Levels Deep: Bob Gullotti's Practice of Presence


 Whether we’re on the bandstand, in the studio, or in the practice room, there is one thing all those situations require of us. Attention! When we are completely present, we can flow with what we are doing and complement the music we play. This carries over into the rest of life, whether we are alone or interacting with other humans.

Our wonderful friend and colleague at Berklee, the late Bob Gullotti, was a legendary Boston-area drummer who formed a trio called The Fringe (with George Garzone) - playing improvised music for fifty years! One can imagine how present one has to be to perform spontaneous composition night after night.

Gullotti developed an exercise he called “Levels Deep,” with the intention of developing concentration and focus. It’s an exercise that never gets old because it can be played a different way every time it’s practiced. 

The practice is to take any two-measure phrase from Ted Reed’s Progressive...

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Creative Practice Strategies for Drummers 1

"What should I practice?"

This question crosses every creative person's mind at some point. The short answer is: practice something requiring you to be present. Presence is ultimately what we need in any situation, musical or otherwise.  The long answer depends on where you are in life, how much time you have to practice, and your aspirations.

In my experience, I've found one can't go wrong practicing the basics. If you want to build a house, you first must lay a solid foundation.  I'd like to share some techniques and strategies that will make your practice more efficient and more joyful.   

I practice the 40 P.A.S. rudiments daily.   It's a great way to warm up, helps you get control of the spacing between the notes, and helps you control your dynamic range. 

I have been practicing a form of Alan Dawson's Rudimental Ritual, where I perform a series of rudiments on the...

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