DVD Review – Chris Coleman: Playing with Precision and Power
Chris Coleman: Playing with Precision and Power is the latest in a set of instructional videos under the Dynamic Drumming name. The first two volumes in the series are only available on VHS as far as I can tell, which might have something to do with their scarcity. You’ll probably need to look on ebay or some electronic retailer to find the first two volumes.
The first half of the vid is nothing but Chris playing with a band. They play four songs and go through two interview segments before Chris actually does any instructing in this instructional video. All the songs appear to be written by Chris Coleman which is pretty impressive but, I mean, dang! It’s like a concert-clinic in two large and unequal pieces. There was nothing to indicate that it would be this kind of format… it just kinda ambushes you, you know?
The other thing is that the songs are reallllllllyyy long. They all seem to last for eight minutes at least. It’s mostly gospel fusion kinda stuff with heavy emphasis on the drums, but that’s not too surprising when you consider the drummer wrote all the songs. The stuff isn’t horrible but I wouldn’t listen to it given alternatives. Though I might have if the stuff was considerably shorter.
The other thing that may bother some viewers is that this DVD has this testimonial/ministry thing kinda going on. Chris Coleman is a gospel player and thus it’s not surprising that he’s a Christian. There is a lot of talk about how God plays a huge role in his life and I would bet that this theme runs through the entire Dynamic Drumming series. Once again there was no warning that this video is part outreach program. So now you are warned of both of the pitfalls this DVD potentially presents. Tons of long songs crammed into the beginning. Kinda preachy. You have been warned.
Once Chris gets into the instructional segment of the video he’s got some pretty good stuff to say. The first segment is him talking about playing with a bass player and loops. As the drummer and bassist form the rhythm section for most bands, it’s important to have some basic ideas of how to hold down a groove together. Also, in this age where computers, loops, and samples are increasingly used in live music, it’s important to learn how to exist musically with a loop already laying down some form of rhythmic foundation. Granted, there nothing earth shattering in this section. Once you get down to it, it’s basically a two step process. Step one: listen to what the bassist/loop is playing. Step two: play something that doesn’t suck, along side the bassist/loop. However, it’s still a good idea to observe how Chris does it and learn some of his thoughts on the topic. Especially since it’s an important topic that doesn’t get mentioned in most instructional DVDs.
After that, Chris lays out what he calls his “ABC Practice Method.” The A section being the foundational section. The B section being independence (in all five limbs.) The C section being musicality.
The A section consists of the three elements that Chris thinks are central to a solid drumming foundation. Those three things are: rudiments, sight reading, and a strong understanding of the basic counting system drummers use. Chris has some really good ideas and exercises on all three and does a darn good job explaining them too.
The B section is very reminiscent of Thomas Lang’s coordination system but Chris adds in two extra dimensions into the equation. In addition to doing something with all four limbs you must count. What counting system you use is up to you but you must count out loud with your mouth (duh!) Your left and right foot will both be doing separate continuous patters while your hands play something that you are sight reading. Now that’s a work out.
The C section talks about learning world beats which Chris defines as “authentic rhythms that exist outside your bubble.” An excellent definition if I might say so. The C section also gets into odd time signatures. Nothing fancy, just your basic intro to odd times.
It’s over!? It was just getting good! Jeez!
Alright, time for the break down.
For content I give it 2.5 mics. Chris has a lot of good ideas and knows how to convey them. The problem is that there is very little actual teaching going on in this DVD which bills it self as an instructional DVD.
For presentation I give it 0 mics. They just really screwed up in this category. They just crammed all the filler into the first half of the video and then slipped in some instructional stuff in the back. I just hope they don’t do this with any other future production Dynamic Drumming kicks out.
For extras I give it 0 mics because there aren’t any extras.
So that’s 2.5 mics in total. When you consider that it’s all in the content category it’s actually pretty respectable. If they had cut out 3/4ths of the songs and put in some teaching content this DVD would be up in the 4 star range.
When I’m elected permanent ruler of the universe I shall correct the grievous errors that plague this DVD. Until then, if you have a chance to rent it or watch it at a friends house, just skip to the halfway mark. That way you can go back and watch the concert at your leisure.