The (title) question is rhetorical. The following are opinions and observations … Contributions to the process of discovering answers.
A certain amount of technique is necessary to say what you want to say, with intent. Having no technical ability on an instrument impedes a person’s ability to convey the intended feeling of the music effectively.
In conversations about style, with drummers from varying backgrounds and styles, each has cited different physical approaches and different patterns that are crucial to what he/she does musically. To me, these approaches and patterns are components of technique.
How much technique is enough?
Maybe another, more personal, question moves us closer to an answer.
Can I say all I want to say on my instrument?
If your answer is yes, then it would seem that you might not have any need to learn more technique. If your answer is no, then there is work to be done. Enjoy!
In my last article, a key word was “vocabulary.” Someone suggested that its use might have been ambiguous. I’d like to explain my intent in using this word as it directly relates to this article.
Technique is not limited to physical motion. Learning different concepts, such as, independence, physical techniques for speed and ease of execution, sticking patterns, hand and foot patterns, and various exercises that allow for traveling between rhythmic subdivisions, are important when a drummer has something to say on the drums.
These skills are techniques that we draw upon to create, and to give our unique musical input.
In language, we rely on our understanding of words to help us describe thoughts or feelings. Similarly, each learned technique helps us to develop a “vocabulary” to draw from in order to make musical statements. This does not mean that we automatically have the ability to function easily in musical conversation. In fact, we still need to put these pieces into context, and most often, especially for drummers, that involves coordinating our musical expression with other people/players. Experience!
People with the most vocabulary or techniques do not necessarily have the most interesting things to say, nor are popular forms of language or art the most interesting. Surely, that type of judgement can come only from the people digesting the language or art. Clearly, however, a solid foundation on ones instrument is essential to state one’s intent clearly and to express one’s feelings musically.
Education is necessary to develop skill. With guidance, support, and information, not only can we develop skill, but we can also have many different skill sets available to us, increasing the possibilities of being relevant, having lucrative work, and enjoying longevity as an artist.