Drummer’s Odyssey camp 2018

Drummers Odyssey camp

Coming to Firebird Studios in October, our resident drum teacher AJ Rousell has put together the very first drum camp in Bristol. Twenty four lucky drummers will have a chance to study with some of the world's premiere drummers.

He's also teamed up with several great drum and percussion manufacturers to provide great goodie bags for everyone who attends. Brands including Hardcase, Vic Firth, Evans, Protection Racket, Vater, Code, Cosmic Ears are already involved, with more being announced all the time.

You do not get the chance to study with teachers like this very often and in our humble opinion, you'd be mad not to come along and get an intense learning experience that will take your playing to a new level!

THE DRUMMER'S ODYSSEY CAMP is an intensive weekend of drumming education, hosted in Bristol (UK) on the 27th & 28th of October 2018. Each year will see a different Trio of incredible drummers being brought to TDOC, who will give inspiration, education and guidance for all attendees who are looking to push their drumming.

The line up for TDOC 2018 features:

Emmanuelle Caplette drummer

Emmanuelle Caplette

  • Judge for 'Hit like a Girl' Competition,
  • Main Stage artist at UK Drum Show 2017,
  • Guest Drummer for 'Late with Seth Myers',
  • Internationally renowned educator, highly in demand session drummer.

Pete Cater

  • Voted one of the top 5 jazz drummers in Modern Drummer Magazine Poll 2015
  • Band Leader for 'The Pete Cater Big Band', Main Stage artist at London Drum Show 2016 & 2018.
Pete Cater jazz drums
Pete Riley drummer

Pete Riley

  • Main contributor for Rhythm Magazine,
  • Head of drums at the Academy of Contemporary Music,
  • Highly sought after Session Drummer (Guthrie Govan & Republica)


On the 27th/28th October, students will receive a 2 hour session with each tutor on both the Saturday and Sunday. Resulting in 12 hours worth of lessons, within intimate groups of 8 students max.  There is a buffet lunch provided on both days, and also a Camp Goodie Bag for each attendee.

Drummers Odyssey Goody bag


Price for the whole weekend is £330, which works out at less than £30/hour with teachers that would typically charge double for a private lesson!

To book a place, fill in your details on the booking form below:

Practicing Tips for Parents

Alun teaching guitar

We’ve had lots of parents come to us and ask how to get their children to practice when they’re at home, so we asked the teachers what they thought and they gave us the ideas below.


  1. Start with a basic stretch.
  2. Warm up with mountain climbing exercise or a scale if you’ve done those in your lessons – one time as slowly as possible without wobbling and then a second time as quickly as possible. Repeat each twice.
  3. Continue to work through study book Abracadabra Violin…
  4. Aim to practice at least three times a week for around ten minutes each time
  5. Refer to your practice notebooks for specific practise tips from Mike and if you don’t yet have one, bring a notebook to your next lesson


  1. Regular shorter practice sessions are better than cramming everything into one day! Your fingers need to play the keys often to keep them agile, and you’ll find it much easier to memorise pieces by doing little but often.
  2. Always start with a short warm up. This could be scales, exercises, or playing a piece you’re already really comfortable with. It will help warm up your fingers and give you focus for the rest of your practice.
  3. Break up pieces into small sections, but don’t just stick to the parts you’re best at! Make sure you spend plenty of time on the sections you’re not comfortable with, then slowly put it all together until you have the entire piece.
  4. It’s important to be relaxed when playing any instrument. Make sure you have a comfortable sitting position, and that your wrists are loose and flexible. The more relaxed you can be, the longer you can play for!
  5. Have fun! Remember, music is as much about what you want to play as anything else. Feel free to experiment, write your own songs, and try to figure out your favourite songs.​


  1. TAKE IT SLOW! There is no rush to get something, it takes as long as it takes. If you rush and try and play something to fast to early then you’ll most likely learn it wrong. take it nice and slow until it feels comfortable, then start speeding it up slowly.
  2. ALWAYS REMEMBER THE STUFF YOU COULDN’T DO AND NOW CAN. It can be so easy to become frustrated when something is difficult, but a good tip is to always remember that the stuff you now find easy was difficult as one point! The fact you are struggling with something shows you are pushing yourself. Stay patient and remember how at one point, the easy stuff was difficult!
  3. WRITE DOWN PROGRESS. If you are practicing a specific drum beat that is tricky, after each practice write how hard you found it on a scale of 1-10. Nothing keeps your motivation more than seeing a drum beat getting easier infant of your eyes. Even if its only a number less each time you practice.
  4. GET YOUR PARENTS TO QUIZ YOU. Give you parents three names of drum beats and see if you can play them when you are asked. To make this harder, let you parents decide whether you play them fast or slow, and then for a number of bars! Make a game out of it!
  5. QUALITY NOT QUANTITY – aim for a 20-minute practice session a few times a week and spend 5 mins: recapping previous exercises, 10 mins: practice new material, 5 minutes just playing what feels comfortable and what is fun!


  1. Ensure you can confidently read chord diagrams. Sit down with The Complete Guitar Player and test yourself by attempting to work out a chord that you haven’t yet learnt from the diagram. If you struggle with this, this means we need to go over it in class a few more times. Once you can do this, learning new chords becomes easy and leads us onto the next phase, which is:
  2. Memorising the chords. Being able to learn chords from the diagrams is great, but it will only get you so far! There’s no use in trying to learn whole songs if you constantly have to look back at chord diagrams. Each time you learn a chord: strum it, look at it paying particular attention to what it looks like and its shape, and say the name of the chord aloud to yourself. Repeat this three times, then put your hand on your leg and count to ten. Try to remember the chord shape, and repeat the process.
  3. Changing chords. Practice one chord change repeatedly (eg D to E). Pay particular attention to what each finger does, and whether all fingers need to move or be lifted from the string. With some chord changes, not all fingers need to move and just realising this can make changing chords much easier. If you’re confused by this, let Alun know in lessons and he can go over it again slowly.
  4. Have at least 2 x 15 minute practice sessions a week. If you’re really keen, 15 minutes a day and you’ll make serious progress!
  5. If you can, LISTEN to the songs we’re learning (if you have internet access, try Spotify or YouTube). That way you’ll get a better sense of how it’s meant to sound, and you can even play along.

Term 6 is underway!

Saturday Music Club Logo

This is just a quick post to say that Term 6 starts tomorrow for Saturday Music Club. It's an 8 week term so will cost £60 per child and will end on 21st July.

For those of you who didn't know, we run a music school every Saturday with children of all ages learning guitar, keyboards, drums and violin in small groups. If you'd like to know more about it then please click on the button below.

See you all tomorrow!

Bristol venues helped by Agent of Change law

We’re so happy to hear that the Agent of Change law has been brought into the National Planing Policy Framework meaning that developers can’t move into an area where a music venue is, build flats and then get the music venue to pickup the cost of soundproofing further to avoid complaints from flat owners living in the new development.
It’s great news for live music venues like the Thekla, Fiddlers and more around the city.

Ibiza DJ 80 LED parbar problems

I bought these lights from an online retailer as the price was ridiculously cheap for what they were (2 x four LED lights for £130 odd quid). The trouble you have with lights at this price point is that they usually aren’t put together that well and so with a great sense of timing, one of the lights stopped working two weeks after I’d had them delivered.
I’d tried to get it replaced but the online retailer was being the very definition of an online retailer (truculent, evasive and generally a bit shit). So after a while I thought “sod it, I’ll see what’s inside” and it’s a lot less than I had thought.
Ibiza DJ 80 LEDThe piece that seemed to be doing the grunt work was this pcb located on the left had side of the unit. I had noticed that the power would come in and cut out when you rattled the light bar so I thought it would probably be a loose wire or a dry joint. Luckily it was the former. There are two connection blocks that I’ve highlighted in this hastily taken photo that deliver the power to the lights themselves and I found that they’d been screwed in but not tightened enough. A few turns of a screwdriver and my unit was working perfectly.
So my advice if you do buy cheap lights is don’t try to get them replaced, open up the unit and see if you can fix it yourself. This obviously comes with the warning that you should know what you are doing and the potential dangers inherent in working on an electrical item. Disconnect the power before working on anything. This unit does come with an led attached to the pcb that lights up when there’s power going to the unit. Make sure it’s off before doing anything!

Billy Corgan 

This is an amazing podcast from Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, dealing with music business shenanigans, how major labels screwed artists to become shareholders in Spotify, fan expectation and a band’s responsibility to them.
It’s two hours of serious knowledge. Listen, learn and absorb!
#1038 – Billy Corgan. Click here

What you can do to Save Thekla

As many of you have also recently found out, one of Bristol’s favourite music venues has the threat of closure from developers hanging over it. Much like The Fleece before it, The Thekla is potentially under threat from a development on the Redcliffe Wharf opposite it. Many people are going online to express their support for the venerable music institute and that’s great to see, but there are also concrete steps you can take to help raise awareness within the council and let them know that this has to be a key part of the development plans.

Write to Bristol Council Planning Department

Up until 12pm today you can email the planning department expressing your concerns regarding the planning application. Email democratic.services@bristol.gov.uk using the subject line “Statement regarding Application Nos 17/02049/F & 17/02050/LA” and tell them what you think about the potential impact of live music venues in the area and specifically The Thekla and ask whether or not provisions have been made to ensure this long established venue is not under threat from noise complaints. Having read through the planning document there are particular areas to highlight in your email.
Section 7 Response to Community Publicity
– Concern that the noise assessment undertaken doesn’t properly consider the potential amenity impacts of the late night live music venues in the vicinity.
8.19.1. The Bristol City Council Pollution Control team commented that the noise assessment for the site should take into account the potential for noise from the Thekla over the weekend, and that this could be secured through condition.
6. Noise Sensitive Premises Assessment
A detailed acoustic report on the existing noise climate at the development site will be submitted to and approved in writing by the Council prior to the commencement of the development hereby approved.
The details submitted shall specify the development phase(s) to which they relate. The report shall include a scheme of noise insulation measures for all residential accommodation. The noise insulation measures shall be designed to achieve noise insulation to a standard that nuisance will not be caused to the occupiers of residential accommodation by noise from the following:

a) Music and customer noise from the nearby licensed premises over a weekend and from the licensed premises to be provided as part of the development.

Noise Complaints

The last two items are critical and Thekla owners DHP have already expressed concerns that the Environmental Impact Assessment carried out was on a night when they weren’t even open.
We will be writing in and making sure our voices are heard. If you have the time, then write an email or call the planning department. You can also find out more about the planning committee below:

The garden is taking off!

Spring definitely seems to be getting its act together and we’ve had some really sunny days at the studio. One of the great side effects of this is that our garden is really starting to kick into high gear. Loads of plants growing, blooming and budding. It’s south facing so it’s a real sun trap and a great place to take a break from rehearsing and sit with a coffee or a cold drink!
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New amp!

We’ve got ourselves a new bass amp! We’ve been treating the guitarists and drummers to new stuff so we thought it was time to give the bass players something to jump up and down about. This baby packs 350 watts into her tiny frame and 2 10″ speakers to give you that classic Ampeg growl. You can also plug a 1 x 15″ cab in and it’ll up-rate to 500 watts and give your guitarist something to think about when they do that ridiculous solo that doesn’t need to be there.
We’ll be hiring her out for £5 a session. Have fun!
Ampeg BA500 bass combo
Ampeg BA500 bass amp