Hi Eliana, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into learning the piano?
I originally come from Latvia where I started to play the piano when I was 5 years old. I graduated from the Jelgava Music School in classical piano playing before I got into jazz singing which I'm studying at the moment at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
What is your favourite style to play?
As I'm a singer, I most often accompany myself on the piano. But in my free time I love practising music by Debussy and Chopin.
Who is your biggest musical inspiration and why?
It is difficult to choose one musician but I'm always inspired by people who love what they do and are genuine. When you find something that moves you and you're honest - there is nothing that can stop you. :)
Where can students watch you play/sing?
I post about my upcoming gigs in London on my instagram page @elianasanda.
How would you describe your teaching style?
My teaching method is to focus on developing good technique, appropriate repertoire and a good understanding of music theory. I am very patient and caring in my approach and I always try to support my students by making the environment in the lessons friendly and open. I focus on keeping my lessons fun and most importantly - my students interested. It is crucial for me to find ways of teaching that would suit each of my students and their interests the best.
And finally, what advice would you give to people who have just started learning or want to learn the piano?
I strongly believe that everyone can play an instrument or sing regardless of their musical ability, if they have a will. Learning an instrument is hard work but it is also super fun, so just take it step by step and enjoy the wonderful process of learning music! Trust me - it can be life-changing :)
Hi Alain, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into playing drums?
I started playing piano as a kid but switched to drums age 17. I thought drums and drum lessons were easier, which is maybe true at the very beginning, but really they're a lot of work!
What made you want to go into teaching?
I started teaching drum lessons professionally after completing a CTMA music teaching course in Goldsmith college many years ago. Teaching drums was always a lot of fun for me, and a good way to supplement my income between recordings and tours.
Who is your biggest musical inspiration and why?
My main inspirations are John Coltrane, early blues and Bob Marley for the soul in their music. The Beatles are a great inspiration for the wonderful songwriting. Traditional percussion music is also very important because rhythm is where all music comes from.
What is your favourite style to play?
I love Jazz, Latin, and African styles mostly.
I have been informed that you have a drum book coming out! Can you tell us what people can expect from this book?
Yes, I've been writing the new drum book for two years now. It is a synthesis of all the teachings I've received and transmitted since I started playing. The book incorporates snare drum technique and coordination studies as well as play alongs in all styles, with over 100 audio tracks! My friend Mark Fletcher is a featured guest drummer in the second part of the book.
What made you decide to write this drum book?
When teaching, I've always been using a multitude of books with my students, and I really wanted to condense all this important information into one book.
When can people expect to buy your book/when roughly can we get our hands on it?
Expect to be able to buy the drum book by late 2021 or early 2022.
Finally, what advice would you give to students just starting to learn the drums/students who want to start to learn drums?
Get yourself a good drum teacher you have a good relationship with, and listen to as much music as possible. Go to gigs, learn the history of drumming, and ... practice!
Learn music production with Planet drum
COMING SOON...We have been working hard and had tremendous fun to curate and bring you a Planet drum music production course following the Rockschool Grade 1 syllabus!
In this graded course we will guide you through the essentials of becoming a music producer, including learning how to record, edit and mix. We designed this course to be highly accessible for younger students and beginner students to pursue music production from their own homes and gain an RSL qualification in the process.
The Grade 1 course will provide you with the necessary material needed to understand music production terminology as well as audio fundamentals. You will be able to progress and learn at your own pace while practicing on the digital audio workstation of your choice.
We will also guide you through your coursework and give you practice questions so that by the end of this first course you will be confident and ready to pass your grade 1 Rockschool music production exam.
Sign up now and take the first step to become a music producer.
Exclusively on THINKIFIC and UDEMY.
This course is delivered by a third party and, as such, RSL is not responsible for any of the content provided or the quality of the training
Katy Russell & Alain Maurel
It’s all too easy to get bogged down in music theory and lesson material when you’re doing your grades.
And when you’ve managed to somehow successfully make it through one grade, you start work on the next one only to find it all gets even harder, more complex and in time signatures you never knew were possible.
At times you wonder how you’re ever going to fit all this new information in your head, and when your limbs will be able to naturally jump into action to play these complex rhythms without having to “think about it” for ten minutes.
Every drummer has their own way of learning. Some like to be very rigid with their practice sessions, some are determine to play the same rudiment over and over for an hour until it becomes muscle memory, and others find short bursts of multiple exercises work best.
Whatever way you prefer, I’m sure you’ve had a moment here are there where you’ve hit a wall and felt like you’ll never be able to play the piece of music sitting in front of you well enough to pass your grade.
I’ve had it plenty of times, and I’ve come to accept that I probably always will. But I’ve recently found that the best way I can help myself get past that barrier is to take a little time out to just have fun.
You’re playing the drums because you want to. You decided to have lessons because you enjoy playing the instrument – that's what I remind myself of.
There are many moments I can think back to where I sat down at a kit and just had an amazing time playing. But sometimes, when you’re too focused on learning, you forget to spend time just enjoying the act of drumming.
It sounds incredibly obvious, but in between work, home life and your lessons, it can sometimes be far too easy to slip into the habit of only finding time for drumming when you’re practicing for your grades or your next lesson.
Personally, I stick on a couple of my favourite tracks from when I first started playing the drums and pretend I’m 17 again!
Laura Barnes - Planet drum student
Hello, I'm Monica.
I'm a violin teacher at Planet Drum and in this article I would like to introduce you to the violin and talk about my experience with this fascinating instrument.
Firstly, let me tell you a little bit about my beginnings in the world of music. When I was 7 years old my parents enrolled me in music school in Gran Canaria and even though I struggled with the mathematical side of things, I remember loving the music theory classes and having plenty of fun learning. When it was time to choose an instrument my mum was leaning towards the piano, but the director of the school told her that it was a solitary instrument and that I should perhaps try the violin. He got his son (who later became my teacher) to play a piece for her and my mum instantly fell in love with the sounds of the instrument. This is how my journey began with the violin.
Thanks to learning this instrument I have acquired long term skills such as patience, discipline and determination. I had to go through long and arduous periods of practice where to play only a single note in tune required a huge effort. Preparing a whole piece was a difficult process and the more that I progressed, the harder practicing became! But contrary to many popular beliefs, the violin doesn’t belong exclusively to the academic world of classical music and is not solely about hard-work and hours of practice. Learning this amazing instrument has allowed me to be a part of a variety of musical projects such as orchestras, quartets, indie bands and even accompany singer songwriters.
For a decade I played in 'The Bela Bartok' orchestra where we travelled with our music and had so much fun sharing it with many people we played for. I also had the fortune to be a part of the Dr. Dre orchestral rendition travelling across Europe playing violin to hip hop grooves and making people dance. The feeling of playing in an orchestra is incredibly unique, because you are completely and entirely surrounded by the music. Recently, I have joined the 'Comedy String Quartet Graffiti Classics' where I get to sing, dance and goof around whilst playing.
The violin is an extremely versatile instrument and grants you the opportunity to play in so many different settings. It’s also an instrument that allows you to perform with others, which I believe is the most beautiful aspect about music - not only sharing it with the audience, but connecting with those you are playing with. Someone once said to me that any song sounds better if you add a bit of violin, and in my experience, these words have always held true.
Drum tips for beginner drummers
Always go into a practice session with a plan
Practicing is the key to improving your drum skills, but it is important to pre-plan what you are going to practice. Making time to practice is hard enough in everybody's busy day-to-day lives. Pre-thinking about what you will recap and study will help to maximize and get the most out of your practice session, even if it is only 10 or 15 minutes!
Practice with a metronome
There is a common misconception that having a steady pulse and solid sense of time is something that’s innate and can’t be taught. This is of course absolutely not true, and while some people do have a more natural sense of pulse than others, time is something that everybody should devote a large portion of time to practicing, no matter how natural a player they might be.
Go back to basics
Drummers often try to run before they can walk, which can lead to bad habits and gaps appearing in ability. Mastering the drumming basics is the best way to build a solid foundation upon which to develop your playing. We recommend focussing at least some of your practice time on improving single and double strokes, and polishing key rudiments like the paradiddle and five-stroke roll. Once you can execute these drumming fundamentals with consistency, dynamics and solid time, you will be fully prepared to take your playing to the next level.
Play with Other People
Despite the fact that there are tons of videos of drummers alone in their practice rooms on the internet, you should go find some like-minded people to play music with. Music is a team sport for the most part, and you’ll learn a lot by getting yourself into bands early on in your development. Don’t skip this step; it’s crucial.
Look for role models
They will shape your playing, as their drumming style and ability level helps you to measure progress in your own performance. If you need some inspiration, you can check out our Legendary Drummers playlist on YouTube.
Don’t Hold Your Drum Sticks Too Tight
The most common and grip technique is called ‘matched grip,’ and this is what I teach to my students. You will use your left and right hands to hold the drum sticks in the same way. The main area of grip is between the thumb and the second knuckle of the index finger, and the remaining fingers wrap around the stick.It’s key that you don’t hold the drum sticks too tight. The drum sticks should be allowed to bounce after striking a drum head, and this rebound will help you out significantly to achieve fast speeds. This rebound is a pivotal part of drumming and becomes a large part of your ‘playing feel’ as you develop as a drummer. You will naturally learn to feel when to begin the motion of striking a drum head and anticipate the rebound.
Realize that skill takes a long time to build. Becoming a great musician can take years. Be patient, do the work and you’ll become good. Focused practice under good guidance will take you there.
Guitar and Ukulele lessons with Vladimir
I love to play in bands as well as teaching as I can learn something from each world. So far I manage to stay in a few bands and musical projects as well as teaching in a few schools.
The most important thing for me is to keep things fresh in what I do, so that both my audience, my students and myself keep the interest in music. Usually this is done by constantly refreshing the repertoire and studying music. Whenever the set list becomes stale I get nervous and need to change something.
With students or workshops, it is the same. It doesn't have to be a new song , it could be a new arrangement of an old tune - or musicians can swap and jam. Every musical situation is an opportunity to learn something from the musicians around us, and especially something about ourselves as well.
Our job as teachers and performers carry a big responsibilty as we are, in a way, role models for future musicians so I always have that in mind. The best part is that I don't look at it as a job at all as I enjoy doing what I do and would not trade it for anything. The best feeling in the world is when a concert or a workshop goes well and when you manage to spark some interest in a student.
Learn guitar or ukulele with me at Planet drum, or online.
Chick Corea interview
Chick Corea, who has died aged 79, was a playfully prodigious jazz piano improviser, a versatile composer and a pioneer of 1970s jazz-rock fusion
He was also an accomplished jazz drummer. Many iconic drummers such as Roy Haynes, Airto, Lenny White, Steve Gadd, Dave Weckl and Marcus Gilmore collaborated with him.
SOURCE: All About Jazz
Who are some of the jazz musicians and classical composers who have influenced your work?
The list is very long. In a general but true sense, it’s every composer, musician and piece of music that in some way caught my attention to teach me or inspire me. There is a shorter but still long list of the artists that have continually inspired me through the years, but this list is also too long for an interview. Let me try the short short list of those whose music is currently part of my active musical life: John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Henri Dutilleux, Thelonious Monk, Domenico Scarlatti and Alexander Scriabin.
Could you tell us something about your early training as a musician?
My father, Armando, was my guide into the music world. He and the musicians in his bands were a relaxed and fun group and I wanted to join them and play music with them from when I was a tot. My father taught me to read music and play some tunes on the piano. He also introduced me to the recorded music of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and many more in the ’40s by constantly playing his 78 rpm discs of these great musicians. I was enthralled and wanted to play all those notes immediately but couldn’t approach the fast bebop just yet. But in the early ’50s I came across Horace Silver’s music and began to copy his songs and piano solos from his recordings. That was a great school for me. I also played a lot of dance and wedding gigs with my father where I learned many of the standard songs that, interestingly enough, are still popular today.
Your father was a musician. Did this inspire you to pursue music as a career?
My father and my mother, Anna, both encouraged and helped me to pursue music because they saw that I loved it. That was the best career encouragement I ever got. My mother packed chocolates for Schrafft’s Candy Company in Boston for years and saved the money to but me a Steinway baby grand when I turned 16. They were the best parents one could imagine having.
When did you meet Miles Davis and could you tell us about your work with him in the early 1970’s?
I first met Miles when he came to sit in at Minton’s on a 6-week stint I was on with the “Sister Sadie All Stars” – which was basically Horace Silver’s quintet without Horace. Blue Mitchell was the leader with Junior Cook, Gene Taylor and Roy Brooks. Miles came and sat in one night playing Blue’s horn. He played like the god I knew he was and then came by the piano on his way off the band stand to whisper in my ear the cryptic question “Was I playing the right changes?” Of course, he was putting me on – but it was friendly. Then Tony Williams called me and said Miles wanted me to come and play with the band in Baltimore. I called Miles and asked him of there wasgoing to be a rehearsal – and he said “No, just play what you hear.” That set the stage for 2 years of some of the most exciting “free” music I ever played – together with Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams and Dave Holland – then, after 6 months, Jack DeJohnette came on for the rest of the time.
Miles was relentlessly experimenting the whole 2 years I was in the band – trying different approaches – always working everything out on the gig. There were never any rehearsals.
After only a few months, Miles directed me towards this electric piano he had rented – and after that night, I never played the acoustic piano again with Miles. He seemed to be searching for a sound and a new way of expression and the electric piano was part of what he was envisioning. Of course, it’s history now how that slowly developed into all the groove and electric oriented music he was to make in years to come. But at the time Miles was leaning towards rock and pop, Dave Holland and I were leaning more and more towards free improvisation and so we together left the band to form our own group, Circle. Miles was a true freedom fighter. He taught me to stay true to my own vision no matter what.
How did you get interested in composing fusion jazz? Are there any rock music artists that you admire?
Hearing John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra in ’72 was inspiring to me. I had never heard a guitar played that way. The impact of emotion was tremendous. As a composer I wanted to write for a sound like that – and shortly after that, Stanley CLarke and I found Bill Connors in San Francisco, resulting in the electric version of Return To Forever.
I wasn’t listening to rock music in the 60’s – I was listening to Coltrane, Miles and Monk, as well as Stravinsky and Bartok. But Stevie Wonder really caught my attention and has held it all these years. His music has always transcended any style and he was my model as a songwriter.
When did you meet John McLaughlin and could you tell us about your collaborations with him. Did both of you agree on the direction of the music?
I met John when he first came to work in the US with the Tony Williams band. We became instant friends and have remained so through the years. Our recent project the “Five Peace Band” was a great joy. Since I first heard John and played with him, I always wanted to have a band with him, and last year, this dream was realized. Both of us wrote the music and there was an easy agreement about the direction of the music, both of us sharing very similar tastes in music.
What lies in the future for jazz?
Your guess is as good as mine. I think there’s never a problem with the musicians – their desire, abilities and creativity. The problem is always calming and making more ethical the world around us.
Could you tell us about your latest work?
I’m always working towards perfecting and improving my abilities. I like to be a student and learn. I’m currently working on new composing techniques — ways to get my thoughts down and captured in more efficient ways. I’m working on new ways to capture my flow of
improvisation and make certain parts of it into compositions that will be able to be played again and again.
What lies in the future for yourself and is there always a need to look for new sounds in jazz-from avante garde and free jazz to fusion etc.?
Creating music and touring and playing for people everywhere is the greatest joy I know. So that is and has always been my goal and future – to continue to make new music and spark imaginations wherever and whenever I can.
Planet drum teacher, Radovan
shares his experience of his latest studio session at Wax Studios.
'This is an upcoming debut EP of my good friend Severin Bruhin who is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger from Switzerland. His music is in the realm of jazz/fusion mixed with neo-soul, hip-hop and more. The project features quite a few international session musicians, vocalists and artists including a successful Canadian-born producer Robert Strauss (studio owner).'
You can watch their experience below:
At Planet Drum, we always like to encourage our students
to play with other people as much as possible. That’s why we have been doing our band workshops for several years now and those sessions are enjoyed by our students and our teachers alike. There is something special about different people gathering in a room and creating music together, it’s like giving birth to a new spirit or new being that otherwise wouldn’t be possible to create.
In order to enjoy playing with other people at any occasion and to benefit most from it, there are some things we can do and pay attention to, in order to make it smoother, more musical and enjoyable for ourselves and everyone else.
the most important thing whether you play music on your own or with other people. Music is a language and you communicate with other musicians by listening to them. So many times great sessions are ruined by a musician focusing on his own instrument and not listening to what’s going on in the band. Remember, everyone in the band is there for the music and not for their own individual’s sake. So, if you feel there should be more dynamics involved, or you should play quieter, louder, or maybe even stop playing at all at some point, always be aware of what’s going on in the song. If you are not sure what you need to do, keep your eyes open as well as ears. By watching other band members, you’ll be safe and aware when to change gears during a song.
2. Respecting the soloist
Let’s say you play in a rhythm section (drums, bass, guitar, piano…) and someone is soloing. Don’t ever force them into your own rhythmic/harmonic/dynamic variations - listen to them instead and just follow what they do - it’s their role to lead you and not vice versa.
3. Respecting the style
If you happen to play a song in a blues/jazz style, don’t try to play your heavy metal licks or double kick rolls over the song. It just doesn’t fit there. If you are not familiar with the style, just be as simplistic as possible and it will all be ok!
4. Don't overplay
Less is more, most of the time. Especially if you are a drummer. Nobody cares about drum fills every 2 bars, or every 4 bars, or sometimes even 32 bars. Same for guitarists, if there is a space for your solo in the song, that’s fantastic. Otherwise, the less, the better. Again, it’s all based on listening, being familiar with the style and the song.
5. Don't be afraid or ashamed if you are a beginner
Nobody will judge you, we are all here to learn and communicate through music. As already said above, even if you know only one rhythm or a couple of notes on the bass guitar, good musicians will know how to make the best use of your skills.
6. Don't be crushed by your own mistakes
If you make a mistake, make a mental note and just continue playing, but remember it and work on it later. Again nobody will judge you. The worst thing you can do is stop because you made a mistake. It’s not a big deal, it’s human!
There is always something to learn at any band session because it’s not just music, it’s the exchange of people’s energies when we play together. Even one song can sound different every time. That’s why we are keeping the band music alive at Planet Drum. We can’t wait to go back to our regular sessions hopefully once the lockdown is over. In the meantime, keep practicing your instruments!
Planet drum guitar teacher, Vladimir
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.