Netography 11 – Participation and critique

Here is my post, verbatim, on the Drumeo Student Progress Forum. I am playing along to the February “collaboration” track.

“Hello all,

My plan to do Smoke on the Water this week is falling by the wayside as I need to do a load of interviews for my job instead. Bloody proper job getting in the way of my drumming.

Anyway instead I found the time to play around with If It’s Silent. This was the result of about half an hour’s experimentation. Critique would be much appreciated.

A few things that I am already aware of however:

* My set up is far from ideal for recording, both in terms of the kit and recording gear. This video was done off my wife’s digital camera placed on top of a coffin case next to the bass drum. Hence it shaking each time I use the kick.

* I missed a change over into my latin idea at the end. I meant to start doing the clave on the cowbell once the extra percussion came in.

* I look kind of stressed at times, probably because I am. First time I’ve ever done a video. Plus I can’t make too much noise where I live.

* At 1.13 the first time round the latin idea I was a bit awkward as I forgot the tam tam hit at the end of the motive (?), I decided to keep with that idea and then switch in the next 4 bars. It then started working better.

* I managed not to hit a cymbal at 1.36. The consequences of having to hold back whilst playing quietly.

* I’m not so consistent playing with sticks at this volume. I think I dig into to the heads a bit as well.

Man, this was interesting. First time I’ve ever videoed myself. I thought this would be a horrifying experience hence having avoided it for so many years. It sort of was horrifying but I can see how it is useful. As ever I notice how much my hair line is receding these days. Another reason for avoiding video.”

I got 3 responses, 2 quite brief. All were positive. Despite me pointing out that I knew my recording set up was not ideal a lot of the comments focused on that I was encouraged me to mic up my drums, splice the recording of my drumming with the audio from the track, as well as edit the start and end of the video in keeping with the style of other people’s videos on the forum.  These comments can be classed as cultural norm enforcement (Kozinets, 2010) and the fact people made them despite me implying they didn’t have to demonstrates how strong the social impulse to make these kind of comments are.

Another interesting thing to note is that the person who I had offered the most comments on their playing was also the person who commented most on mine. The reciprocal, social aspect of getting peer feedback is crucial. On a commercial platform like Drumeo community members cannot be forced into doing this in the same way MOOC students can i.e. by making it a compulsory part of their assessment. Some may argue there is an opportunity here to further incentivise feedback by offering user rating systems  or discounts on the subscription fee so that those who write in depth critiques are rewarded for the value they add to the community forum. However I do not approve of this approach as it removes the chance for people to be altruistic as well as implying that critiquing others is not rewarding in itself, which is really not the case. You can learn a lot from it.

I have to admit it was nice to get some positive feedback from other drummers. More often than not what few comments I get from my playing are from people who do not play drums (my wife and my band mostly). As they don’t have the same level of expertise on the instrument as their comments are often a little unspecific i.e “that’s cool” or “that doesn’t work”. Trying to get them to say why they think that or suggest other ways the beats could work takes a lot of coaxing and engagement (if it ever works).

On the other hand, non-drummer feedback is still always useful as for the most part most people who may listen to your music don’t play your instrument. An ideal beat would satisfy both groups.


9 thoughts on “Netography 11 – Participation and critique”

  1. As some one who has attempted drumming alot in the past you have a lot more talent than you think. I’m interested to know have you ever come across the Cobus method of drumming?

    For the benefit of those reading this comment who may not know of it I will elaborate.

    I had never even heard of it until I was introduced to him/it at a conference in the US (its was some time ago, 2008 ish, and the lecture was about how YouTube was making everyone famous – pre MOOC days) but the guy who originated it was from my home country but no-one here had ever heard of him so I did some digging to get the back story.,

    Turns out this chap, Cobus Potgeiter, an entirely unremarkable teenager from a tiny little ‘no where special’ town called Uniondale in the Western Cape became an internet sensation after publishing very similar videos online. Cobus couldn’t read a stitch of music but just chatted about how he taught himself drums and then bashed away gingerly, but, rather deftly I might add.

    Then , some enterprising Yank, offered to syndicate his whole self made programme and he became an internet millionaire with his own series of drumming programmes!

    I guess in reflecting on this, and describing Cobus, could it be argued that we have become too synical about what sharing knowledge can do and how it benefits many people?

    Yes, it was perhaps a ‘simpler time’ before MOOC mania defaced it a bit but its still, almost nostalgic, looking back at how some dude, with his camera and his drums just wanted to share his passion and his teachings for who ever wanted to know them.

    1. The enterprising yank is actually Canadian. Drumeo is what he is doing at the moment, all of the Cobus method materials are on the site to stream. I don’t think the Drumeo CEO is a millionaire given he doesn’t have the financial resources to protect his copyright material. Still he’s doing OK enough I imagine.

      There is a fine line between cynicism and criticism. I’ve only really been engaging with online drumming for a year or two, I am glad this information is out there for people to work with. However, it’s vital people work with it offline. All the videos in the world won’t make my drumming better unless I have the self-discipline to sit down and practice in a focussed and structured manner. Plus experiential learning can’t be neglected for drumming, getting out there, playing gigs, jamming with musicians, writing songs, covering songs (my weak point).

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