DVD Review – Joe Morello’s Drum Method: Volume 1 & 2

The problem with reviewing these old drum technique instructional videos is that their modern counterparts just blow the old ones out of the water. These new DVD’s like Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer and Drum-Set Technique/History of the U.S. Beat are so thorough and comprehensive that there is not very much to be gained by viewing these old ones. This is somewhat true of Joe Morello’s Drum Method 1 & 2, but not as much as I expected.

There are only two volumes. Morello mentions a third installment in both volumes one and two, don’t bother looking for it, it doesn’t exist. Each volume is sold separately and comes with it’s own little booklet with detailed transcriptions of the exercises Morello goes through. It would be perfect if they would just sell it as two disk set with one big booklet/downloadable PDFs… but, alas, they don’t. I’m reviewing these two as a pair because they are at there best as a pair. I wouldn’t recommend buying one buy itself and I wouldn’t recommend renting them if you are serious about learning from them. The reason I wouldn’t rent them is because you won’t get the little booklets that come with them. The reason I wouldn’t buy one without intending to get the other is because the second volume is the juicer one of the two, but it refers you back to the first volume on several occasions. Meanwhile, the first disk just isn’t worth it in terms of content if it isn’t paired with the second. What a pickle.


The first volume “Drum Method 1: The Natural Approach to Technique” is basically just hand technique and related exercises. Joe covers lots of ground in this first DVD. The trouble is that you probably know most of it already if you own Jojo Mayer’s Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer.

Joe goes over the Free Stroke, the Moller Stroke, the Moller Pumping Motion and the Power Stroke in this DVD. he also covers some more general stuff such as: cross sticking, buzz rolls, some rudiments and some general exercises. That’s really all there is to the first volume.

“Drum Method 2: Around the Kit” is definitely the main course of the two volume set. He covers a myriad of topics starting with technique on the bass drum, hi-hat, & the ride cymbal. After that he moves into a more concept oriented area of the DVD where he covers coordination, independence, polyrhythms, ostinatos and substitution.

I got to say that his bass drum technique section might be hard to apply to your specific situation for the following reason.

He uses this pedal:

You might notice that the foot board is solid and elevated about an inch above the bass plate. I’ve played one of these things before and it is a unique experience. You might be thinking “well I’ve played on an axis longboard pedal so it can’t be that different.” Oh yes it can. It feels waaaaay different then a longboard or a pedal with a heel plate. As far a I can tell, it’s the only pedal of it’s kind these days. So, unless you’re willing to buy one of these things, the bass drum section probably won’t be too useful to you. There are some tuning, positioning, and exercise tips that are ok, but this isn’t the place to look for foot technique advice these days. Also, Joe’s idea of covering double bass drumming is to say “do the same thing with the left foot.” As my little brother would say, “that’s weak-sauce”The hi-hat section however, yields many tasty tidbits. Joe goes over most everything you’d need to pull off a Max Roachesque hi-hat solo. Big thumbs up here.Joe talks musicianship a little bit in the ride cymbal section. He specifically talks about balance in term of volume between the different instruments on the drum-set. He talks about and then shows what a lack of balance in volume can create. incidentally, this is one of my favorite things about Joe Morello. He always shows you how to do something and then he shows you how NOT to do it. Most beginning players identify with the how NOT to do it part, then they say “oh, I’m doing that and I shouldn’t” and they straighten up. After all, you can’t fix a problem you can’t identify. Joe talks about using a metronome and accenting the quarter note in your ride pattern so your bass player has something to follow. He also talks about how the triplet feel flattens out when you get faster and faster. No actual talk of physical technique in this section. Eventually this section leaves the topic of ride cymbals and moves to crash cymbals. The crash cymbal section of the DVD isn’t listed as such in the chapters index, it’s just sorta thrown in there so be aware of that. He talks about punctuating the music with long and short sound where appropriate. After that he shows some of the cool/strange sounds you can get out of your cymbals. Off to the next section!

This moves us into the coordination and polyrhythms section. Joe’s coordination advice is to buy Jim Chapin’s Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer. He shows a couple examples of what you’ll find in the book… but it’s pretty much just an advertisement for the book. The polyrhythm section is a little better but it’s not extensive. It’s more like general advice on both subjects then a guide. Then Jim goes into a section about patterns you can practice to improve your fluidity around the kit. He shows how you can use some rudiments that ease your movement around the kit, (paradiddle double-paradiddle etc.) He also touches on some of the physical movements you can make to minimize the amount of motion you need to get around the kit. It’s a pretty good section all in all. Next Section!

The ostinato & substitution are pretty basic. Not much to get worked up about here.

It’s over! Time for the Breakdown! Remember, I’m reviewing these two as a package.

For content I give it 3 of 3 stars. Nuf’ said.

For presentation I give it half a star

For extras I give it half a star. There are lots of slow motion segments, and you got your extra information (Bio, Discography, & Suggested Listening.) Not that impressive but it’s something.

So as a package they get four stars total. Ding!

If you’re interested in learning from this product I recommend actually buying it. I wouldn’t rent because you don’t get the cool booklets. If you do rent it though, it’s a great way to blow about three hours. Joe is a pretty entertaining guy.

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