Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Shh!!! The best way to practice drums quietly

For people who play percussion, drums often can't be loud enough to satisfy their musical tastes, but for household members and neighbors, drum practice is often *not* music to their ears. So whether you play rock, funk, jazz, or anything in between, learning how to practice your drum playing quietly is essential.

At North Main Music, we've found that the best way to practice drums quietly is by using Silentstroke drumheads. Silentstroke drumheads are low volume drumheads designed for quiet practice applications where standard drum set volumes are an issue. Constructed of 1-ply mesh material, Silentstroke drumheads provide a soft spring-like feel at very low decibel levels and are available in 6" to 24" sizes. 



To accompany your quiet drumheads, we recommend Zildjian L80 Low Volume cymbals, which are real cymbals that play at reduced volume - up to 80% less volume, thanks to a unique perforated pattern. That means you can play them exactly how you play any other cymbal, using any stick, mallet, or technique. The full decay is there, and they respond to your every playing nuance. They're the obvious solution for quiet rehearsals and late-night practice at home. 




As our founder and director, Mike McAdam says, "They are the greatest things of all time. One of the best things about these drumheads and cymbols is that they feel like real drums and cymbals--whereas rubber pads or electronic kits do not. "


While you're anxiously awaiting the delivery of your new Silentstroke drumheads, here are a few things you can do to keep the volume down while you practice: 

  • Use Brushes: If you have some drum brushes, these drumming tools permit you to play drums quietly without sacrificing your stick height to get soft sounds. Additionally, brushes make it possible for you to play with the same attack on drums as if you’re using sticks.
  • Develop New Skills: Learning how to play the drums with a lighter touch and lower stick high is the best way to lower the volume of your practice sessions, but it’s the most difficult one. Focus on your technique, and work with a private drum teacher to master the skill.
  • Get Thinner, Lighter and Smaller Sticks: You can practice drums more quietly by simply getting thinner, lighter and smaller sticks. That way, you’re able to practice at low-velocity swings. However, this solution is appropriate only if you live in a home surrounded by landscape, which can stop the sound transmission from your living space to adjacent houses. If you’re living in an apartment, you may want to try another solution.
By applying theses tips, you can practice drums more quietly and allow your neighbors and household members to fully enjoy the time they spend indoors.

Don't let fear of disturbing others keep you from your drum practice. Get some Silentstroke drum heads and Low Volume cymbols and get jammin'!

Got a funny story about a noisy drum practice, or a tip to share on how to practice more quietly? Share it in the comments below!


Portions of this article adapted from takelessons.com


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Top Father's Day Songs

The best Father's Day songs were written in good times and in bad. At heart, they're about the paternal figures who provided guidance (or did not) as we attempted to navigate through childhood and the “real world”. Here’s our list of the best Father's Day Songs that, for better or for worse, were all inspired by fatherhood.



“Glory” by Jay-Z

In 2012 American Gangster Jay-Z officially became American Dad. Jay-Z released this heartfelt track two days after the birth of his and Beyonce’s first daughter, Blue Ivy. Lyrically, it is as open, vulnerable and loving a tribute to a new baby as you could hope to hear, with Carter reflecting on the pain of “false alarms and false starts,” and then finding salvation of sorts: “The most amazing feeling I feel / Words can't describe what I'm feeling for real / Maybe I paint the sky blue / My greatest creation was you. You. Glory." From street hustler to urban hero to hit-maker—to daddy. Glory, indeed. 






"My Father’s House" by Bruce Springsteen

A distant relationship with his father inspired Bruce Springsteen to write this song, which is on the Nebraska album from 1982. His father was not excited about his son’s musical inclinations and spoke to Springsteen about “that damn guitar” when he was growing up, a phrase that he later immortalized as an onstage story in the middle of “Growin’ Up.” 






“Daughter” by Peter Blegvad 

“Daughter” first appeared on Peter Blegvad’s 1996 album, Just Woke Up, however it was made a popular father-daughter dance song when Loudon Wainwright III’s cover of the song was featured at the end of the 2007 movie, Knocked Up. Blegvad’s story of how he came to compose the song is a refreshingly honest and philosophical commentary on what it means to be a parent:
As everyone knows, a parent's love for their child is partly narcissism. My daughter, Kaye, was 3 when I wrote the song - long enough for me to have recognized this fact in myself and seen it manifested in the behavior of other parents. It's natural, maybe even a crucial element, but the narcissism has to be watched, obviously. (Think of Dr. Evil and Mini-Me in Austin Powers). The comedy of all that amused me, and I didn't think anyone had treated that in a song before. I was vaguely thinking of Stevie Wonder singing "Isn't She Lovely" and Frank Sinatra singing "Nancy (With the Laughing Face)" and I wanted to write something that would express that kind of love honestly but also hint at the complexities which come with that role and responsibility.

The chord sequence is uplifting, but "Daughter" is maybe more sardonic than some people realize. It's about unconditional commitment to the task of raising a child, but it's also about the vanity and narcissism of the parent. 




"Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 

Graham Nash wrote this tune, which features a pedal-steel guitar contribution from Jerry Garcia, about the troubled relationship he had with his own father--putting an interesting spin on its lyrics. According to Nash, the song started out as a folk song when he was in the Hollies, but Stephen Stills put a more country feel into it, and it wound up on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Deja Vu album from 1970. 






"Color Him Father" by the Winstons

This million-selling song tells the story of a stepfather who became a real father to his wife's children. It was the only chart hit (number 2 for 5 weeks on the R&B singles chart in 1969) for the Winstons, a Washington, D.C., based band that featured Richard Lewis Spencer's unique vocals. Spencer also won a Grammy Award in the category of Best Rhythm and Blues Song for writing this song.






“Just the Two of Us” by Will Smith 

Will Smith remade this classic R&B tune into a tribute to his relationship with his son, which had made softies out of fathers everywhere. It was released as the fourth single from his debut solo studio album, Big Willie Style, in 1997. 




“Daddy-O” by Frances England 

Frances England is a children’s musician from San Francisco, CA. Her style of music is generally described as Indie and/or Folk. In 2006, England wrote her first album of songs entitled Fascinating Creatures as a fundraiser for her son’s preschool and recorded it with the help of artist Billy Riggs. The album went on to the be the sole recipiet of the 2007 Oppenheim Platinum Award for Music and contained this song, “Daddy-O,” which is a sweet, melodious song sung from the perspective of a small child who describes the very special bond between father and child. 






What songs remind you of your dad?
There are so many other songs that could have made our list of the Top Father’s Day Songs. What song reminds you of your relationship with your dad? Let us know in the comments below!



This article was adapted from/inspired by posts on takeslesson.com, billboard.com, and rollingstone.com.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Happy Mother’s Day! Shout out to 5 Amazing Rock & Roll Moms

Being a mom is a hard job--much harder than being rock star, yet somehow these amazing women kick butt at doing both! In honor of moms everywhere, North Main Music is highlighting some incredible women in music who deserve some pampering this Mother’s Day…

Where did you get your love of music? Is your mom musical? Maybe she played an instrument, sang in church or in a band, or saves up her hard-earned money so that you can take music lessons?

However you found your way into music, your mother was probably there to love and support you on your musical journey. This Mother’s Day, we can’t help but think about rockin’ women in music who are also moms.




1. Ann Wilson
Best known as the lead singer and songwriter for the hard rock band Heart, Wilson was named one of the “Top Heavy Metal Vocalists of All Time” by Hit Parader magazine in 2006. Known for some killer songs like “Crazy on You” and “Barracuda,” Wilson is also the adoptive mother of two kids. With her dramatic soprano vocal range and powerful lyrics, Wilson is a maternal force to be reckoned with.




2. Alicia Keys

Singer-songwriter, pianist, music producer, philanthropist, actor, and mother are just a few of Keys’ achievements thus far--and she’s only 37 years old! Her beautiful voice and unforgettable songs, like smash hits, “Fallin” and “Girl on Fire,” helped her soar to the top of the charts, but one of her most groundbreaking and empowering performances was at the 2010 BET Prince Tribute, during which she performed barefoot and several months pregnant and climbed on top of a piano! The expression on Prince’s face as he watched her climb on the piano says it all--what a powerful mama!





3. Kim Gordon

Gordon obviously did things that moms do—changed dirty diapers, sang lullabies, and celebrated little achievements with her daughter, Coco. But she did something else that the average mom doesn’t do: she helped define a generation and a genre by creating Sonic Youth with Thurston Moore, during a time in music history when no-wave music was all the rage. Gordon was the bassist, guitarist, and vocalist for the New York-based band, all while being a mom, too--talk about multi-tasking! In addition to her prolific musical output she also found time to write a book. In Girl In A Band, she elaborates on her life and what it’s like to be a mom who rocks. Hats off to Kim Gordon on this Mother’s Day!





4. Beyoncé

Beyoncé’s kids have been in the spotlight from the time they were born. The world waited for her children to arrive like a kid waits for gifts on Christmas. In addition to selling over 100 million records worldwide and winning 22 Grammy’s, Beyoncé still finds time volunteer with charitable causes. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland founded the Survivor Foundation to provide transitional housing for victims in the Houston area. By most accounts, Beyoncé appears to be a kind and humble person. And those are qualities that make any mom rock.






5. Chrissie Hynde

Chrissie Hynde is best known as a founding member of the Pretenders. With her take- no-prisoners lyrical and musical approach, and her Zen-Beatnik-Punk-Biker style, Hynde has influenced the musical landscape, as well as female fashion and the feminist attitude, for decades. However, few people (outside of her hardcore fans), may know that Hynde follows Vaishnavism, a branch of Hinduism; is a strict vegetarian; and the mother of 2 daughters. Hynde brings the concept of being a “cool mom” to a whole new level.




How does your mom rock? Tell us about her in the comments below!



This article was inspired by/adapted from the following article on takelessons.com.