Rob Robinson

On the Eve of Annapolis

     I just wanted to take a second to share about my genuine enthusiasm as I approach my first solo snare competition in 30 years. As I sit here, a little over a week away from the competition, I feel really good about the way I'm playing. It's been a slow process back to playing at a high level again but it's been fun and I've learned a lot of new things.

     The year started off with just hitting the pad everyday and making the commitment to play again. Along the way I started to experiment with a lot of new ideas. Some had been with me for a while and others were coming just from playing again. Of course I would always go back to some of my favorite patterns from my DCI solo days also. As the months began to go by I started to see that this was a real possibility. I felt little moments where the chops had some resemblance of what I used to know. By late Spring I had put together a lot of material for my solo. I was amazed when I timed it for the first time that it was clocking in right around 5 minutes. Knowing that I could trim a little of that time down with tempo I still had some major decisions about what to cut and what to keep.

     One of the best things that happened to me this year was the chance to perform at a clinic in Lancaster, PA in late June. The performance and clinic, which was videoed in it's entirety, gave me the chance to review and see things that were working and things that were not. There were still a couple of hard choices but in the end I'm happy with the results. I've managed to basically write a new solo with some sprinklings of my last DCI solo from 1982.

     There are a lot of challenges that we face as older drummers. One of the things that I was faced with over the past 8 months was the occasional injury. Not just aches and pains from working out my chops but some other pains that seem to be reoccurring. Finding ways to work through those has been a challenge but my desire to do this again is what keeps me going forward. Going back and forth between the gummy practice pad and the drum gave me the chance to work different aspects of my playing as well as give certain pains a chance to heal.

     I've had some thoughts about the future. I would like to continue doing this again as I see no real reason why I can't. I look forward to experimenting with different products such as heads and sticks. I've had some thoughts about going back to a mylar head but I really don't know yet. Although my style of playing has changed a little bit over the past 30 years I still basically play the shit out of the top head. I don't think I will last very long playing that way on kevlar even with some of the hybrid models.

      I wanted to play again this year for a few reasons. First and foremost because I love it. I had some new things I'd been tinkering with and that was just an added incentive. Secondly I have been a little discouraged about some of the things I read about and see in solo snare drumming these days. I don't believe for a second that we can ever return to the past but if I can somehow help just a little bit to move it forward in a positive direction I would be happy. And last and a little bit personal. It's been 30 years since I won my last DCI snare title. A lot of life has gone by and I'm still kicking. Lets celebrate!!