by James Murphy

Welcome to the first installment of a short series on gaining freedom and flow while soloing. Many of us have struggled with the ability to play a solo freely and musically without the constant burden of thinking about which idea to play next. In these articles we’ll discuss my “glue” method of soloing, which I developed to connect ideas at fast note rates without hesitation.

To begin using this method, you’ll need to come up with two set ideas that can stand alone as fills, have clearly defined start and end points, and utilize a resolution. Then you’ll need a glue sticking that can be looped easily and that can be played using different dynamics and orchestrations on the kit, to bridge the two set ideas so that they connect smoothly.

Practicing the glue method of soloing will be very structured and mechanical at first. However, this structure transforms into spontaneous freedom as you add more set ideas and glue stickings. Through muscle memory comes the freedom to mix and match figures into a seamless flow of ideas. When you’re practicing the steps outlined in the article, it’s important to spend quality time on each section in order to develop muscle memory.

James Murphy teaches at the Berklee College of Music and is a drumset player for the Blue Man Group in Boston. He also gives online drum lessons at peaceanddrums.com.

Pickup the December 2014 issue of Modern Drummer magazine featuring Gregg Bissonette in print here, on iTunes here, on GooglePlay here, or see what’s in the issue here.