Breaking The Taboo – The Jeff Davenport ApproachLauren Fearon
Being a prolific evader of tuning my drums, I was slightly nervous of going to Jeff’s tuning clinic. The fear of being wrong, of seeming out of my depth, and consequently feeling stupid in a room possibly full of very experienced drummers, was quite a daunting thought.
However, as soon as we all gathered for the talk, my apprehension subsided as I realized that this was just a chance to hear from other drummers – what they were doing with their kits, how they liked to tune their drums, and what problems they wanted explained. Jeff was not just a speaker at a seminar but a conduit for drummers to bounce ideas of each other, and within a few minutes all of us were enthusiastically sharing problems and ideas. There was a great range of tastes, from some who were after absolute precision in tuning, to others who favored de-tuning their drumheads altogether.
The talk itself was also varied and dynamic, it wasn’t the typified expert pontificating to the masses. This was very much an intimate affair with quirks thrown in for variance. For example, there was the ‘Vintage Corner,’ as Jeff himself termed it. Out of which; as the session went on, various peculiarities were passed around for inspection.
The tuning demonstration itself was very simplistic in approach but was revealed in such a way that it made me want to go home at that moment, rip my kit apart, and start from scratch. Tuning to pitch was favored over tuning to the melody, but this wasn’t a stringent approach, as Jeff later elaborated that by tuning a tom to A in a gig once, seemed to accent perfectly the song for which it was aimed for. Thus the flexibility of tuning was an underlying factor to this clinic.
I was very touched by the welcoming atmosphere that Sutton Music Shop provided, the way in which they were readily willing to answer questions and help, was unlike anything I’d come across from music sellers before. Obviously it was a chance for the vendors and Remo to make sales, but it was also made abundantly clear that this was very much about the sharing of knowledge between like-minded people.
This was an aspect that spoke so strongly to me – just getting out there and talking to other drummers is something that is so reassuring and fun. I wish clinics like this could happen more frequently. The Internet is a good resource, and it does help to connect people over a vast amount of space. However, there is something so enlightening about a clinic, such as Jeff’s, which allows you to meet other drummers face to face.
There was a drastically wide range of experience present at the clinic; from a 9-year-old self-professed, expert tuner – to a marching band conductor, who was having problems with tuning his snares to the same pitch. The fact that the clinic had attracted such diversities was the key to the atmosphere and depth of information passed around. So if you think you know everything about tuning, try one of Jeff Davenport’s tuning clinics, you may be surprised…
A Great thank you to Jeff Davenport for sharing his expertise, and thank you for Sutton Music Centre for making it such a memorable evening!