January 31, 2001


Doug Stronach’s Pipe Band Snare Drum Tutor, Volume 1
Distributed by Cameron’s Drumming Studio

Reviewed by Tim Gladden

With a quick initial skimming, Doug Stronach’s Pipe Band Snare Drum Tutor, Volume 1 struck me as being a good potential buy not just for a beginning drummer, but for any teacher of beginning drummers.

It provides a solid foundation of material, and does so for drummers even at the very early stages of their development. This is a big plus, because I have always found that I need to produce material for my students who are just starting out. I tend to keep a library of that stuff laying around someplace, but I run out of copies, make notes on my originals, give the originals out with the intention of getting them back—which never happens.

There never seemed to be a book available that would lay out that information in a succinct way that I wanted to present to my students. Doug Stronach’s Pipe Band Snare Drum Tutor is great for any teacher.

The book itself is broken into five sections, preceded by examples of written notation with descriptions on how to read them as well as how to use all of the tools that come in and with the book. The first three sections deal with the basics. Each section begins with a well-written explanation on how to proceed from there, followed by several pages of examples.

The examples are annotated with the corresponding CD audio track. Again, this is very thorough. Most drummers would find the target level of the exercises to be very, very basic. The last two sections get into drum scores. The presentation in general is progressive, and armed with the book and companion CD, I would think that one could gain some ground.

Joe-Bob says, “Check it out.”

The book comes with a CD-ROM. This is great, especially since it contains video files (avi format—8 bit mono), as well as CD audio tracks. Unfortunately, the video data is on track one, which breaks auto-play for some hardware configurations on the computer for the CD audio, and the first track has to be skipped in CD players because some CD players translate the data into noise.

There is a clear warning printed on the CD, so make sure to follow the instructions when using it. I tested this CD on five different computers in the Adobe Systems test labs (mostly because I thought my machine was broken and couldn’t play any audio tracks), and the CD audio worked on three machines, but the avi tracks were fine on all—good picture and clear sound.

In short, use a CD player to hear the audio tracks, and use your computer to view the video files. This is not a big disappointment because this type of configuration is very tricky to implement, and most folks would probably choose the CD player for the audio tracks anyway. Anything in the way of audio or visual aid is a huge bonus, and a companion CD was a great idea.

I particularly like the first section. As someone who sometimes teaches beginners, I think this section is invaluable, and as complete as it could possibly be in just four pages. My thanks go to Doug for saving me from ever having to write out anything like it ever again (and of course, subsequently losing it). If you are just starting out, or if you teach those who are just starting, then this book is a good bet.

Tim Gladden has played with several top bands in his drumming career, including Simon Fraser University, Triumph Street, and Alameda County Sheriff’s. Professionally, he is a software engineer with Adobe Systems and lives in Livermore, California.


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