Hello, there! I’m sitting outside the Bloomington Bagel Company in downtown on what is undoubtedly the most beautiful day I’ve lived here in Bloomington. The sun is shining, no clouds, and my handy Swackett weather app says it’s about 80 degrees right now! Campus is buzzing with energy as Little 5 week begins.

The last guest artist I had been taking lessons with in Steve’s absence was quite a treat. Zoro came to show us the path of R&B, Soul, and Funk! Until working with Zoro, I had never explored the technical demands of “popular music” drumming, only the techniques and independence that is required of Jazz music. His approach was a practical one; he told me that all the things I would be working on were things that he had to think of on the spot in studio situations. Earlier in his career, he had to play on drumset exactly what producers or artists programmed electronically. This proved to be quite difficult! We worked on open hi-hat/left foot independence exercises that really threw me for a loop! He showed me some real music examples of these exercises and grooves, and a lot of them applied directly to the music of Earth, Wind, and Fire. EWF is hugely an ensemble-oriented music, similar to big band Jazz. The role of a drummer for this music is limited, and the options of how to play hits with the band becomes very limited as well. A viable and musical option is to play the tight, super short notes with a barking hi-hat. Developing the control needed to play this music accurately will take lots of listening, analysis, and patience! Time to hit the woodshed!