altSteve Smith Offers Reader Advise

Masters Of Percussion Tour With Zakir Hussain To Begin March 15

Drummer Steve Smith (Vital Information, Journey) took the time to answer one lucky Drumhead reader, Chas from Las Vegas, NV, a bit of advise about getting out of a drumming rut. 

Dear Steve,
Thank you for a lifetime of inspiration. I saw you with Journey in 1983 and was inspired to pick up a pair of sticks after that concert, and I've been playing since. For the last six months I've been in a rut playing-wise and I can't seem to shake it. I'm just not feeling it lately and this is really scaring me. Do you have any suggestions for getting up and out of this terrifying rut.

Chas, Las Vegas, NV


I usually don't have time to get into a rut playing-wise. I'm too busy learning new music for a tour, examining my hand and foot technique to see where I can make improvements, or refining some new ideas that come to me either on the bandstand or while practicing.

My advise is to make sure your playing calendar has upcoming gigs for you to prepare for and "put in the time" to be as prepared as you can possibly be to do an amazing job. Don't get complacent about your gigs, you can always refine your playing and I find that inspiring.

Take some private lessons from a good local teacher, go to a drum camp like Drum Fantasy Camp or the camp I'm doing this summer with Zakir Hussain if you are interested in learning about Indian Rhythms. Another idea is to download the app Drum Guru for your phone or tablet and buy some lessons. There a many excellent tutorials on Drum Guru and the lessons are inexpensive.

When you have some new ideas to work on: "put in the time." Set up a daily practice schedule and stick to it. Don't just jam on the kit, work on specific concepts and techniques. Buy a small video camera like a ZOOM Q3 and film/record yourself. That is one of the best ways to give yourself the feedback you need to see what is working and what needs work. In the end, I feel that it comes back to one of my favorite phrases: "put in the time," do that and you'll get results!

All the best,  Steve Smith

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Steve Smith Appears With Zakir Hussain and Masters of Percussion

altZakir Hussain is, quite simply, one of the most remarkable musicians on the planet.  The preeminent classical tabla virtuoso of our time, he delivers brilliant performances that have established him as a national treasure in his native India and one of the world’s most esteemed and influential musicians, renowned for his genre-defying collaborations with people like John McLaughlin (Shakti), Mickey Hart (Planet Drum), and Charles Lloyd (Sangam).

One of his regular collaborations is Masters of Percussion, an outgrowth of his early tours with his father, the legendary Ustad Allarakha.  Since 1996, he has taken the cream of India’s percussionists (along with one or two melody players) around the U.S. and world.   Joining the 2014 U.S. tour will be Selvaganesh Vinayakram (Kanjira and Ghatam), Steve Smith (Western Drums), Niladri Kumar (Sitar), Dilshad Khan, (Sarangi), Deepak Bhatt (Dhol), Vijay Chavan (Dholki).  In four cities (Houston, Berkeley, Durham, and New York) they will be joined by the distinguished Kathak dancer Antonia Minnecola.  New York will also see the great vocalist Padmashri Hariharan. 

It should be noted that Steve Smith is the first non-Indian drummer to be invited to join the Masters – quite a distinction! Steve has recently voted into Modern Drummer Magazine’s list of “The 50 Greatest Drummers of All Time.”

Indian music is one of the jewels of the world’s cultural heritage, and there is nothing like a Masters of Percussion tour to bring that point home. 

3/15          Charleston Music Hall, Charleston, S.C. 

3/16          McCarter’s Theater, Princeton, NJ 

3/18          Jones Hall, Houston, TX 

3/20          The Moore Theatre, Seattle, WA 

3/21          Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, OR 

3/22          Harris Center for the Arts/Three Stages, Folsom, CA 

3/23          Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, CA 

3/27          Duke Performing Arts Center, Durham, NC 

3/28          Barshinger Center for Musical Arts, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA 

3/29          The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York City 

3/31          Center for the Arts, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, VA 

4/2            UGA P.A.C., University of Georgia, Athens, GA

4/4            Chicago Symphony Center, Chicago, IL 

4/5            Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, OR 

4/6            Symphony Hall, Boston, MA 

4/9            Williams Center, Lafayette College, Easton, PA 

4/11          Weis Center, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA  

4/13           Kennedy Center, Washington, DC 

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