DVD Review – Groove Essentials w/Tommy Igoe

tommy-igoe-groove-essentials  I’m now realizing that I should have done this one a loooooong time ago. Tommy Igoe’s Groove Essentials DVD was originally a poster. Yup, a single sheet of paper. This humble piece of paper was destined for bigger things then anyone could have expected. Eventually the fans of the poster screamed for a film adaptation of the runaway hit! That call was answered and things have gotten plain old ridiculous from there.

No, I mean it. It’s flipping insane how big this thing has gotten. They have a play along book with CD for those of you who need more detail and even MORE grooves then the 47 that the poster and DVD has. Now they have a sequel to everything the original Groove Essentials family had. That means a Groove Essentials 2 DVD with poster and Groove Essentials 2 Play-along Book with CD. What other poster can say that it inspired a critically acclaimed film that demanded a sequel? Not many methinks.

Just for clarification I am ONLY reviewing the original poster and DVD. None of this applies to the original play-along with CD or any of the sequels materials.

Tommy Igoe, (pronounced “I go” and anyone who tells you different is a liar) is a drum teacher and it shows… a lot… and that’s flipping awesome. You can tell by the way his manner and his careful placement of advice and encouragement that he’s been down this path with many students many times. To be quite honest it’s the little bits of advice and his pedagogical skill that really makes this DVD as good as it is.

The DVD itself is a shotgun approach that targets the beginner to intermediate drummer who wants a little bit of everything. These are the people who really should be considering buying this DVD because they are the ones who are gonna be able to grow as they progress through the poster. I know that it’s advertised for everyone, beginners and advanced players alike, but I think that this is a tad misleading. I say this because most complex grooves in this poster are what I would classify as intermediate to advanced. If you are what I would consider an advanced player (I know the term is relative) then this DVD won’t satisfy you for long. You’ll want to really dig into the types of music that are of interest to you and that means that you’ll need more specialization than this DVD offers. I’m not very worried though because most advanced drummers know by that time to research and what to look for in an instructional book or DVD. It’s usually the the beginners end up buying something totally unsuited for their current condition. Now that I’m done talking about the target audience, let’s talk about the DVD itself.

Tommy Igoe doesn’t just demonstrate the grooves in this video. If that’s all he did then there definitely would not have been a sequel. Each groove he goes through is a little lesson. He teaches you step-by-step exactly what you need to know to perform that groove like it should be played in it’s natural context. He anticipates common problems or mistakes a student might make when they do a one of these grooves and gives warning not to fall in the trap. He also plays each groove twice at different speeds to different tracks. He stays calm, collected, and enthusiastic in all situations. He’s the drumming equivalent of Bob Ross. No kidding. If you don’t know who Bob Ross is then you need to google him asap.

The DVD is broken up into 5 different families of grooves. Those are: rock, funk, R&B, jazz, and world. The distribution of different grooves is kinda uneven. Rock makes up grooves 1-10; Funk makes up 11-13; R&B makes up 14-17 Jazz makes up 18-26; and the world grooves section makes up 27-47. In addition to the world section of the poster being over half the poster… almost all of them are latin rhythms. Couldn’t a few of those world grooves have been given to the funk section? At a grand total of three grooves the funk section looks a little malnourished. Regardless, Tommy always says that this DVD isn’t the end of your study in any of the groove families. He makes it very clear that if you find you like funk drumming then you need to go pick up some James Brown records. Only through listening to the music will you truly understand it.

Here be the breakdown.

For content it gets 2.5 mics. Why doesn’t it get the other half mic you ask? It’s because the distribution of grooves is a little too unbalanced. Also there are a few demonstrations he does where he shows how to play the groove with sticks but then when he plays to the track he plays with brushes. If he was going to play it with brushes he should have also demonstrated how to play it with brushes. In fact, a small brushes groove sections would have been a great idea.

For presentation it gets the whole mic. Tommy is a great host and teacher plus the camera work makes it easy to grasp everything that goes on. In addition to that, the angles and camera effects change enough to keep even the most A.D.D. among us from losing concentration. The only thing I didn’t like is that the musical tracks all sounded very light and polished. That was fine for much of the DVD but for some of the tracks it just didn’t fit… though this is very minor and I won’t let it take away from the score.

For extras I can’t give it any mics because there really aren’t any extras. They have an about section for Tommy, Vic Firth, Hudson music, and they have some www links that you can easily go to without ever owning the DVD. Meh.

So that’s a total of 3.5 of 5 mics


Considering that most of those mics are in content and it got the whole mic for presentation, that is a very respectable score.

I can only hope they do this good a job with the sequel.

For beginners this is definitely a buy. For more advanced players it’s probably a rent.

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