Wednesday, February 17, 2010

STOMP drill

Way back when, a few of us went to the auditions for STOMP when they were planning to make a San Francisco chapter. They wound up with over 600 people auditioning; the line almost doubled back on itself. They would take 20 people per batch, assign you numbers, give you 30 minutes, and if they wanted you to make the second round, your number would be called before the next group came in. In, out, repeat. Pretty efficient, I thought.

The format was interesting:
  • First 10 minutes: Teaching a movement drill, followed by solos.
  • Second 10 minutes: Drum/barrel solos.
  • Third 10 minutes: Return to the movement drill; more soloing.
I want to talk about the 2nd part - this was a great drill, easy to explain, easy to do, and applicable when you have at least two people available. Here's how to do it:
  1. Have the soloist start a short, repeating pattern (one bar).
  2. Repeat the pattern 8 times, without fills or deviation from the pattern.
  3. The non-soloist(s) come in on the 5th bar, adding light accompaniment.
  4. On the 9th bar, the soloist now solos on top of the accompaniment.
This drill does a number of things. The soloist gets to exercise creativity by creating a pattern; the accompaniment gets to do the same. There's soloing as well. The interesting thing is that the original pattern goes away as the soloist solos, but they can choose to solo to that pattern (in their heads) or to the accompaniment, or both. It's a bit of a mind trick and rather neat when you experience it.

With more people, you can add percussion to the accompaniment. You can also shorten or extend the length of a section. You can also change what kind of drums the soloist plays on (more than one, slant stand, odaiko, etc.The idea is to experience creativity in different ways, through a drill like this. Try it!

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