SAM’S WISDOM

ON RHYTHM:


“What’s rhythm?  It’s the same beat repeated.

If your heart beats only 2 times today and 2 times next month,

you’re dead.”



ON TAKING DIRECTION:


“In my mind the ability to take direction is the key to being successful. People talk about having talent; you can have all the talent you want,

if you can’t take direction, there’s no way you’re gonna be able to go anywhere.”



ON LEARNING FROM STUDENTS:


“I always learn from my students.

I find that if I don’t practice, I learn one thing from them:

that I can’t keep up!

So I practice.”



ON DRUM RUDIMENTS:


“Students today are still practicing the rudiments I learned 75 years ago.  It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work today.  The rudiments are crap. What I learned about rudimentaries was how not to drum.  They were actually clogging up my mind, and stopping my mind from thinking in a musical sense.”



ON READING MUSIC:


“If you want to play, reading is the key.  Rudiments have nothing to do with playing 2-and-4-and -   If a drummer doesn’t understand the language of sound, how is he going to learn?  He has to put a record on and listen to it.  But if he knew how to read music, he can get a piece of literature and know it in 2 seconds.”



ON STARDOM:


“I think the industry should try to find the people in it that really know what they’re doing instead of putting ‘stars’ in front of the young. 

The problem is that we think the stars are our role models -

but a lot of time they’re not.”



ON STUDYING:


“I’ve got a lot of students who are going to be the future players because they really know their instrument.  They really know how to study and that’s an art in itself - how to study. “



ON THE IMPORTANCE OF READING MUSIC:


“Who’s the musician?  The guy who can sight read the chart on the job or the guy who can’t understand what’s expected of him without somebody explaining or describing it to him?”



ON TIME SIGNATURES:


“How many halves are in a whole?

How many thirty seconds are in a sixteenth note?

Why are eighth notes eighth notes?

What does the time signature indicate?

If you’re studying an instrument, you gotta learn what the notes

and the words on that musical road map are telling you.

And you need a teacher that’s going to do that for you.

If your teacher’s not teaching that to you, they’re robbing you -

not robbing your money, robbing your brain.”



ON TEACHERS BEING PRACTITIONERS:


“Those who are doing the teaching should be practitioners and students of their instrument. Keep advancing yourself -

practicing, training; it’s a lifetime study.”



ON TALENT:


“Talent does not buy the right to self-destruct.”



ON RHYTHM:


“A clock is probably the greatest timekeeper. 

Every sixty seconds makes a minute, sixty minutes make an hour, twenty-four hours make a day, every seven days make a week, and every twelve months make a year - and we’ll all be dead, yet it’s still going to go on.  But that’s rhythm.”




ON BEING A PERPETUAL STUDENT:


“My mother once said to me: ‘Always be a student.  When we stop being a student we are finished.  Never stop learning.’ 


“And I still study.  I practice continuously.  Study my instrument.     Write about my instrument.  Read as many different musical      journals as possible and make a serious effort to stay on the             top of my profession.


“We must always be studying.  Even teachers  -  good ones, anyway  - should remain students all of their lives.”



ON DRUMS IN A BAND:


“As a drummer, I play the rhythm in a band.  I keep the beat.  I feed rhythm into the band and the other players feed off my rhythmic feel. 

I have learned to anchor the band and hold the band together. 

Playing with the band is a science.”



ON LIFE:


“What accomplishment am I most proud of?  Everything I do I’m proud of, even if I goof up.  It’s normal for people to goof up.  I don’t get embarrassed if I make a mistake, and I don’t get depressed if something doesn’t work out.  Because I always say, ‘Well, today is one day and tomorrow is another day.’  And the fact that there’s another day (as long as you’re living) means you got another shot at trying to make it better.”



ON PRACTICE:


“It’s very easy to get better.

All you gotta do is practice.  And practice and practice and practice.”