Drumming to support St. Jude’s

I’m honored to be taking part in the Drumming Up Hope Foundation’s 3rd annual Drum-A-Thon to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Hospitals.  On Friday, May 25 at 6 pm, I’ll be doing my part to carry on the 81 hours of continuous group drumming over 4 days, and am looking for generous souls to sponsor me in this cause.  100% of your donation will go towards St. Jude’s Children Hospital.  Any amount, no matter how small, will go a long way towards supporting this great cause.

Donate $10 – Request A Drum-along Song

While drummers are taking various approaches to their hours, I am dedicating my time to playing along with requests made by donors. For every $10 you donate, you can request any song and I’ll add it to my drum-along mix and will send you a video later on if you’d like.  Do you have a favorite song that has an awesome drum part? Perhaps you have a song that you’d like me to give my take and provide a drum remix? Maybe you’ve always wanted to hear a heavy drum remix to one of your favorite Disney songs? You could even just mess with me and throw me a curveball in the form of a classical song – I’ll play anything you’d like!

I only ask two things of your request:

  1. That it clocks in at less than 5 minutes or so (no In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida unless you’re willing to donate $40)
  2. That there’s a clean version of the song since the event is family-friendly.

Use the button below to donate and write your song request in the “Special Instructions” or email it to me at romeyinfc [at] Gmail [dot] com.  If you’d prefer not to use PayPal, please email me and we can set up alternate arrangements.

[Removed the button since this is now over – thank you to all those that helped!]

Also, I’d love for you to come out and join me at the Drumathon at Thunder Mountain Amphitheatre in Loveland. Admission is free and I’ll be there Friday, May 25 from 6pm-7pm, but the drumming start 10 am Thursday, May 24 and carries forth through Sunday, May 27 at 7 pm. Bring your own ear plugs!

Thank you so much for your support! I’m super pumped for this awesome event!

My Band’s New Single!

It’s been a crazy-busy January. I’ve been cooking a few different blog topics in my head, but time has gotten the better of me this month. However, I’m really excited to announce that my band, Amy and the Peace Pipes, has released a new single, “Burning Bridges”. Go check it out!

I know many of us are now using streaming services (and why not), but if you’d like to download your own copy, we’re giving it away for free to our Peace Pipers mailing list subscribers, just join up and you’ll get the download link!  Even if you don’t download music, you should join up anyway.  In the age of prevalent social media, it’s become increasingly difficult for bands to reach their audience across all of the noise (especially when Facebook wants to force people into buying ads to reach all of the people who liked their page).  The mailing list is really the one true place where everyone who is interested in us has an opportunity to receive our updates – whether they open the emails or get too many emails to open them is another story, but at least I know that our updates were at least delivered.

Thanks so much to everyone for supporting me and my band. When I stop and think about it, it’s really incredible to think that we can put stuff onto iTunes and Spotify and make it available for the world to hear.

My First Drum Cover

January has been a month with not much free time, but for a glimpse of how I’ve been spending what little I’ve had, check out this video below:

Yes, I’ve finally recorded my first drum cover, using #41 by Dave Matthews Band. I’ve been excited to get into doing drum covers and open up a new chapter in my drumming.  Not only do I get a chance to apply my drumming towards some fun songs, but also this gives me a chance to learn about recording and video production.

For Christmas my family gifted me with a set of drum mics, along with the stands, mounts and cables necessary for recording.  I then got an audio interface (specifically a Tascam US-1800) to connect everything to my laptop via USB.  After getting a passable sound, I was eager to set out and record my first song. #41 is one I’ve always enjoyed playing and made a fun one out of the gate.  I set up a couple of mixes of the song: one with a click track identified, along with a mix with diminished drums – of which I found out was more difficult to make than thought. It turns out that it’s tough EQ’ing drums out of a mix without making the song sound empty.  Ultimately I tried to get the bass drum out of the mix, then diminish the rest. I think the results here were mixed.

I then set out to do some takes.  My goal here was to get something out quickly, so I did sacrifice a little bit of quality in terms of my playing and the ultimate mix.  If I were recording original music, contributing to a final drum mix, I would have spent a lot more time to do more compression and EQ’ing to get that perfect sound. For the purpose of these the video, I was pretty satisfied with the sound of my drums.

Next up was the video.  Using the Nikon D7000 that we bought for Clara last year, I mounted the camera on the tripod and used it as the primary camera. The video quality on the Nikon is pretty impressive, especially when stationary.  I then mounted a little web cam on a lamp to capture an overhead angle, outputting the video to another laptop. For my next video, I’m anxious to try some additional angles, as well as a different overhead angle. In this one, I didn’t like how my face was cut off half of the time.  I also learned the embarrassing lesson that I need to clean my room before recording again.

This process taught me a lot, and after doing some mental trail-blazing, I’m anxious to give another song a try.  I’d definitely welcome any suggestions or feedback.

Learning New Songs Through Notes

Over the last few days I’ve had my head down over my drum set, learning new song for Ken Stevens’ band. To expedite our timeline for being able to play out, we’re supplementing the originals with covers.  Part of the reason I’m so excited for this project is that it’s pushing my musical boundaries, but it also means learning some songs that I’m not familiar with.  To help, I’m mapping out each song into a 4×3 notebook.

While I could go out and either print out drum tabs or listen to the music or transcribe the songs into sheet music, but that would be a lot of work and could make me reliant on the sheets, especially when I’m playing in a genre that isn’t as accepting of music stands.  Instead, I’ve gone ahead and created a “cliff-notes” version of each song, writing some highlights.

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Some things that I start off with some basic: What is the meter? 4/4, 6/8? What’s the tempo (In BPM, or may just a note a general feel)? Do I go with sticks or should I use brushes or the Rutes?

Next I move onto the structure of the song. What do the drums do during the intro (or is the intro drum-less)? How many repetitions are there in each part of the song? Is there a point where I drop out?  What are the dynamics? Is there anything else special to take note?

The intention is to be able to read through these notes right before I play this song, and in combination with concentration and muscle-memory, be able to work my way through the song.  Obviously with practice I should be able to commit these original and cover songs to memory, but this is a good way to cheat my way through an evening of music.

What other ways do you use to get through songs? For my friends who are not drummers, does a method like this work for you?  Do you have any other tips on how to learn new music in a relatively short period of time?