Desert Island Drum Books: #2 ‘Great Hands For A Lifetime’ by Tommy Igoe (DVD/Book)


Well my number 1 was also by Mr Igoe, so I’d like to stress that I’m not trying to date him and I’m not his Mum using a pseudonym either. This isn’t necessarily my second favourite ever drum book. It may be… but after the giddy heights of ‘Groove Essentials’ I have a couple of faves and they all do the job (or A job) very well indeed. I was in Tommy Igoe mode so I thought I’d get my thoughts out on this one now.

When I heard Tommy Igoe was making a ‘Hands’ book I was pumped. After the outrageous success of ‘Groove Essentials’ my expectations were high. I’m not a fan of most hands focussed presentations either. I was in what i imagine to be a common dilemma. I want great hands, but i need a modern approach. Something that will keep my students and I awake would be a great start.

‘Great Hands For A lifetime’ is even better than I hoped. The subject is handled expertly, with great production values and humour to boot. The way Tommy trims the fat on these traditionally bloated topics is so refreshing. When it comes to hands I want something fun, something achievable and challenging. Not too much to ask for is it?
The drumming world does not require more ‘fulcrum’, pivot etc (yawn) etc terminology. It’s dull, old-fashioned, out dated and ( I may get crucified for this) probably unnecessary. I’ve seen many a drummer with perfect technique who can’t play to save himself. And of course (before you start shouting) vice versa, drummers with potential who don’t have the chops or technique to execute how they would like. ‘Great Hands For A Lifetime’ gets the fulcrum, whoops i mean balance just right.

Again Tommy has thought ahead and utilised some of his students to participate. They are of varying skill levels and this provides great accessibility for the ‘everyman’ into the normally bone dry world of hand technique.

The golden geese of this book/DVD package are the lifetime workouts. These are possibly inspired by the Alan Dawson ‘rudiment ritual’? If not they are along the same lines. Continuous hand workout drills to be played along with the audio file that contains a click (which moves) and Tommy helping you along cueing each new rudiment or exercise. Some of the tips on the DVD are just gold. I particularly enjoyed his check patterns and doubles advice. So simple, so effective. I probably use and abuse the check pattern trick each and every day depending on what new seemingly impossible challenge arises. One subtle doubles tip improved my doubles instantly. I spent a week chastising myself for not figuring it out for myself.

My students love these workouts. There is a sense of accomplishment but of course you can always execute things better. Always a work in progress. I’m also a believer in letting my students figure out their technique through playing. If there’s a major problem, then sure, we can fix it. But if it ain’t broke… DON’T complicate it! I imagine so many students getting put off by overly technical terms and pursuit of perfection with regards to hand technique.

Pro’s: Like ‘GE’ so much work has gone into this. And you are in the hands (no pun intended) of a master teacher. Phenomenal effort from Tommy again.

Cons: None.
Again… if I have to dig (like I had to with Groove Essentials), this is not aimed at rank amateurs. You would want a bit of know how going in. In saying that I have my beginner students onto the ‘Basic’ warm up fairly early on after some singles, doubles and paradiddles prep work.

Lowdown: ‘Great Hands’ DID improve my hands dramatically. If you want one ‘hands’ resource this is the one. Great Hands is beautifully and thoughtfully laid out and presented. Just bite the bullet and invest in your drumming. You’ll be glad.

Rating: 10 out of 10.

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