Using Flams Around the Drum Kit

In this lesson I’m going to show you a drum fill that will open up your creativity with using flams around the kit!!

I hope you enjoyed the video and gained some useful insight into different ways to use flams around the drum set!! Thanks for checking it out!!

Make sure you check back next week for another video lesson!!

In the meantime, please sign up for my free program “30 Days to Better Doubles.”

Also check out my website and my YouTube channel for more lessons!!

Stephen Taylor – MU Educator

Top 3 Guitar Effects Pedals

In this video I’ll discuss what I feel are the top 3 effects pedals you need to rock out on the electric!!

Thanks for watching this week’s lesson, I hope you found this pedal discussion helpful!! Also let me know what your 3 favorite effects pedals are!!

And make sure you stop by next week for another lesson!! In the meantime, please check out my website and social media pages!!

-Erich Andreas – MU Educator
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Learning Music Teaches Us Life Lessons

What comes to mind when you hear the word harp?

Let me guess – angels, heaven, relaxation, spa music, meditation – am I close?

That’s what a lot of people think, including one of my student’s therapists. He was so stuck in that paradigm he couldn’t understand when she told him she gets angry and pissed when she plays the harp. “You’re supposed to be calm and relaxed when you play” he told her. “Not with my teacher” she tried to explain.

There are as many reasons to play music as there are people who play.

For Karen, something deep inside her knew that playing harp would ease her migraines, lessen her emotional and physical pain, and help her move through the fears that kept her trapped. The fact that she was a grandmother who had never played music didn’t stop her from reaching out and calling to set up her first lesson. From day one, we both knew her harp lessons were really life lessons.

We talk weekly about Vibrational Awareness, how everything is energy, and I share techniques and insights from The ORIGIN Methodology of Self-Discovery. One of our first conversations sounded like this:

“Imagine you’re a harp and all of your thoughts, experiences, feelings, ideas, fears, concerns, joys, everything is represented as a different string. I know, that’s one big harp!

Now imagine that something really painful or scary happened to you, or maybe it was something really exciting and overwhelming. Picture that experience as one of the strings on the harp. Because it’s something that either scared or overwhelmed you, you don’t like to play that string any more. In fact, you’d like to take that string off the harp and forget about it forever. However, that’s not how this harp works and you have to keep the string.

You go along for days, months, maybe even years not playing that string, trying to avoid remembering that really scary or overwhelming thing that happened. Then one day you accidentally pluck that string and all of those memories from that time come flooding back into your mind. What do you do with all of those feelings, emotions, pictures and memories in your head?”

The concept we’re metaphorically talking about is sympathetic resonance – when two objects of the same frequency come into close proximity to each other, they create a resonant system or begin to sing together. In other words, the energy activates and begins to move.

This is exactly what happens for Karen. When she plays harp, the vibrations of the strings begin to sympathetically resonate emotional energy within her. It happens most often with basic exercises because once her fingers have the pattern, her mind relaxes a bit and the energy starts to move. It’s magical to witness how her fingers are intimately connected to her brain patterns. Let me share an example of how this manifests.

Last week she was working on a 4 finger pattern moving from 4, 3, 2, then the thumb (with harp, we only use 4 fingers because the pinky finger is too short to reach the strings). This pattern called for the replacement of the 3rd finger prior to playing the thumb. Yes, the middle finger needed to extend. She tried and tried to isolate the 3rd finger but the 4th finger kept extending.

I immediately saw what was happening, stopped her, and asked, “OK, Karen, who do you want to say Fu@#k You to?” We laughed because we both knew that was the hook-up. I “flipped her off” to mirror the hand position and literally began yelling, “Fu#@k You!” over and over again. Her face turned red, her hands tried to move into position, and the energy really started to flow – like a volcano. Welcome to Karen’s harp/life lesson!

This honest sacred space we create each week allowed for our passionate duet of “Fu@#k You’s” to fill the house with free abandonment; no judgment, no resentment, no fear of reciprocation, only the energy of repressed emotions freely given the opportunity to express in a safe and loving environment.

Eventually her hands moved into position as she found her voice; fear, anger, resentment, laughter and relief simultaneously moved through this courageous woman. The desire to experience life fully and express her love unconditionally inspires her to travel into her fears with such grace.

We returned to the harp exercise and voila, her fingers moved with confidence, strength, and conviction through each pattern; which was not a surprise because this type of profound connection happens almost weekly.

Music is a magical reflection of life; especially when we’re able to perceive beyond the obvious. It’s a joy, blessing, and honor to walk into unknown waters with my students as they rediscover and remember their wholeness, harmony, compassion and self-love.

-Amy Camie – MU Columnist

*Amy Camie is a spiritual harpist, passionate speaker, gifted recording artist, intuitive composer, inspirational writer and Co-Initiator of The ORIGIN Methodology of Self-Discovery. Her strong classical background allows the music from her soul to flow freely through her fingertips creating highways of sound that awaken memories of wholeness, harmony, compassion, and love.

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Learning the Harmonic Minor Scale

In this lesson we’ll discuss the harmonic minor scale – what exactly it is and how you can use it!!

Click here for the harmonic minor play along backing track.

Thanks so much for checking out my weekly lesson at Musicians Unite!! I hope you found this lesson helpful in learning the harmonic minor scale!! Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments section below!!

Make sure you check back next week for another lesson, and in the meantime head on over to my YouTube channel and subscribe!!

Sean Daniel – MU Educator

3 Things You Need to Know About Chorus Pedals

In this video I’ll review with you the 3 things I think every guitarist should know about chorus and chorus pedals!!

Thanks so much for checking out my weekly video featured at Musicians Unite!! I hope you found this review of the chorus effect and chorus pedals helpful!!

Also please check back next week for another video!!

And in the meantime, please subscribe to my YouTube Channel!!

Phil McKnight – MU Educator

Music IS Passion – Part I

What drives a musician? There are many stereotypical descriptors that come to mind including fame, wealth, notoriety, but at the base of it all is PASSION. Passion is defined as: a strong feeling or emotion; the trait of being intensely emotional; or an irrational but irresistible motive for a belief or action (Webster’s Dictionary, 2017). However, what does this mean to a musician?

As a guitarist with over 30 years’ experience, the passion for me was using music and playing guitar as a form of therapy, but that is a topic for another article. However, to describe PASSION as an actively gigging musician I’m going to take you on a journey, a most recent facet of my journey. Let’s go back a few months…

I awoke late November to a searing pain in my upper left shoulder. The pain eventually went into my left arm and caused total numbness in my wrist and about 80% numbness in my thumb and index finger as well as the back of my hand. All this occurred in just a few days and the pain was about an 8 or 9 out 10. After a few doctor visits and special imaging, it was discovered that two of the disks in my neck were bulging into two nerve clusters in my spinal column. I was extremely concerned about my ability to play, especially with the ferocious pain and numbness. My surgeon started me on PT as it had a 40% chance of resolving the issue, but scheduled a surgery date a little over a month away. He also gave me strong meds, put me on weight and movement restrictions, and said I couldn’t drive.

My world was rocked and not in a good way. I had to rethink how I did everything daily. For example, even though I was on pain meds, my pain level rarely went below a 3 or 4. I had started building guitars and was hoping to turn it into a job. However, that thought ended as not only could I not feel what I was doing, but had no strength in my wrist to be able to file or sand. I tried driving my automatic vehicle, but just backing it into the driveway was very difficult. The one thing I found I could do other than walk, breath, eat, and sleep was play guitar.

My band, Chained To Insanity, an original classic metal band from Rhode Island, had a few gigs lined up and I was very concerned about being able to perform at these shows. My band has 27 songs to pull from for our shows and I practice ALL of them once a week. Set lists I normally practice a few times a week, more often the week of the show. I’m a right- handed guitarist and I thought for sure the numbness in my left arm and hand would have an impact on my playing ability.

The first thing I noticed when playing was that the callouses on my fingers were so large I could barely feel the strings anyway. Feel wasn’t too much of problem, but the pressure when fretting was an issue. As I was playing through our set list I noticed that muscle memory had a huge impact when it came to the fretting issue in that I didn’t have to think when playing most of the songs and the fingers would do what they were supposed to at the appropriate time. Band practice would be the real test.

I arrived at band practice the following week feeling pretty good. I’m always happy to jam with my band family. My wife had become not only my driver, but my roadie, and nurse as well. I could not have done any of this had I not had her support. I refuse to sit when I play as I feel it changes the dynamics of the fretting and pick hands. There I stood with one of my lighter guitars strapped around me waiting for the cymbal count to the first song. The thunder that precedes our opening song envelopes the body and senses.

As we kick into the opening riff, it takes all my energy not to start head banging, more energy than actually playing. My wife, sitting on a piano bench next to me, is playing on her phone, but has one eye on me, making sure I don’t break my movement rules. Our lead guitarist, Dave, is standing nearby. He looks at me with an evil glint in his eye and starts banging head and swinging guitar to the beat, I follow suite. As I start, I look beside me and my wife has MORE of an evil eye; she wins and I go back to standing semi still. Dave shrugs, laughs a little and goes to his normal stance. After two hours of rehearsal, I’m sweating and hurting, but my soul is flying high. Practice went perfectly for me, not missing a note even with my disabilities. Tomorrow night is the show, game on.

Most local musicians know the gig routine: pack up all your gear; get to the venue at least an hour or more before doors; load your gear in; and wait for your time to set up and play; then load out. My wife, Christy, not only does merchandise for the band, but is also our photo and videographer. However, because of my disability, she is also my driver and roadie. I offer to use my combo amp rather than half stack and she asks, “Does that have the sound you want?”. I say, “No, but it will work.” Her reply, “Then we use the half stack.” I LOVE this woman.

As we’re driving to the venue, I take a Percocet to numb the tingling and pain in my arm, as it’ll be a few hours before we hit the stage. We get to the venue, load in, and hang out with the other bands, good friends. We’re playing with a few great local bands at a fun venue and it should be a good night. A crowd starts forming as the first band hits the stage. I take another Percocet, hoping that it kicks in before we start our set. The adrenaline starts pumping as we start setting up our gear on stage. Watching Christy bring my heavy equipment to the stage because I can’t lift any of it is very difficult for me as I hate being idle during set up. However, everything gets set up, sound check is done, and it’s time crank!

Being on stage is one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had since joining this band nearly two years ago, and it never changes. It is one moment a couple times a month I look forward to the most. It doesn’t matter how far away it is, whether I’m sick, or in a terrible state of mind. When I’m on stage and the band hits its groove, I’m transformed into a different entity. I become a channel for the music flowing through my guitar and my bandmates around me.

The crowd starts pumping fists and head banging which feeds me and I push myself even harder; head banging, guitar swinging, the raw emotion of the music written on my face and body. The leash of normality has been taken off and I am free. And just like that, 40 minutes is over. Breathing heavily, I take the sweat soaked bandana off my head and load out with my wife for the next band. I take another Percocet for the pain which I know will be forthcoming. We hang out for the rest of the show, pack up, drive home, and the night is done. I awake the next day very sore, but extremely satisfied. Back to normalcy.

Over the next week or so after the gig, musician friends and non-musician friends are just amazed with my resolve to play no matter what. In my mind, unless my arms are broken or I’m deathly ill, I will play our music. Some might call it insanity, stupidity, or even reckless. This to me is the definition of music as a PASSION.

I’ve even been told I was inspiring by some people. Being called inspiring is humbling, but my actions are core feelings for the music that I play and what I have learned from others. For example, there are musicians I know personally who have extremely difficult physical conditions, one is even confined to a wheelchair, and yet they get up on that stage and let it loose. That’s PASSION.

Thanks for reading and look for Part II coming at you very soon! In the next article, I’ll talk more about my story, especially the gig before surgery; the surgery itself; and post-surgery outcome.

Please let me know what you think of this article in the comments below and feel free to share if you’re so inclined!!

-Scott Duncan – MU Columnist

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Jazz Snare Drum Comping Patterns

In this video lesson I’m going to show you how to play three great sounding left hand jazz comping patterns!!

Thanks for checking out my weekly drum lesson at Musicians Unite!! I hope you enjoyed it and found it helpful in developing your jazz comping!! Please check back next week for another lesson!!

In the meantime, catch up with me on my website and on social media!!

John X – MU Educator

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Warming Up and Practicing – Making the Most of Your Time

Most people that ask about my practice habits have the impression that I practice every day for hours. Truth is that there is a lot of my day where I am practicing but not with my horn in my hand or with my percussion gear. It is more along the lines of getting things that I want to do in my head so that I can call upon it when I do have the time and location to put horn to lips or hands to percussion.

Let’s start with my warming up for a gig. Since I am normally in my car alone on the way to the gig, I use this time to mentally prepare. I start with singing 5-note scales, up and down. Using numbers (instead of solfeggio) I pick a note and sing the first five steps of the major scale. Move up a half-step, and repeat. I continue this until I cover all 12 keys.

Then I move to the minor scales again doing only the first 5 notes up and down. Follow this with the diminished scale, whole-step – half-step, up and down. While doing these exercises, listen for pitch so that you can get your ear tuned the exactness of a whole step vs. a half step.

Next exercise is doing thirds, using numbers again, 1-3-2-4-3-5-4-2-1 in each of the modes, major, minor and diminished. Step up a half-step and again do all 12 keys. All of this generally takes me about 30 minutes but it might be a bit longer at first for you. Now on to practicing.

Practicing for me isn’t always a physical thing. I sometimes pull up a practice book, like the Klose exercises for saxophone, and study the exercises like reading a book. But like when practicing with horn in hand, if I come across a pattern that I find difficult to read visually, I go back, slow down and repeat it until I get back up to speed. I have this and a lot of the real books on my iPad so that I can practice these things wherever I am. Then, when I am at home alone, I can get my horns out and really play the things that I have studied visually and mentally. For me, I find that it makes it easier to play if I already know what the passage is. It’s kind of like memorizing lines for an actor, but for musicians.

So now that you are at your practice time you have a foundation that you have been practicing on the road and away from home. Start with the 5-note scales. Play them at a tempo where you can get thru all 12 keys without making a mistake. I was taught that the 5-note run establishes the mode and is the makeup of all scales. This was one of the things I retained from the Army/Navy School of Music.

From running all this warming up you can now pull out your tuner and check your warmed up pitch. Just so you know, once you get this warm-up under your belt, it will be a quick warm-up and you will be ready for whatever lies ahead in your practice regimen.

If you are looking for material to practice, visit The Petrucci Music Library and search your instrument and click and pick something to practice.

Have a great week, check out some of the other articles on Musicians Unite and think of ways that you can use the information provided. Spread the word, share the link to us and add your comments below!! Thanks for reading!!

If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below or message me on my Facebook page!!

-Frank Valdez – MU Columnist

Gibson Les Paul vs Epiphone Les Paul

In this video I’ll discuss why an Epiphone Les Paul is 25% of the cost of a Gibson Les Paul!!

Here’s the link to my American vs. Mexican Fender Strat video.

Thanks so much for checking out my weekly video featured at Musicians Unite!! I hope you found this review of Epiphones and Gibsons helpful!!

Also please check back next week for another video!!

And in the meantime, please subscribe to my YouTube Channel!!

Phil McKnight – MU Educator

The 004: Their Story

We Are Still One is a story about a group of friends, who are passionate about creating music together and having fun. The documentary gives a never before seen look into how the band started and how they have evolved over the years.

As a band, The 004 has been active for over a decade, covering popular songs and recently performing their own material.

Their latest release is “Song For Me”, which can be seen below.

Injecting 2017 with a dose of much-needed positive attitude, the Dutch pop group charms with their heart warming new song “Song For Me”. Produced by K3Y5HIFT3R (from Holland) and co-written by Brian (from Argentina), the song conveys a message of positivity and self-acceptance.

The 004 have been active for over a decade, perfecting known songs with their own unique interpretations and giving music lovers around the world innovative original musical pieces. Joining original members Kelly, Mike and Janet is new girl Gita, an accomplished dancer and professional singer.

The group will continue their worldwide conquest during 2017, with the release of a career-encompassing documentary and many more exciting things that will be announced very soon!

Producer: K3Y5HIFT3R (Holland)
Co-songwriter: Brian (Argentina)
Editor: Alex Lodge (UK)
Graphic Designer: Fernanda (Brazil)
Photographers: Jeroen & Stefan (Holland)
Recensionist: Simon (Finland) & Norm (UK)