some of this style of drumming. See you hopefully at the next Basel Fasnacht!

In Leesburg, I was now nearer to Washington D.C and it was a very special last week. I could meet the drummers of the Old Guard again, made some new connections and I have to say: These drummers and bassers of this Fife and Drum Corps are true musicians…they cannot just play the drums like I do. They all can play at least two other instruments and that’s remarkable. And besides that, they are wonderful people. Those guys are so kind and I appreciated every moment with them. I will never forget when Ryan told me at Pasic: “You know, I’m so excited to hear you play at the Heritage Concert. This will be my highlight today.”

And what is interesting, is that some of them still seemed to be mesmerzied by a video who was taken a few years ago from this young drummer. Take a look.

I was also invited to spend my first Thanksgiving with Mark and his family. It was great and delicious. Thank you again. Besides Mark, I slept some nights at Jeremys home as well. With him I had a blast and sometimes I really laughed my ass off this great dude. And I also learnt something about writing and composing from both of these guys:

  • “It just needs to feel good”
  • Writing a Drum Solo is like writing a story. It starts with an impactful intro, goes over to a rudimental section. Then transition to a groove section which can be a rather slow rhythm. Transition again to visual section combined with rudiments like sixlets with backsticks for instance and build towards final where you can pick up the theme of the intro again. This is just one way to approach a Drum Solo. There are still other ways to create and if you ever figured that out, you will feel very free in writing music. (I haven’t figured it out yet, my ideal of a Drum Solo is currently an Old Guard piece. The idea of rudiments and visuals combined on a rope drum is the coolest thing right now in my opinion.)
  • If you overthink things and get stuck in one measure for more than four minutes, you’re doing something wrong and inefficient. You can always get back and edit (that’s what Jeremy taught me). I also get stuck and have this problem of being in these very safe spaces, thinking like one phrase should be eight or sixteen 4/4 bars. But this limits yourself of being creative. If something feels good, add one quarter note if that sounds good for you. (The Retraite is a good example because it is not just 4 bars of this and 4 bars of that. In Retraite you always have the same start of a phrase and mostly the end too, two bars each. It’s like a shell of a book and the pages are the theme of the phrase then.) And like Mark said, you can always just take one bite at a time, not fifteen. So don’t overwhelm your audience with too much.
  • A drummer can skip the more complicated piano theory, it is even better because you stay clear in a way of your rhythmical sense without melody and harmony in your mind. I love this advice from Mark! He has a true drummer heart!

Huge thank you to Mark Reilly and Jeremy Marks for these informative advices on writing music.

Drumming on a Loyal Drum for fun here on the next video. Was great to visit the shop of Dave Loyal, Loyal Drums. Thanks for the pad and the strap.

So all in all, I had an unforgettable and marvelous trip here in the United States. I received great mentorship from different people! I’m very grateful that I could meet so many new and cool people. It was an eye-opening time and I could really embrace my horizon for my dream making a living from drumming here. I also did a lot of running and I just feel good but I’m also happy to turn back home now after spending my last few days in Brooklyn.

Like Mark Reilly told me one day: “You will suck everything in like a sponge.” And I did, I really turnt into a Spongebob which is great. I learnt so much I couldn’t even remember every wisdom!

For my future, I want to read more again, make new YouTube videos of my drumming, write in my brand new note book from Mark Reilly, get fit and try living a more uplifiting life now after I saw so many things there. I probably won’t write on my blog for a while now. Excited for the future, conquer your fear with curiosity!


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