more excerpts from my interview with Ilya Stemkovsky of Modern Drummer magazine

more excerpts from my interview with Ilya Stemkovsky of Modern Drummer magazine


6) How has your practice changed over the years? YouTube is filled with young blazers who are impressive to watch, but they don’t have the Shakira gig.


When I was younger, I spent a lot of time “getting my sh*t together”.  I needed to learn countless styles of music: rock, metal, be bop, fusion, classical, afro-cuban, brazilian, odd-meters, etc.  And I had to get my time together.  And my tones.  Fast and slow tempos.  Dynamics (louds & softs).  There was a mountain of stuff to learn just to begin working.  I’d sometimes practice 13 hours a day.  And it was great!

But nowadays, I hardly have the luxury to shed for that amount of time.  So I have to be surgical about my practice time.  A tactical assault.  I get specific about what I need to work on, and what I’d like to achieve each day.  Often, I am learning the music for my next upcoming gig or session.  Or sometimes, I just spend hours getting into the vibe of the music that I am about to play that week.  Maybe it’s hard rock.  Or maybe it’s acoustic folky stuff.  I try to calibrate my body to the music that I will be playing.  Also, I love practicing the fundamentals.  I work on my time, my subdivisions, my swing (shuffle).  And all that being said, I am still a student of the drums, and I love the chopsy stuff too.  So I am still finding ways to better my technique, biomechanics, double-kick drumming, soloing, hand/foot combos, and on and on.

Due to the encouragement of a few of my drum students, I have starting compiling a curriculum of practice exercises that have personally helped me out over the years.  Most of this material actually deals with the concept of “improving your pocket” and simply moving your limbs in time.  But there are other wacky subdivision things in there too.  I am currently working on the best way to release this.  I’ll be in touch.

7) Where’s the future of the business? Sure, Shakira isn’t selling the records she once did, and streaming is another can of worms in terms of revenue. But the live business seems to be as busy as ever. She and you are relatively young, but is there life after the road?

Well, I have witnessed the business of music change over the past couple of decades.  YouTube, file sharing, and streaming services have altered the way people consume music.  And the masses are just plain different than they were in the 80’s or 90’s.  We all spend our money differently, and we distract ourselves differently.  The monetization of this new wild wild west of music consumption has thrown everybody for a loop.  I am quite certain that even Modern Drummer Magazine has to think about these concerns from time to time. 

For the most part, my career is divided into live drumming, studio music, and teaching.  Maybe it’s 50% live, 40% studio, 10% teaching.  Up until this point, this business model has worked for me.  But who knows what the future will bring.  I’ll probably have to make a few adjustments over time.  Check in with me in a couple of years!

  • Brendan Buckley –

Endorsement Companies:

DW Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Remo Drumheads, Vic Firth Sticks, LP Percussion, Roland Electronics, Reflexx Drum Pads, Canopus Snare Wires, Big Fat Snare Drum, Low Boy Beaters, JH Audio, SKB Cases, Drum Dots

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