The year of the Caixa:
Much of the year has been spent trying to master the Samba snare drum, or Caixa.
|My Caixa arrives in the post.
|A professional playing it correctly.
Section 1: Practising
As I say, spent much of the year practising this instrument - sometimes in some quite unusual places.
|Above a pub in Glasgow.
|Sometimes in front of a mirror.
|Sometimes using a thigh mounted drum pad.
|Left hand never as effective as the right.
Always practised to some kind of online metronome.
And watched lots of instructional videos.
And studied lots of photographs of marching drummers to clarify the gripping of the sticks.
Eventually mastered the left hand grip.
Much of the year has been spent trying to move away from a dependence on wrist movements to more of a forearm action;
Sometimes didn't bother with a drum and just practised arm movements.
Also struggled with creating a definite difference in volume between accents and ghost notes.
But never managed to move and play at the same time:
Began the process of reading notation:
Tried different ways to deaden the sound so that I could practise at home.
|Stuffed it full of poly bags.
|Dampened it with towels.
|Eventually got a proper dampening mat.
Section 2: Practising in France
When my wife and I went to France for 4 weeks in the Summer I practised every day - but on a tiny snare drum and stand. This was a most enjoyable and stimulating activity - almost spiritual, especially when sitting at the edge of the Ocean. These sessions were always carried out between 7 and 8 o'clock in the morning.
Started off on the beach in Oleron
|This was a most precarious perch that I had to climb up to over slimy rocks.
|But a great view.
|Then found a safer spot in the next cove.
|And on our last day in Royan found this excellent spot.
Then moved down the coast to Pyla.
|Started off at the top of the cliff.
|But subsequently went down to the beach via these steps.
Then even further down the coast to Andernos.
|The drum proved too noisy for the hotel.
|So switched to the pad for the duration.
Finally, to Vieux Boucau where I tried a variety of locations.
|Underneath the stand at a sports stadium - got there by bike.
|On the concourse of a beach cafe (before it opened)
|On our apartment balcony
|Where the river meets the Atlantic.
Section 4: Performing
Of course, the whole point of all of this practice was to perform. Did 8 or 9 gigs between March and December. Never in my wildest dreams expected that to happen.
|Started off at a very small scale in March.
Then progressed to the West End Festival in June.
Then to a the Christmas Carnival through the streets of Glasgow.
|Drums ready to go in the van.
And finally at the Rum Shack in Glasgow's South Side.
Did several other gigs in between but was never able to take any photos.