Alan Dawson - A Manual for the Modern Drummer

I'm excited just now to be working with a new drum book. It's a 1962 Berklee Press publication called A Manual for the Modern Drummer by Alan Dawson and Don DeMicheal and has been out of print for quite a long time. I've been looking for a copy for a while and somebody very generously sent me one over from America - the book is great and has given me a fresh kick for practising!

Playing-wise, I had a fun jazz gig last night with some new musicians. They are all in their 50s and have been in London since studying music together at Guildhall. It was a reminder how huge the jazz scene here is, they are great players and have all been based in London for years yet I'd only ever met one before briefly at a jam session.

Today started with an orchestra rehearsal for a concert tomorrow, and then I had an afternoon jazz function gig at Imperial College. I used to play drums with the Imperial College big band and it was nice to meet and play with some of the latest generation of musicians based there.

Tomorrow's orchestra concert is at St Bartholomew's Hospital at St Pauls in London. We're playing Vaughan Williams - A Sea Symphony, Elgar - Cockaine Overture and Benjamin Britten's arrangement - Soires Musicales. Like all concerts with that orchestra, I'll be using 3 hand tuned timpani, which after months of being a total nightmare is finally starting to get easier. They do things like Wagner's Ring Cycle with a zillion pitch changes and it's just a set of three hand tuned timpani, me and a tuning fork! There are a lot of note changes in tomorrow's repertoire and the notes are changed by manually cranking the screws around the timpani. Recently it's starting to click though, I'm finding it easier to turn the screws to get (closer to) the right notes relative to the tuning fork and the orchestra and not losing track of the music as much as before.. Baby steps!

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