Developing movement, placement and dynamic flow around the kit
In this month’s article we will be looking at broadening our skill set by exploring the idea of combination chairs: ie kit and percussion combined to one player within theatre shows. To be a kit player in theatre requires a wide range of skills including following an MD (stick conductor or piano MD), working with clicks, reading, taking constant direction, multi-stick changes, deep stylistic knowledge and potentially doubling on a small amount of percussion. I used to dep on the West End show, Chicago, for Kevin Campbell, which was an onstage kit chair combined with glockenspiel, pop gun, triangle, blocks, car horn, slide whistle, triangle, castanets. Whilst these may sound like relatively easy voicings to throw into the mix, please bear in mind a lot of these would be given as visual cues.
At times I’d be playing kit with the left hand and pedalling time whilst adding a melodic line on the glockenspiel with the right hand! Alan Dale is another drummerI used to dep for who has played on an extensive amount of shows and is currently the chair holder on the Wicked UK tour. I depped on the DirtyDancing UK tour for Alan, which did have a percussionist, but also had a kit combination chair as the show had a fair amount of Latin grooves – therefore timbales, blocks and cowbell combinations were part of the chair.
One groove on DirtyDancing that stood out as a challenge due to positioning, phrasing and application was a two-bar Merengue, which is the groove we’ll be breaking down as per my examples. In Examples 1 to 3, I break down each element individually before we put all three together as shown in Example 4. To really bed these in and get them up to the desired 126bpm, use your voice to say the phonetics. As the saying goes: ‘If you can say it, you’ll be able to play it’. Enjoy. TheAcademyofContemporaryMusic(ACM)isaleadingmusic industryeducationprovider.Havingtrainedmusicians,producers, songwritersandentrepreneursforcareersinthemusicindustry forover20years,withstate-of-the-artfacilities,world-classfaculty andextensiveindustryconnections,ACM offersmusicprogrammes thatdevelopstudentstotheirmaximumpotentialandinstantly immersestheminthemusicindustry.Visitwww.acm.ac.uk
your tutor Toby Drummond isanACM DrumTutorwho hasperformedwithartists suchasTheSeahorses, ShaunRyder,Russell Watson,RayDavies,Celia ImrieandCliffRichard.