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Even Judges need to rant

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  • Even Judges need to rant

    I have been one of the judges at the local level for the Guitar Center Drumoff this year and I am really surprized by a few things. We have had 17 contestants, almost all of them did basically the same stuff at full volume and as fast as they could. Some had better technique than others, but most of them were about the same. We are judging on Originality(and there is almost none), Skills (it is very hard to measure skill level if all a person only plays one beat), Style (again a lot of one beat wonders), Stage presence (can you look more depressed than the last guy) and Overall performance (did playing that same beat with your sticks really make the judges take notice?)

    First let me say that compared to those I saw (most of them I judged in the 5-8 range out of 10 for each department), I would give myself a 3 for skills, but I would do great on all the rest. At my age, with all my excuses, I just don't do the fast double stroke rolls or the fancy divided paradiddles anymore and hard double bass makes my feet hurt. How ever drumming is much more than fast and loud. Where are the dynamics? What happened to smiling once in a while and appearing to enjoy what you are doing? How about eye contact. If you know the drumoff is coming around every year, why not come up with an arragement, you know, a little solo with a begining, middle and ending. Something with a theme that shows us what you can do. An average drummer can sit down and play a beat with a few roll arounds and some cute double bass stuff. A contest winner has to put time effort and thought into selecting a group of beats and fills that will make the instrument talk to the judges in a style that will be remembered and a stage presence that will draw the audience into the performance.

    There, I feel better now....

  • #2
    As a participant, I share your same observations. The guys who sit down and blast away for three minutes had nothing but speed. The guys who had some chops and put some thought into it won. Justice was served. At least in my neck of the woods.

    One guy played so fast, he went through his entire bag of tricks in 1 minute and 30 seconds. You get no points for finishing early!
    sigpic

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    • #3
      The store I was at (spectating) last night only had 1 judge. Another store last week had 3. The rules clearly state there will be 4. I cannot imagine it is that hard to find judges to leave only 1. If they would have asked me, I would have sat in as a judge.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by drumslinger50 View Post
        I have been one of the judges at the local level for the Guitar Center Drumoff this year and I am really surprized by a few things. We have had 17 contestants, almost all of them did basically the same stuff at full volume and as fast as they could. Some had better technique than others, but most of them were about the same. We are judging on Originality(and there is almost none), Skills (it is very hard to measure skill level if all a person only plays one beat), Style (again a lot of one beat wonders), Stage presence (can you look more depressed than the last guy) and Overall performance (did playing that same beat with your sticks really make the judges take notice?)

        First let me say that compared to those I saw (most of them I judged in the 5-8 range out of 10 for each department), I would give myself a 3 for skills, but I would do great on all the rest. At my age, with all my excuses, I just don't do the fast double stroke rolls or the fancy divided paradiddles anymore and hard double bass makes my feet hurt. How ever drumming is much more than fast and loud. Where are the dynamics? What happened to smiling once in a while and appearing to enjoy what you are doing? How about eye contact. If you know the drumoff is coming around every year, why not come up with an arragement, you know, a little solo with a begining, middle and ending. Something with a theme that shows us what you can do. An average drummer can sit down and play a beat with a few roll arounds and some cute double bass stuff. A contest winner has to put time effort and thought into selecting a group of beats and fills that will make the instrument talk to the judges in a style that will be remembered and a stage presence that will draw the audience into the performance.

        There, I feel better now....
        I texted my solo in

        Do they even teach 'beginning, middle, and ending' anymore?

        I vowed never to Boom Boom Tap tapboomtapboom Tap again!!!!!!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by drumslinger50 View Post
          We have had 17 contestants, almost all of them did basically the same stuff at full volume and as fast as they could. Some had better technique than others, but most of them were about the same.
          I suppose that is why there are winners and not-winners. Which is what you were there to judge. I'd say if justice was served, then that is the best you can hope for.

          On a related note, I wonder how many really excellent drummers, the kind of which you speak, full of great dynamics, technique, meter and creativity, would actually participate in a drum competition to begin with? Just wondering, because I think the very word ... competition ... elicits thoughts of speed and dexterity in the minds of most, though we know that is a shallow view of what a great musician or drummer is. I've been having a really good run of playing with excellent drummers, and I don't think any of them would enter a competition. (not me though .. if I felt I had the chops and the stakes are high enough, I have no problem with that!)

          | Argos | Your Cloud | Lost In Germany | Life Wasted | Identity Crisis
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          • #6
            Speaking of soloing....take a look at this video. I ran across it a few weeks ago. It's about 10 minutes long but you've just GOT to stick it out till the end. It's a perfect example of how soloing can/should have a lot more than just fast and loud.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHDjGtj18X0
            DIY converted Ludwig Epic acoustic to E-Kit
            Surge, Yamaha, Roland, and AtoE cymbals

            Roland TD-10 module
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Joe_K View Post
              On a related note, I wonder how many really excellent drummers, the kind of which you speak, full of great dynamics, technique, meter and creativity, would actually participate in a drum competition to begin with? Just wondering, because I think the very word ... competition ... elicits thoughts of speed and dexterity in the minds of most, though we know that is a shallow view of what a great musician or drummer is. I've been having a really good run of playing with excellent drummers, and I don't think any of them would enter a competition. (not me though .. if I felt I had the chops and the stakes are high enough, I have no problem with that!)
              This response parallels a discussion that seems to come up frequently on a couple of other drum forums I follow, and is a pet peeve of mine as well as others. (The above answer is dead on IMHO ) Usually its a new arrival asking "who is the best drummer?". The original poster is more often than not convinced his choice is the only choice. That usually sets of a firestorm of debates on who is best with content like "my drummer outdrums your drummer", "your drummer is crap".

              My usual comeback if I lower myself to answering is "who is better , Mozart or Beethoven, BB King or Les Paul, etc.?" The gist is to me the obvious response ... music and performing are ART, not a competition. In a competition you can measure yards gained, free throws made, kills, aces, ERA, etc. How do you 'measure' drumming (or bass playing, or singing, or painting, sculpting, etc). Its all subjective. Paraphrasing Count Basie ... "If it sounds good, it is good". Simple as that. <stepping off my soap box now>

              Lyle
              and the jukebox plays..... !! (the Nails - Home of the Brave )

              E-set : TDW-20, 2 up & 2 down, VH-12, 6 cymbals (5 CY14, 1 CY15), 2 Pintech Dingbats all on a Gibraltar rack, thru a Simmons DA200S
              VExpressions Gigging Kits & Top 50 Drummers #1

              A-set : 1968 Ludwig Hollywood in Burgundy Sparkle

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              • #8
                One young man, who didn't make the cut, ask me what to work on that would help him win. I told him dynamics and variety would be a good place to start. He said-and I quote, "Oh, I don't need that stuff. I'm a "death metal" drummer. Too, bad, the kid really has talent and great hands. There were 3 of us judges, all over 50 and all very seasoned professionals. A jazz drummer, a rock and blues drummer and me I play country, rock and pop. We all agreed on every drummer we judged (no we did not talk about them until after the judging).

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                • #9
                  I would never enter one of these competitions knowing my ego would be smashed...

                  When I think of drum competitions I think of DCI. I know its not trap drumming and its more ensemble than individuals but if you've never seen a ten man snare line playing incredibly difficult rudiments in perfect unison and throwing in a bunch of flair moves your missing out. These kids, they are all 21 and under, perform for judges on the field while moving at pace that would put most of us in the hospital. If you've never seen it you got to check it out.... www.dci.org

                  nativepdx
                  TD-20, serious Sabian HHX issues, Zildjian A20526, VEX expressions master picks #1, QSC HPR122I

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by nativepdx View Post
                    I would never enter one of these competitions knowing my ego would be smashed...

                    When I think of drum competitions I think of DCI. I know its not trap drumming and its more ensemble than individuals but if you've never seen a ten man snare line playing incredibly difficult rudiments in perfect unison and throwing in a bunch of flair moves your missing out. These kids, they are all 21 and under, perform for judges on the field while moving at pace that would put most of us in the hospital. If you've never seen it you got to check it out.... www.dci.org

                    nativepdx
                    Agreed, hanging out with the DCI crowd can be a very humbling experience.

                    There are lots of drum corps veterans and fans here. Glad to find another one in you.
                    >>>See my E-kit here<<<

                    >>>See my A-kit here<<<

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                    • #11
                      Update

                      We found the guy we were looking for! The local contest is over and the local winner had it all. Originality, musicality, super cops, showmanship (actually did a stick twirl I had not seen before), dynamics and six different types of beats plus tom solos in a 3 minute time frame. Restored my faith in the youth of today. I think he is 18 or 19. It was a real treat to act as a judge this year. It is not as easy as it looks.

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