Art Verdi receives the Lifetime Achievement Award in Drumming

Art Verdi receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award in Drumming from Dan Britt

In his home on Monday (March 7, 2016), Art Verdi received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Drumming from the Global Teacher Network.  The award was presented by Dan Britt in the presence of Art’s family.

Art has been a member of the drumming community since the 1960’s and he’s performed with legendary musicians such as Sal Salvador, Lou Pallo, Jack Wilkens and countless others.

Art Verdi is also widely known for breaking Johnny Rabb’s “World’s Fastest Drummer” record, by becoming the first person to break 1100 single strokes in 60 seconds with an astounding 1,116.


Art Verdi and his son Artie, receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from Dan Britt

Art Verdi and his son Artie, receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from Dan Britt



Art Verdi, Mike Clark and Dan Britt at BB King's

Art Verdi, Mike Clark and Dan Britt at BB King’s

The Glenn Miller Story

Lately, I have been on a Jimmy Stewart movie kick. So today I got around to watching The Glenn Miller Story. Pop, as you know I am not a musician so I had no idea that Gene Krupa was in this movie.  As if that isn’t enough, it’s a star studded cast as well. Imagine a movie with:

  • Jimmy Stewart
  • June Allyson
  • Harry Morgan
  • Louis Armstrong
  • Ben Pollack
  • Gene Krupa

I have to say I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this movie or even be able to appreciate it but I did and listening to his music I heard songs that I always liked and never knew were his.

I really liked watching the Krupa drum solos but the duet he does behind Louis Armstrong was really cool too.

One funny thing was I saw Ben Pollack playing the drums in the beginning of the movie and I thought that was Krupa. I had to actually look it up to find out it wasn’t. I had no idea (at that point in the movie) that Krupa was playing himself in the movie nor did I know he played with Miller.

Lesson: Left Hand Finger Technique

Left Hand Focus at Different Speeds

I find that most drummers do not hold the stick with proper leverage, which is essential for a good rebound stroke. Some drummers hold the stick to far to the end and others to close to the middle of the stick. Neither way offers proper leverage for a good rebound. There is sweet spot on the stick that gives a drummer the best possible rebound. The Billy Gladstone style of playing has a lot to do with letting the stick do half of the work by getting the best possible rebound. If you hold the stick loosely in the fulcrum and just bounce the stick with the right hand you should find the best leverage. If you hold the stick to far to the end you can see how the stick dies after a few rebounds. A lot of drummers move their wrist when trying to use finger technique using traditional grip. This limits the stick’s movement to the speed of the wrist. The finger muscles are smaller and can move faster than the wrist muscles and if trained properly will offer greater speed and control.

If you find it very difficult to move the fingers alone, try the following. Hold the wrist with the right hand and practice just moving the fingers over the stick for 15 to 20 minutes a day. You will develop an ability to move the fingers independently with out wrist movement. You will start to manipulate the rebound of the stick using just your fingers with practice and time. A straight well balanced stick is very important when developing this technique. I always use Pro-Mark 5A Drumsticks with Nylon Tips, which through the years I have found to be perfectly balanced, and everytime I buy new ProMark sticks I am very satisfied.

Using both a metronome and a drumometer together will enhance your finger technique. I recommend keeping a log for each. The metronome helps keep the time and the drumometer records the speed. Practicing the finger technique with the left hand using this method will result in an increase in speed while finger control is maintained or improved.

For example, if you play left hand eighth note triplets at 160 with the metronome, the drumometer would read out 480 after one minute. If you maintain good finger control and can increase your metronome speed, the drumometer speed will show the speed increase.

The first three videos are one exercise at a relaxed pace, allowing the sticks do half of the work. We broke it down to 3 videos so it will be easier to download. Each video increases in speed by 3 beats on the metronome. I am not playing any substitutions with the right hand. When the right hand hits the drum I am going into a sixteenth note triplet or half a triplet. The left hand is playing without missing a stroke. There is no gimmick or trick to this, just practice.

Practicing without stopping, relaxed and not at top speed for long periods of time will strengthen the finger muscles. The goal is to have the strength to play faster when the music requires it. If you can do 160 playing triplets for a minute, then practice 150 for 15 or 20 min. In time you will find that you will be able to play more than 160 for a minute.

I prefer to practice with a tap button on the metronome. Your relaxed speed for 15 or 20 minutes will normally differ on a daily basis. Don’t strain or create a lot of tension, just start your endurance exercises where you are that day and work with it. If you feel a strain or a lot of tension then stop for a while, regroup, lower your speed and continue. The short term practice will eventually increase the long term goal of increased control and speed. Finger technique has a lot to do with controlling muliple strokes such as double stroke rolls, paradiddles and all the rudiments. These will be included in my technique video, soon to follow.

Single Strokes Both Hands

Watch Art Play Single Strokes Both Hands

In this video, I am not playing at top speed at all. I am playing very relaxed and working with the rebound of the sticks. This is an example of playing a single stroke roll using the Billy Gladstone method and letting the stick do half the work.

Drumometer as a Practice Tool

I think that the Drumometer is one of the best practice tools I have seen in a long time because it’s such a great incentive builder. Just think about seeing higher numbers within a few short months. It would make anybody feel a lot better about their playing ability. If you gain even one stroke more than you ever did before, it is worth it. It’s something that a metronome just can’t give you.

Don’t get me wrong, a metronome is still an important practice tool. I use one with a tap button, to tap out the metronomic time I want to practice to. A lot of people confuse the two devices but, they are used for completely different purposes. A metronome is used to keep time and the other is used to count the number of strokes you play in a certain period of time.

Example: 100 strokes in 10 seconds.

The Drumometer will definitely help your speed and endurance in a short period of time. It can make practicing a lot more fun, because, you can compete with yourself by tracking your progress. It really is a great feeling to see your speed increase at such a fantastic rate. Using a metronome in conjunction with the Drumometer is useful as well. It gives you a guideline of where you’re at, and it keeps you from straining too hard. If you set the metronome on a speed you know you can play; the Drumometer will show you how close you came to what you’re playing on the metronome.

Example: Put the metronome on 100 and play sixteenths for 60 seconds. You should play 800 strokes. If you do 780 then you know you are behind. If you do 820 you know you were doing more than you should at that tempo. This can help you improve your timing.

All drum teachers work with their students to develop endurance and speed. With this unit, I’m sure they will get much better results and the student will be much more aware of what they can and cannot do. Not only that but as I said before you can also have a lot of fun doing it.

Earlier I mentioned tracking your progress and I actually recommend keeping a log to help you with that. Don’t get discouraged if some days your numbers aren’t as high as others. With enough practice, there may come a day when you discover a much higher count than you expected.

Modern Drummers

It is widely known my three favorite drummers are Buddy Rich, Joe Morello, and Louie Bellson. As of late, I have been listening to and watching the more contemporary drummers. Unfortunately, there are a few that I haven’t had the opportunity to hear yet. If I fail to mention some of these great drummers, I apologize. I do not mean any disrespect. I just have not had the opportunity to catch any of their material.

With that said, there are two drummers in particular that do everything I want to hear a drummer do, Steve Gadd and Dave Weckl. These two guys can drive a band as well as anybody. I have seen part of a newer Dave Weckl video. Man, can he play!

Mike Mangini and Marco Minnemann are also two of the most awesome drummers playing today.

Two other drummers that knock me out are Dennis Chambers and Vinnie Colaita. These two guys sneak in these great technical things and they are just really outstanding. They have such a wonderful feel for the music they play.

I saw Steve Smith a few times and he plays with a dominance and feel that is really incredible.

Johnny Rabb is another great artist. He comes up with these beautiful ideas and he has such tremendous technique. Sometimes, when Johnny plays, he gets into such a groove, that if you didn’t know what he could do, you wouldn’t know he has such incredible technique.
Another great drummer that has it all is Danny Gottlieb. I think his two set video is tremendous and he presented that just right. Drummers can benefit so much from using his video. Danny plays similar to the way Vinnie (Colaita) plays. He also sneaks in great technical stuff and keeps a great feel going.

I never heard Tim Waterson play with a group. Even though I do not play two bass drums, if I happen upon one of his videos, I will be sure to pick up a copy. I’m sure if I get the opportunity, it would be a great treat to hear him play with a group.

I have heard Virgil Donati in part of a video a friend has shown me. What people say about his hands and feet is so true. He has wonderful hand and foot technique.

Someday, I would love to hear Mike Portnoy. I have also heard some great things about Travis Barker and Flo. I will really be looking forward to hearing these three play. Peter Erskine and John Riley are two great contemporary Jazz Drummers. Kenny Aronoff is one of the most in demand Rock Drummers of today. I know Kenny can play anything, and swing with the best of them. Terry Bozio and Simon Phillips are two other drummers I hope to catch someday.

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