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Tommy Igoe: Getting Started on Drums

This is a double-length DVD that, had I reviewed it just a few years ago, would have prompted the comment that it’s dumbed-down beyond belief. Tommy Igoe begins Getting Started on Drums with how to unpack drums from shipping boxes and assemble one’s very first drum set. But now, rather than scorn, it conjures the memory of the sorts of musical prejudices that a young drummer experiences. Any guitarist, bassist or keyboardist gets to try every instrument in a store before making a purchase, but a drummer has to buy a set of drums by looking at them stacked up on shelves at least six feet high-or worse yet, ordering them from pictures in a catalog. This is indeed exactly how young drummers (and school band directors) procure their instruments, so Igoe’s attempt at being one’s “personal guide through this maze” of assembling a “billion different parts” may be just what the doctor ordered.

After years of seeing him perform school clinics and workshops, I now know that Igoe’s commonly posited question-“How do we tell the front side [of the bass drum] from the back?”-and his answer-the logo should “be toward your throbbing mass of fans” with the spurs facing out away from you, on the audience side to prevent the dreaded “bass drum creep”-is hardly gratuitous or condescending. So what if he later reduces the 60-year history of the hi-hat to 20 seconds? Igoe’s insistence that there should be two felts and plastic sleeves on each cymbal stand to prevent the effects of metal-to-metal contact is more serious information that hundreds of students (and dozens of band directors) need to realize.

The second part of the DVD covers the basics of playing, but it’s exceptionally well organized for a beginner. Igoe employs the services of three young drummers, utilizing three grooves (with variations and even fills), first by themselves and later to actually play tunes based on the grooves. The first beat is a serviceable rock’n’roll sequence eventually used on “Home Cookin’.” The second is slightly funkier, and is applied to “Sneaky Weasels.” A third, more complex rhythm is ultimately inserted into “Anyone Got the Half-time?”

If you’re looking to get started on drums, from the ground up, this is a great place to begin.

Originally Published