I’m with the band: my lesson with a very Chic drummer

Every week, Dominique McMullan tries something different. This week: drum school

Time for my drum solo. Photograph: Ryan J Lane/Getty Images

Time for my drum solo. Photograph: Ryan J Lane/Getty Images

 

This week I had a drumming lesson with Ralph Rolle, the lead drummer from Chic. He was in Ireland to promote his line of cookies and play a gig, so I got in touch. Full disclosure: I’m a fan of Chic. I had one of the best afternoons of my life dancing to them in a field a few years ago. When I arrive at the studio to meet him I get the fangirling out of the way early, laughing a touch too loud at his joke.

Ralph is a master drummer, so it feels mildly ridiculous to be taking a lesson with him having never even picked up sticks before.

I sit down at the kit and he gets me to take my shoes off to “ground myself”. We begin with a simple beat. With a stick in one hand, I start tapping as he counts 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8. Next we add the foot; I tap every alternate beat. It takes a minute but it’s all working quite well.

I picture myself surrounded by dry smoke, completing impressive rolls without so much as sticking out my tongue

Then Ralph asks me to add my other hand. I start banging away and he laughs. Ralph has a huge laugh. My right hand has copied my foot, without my knowledge. It all feels very much like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time. It takes serious concentration to convince each hand to do its own independent thing.

Next we attempt a roll. That’s the move when a drummer hits every bit of the drum kit. We do this maybe 20 times, and every time I make a mistake I expel a strange squeal. Ralph remarks that it would make a cool sample (which I think is some kind of musician-type compliment).

When I eventually get the hang of it, it feels wonderful. I picture myself surrounded by dry smoke; completing impressive rolls without so much as sticking out my tongue.

My husband commented recently that every time I finish a "something different" task I ring him and exclaim about how good I am at digger driving/aerial acrobatics/cow milking/mindful eating. He thinks I need to practise humility. But with that in mind, I don’t think Ralph was lying when he said I was one of the best students he ever had. I realise that Ralph is an extremely kind person, and a motivational speaker, but basically, I’m with the band.

Do you have suggestions for what Dominique should try next? Email your ideas to dmcmullan@irishtimes.com

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.