DVD review – Matt Ritter’s Unburying the Beater
Matt Ritter is just your average drummer. Outside of having his own dvd, the chances are that you’ve never heard of him… and probably never will. I’ve just got to say flat out that I don’t like his playing from a musical stand point… it’s flat and boring IMHO. He (thankfully) doesn’t play that much in the video, it’s pretty much all business once you get past the intro.
I think that Mr. Ritter is the George Lawrence Stone of foot technique. He’s basically compiled and organized what is the foot’s equivalent of the free-stroke. He calls his method “unburying the beater” though that can refer to any foot technique that doesn’t jam the beater into the head after a stroke. So I took the liberty of renaming it for him! I call it the Ritter stroke. Clever huh?
Matt breaks down his method of bass drum playing systematically with great precision and detail. He does just as good as Jojo in covering his techniques but w/o the aid of any slow-mo or CGI to aid in his description. It’s quite admirable actually. The problem is, is that he isn’t as personable as Jojo or have Jojo’s entertaining accent to carry you through the more boring parts. The good thing is, is that he lays out a truly excellent system for basic foot technique. Most of the time when you think of basic foot technique, you think “heel up” or “heel down.” Matt’s system is a healthy blend of the two different techniques to achieve the best performance with the best aspect of both foot positions. To many times when you hear someone discuss their foot technique they are talking about some advanced heel-toe, push-pull, dancing/sliding foot technique. This really is a good solid foundation from single strokes all the way to double strokes. He provides tons of exercises and trouble shooting techniques and pedal set up ideas to improve your performance.
This is a total non-sequitur but I think it’s funny and it’s my review so I’m gonna throw it in there anyway. Later on in the dvd he uses a metronome along with his exercises. Well with this particular metronome setting it actually counts each beat. As in there is a robot voice going 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 etc etc. And when Matt gets up there in tempo (over 200 bpm) it’s really fun/funny to try and count along with the robot.
Combine this dvd with the foot technique section of Steve Smith’s Drum-set Technique/History of the U.S. Beat and you’ve got a very solid foundation for technique for your legs and feet. Foot technique hasn’t been nearly as well researched and developed as hand technique, but this dvd is a step forward in the right direction. When a “Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer” of foot technique comes out it will be a huge step forward for drummers. No doubt when and if it comes out, this information will definitely be in there.
I give this dvd 2.5 stars. It’s just not an easy video to watch. The info is excellent but I’d see if you can get it used or rent it. There are many other things I’d spend money on before I’d get this dvd but I would eventually hold my nose and just buy the stupid thing.