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Nashville drum teacher simplifies craft with technology

Liz in Studio 300 pix 2THE TENNESSEAN –  JANUARY 2016

Drum some rhythmic frivolity into 2016 with private or group drumming lessons. Liz Ficalora, a professional drummer and teacher based in Nashville, has created several programs to help drummers learn their craft more easily.

Ficalora’s style of teaching prepares students for all types of musical performances. An individual interested in pursuing drums must only to have a desire to do so. Skills, like hand and foot techniques, ear training and reading music, can be taught. With passion and practice, drumming can be gradually improved in as little as four months.

“The drums are a fantastic instrument that enables one to use all of their limbs to create a beat,” she says.

The first three months of lessons focus on coordinating music theory with physical body motions. If students have previous musical training, Ficalora will review their education and recommend new techniques or skills to help them reach their individual drumming goals.

To help teach students music theory, Ficalora devised a way to create a “musical map” of a song. Drummers need to understand an entire song to form a rhythmic pattern, she says. By visualizing how a song or piece of music is built, they can determine time signatures and find the song’s groove.

“I was taught how to read drum music, but no one taught me how to write out drum music,” Ficalora says. “There were no books available to teach how to write a drum chart, so I decided to write my first how-to book, called ‘How to Write a Fast and Easy Drum Chart.’ ” The book, published by Alfred Music Publishing, is available ateasydrumchart.com.

Drum charts map out a song’s form: intro, verse, chorus, bridge, solo, tag and ending. Drummers must then count how many musical measures or bars are in each song. Once the song form is devised, drummers will listen and determine what drum patterns flow together successfully with all types of songs.

For example, Ficalora says: “Play a simple rock beat for the intro and a more energetic beat for the verses to choruses. Usually I listen to a beat and notate it on paper for my students to see so they will learn how to recognize the pattern visually. All my students write out their own drum charts using the simple method I developed.”

Ficalora saw a need for a computer program that would create a drum chart on demand wherever a musician might be playing. The web-based software program Drum Chart Builder, www.drumchartbuilder.com, allows drummers to readily access and create their own drum music.

Prospective students or musicians can contact Ficalora about lessons or other drumming-related questions at 615-477-4287 or instruction@thesmokindrummer.com

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