Craig Blundell, drummer for Steven Wilson, became a guest lecturer at Kidderminster College for a day. Performing a masterclass, talking about and demonstrating technique and improvement methods as well as giving a drum lesson he unloaded a wealth of knowledge.
The point he explained that I am going to focus upon is his practice regime and his weaknesses improvement scheme. Craig has said while talking about landing the SW gig; “I was inexperienced at this level, and a bit out of my depth, but, i’ve worked dammed hard every day, pushed myself harder than ever before”(1) and I think this sums up his method perfectly.
He takes a central hub (called ‘perfection’) and then surrounds it with 10 chains of 10 circles each. At the end of these he chose his 10 most prominent weaknesses. He then decided what percentage of the way to being happy with them he was. In the photo above you can see he is 10% happy with his sight-reading. The idea was that you worked on the weakest areas and gradually ‘filled up’ all the circles to bring them all up to the same point, therefore improving yourself as an all-round player. (it is worth noting that these came from different people in the group, not Craig himself).
Following is my own diagram I drew up:
The improvement areas are as follows:
- Variety – I currently only play one style of music in one group and would like to diversify what I do.
- Sight reading
- Weakest Limb
He then followed this up by dividing up half an hour of practice into 15 minutes of something you can’t do, followed by 15 minutes of things you can do. He conducted this as a effort and reward system. When you had completed the practice on what you had selected you were rewarded by being able to do something you enjoyed. The lines on the photo above showed how due to progression over time you would spend less and less time on the can’ts as your skills improved.
I aim to improve the areas outlined above over a two week period, and will detail the progress over the following two weeks.
— video of my playing rudiments before and after —
I worked, using a variety of exercises on the things detailed above; all of them improving due to the practice method. In variety for example I began playing with a rap group, sessioning for them at a concert on Monday 16th Jan.