A Home Studio, Producing, Writing, Teaching, and Pastoring

My recording set up.

Even with staying in Nashville more I’m wearing “many different hats.” I’m still adjusting to the NEW season. — Read on —

In the modern recording world almost EVERY musician has some kind of home recording set up. It’s just the nature of the music business today. Even though I really enjoy being in a big studio with other players and making music as a collective, creative group… it is absolutely necessary that I have a working space at home that is set up to record drum and percussion tracks. Even today, before writing this post, I was finishing up some drum tracks for a client from South Africa – with a producer in Florida. It still blows my mind to think of how “small” the world has become with the invention of “file sharing.” Amazing!

With my laptop hooked up to a large flat screen monitor, and a bluetooth mouse, I can work from anywhere in my studio. Setting at the drums everything is pretty handy. BUT when I’m set up in other areas of the room with a lot of percussion gear it’s nice to see what’s going on and to be able to click & drag as needed. Sometimes I even have other players in to track with me. I just have one working room so the other musicians have to plug in direct and use closed in-ear monitors to play along while I’m playing drums. Although I have put a guitar amp in the cellar adjacent to my basement studio and the sound was very isolated. Quite often we work on songs a piece at a time. It all depends on what’s needed for the song, and how the client wants to work. In the end, it’s about getting the music to feel great. There are rules to recording… but we break them sometimes too. CONTACT ME for DRUM & PERCUSSION tracks… OR for a FULL production project. – CONTACT INFO.   — OR at Facebook. —  FB link

Carl and "his better half," Leann.

Carl and “his better half,” Leann.

AND… then there’s songwriting, writing articles, and teaching. Yes, I do like all of those endeavors too. Leann and I set aside time to work on new material for her new project, for worship at The Well of Nashville, and for other people. This has always been a part of our lives. Now, with being home more, I actually have time to be more proactive about that creative part of my life. Stay tuned, you should be seeing a NEW Leann project by spring.
*A sneak preview*

If you want to see what’s happening in ministry world, you can watch us “LIVE” every Tuesday @ 7pm CST on our web broadcast, via “Ustream.” We have been pastoring “The Well of Nashville” for several years now. We lead worship, share, pray, and encourage others to dive in deep with us to see what the Lord has in store. Jesus is always pouring out something fresh. *See what’s happening*

Thanks for all your prayers & support through the years and during this season of change. I feel challenged and stretched. It takes a big leap of faith to “step out of the boat.”

Blessings,
Carl

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Carl having fun at The Playground sessions

Carl at a session with kit & electronic gear

It’s a treat to work with such great people recording music, touring, etc. / Between takes or while someone is working on an overdub I’ll stroll around the studio and shoot a little video just to keep everyone smilin’ ! Sorry I don’t have a camera running while I record drum tracks… I’ll have to work on that. Many of you have said you want to see the drum tracks live while they’re happening… I’m workin’ on it. SMILE!  🙂

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Vintage Studios in Nashville

Carl in action

Carl in action

It’s pretty common to see old houses in the Nashville area and right on Music Row that have been converted into amazing studios and publishing offices. I like working in my home studio (Highland Farms Studio)… I can work on projects at my own pace and experiment a little more. It’s also nice to come up for a break and have lunch with Leann or go for a walk. //  BUT, the studios in Nashville are really amazing. Some of them are huge with multiple tracking rooms, and are exciting facilities to create music together with some very talented people. It is also very typical to see old houses that have been converted into working studios. They offer a little more relaxed vibe, but are also very well equipped. Check out this little tour I did while working at Sixteen Ton Studios on Music Row. *Lots of vintage gear (*even some pre-amps from Abbey Road) … a very cool lay out of the house… and the old tube board that I was told was from Columbia Records studio… One of the 1st on the Row. Join me for this fun walk through.

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Drum Lessons & DVDs

Carl at a session with kit & electronic gear

I’ve been getting more calls for drum lessons and clinics. Even though I travel a lot teaching at seminars I still like the individual, hands on drum lesson. Although my schedule doesn’t allow me to do that on a regular basis I still squeeze in a SKYPE lesson or even a “live” lesson in my home studio.

Feel free to contact me if you’d like to schedule a lesson on line or in person here in Nashville, OR even on the road at an event in your town. Sometimes I can squeeze in a private lesson at a conference if there’s time & space. Contact Me. 

If you want to see what happens at a seminar event on the road check out my DVD teaching series. These DVDs allow me to expand the material I teach at clinics without time constraints. They really focus on learning the craft of drumming… Not as much concert footage, but more explaining of what you need to learn. You can study at your own pace and on your own schedule. Each one offers something unique. See details at the web site store. To The Store!

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One Handed Cymbal Roll

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 So many of you have asked about this roll I do on cymbals or even on the drums. Using a marimba/vibraphone technique I learned from John Kasica of the St. Louis Symphony. It was standard training for classical percussionists during my college years. It probably is still part of the training. Thanks John. / It’s been so useful in drum set playing as well. When playing a groove or time pattern with one hand I can use this technique to create the normal cymbal swell without loosing a time element.  Be sure to work on “locking” the one mallet into position and then using the other to move according to the distance needed. Also be sure to balance the wiggle or waving motion so your roll sounds smooth. Also work on doing this with both hands. Blessings on your roll!  Wooooshhhh!

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NEW RELEASE – “The Same Love”

Paul Baloche band - coffee break at winter session

Paul Baloche band - coffee break at winter session

It’s been an interesting year for sure. Paul & I both lost our fathers, and others in the band, and other friends have faced very strange & trying seasons. To say that many of us have been shaken would be an understatement. BUT… we press on. We pray, we encourage, we rest in the Lord, … we continue to turn Jesus in the midst of it all.

Besides all the events and recording that Leann and I do through a year, I was honored, once again, to labor with my brothers in the Paul Baloche Band to release another collection of songs that turn our hearts to the Lord. It was a long process as we worked together to find just the right sounds and feel for every song that Paul & friends were composing. It has been the pattern for the last few projects to “take our time.” Paul wanted to live with the material more… hear it in different ways… and then feel free to try several versions before settling in on a final product. As you’ll see in the video we all enjoyed the process, and appreciate the chance to cultivate the art of worship music a little more meticulously. See the story in the EPK video.

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OH,,, and be sure to get your copy at your local music store or on itunes and other digital servers. 🙂 *Please pay for your copy! THANKS, Your brother, Carl

 

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A Drummer’s Practice Routine That Still Works

Carl in action

Carl in action

Let’s say you’re the world’s greatest drummer! You got it all together. There’s not one thing you need to practice……errhh…Scratch………………….   WRONG!!  ………………. We interrupt this type of thinking for a word from reality. There is no such thing as the world’s greatest drummer or anything else for that matter.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many talented people doing their work very well. I recognize the fact that in all fields there are those that rise to the top. We see them on recordings, on tours, in the magazines, and on TV.  The awards are given and accolades abound. What seems to be the most consistent in gifted and successful people is that they keep striving to do better. They have a hunger to know and do more. Some might think they’re “driven”; which can be a bad thing if the rest of their life is messed up and out of balance. But I see in most cases an honest desire to be faithful with what they’ve been given.

Most talented people I meet admit that what they have is from the Lord. Even in the secular world you hear the term “they have a gift”. Although some don’t acknowledge the Giver. Ah,,,, yes,,, that would be another article.  Anyway,,, I believe we all know we’re given gifts and talents.  The big question is HOW do we develop it?

For drummers and all musicians coming up with a routine that works for you is very important. You don’t have to practice eight hours a day to see results, but you have to do something. You can’t leave your instrument alone all week and hope that by the weekend you’ll magically gain new skill. So let’s look at a routine I’ve used that seems to help.

Through years of studying and teaching I’ve found a mixed routine gets the best results. I know we often start learning an instrument, especially drums, by just getting a kit; turning on the music; and “slamming” away. This is fun, but there’s so much more.

There are five areas of a study that always help the growth of a musician.

1.    Rudiments & Theory

2.    Reading Music

3.    Listening & Copying New Music

4.    Groove Exercises

5.    Soloing/ Improvisation

The incredible thing about this is that no matter how long you’ve been playing this routine really works. When I was younger I would get bored because teachers wouldn’t let me play songs or experiment. It was just the practice pad and the book.  As I got older just playing tunes didn’t seem to solve all the problems. So as a teacher & student I started mixing up my lessons and practice time, and “voila” my playing improved across the board. In other words my technique felt better, my concentration was stronger, I had a bigger vocabulary of music, and I seem to be able to stay more motivated.

Now I know this is my thing.  It’s not a doctrine just a concept. You won’t hurt my feelings if you do it different, or if you have something that works better. But if you don’t know what to do, start with this routine and see what happens.

Here’s how it goes. Let’s say you have one hour each day to practice. Divide it into five even sections. You should at least have fifty minutes. For those of you who can go longer just spend more time on each section.

1. Rudiments/ Theory – I usually start on a practice pad, but it quickly develops into a whole drum set exercise. This is a warm up time. I’m thinking strictly of hand technique, posture, breathing, feet placement, etc. etc. It’s all about the mechanics of playing at this point. I set my metronome or drum machine to a random tempo and just start playing simple rudimental patterns on a pad. Use one tempo for at least 4 to 5 minutes, and then stop & pick another speed. So in a 10 to 15 minute period you should play a slow, a medium, and a fast set.  Also, be sure you start with “your normal volume” with no accents and then gradually work in variations as YOU make it happen. I often tell the students… “Don’t let the sticks play you”.

You can use the 40 International Rudiments starting with single stroke rolls, doubles, paradiddles, flams, drags, etc. etc. (There’s a free download of the rudiments at www.pas.org) Books such as “Stick Control” by George  Stone or “Master Studies” by Joe Morello are great too. Focus on one idea or mix them up. It doesn’t matter. The goal is to be in control of the sticks & pedals.  Be relaxed, but deliberate about what you are doing. No tightness or tension should be felt in your body. After getting comfortable on a pad then try the patterns around the whole set. You can also add your feet by playing basic patterns such as counts 1 and 3 on the kick and 2 & 4 on the hi-hat, or anything else that helps develop your control and stamina.

2. Reading Music-  Oh, you say, “NO, NOT THAT”…  “I CAN’T READ MUSIC”.  Well, you don’t HAVE to, but it can be an awesome tool. Even learning basic music skills will add to you ability to learn new musical ideas quickly. If you’re just beginning get a teacher and start with a first level snare book. If you know how to read get some new material and expand your horizons. It doesn’t matter what age you are do not be afraid to learn.  Even seasoned players continue to attend clinics and seek out teachers to help them move on to the next level.  “NO FEAR”  Oh,, and did I say USE A METRONOME.

For this time slot I’ll work on a snare drum study and some set books that challenge my current level of playing.  Always mix up your routine so that you feel inspired.  I use a snare studies book to play rhythms not only on the snare, but to play them around the kit so I learn how to interpret patterns creatively. The set books are more “part” specific. Although I still create variations once I’ve got the written parts figured out. I’ll write the tempo I’ve set my machine to at the top of the page so that when I come back to it I can try a different speed. That can be very good training because sometimes we play music at different tempos for different artists; even the same songs.  Imagine that!!!!!

3. Listening To & Copying New Music– This is what we all love to do. It’s probably how you started the learning process. You hear tunes that inspire you, and you want to do what that drummer was doing on the recording. But wait,,,, there’s more !! Don’t get stuck only playing what you already know. If you can play something well then it’s time to move on.  Challenge yourself with NEW tunes; lots of NEW tunes.

This doesn’t mean you can’t go back and learn old music. Just what’s NEW to you.  GOT IT?!!  Build a huge vocabulary of music into your playing!!

I will first listen to a song setting at the kit. Then I might play “air drums” along with it. Maybe take a few notes. The idea is to truly copy what you hear, not just “jam” along without concern for what the drummer played on the recording. I’ve had students do that a lot. Copy what you hear as if you have to reproduce it for that artist. And yes I’ve had artists ask me to play what was on the recording many times. Even the exact fills!!  Once I’ve “got it down” then I might start incorporating my own ideas.  Tomorrow….. a new song!

4. Groove Exercises – This is so important! “Groove Is Everything.” – (quoted from my friend Abe Laboriel). Play a variety of grooves in 8 bar phrases. Pick one from 4 types of drum feel: 8th notes, 16th notes, triplets, or shuffles. Use one at a time for now. You could mix it up later. Set the click at one tempo for 5 minutes. Play a pattern for 7 bars without changing anything; do a fill somewhere in bar 8; and then play variations on the idea in each 8 bar section. Your focus is on precision and the feel of the groove. Start as simple as you need to and add ideas as you feel comfortable. Always concentrate on the pulse (the quarter note) and the feel of the subdivision of the pulse (8ths/ 16th/ triplests/ 32nd notes, etc.).

5. Soloing/ Improvisation– Playing a solo can be frightening. If you’re rather new to your instrument I recommend working hard on the other three areas. Build your technique, stamina, and vocabulary first. After a year or two start working on solos. Now I know drum solos are a rare thing, but the idea of being creative within a song can be developed by practicing this.

I think of solos in two ways. One, is “free style”, the other is “song form”. Both are very useful and important to develop.

In free style soloing I think more in colors and emotions and less about groove or time keeping, although that may be part of it. I try to paint pictures and think as if I’m playing to a movie rather than trying to just play a pattern. I might get a new student to loosen up with this concept by just standing by the kit and throwing a hand full of sticks at the set. Then just start hitting things!!  Soft or loud; slow or fast; it doesn’t matter just create!  Play the drums with your hands; use a mallet & a brush; a stick & a triangle beater; etc. You got the idea. Just discover what sounds you can get out of a drum set and any percussion instruments you are using. Anything goes!!

WARNING,,, please don’t do this at random on the next job. In a musical setting this should only happen for a reason. Remember the music rules, NOT YOU.

Song form solos  should be practiced with a machine. You could literally think of a song while you’re doing it, but the idea is to just use a fixed form. For instance play a groove for 4  bars and then play a solo for 4 bars. Do that for three minutes or so; just like a song. Then try 8 bars of a groove and 8 for the solo and so on. You could sing a song to yourself and then continue singing while you solo over the same phrases. (EX.- Try singing “Ancient of Days” or “The Happy Song” while soloing.) That is a very interesting way to develop a musical approach to soloing. What you’ll find is that your fills in general will have a more musical flow.

The primary rule in soloing is ‘DON’T STOP”! Don’t second guess what’s happening. Just keep going. Everything you play may not be awesome, but the idea is to get your “creative juices” flowing. In general playing solos allows your mind, body, & spirit to loosen up and start to express what’s in your heart. Drumming seems to become less mechanical and more spiritual which I believe should be the goal for all musicians.

So, there you have it. A way to systematically develop your musical skills. Well at least one of the ways.

Blessings to you and Happy Practicing!!

Carl

Let's have a chat over a cup 'o jo.

Let’s have a chat over a cup ‘o jo.

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Listening To A Playback – Then?

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As you build a song with a group every element affects the feel or vibe of the song. I try to listen to every part that’s being added to be sure the drums still feel right for the song. Sometimes what worked at first has to be changed as the song develops. In this video I think we were pretty much settled on the drum part, but we’ll see. It’s up to the artist and/or producer, everytime! The more experience you have as a player people will often trust your judgement, but I never refuse to give more options if the creative juices are flowing… I try to make every take special! “Always give your ALL!”

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Drummers Must Listen First!

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 When learning new material I just sit and listen. I don’t try to play right away. Let the song get in your head!! Mark the tempo while the writer or leader is playing the song down, make notes on the chart or make a chart if needed; try to hear (or visualize) what will happen in each section. You could tap along or play air drums, but don’t be distracting during the birthing of an arrangement. When it’s time for the band to play together then play what felt like the obvious drum feel you heard in your head. Then let the song evolve from there… ask questions… Make sure the artist and/ or producer is happy. We’re always serving!!

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Overdubbing Adds “Spice”!

Carl's happy tambourine

"I see you" , Tambourine Man

After getting basic tracks recorded it’s usually expected that every player will add extra parts to the song. Besides recording extra guitars, keyboards, and vocals… I almost always add shakers, tambourines, loops, special effects, whatever we feel the song needs. Here’s a fun clip from Paul Baloche’s new project… Ben Gowell and I are adding large drum fills to a tune. We got to laughing as we played… just watching each other and Paul running around with a flip video. 🙂  … I can’t even remember the song we were working on.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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