By: Elaine Landau
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: September 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2010
Are you the type of person who can be found rat-a-tat-tatting on everything around you? Perhaps you might be a drummer at heart like Preston Ritter. He got an early start as a drummer when he was a mere five-years-old. He says “I tied a pot around my neck with a string. I used wooden spoons for drumsticks. I’d march around my block beating a pot like a marching drum.” If that sounds like something you’ve done, perhaps the drums may be the instrument of choice for you. Many young people have dreams of being a drummer in a group and can easily imagine themselves in a rock band with adoring fans out there in the audience. The drums are a part of the percussion family and they “set the beat for the whole band” because it “helps the other members stay on track.”
In this book you’ll be able to take a look at a two-page spread that describes the function of each drum and the cymbals. The drum set most often used in rock and jazz bands is called a “five-piece set.” A lot of people think that guitars are the main focus of the band, but people like Rick Allen may beg to differ. He claims that “rock just wouldn’t have the same energy without them.” In other words, drums are a HOT instrument to play. Even when tragedy struck and Rick lost an arm in a car accident in 1984, everyone thought he was through with music. Do you think anyone could overcome such a disability? You’ll have to read this book to find out. Speaking of disability, you’ll also meet Evelyn Glennie. Now get this...the Grammy-winning percussionist “lost most of her hearing at a young age!”
You’ll read about some of the great drummers from yesteryear like Ringo Starr, Buddy Rich, and Art Blakey, but will also read about some you may be familiar with. Are you a fan of Beyoncé and Suga Mama? You’ll read about her two drummers, Kim Thompson and Nikki Glaspie, a couple of great drummers who “make Beyoncé’s music bounce”. You’ll read about different styles of music such as classical and the island rhythms created by steel drums. You’ll learn about the history of drums, you’ll read about several other percussion instruments, where you might be able to take lessons, you’ll learn about the composition of the drum itself, what it takes to be a good drummer, the necessity of being a team player in a band, and you’ll read about some funny, funky mistakes that drummers have made. Perhaps the most important thought of all was expressed by Jeannine Maddox when she said, “You just have to want to do it. Playing your instrument must bring you joy!”
The book also makes it very clear that the individual cannot simply pick up the drums and automatically become a rock star with little or no effort. Even the caption of a young person playing states, “Hard work is the key to drumming fun.” I enjoyed the vibrant writing in this very well researched book. It had a nice flow to it and I especially enjoyed the introduction and peek into the minds of many drummers who were specially interviewed for this text and liked the fact that the book was not aimed solely at boys. The book is peppered with full-color photographs and there are numerous, informative sidebars throughout the text. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a list of percussionists who gave insight into the book, and additional books and a website to explore.
Quill says: This is an exciting look at the skills that a young person will need to learn in order to become a good drummer.