Welcome to RSW1 - rhythm section workshop 1.
The very first class that we were to play with a live rhythm section. My teacher was Andy Megna (who is unfortunately the only teacher I didn't manage to get a picture with in the last weeks of school) and he was a monster. He played at our little 'welcoming orientation' thing so I got a glimpse of just how great this man was going to be.
They plonked a chart in front of us. It was the simplest of things, but it would later turn out to be the crucible in which all drummers would stumble and fall. It was the Billy Jean groove - that's 1 and 3 on the kick and 2 and 4 on the snare. Every drummer knows this groove and every drummer thinks they can play it. Well, we're expected to play it.
Many, or perhaps all of us, brushed it off as a piece of cake. But then we sat down at the drums and tweaked every thing to our perfect adjustment, ready to just show how awesome we were.
And all of us just bombed. The simplest of things - we can't do it.
Which vindicates my belief that that groove is still the hardest thing that a drummer is required to do. Just to do that and make it sound good. Man that was a great wake up call. Our great teachers who wrote the curriculum knew exactly what was going to happen when they gave us that chart and groove. They knew exactly the medicine we needed to show us just how much work there needed to be done. Every weakness was exposed at that point.
I will never ever forget that first RSW class. Nothing short of an eye opener. It made me realise that although I had been playing that groove for the longest time, at that point in time no one would pay me to play it the way I was doing it.
Well, now I see the importance of it. I see just how important that first class was that set the tone for the rest of what I was going to learn. Now I can Billy Jean the crap out of any groove.
But that's not the end of day one. Mr Donny Gruendler is coming up next and that's just the awesome-st thing.