This blog has now reached it's end. The American Adventure has finished. Will there be a sequel in the near future? One will never know, but for now let's let the credits roll...

Friday, December 31, 2010

Chapter appyhay ewnay earyay

Today is new year's eve. And I thought I'd show you something 'interesting'.

Instead of posting on twitter the random boring stuff that happens today, I will show you just how uninteresting my new year's eve can be by posting a regular update on this blog post.

Here we go.

It's now 8:22. Had a short brief chat with family members back home when I woke up.
Best quote
"Why can hear children?"
"Because there is a children."
Made coffee. Sat down. Typed this.

Stay tuned for more gripping events as they happen.

8:32 - second cup of coffee. Let's go wild!

8:54 - playing some music on itunes. Darrell Evans' version of trading my sorrows is my favourite. There are some songs you grow up with that you will never let go. This is one of them.

9:06 - writing a year end essay. Pulitzer for sure. Or whatever award you give to essays. Someone needs to pay me to write these things. Anyone? Anyone?

9:19 - Things are going crazy! It's time to up the ante and wash some dishes!

10:27 - Now the real fun begins. Things are really hotting up and getting crazy here on New Year's Eve. Now I'm going to go help some people move house! Isn't that awesome! Let's DO THIS!

11:33 - Haha! Friend brought a drink shaker for tonight's entertainment! Sweet.

14:00 - Pizza lunch time! Crazy stuff!

15:27 - Done and done. Tired. Time to go pick up 'tonight's entertainment'.

16:15 - Look at the queue. Everyone at the store with their selected poison for the night. Me? A bottle of olives, some gin, and some dry vermouth. Yums.

16:25 - Home at last. Rest up before the 'big party'.

16:57 - SWEEEEET!!! My I Fight Dragons T-shirt arrived in the mail.

17:10 - Oh MY GOODNESS! Things just got incredibly crazy here at the HUGE PARTY that I'm having with myself. First beer of the evening! Hoowah!

17:14 - Oh no, oh no! Things are getting really wild. Some friends from around the world just showed up on skype! This can only mean one thing! - STARCRAFT! See you on the other side of the match.

17:42 - Game 1 over! Looks like some people need to take a breakfast break. Yeap that's right. Malaysian friend decided to not eat breakfast and play first. Funny.
Oh and by the way .... VICTORY! Yay!

18:06 - woah the epitome of fun - watching videos on youtube. I am just that awesome. This party is going wild.

18:10 - Game 2 of international Starcraft begins!

18:39 - Game 2 over! Victory! Totally won by my allies. Starcraft done. Friend in the UK needs to sleep. Fun times!

18:42 - Time to bring out the BIG GUN in entertainment and super crazy fun time. Happy awesome power! I'm going to play some digital legos now. LEGO DIGITAL DESIGNER!

19:39 - Finished dinner. Home made kuay teow soup. Time to build more legos before the first martinis are served.

20:14 - The first martinis are made. Time to get crazy!

20:49 - Martini number 2! Time to shake things up and watch some basketball!

21:05 - Wow, things just got even more exciting! Now we're swapping in and out between the basketball game and the movie Zodiac. HAVE YOU HAD THIS MUCH CRAZY FUN IN YOUR LIFE?

22:12 - Martini 3. I need gloves to shake my martinis in this cold weather. Still watching Zodiac.

22:28 - I'ma have some CHIPS and DIP.

00:10 - oh .look it's new years. I dozed off watching ZOdiac drinking martinis. There's fireworks going off everywhere.

Happy new year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Chapter Eve Eve

Yet another satisfying night of moving stuff around.

It's Christmas Eve today (exactly 5 minutes past midnight) and I just spend the eve of the Eve doing exactly what I did last year. Points if you remember it from last year when I blogged about it.

Yes, we have Christmas Eve service at a church building and right before it, on the Eve eve, they run a toy drive for the neighbourhood families where they basically give out free toys for Christmas. So because we need to use the space on the Eve, we spend the Eve eve clearing up the area and packing away stuff.

It's no big thing really. Just a bunch of people from the church gathering together to perform some required labour. No big deal, nothing fancy. Nothing glamourous.

Yet there is a real joy in doing something tangible like this. Sure it's all good to be doing service in many ways but to me there's something about doing manual labour that's just extra satisfying. The fact that the group of us will probably receive no attention for it (except the far away attention that I'll get from telling you all about it here) and we'll get no real credit or whatsoever for doing it brings more joy to it because all glory goes to God.

Service in secret. Service with joy. Service like no other.

Merry Christmas Eve eve, and Merry Christmas Eve and Merry Christmas tomorrow.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tales from MI - Chapter 12

Final bits of Level 3 before we move on to the miscellaneous classes and stuff! Lots more to get through!

So we have the Latin class in level 3. Taught by Latin supremo Chuck Silverman.

I actually heard of Chuck way back when I was visiting the forums. And then when I got over here and saw him on the list of instructors I was really stoked about it. I signed up for almost all the classes he was teaching and eventually when I got to the final 6 months of my MI stint, I got to take his Latin drumming class.

The class covered drumset styles inspired by Brazilian rhythms and Cuban rhythms. Everything from samba to bossa to cha-cha to songo... I learned as many of them as possible. A whole bunch of them really helped out in my audition so this was definitely one of the most informative classes.

Also, Chuck is a supremo when it comes to latin rhythms. He's your typical white canadian man, but he's fallen so deeply in love with these rhythms that he's spent so much time pursuing it and learning it and playing it. He's been to all these places and seen the actual traditional rhythms like Cuba and Brazil. He's managed to encompass all these rhythms in his own playing. This is great motivation for guys like us who aren't in any way brazilian or Cuban. 

I also took private lessons with Chuck for a semester and it was great. Lots of chart reading and tough songs and rhythms to play. Really good real world training.

I had a second private lesson for my last semester there. Taught by jazz extraordinaire Jason Harnell. 

Jason was such a wealth of knowledge regarding jazz music. He's also such an awesome player with such great finesse it was such a joy to have him listen to my playing and offer constructive criticism. I had the opportunity to watch him live at the Baked Potato and it was just incredible seeing all the skills we talked about translated onto the drum kit.

I also bought a couple of his CDs. Good stuff.

Stay tuned for the next few episodes as we wrap up the electives and LPWs and the fantastic Schroeder Ensemble!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tales from MI - Chapter 11

Next up is another real treat. From the next class - Ensemble playing technique - taught by none other than the legendary Ralph Razze.


You have no idea how much of an honor it is to see and hear this man on the drums. Big band playing legend, sessions legend.. LEGEND.

While the class itself wasn't too taxing - we basically learned how to interpret charts in a real life setting (which by the way really helped when it came to my cruise audition) - and I breezed through most of the class, it was incredible to witness Ralph blasting his way through these charts.

Also incredible was the fact that Ralph is an incredible library of amazing music. He's worked on GI JOE commercials - which I HAVE THE TRACKS FOR NOW - and a lot of like cool 80's big band funk and all sorts of stuff. He's just worked on so much stuff and in his class we got a taste of all the stuff he's worked on in the many years.

Equally mind blowing was our next level 3 class - Odd meter - taught by another legend, Ed Roscetti.

Composer extraodinaire, innovative legend, world music genius and perhaps one of the greatest educators I've ever met. Together there with the live band we played in class. Ed is an incredible educator. His approach to learning and teaching is just so thorough and effective it makes it hard to believe that few others teach the same way.

I also did get the chance to see Ed live several times and one of the greatest encouragements is that he IS what he talks. To use a cruddy cliche - he talks the talk and walks the walk. Everything I saw him teach and talk about I also saw him use in a live setting. There are no tricks, no special moves, no hidden secrets. He teaches the way he plays and his own approach to becoming good in what he does. It's incredible.

That and he reduces the notion of playing in weird odd numbers into a super systematic method of learning.

And of course the best part is that he's so vocal with his teaching. A trait I think all drummers should have. He sings beats and rhythms and everything with his mouth. He then plays it with his body. He encompasses the instrument so well.

Great two classes. Awesome experience. Tune in for more!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tales from MI - Chapter 10

Moving on now to LEVEL 3! Why was level 2 so short, I hear you ask. Well the rest of the classes were the same as Level 1, just a lot harder. There still was the ever testing RSW class and reading and technique. So now we move on to LEVEL 3!

And we kick it off with one of my favourite classes - Studio Drums. 

In here we got to sit in the recording lab and play to a professional track and record drums over that. And then force ourselves to sit through the horror of our own ugly mistakes. We crossed several genres, but stuck around mostly pop, rock and a little funky stuff. 

Some weeks were pretty good and some were just terrible. It was an incredible learning experience though. I've never been in the studio before nor have I even recorded myself prior to coming to MI. So this was quite a refreshing and educating experience. Nothing teaches better than the recorder. And nothing motivates more than listening to myself. I see how crappy I am, but I also notice some of the awesome stuff I manage to do.

My final from the class is in an earlier post titled Chapter Z26. Go check it out for a sample of what goes on in this class.

I did have immense fun in there. Overall one of the best classes at MI and it really helped prepare for future studio recordings should I ever do any. 

And our teacher, Mr Charlie Waymire, was always on the ball. He was incredibly keen eyed (and eared) in spotting my errors and telling me how to correct them. And he's also one of the funniest dudes at school. Good stuff. And where else can you go except music college where your teachers have mohawks and join in the photograph fun like this?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tales from MI - Chapter 9

More tales from MI!

Now we go into our next LEVEL 2 class - contemporary drum concepts, or better known back in the day as ROCK DRUMS.

This is the class where I learn pretty much just how bad I am at playing rock. I'm terrible at it. My volume levels are all jacked and I have terrible power behind my strokes. I hit the toms like a sissy and I pedal my bass like I'm stepping on a hamster. Woah, scary analogy.

Yes. Rock drums. And a whole bunch of stuff that came with it too. We had a double pedal portion of the class too - you can see my failed attempts at it on my youtube page. Double bass disaster. Pretty much sums up just how much I enjoyed that portion of class.

We did also have some crazy paradiddle permutations and linear patterns and stuff that were really cool though. And some great triplet-y fill ideas and all sorts of other really cool bits in class. And this was the other class that we got to play with a live band every week. I'm not particularly a fan of playing in that class though because quite frankly I did stink at playing rock.

But all that changed after going to MI. Now I can back beat like a caveman with a club and I'm pretty darn sure I'm capable of smacking the bass drum straight through. And then some. It's not just about the volume though - it's about the balance of sound.

And none of it would be possible without the ever awesome super cool Scott Wittenberg.

More tales from MI coming up!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tales from MI - Chapter 8

More classes to talk about. Entering the second batch of classes after 6 months, also known as LEVEL 2 (yeah like a character level up you know? add more skills and attributes and pwn more enemies.. I'm getting off topic here), we now have a couple of new classes.

First one is Jazz. Now I've been a jazz fanatic pretty much all my growing up life. I know it's weird for a 10 year old to get into jazz and fall in love with it but I did and I've always loved listening to it. I thought myself pretty darn good at it already and certainly thought I'd ace the class. It was fun to be able to get to play with a live band each class. Basically we got to play a chorus of a standard, have some solos, and then trade 4's or 8's with the soloists. Pretty standard stuff.

It did throw me off guard right away. I've never had the opportunity to play jazz with a live trio before. I've only ever played with tracks that I owned so it was a new experience. I fuddled it up quite a bit here and there.

But then I got myself a new private instructor for my next stint and he was, as they call him, the grease monkey. None other than Jazz guru Tim McIntyre. T-Mac, as he is also known as, also taught the jazz class and so I got a pretty good dose of jazz lessons.

While I may have had the skills and coordination to pull off most of the exercises he gave me, I didn't have the right idea about the sound of jazz. We spent lots of time playing around with the idea of making the thing sound right and having the right feel. And it was a lot of revamping on my part and putting my mind in the right place.

Also spent a lot of time listening to all sorts of material on youtube and from his personal collection. Great stuff.

It's because of this and my affinity with jazz that I started to become the jazz monkey in my batch. Me and a few other guys started nailing it down pretty good. And that helped in the Schroeder ensemble. More on that later.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tales from MI - Chapter 7

Continuing my catalogue of my MI experience - very delayed I know.

So you've seen technique with rob carson, and now we move on.

We're only on day 3 to be honest. More RSW and more reading.. and not much else. I'll cover my electives and other stuff later.

So on to day 4. New class is music minus one. It's a simple class. We're given a bunch of tracks and we're to play along to them with some lead sheet charts. Stuff is open for interpretation and there are a couple of hits to make and stuff. It's more a class to just have fun and play along to minus one tracks.

Looking back at it now, it was good training for my audition because sure enough I had to play to some pre recorded tracks. It's tough at first lining up perfectly with the track and carefully playing in time and catching every thing. Gary Hess takes this class once again and his approach is always the most simple and effective. In retrospect this was perhaps a crucial class for me to score that audition. Learning how to do things the easy way and making sure they worked was certainly a big help when I had to learn 3 charts on the fly in less than an hour.

We had some fun in this class and some crazy ideas among students. Also the tracks are mine to keep and they are actually pretty darn good ones too. Apparently John Pattitucci recorded the bass on some of them. Pro level minus one tracks? Any day.

Day 5 wraps up with the programming bit of Digital Drumming with Donny Gruendler. Here we learned how to program backing tracks and all sorts of stuff to do with technology - the part I'm actually very unfamiliar about. Protools, Reason, Ableton etc.. all the good stuff.

And that's Level 1 for ya. Next we move on to the classes that added on as the months went by. Stay tuned.