Thoughts On Practice

This is an email I wrote to a friend while brainstorming ideas about creating a practice routine. I may come back and edit it into a better blog article at some point but I thought it was worth posting in this form in case anybody ever still comes here looking for new articles. ----- I think the shortest route to improving is to practice and make sure you do it every day.  Of course, that requires discipline which might not come easily.  So then you start asking questions about will power Read more [...]

Practice and Play

My most recent blogs have focussed on the mental side of drumming - what's going on in our heads when we play.  My solos from the road videos have had comments from people who like to see what I was thinking, and others from people who think I shouldn't be thinking at all. I received an email recommending the book Zen Golf (see it on,  I don't play golf, but I was assured that I'd find much value in it.  I read it on a week's break from touring skiing in the Alps. Read more [...]

Being In The Moment

A comment on one of my solo analysis videos said when on stage I should "just be in the moment". That sounds great, but what exactly does it mean? Does it mean I have an empty mind with no thoughts? If so, what's telling my hands where to go and what to hit? Does it mean letting my hands go and hit things without feeling like I'm choosing where they go?  If so, should my empty mind be listening and deciding what it likes and what it doesn't and making corrections? My feeling is that Read more [...]

What Is Improvisation?

On the current Wishbone Ash tour I have to play a drum solo every night.  On the last tour I was doing the same and I was rarely happy with what "came out".  I didn't have the chance to practise on a kit for the whole tour so any ideas I had only got tested during the actual solo. Over christmas I gave the solo a bit more thought and on this tour I'm recording it every night and adding annotations to the videos so you can see what's going through my head while I'm playing it. I've received Read more [...]

Real Magic And The Illusion Of Genius

Before you continue reading I want you to think of a card.  Any card.  Remember your choice and read on... Have you ever seen David Blaine on TV.  He asks someone to just "think" of a card then proceeds to name it out loud to the astonishment of everyone watching.  That must be real magic! Assuming the person isn't a stooge, and they are truly amazed at the fact that Mr Blaine has just read their mind, what's one way that this could have been done that doesn't require any special skills Read more [...]

The Illusion Of Knowledge

Did you know you have a blind spot?  When you look at the world there's a small part of the image that your brain is inventing to fill in the gap in your retina created by the connection of your optic nerve. Check out the example on this page to see part of the world disappear... You Don't See The Holes Take any subject you know about.  There will be certain things that you know, certain things you don't know, and a huge amount of stuff you don't know you don't know.  The problem is the Read more [...]

How To Remove The Stress From Learning

I recently decided to tackle learning to cook.  For years I've said I'm not bothered about cooking, or that I'm no good at it (see previous article).  The biggest challenge I have is motivating myself to stick at it. I've begun to analyse what it is that stops me from tackling this.  I've come to a few conclusions about how to make this process enjoyable. 1. Re-frame the topic If I think of cooking as something that stresses me out (which it usually does) then it's hard to convince myself Read more [...]

You Can Do It

I watched a great Sean Penn movie the other day.  There's a line in it where he says to his wife "I think I'm depressed".  Her reply is "maybe you're confusing depression with boredom." It got me thinking about learning.  A lot of people say "I'm no good at drumming" when what they really mean is "I don't enjoy drumming".  Or at least "when I've tried to drum I haven't enjoyed it". Why do I say that?  Because I believe that anybody, with the right instruction, could learn to play the drums Read more [...]

How to get better at what you do

I think I'm right in saying that most drummers would like to be better than they are, and we'd all like to know how to improve. It seems to me that there are two main factors to improving. * information * implementation of that information Information When my first drum teacher began playing the drums he could learn from other teachers, by watching drummers play in bands, by listening to records, or from books. Access to all of these things was limited by geography, finances and availability. By Read more [...]

How We Learn, and What You Don’t Know You Don’t Know

"Call supposed to kill help the URL something requires the same skills are supposed to be good at which means if you absolutely hopeless INMAC exactly the schools that you need to know that you're absolutely home" - John Cleese (transcribed by Siri) What the f&*k am I talking about? There's a model of learning which involves four stages of competence.  It's supposed to represent the stages we go through when learning a new skill. The first Read more [...]