The stick control of Buster Keaton
Because the Chicago Teachers are on strike, I decided last Friday to take my children, now teenagers, to the Museum of Science and Industry. We always enjoy our visits there. This time we went through an exhibit called “The old street” or something like that. It’s a street paved with rough cobblestones that makes your ankles turns and twist as you walk. The shops around display fashion and products of the beginning of the 20th century and there’s a movie theater that shows old reels. We stepped in that theater during the intermission and we waited patiently for the next feature to come out. It was a Buster Keaton, the one called “The Blacksmith”. We watched it until the end and I thought it was really really good. I was surprised that my teenagers were laughing and enjoying that old flick, the digital kids of today rejoicing the analog days of yesteryear. It prove to show that some stuff are universal.
Which brings me to “Stick Control” by George Lawrence Stone. This 1935 publication is still among us. I use it almost everyday in my teaching. For the ones who do not know what I’m talking about, we have here a collection of stickings. The first 3 pages are masterpieces of permutation and combinations between the right hand and the left hand to develop flexibility and nimbleness. And although those exercises are written for one surface, it is very easy to orchestrate them on a drum set (Come take lessons, I’ll show you how.) The “Stick Control” has been around for a long time and yet is still current and modern, it is still training generations of players all over the world. Just like an old Buster Keaton movie, it hasn’t lost its appeal at all. And my son, my 15 years old son, appreciate both the old film maker and the venerable knowledge contained in the Stick Control. Some things are just so good, they never age. That’s the stick control of Buster Keaton.