Drum Fills

3 Simple Steps to Create Powerful Drum Fills

Drum Fills

Want to take your drumming to the next level? Learn how to write drum fills. Here, Chicago, IL drum instructor Michael P. shares his three simple steps to create powerful drum fills…

As a drum teacher, I hear a lot of questions about drum fills.

Drum fills are great to spice up a song and show off your chops, but when you sit down to write a fill, it’s easy to end up scratching your head and asking yourself, “what do I do now?”

So next time you find yourself in this situation, try these three steps to turn a simple idea into a killer drum fill.

Step 1: Research

The first step in putting together a great fill is to dig for ideas. These days, it’s easier than ever. Just Google “cool drum pattern,” “drum rudiments,” or “accent patterns,” or check out one of the many drum lessons on YouTube.

Another great strategy is to listen to drummers who play your favorite styles. See what elements they use in their fills, and try to use similar elements in your own songs.

Don’t just consider rhythm; think about the wide range of dynamics and timbres available on your drum set.

Here are some elements I like to use in my fills:

  • Rhythm: eighth notes, sixteenth notes, triplets, flams, five-stroke rolls
  • Dynamics: accent patterns, ghost notes
  • Timbre: double-kick, tom-tom, ride bell, open hi-hat

If you want to get creative, listen to different music styles and see if you can incorporate these ideas in your own style. Remember, the goal of a drum fill is to complement the rest of the music, so try to choose elements that will fit with your song.

Here’s an example:

My fill is a one-measure chorus-to-verse transition in a driving metal song, but I’ve decided to start simple with this classic accent pattern:

drum fills piture 1

I’ll also add in triplets, double kick, and tom-toms for extra flavor.

Step 2: Deliberate Experimentation

Now that you have elements to put in your fill, it’s time for the fun part: experimenting!

At an easy tempo, play through the beat just before the fill. Once you have a good feel for that part of the song, try out a fill. Piece together some elements you like, play through them, and see how they sound together.

Then, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there a different rhythm I could use to spice this up (flam, triplet, etc.)?
  • Can I switch this note or group of notes to different instruments?
  • Could I alter the volume or accent the notes in a different way?

I call this step deliberate experimentation because I use these questions systematically to transform the fill into something I really like, as in the following example:

 

drum fills piture 1

I’ve already got some good accents here, but I want to make the unaccented rhythms more interesting, so I’ll add triplets (rhythm).

drum fills

Much better, but now the fill is a bit monotonous because it’s only played on the snare drum.

I’m going to throw in some double kick (timbre).

drum fills picture 3

Great. Now, let’s bring out the accents even more by doubling them up on the floor tom as well (dynamics).

I still think there’s a bit too much snare, so let’s put the unaccented snare hits on the medium tom-tom instead (timbre).

 

drum fills picture 4

There. That’s a pretty awesome fill. See how I changed one or two elements each time to transform the ordinary accent pattern into something cool?

Step 3: Testing

Now that you have a cool fill, it’s time to test it out.

Play the fill in the context of the song. Does it match the energy and the timing? Does it complement the other instruments? Is it carrying through an important transition?

If you’re in a musical group, this is a good time to ask for feedback. Your fellow musicians will be able to tell you if you’re suffering from ODS (Overactive Drummer Syndrome).

If the fill doesn’t fit with the music, that’s OK. You aren’t always going to get it right the first time. Write down your idea and go have some more fun experimenting!

Here’s a sample of my drum fill:

I’m pretty pleased with how it sounds, so I’m going to keep it and start working on the next one.

Well, that’s it! Now you know the secret to making awesome drum fills: research, experimentation, and testing.

Go ahead and give this process a try; before long, you’ll be rocking the house like your favorite drummers!

Michael P.Post Author: Michael P.
Michael P. teaches percussion and drum lessons in Chicago, IL. He has been playing drums for over 15 years, and recently played with the heavy metal band Erlang Kovata.  Learn more about Micahel here!

Photo by Flavio Serpa

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honor vic firth

The Drumming Community Honors Vic Firth

honor vic firth

The drumming community took to Twitter after news broke that Vic Firth, timpanist and drum stick maker passed away in his Boston home Sunday at the age of 85.

Everett “Vic” Firth was a timpanist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 46 years prior to starting the Vic Firth percussion equipment company.

Known for his talent and his well-designed drum sticks and percussion equipment, Firth was a beloved, respected member of the drumming world.

vic firth

“For me, it has been an artist in music and in their own inventions as Vic Firth accompanied them on their lost family.”

– drummer, percussionist, and music teacher @samuelmauricioa

 

vic firth

“Vic Firth drumsticks and accessories are my best drumming tools. To this and from this… R.I.P.”

– drummer @ll_bluewind_ll

vic firth

“I was sad to hear the news. I have been testing new carbon fiber drum sticks for him. True man with class.”

– Drummer, producer, and composer @URIT2

vic firth

“It came to me as a shock, but what can we do. His boundless passion for music and musicians. RIP #vicfirth

– drummer @nanacwasis 

vic firth 4

“When I first started drumming, I used Vic Firth. I learned how to play using Vic Firth. The man is a legend and his company will live on. People will remember him, and be grateful when they look in their hands and see his name on their sticks.”

– drummer @lindsaybird44

vic firth

From what I hear, he was an amazing person. Also, he gave us THE drum stick. His influence on the drumming community is unmatched.”

– drummer @beckbeat

vic firth

“I’m a huge fan of Vic Firth because he was a timpanist. Very sad day for drummers, but his sticks will live on!”

– drummer @jynyates

 

vic firth last

“Vic Firth lived a long, prolific, and impactful life. Let’s celebrate him.”

– record producer/recording engineer @stsn

These are just a few of many thoughts, comments, and memories shared by drummers and music enthusiasts.

Share your thoughts and condolences in the comments below.

The drum community lost an important, beloved member.

R.I.P. Mr. Firth.

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cymbals

Drummer’s Gear Guide: A Crash Course on Cymbals

cymbals

As you’re learning drums you will acquire new gear like drum sticks, drum sets, and cymbals. It’s important to understand how drum equipment can influence your sound, and it’s helpful to have the appropriate information to make smart buying decisions. Here, Edmond, OK drum instructor Tracy D. gives you a crash course on cymbals…

Your cymbals make up a complex, beautiful mix of voices. As you develop, your ears will crave more nuance and depth from your instrument(s).

When it comes to cymbals, there are important things for you to consider like tonal color, size, finish, and application.

I will explain these factors and introduce you to brands  to help you find the right cymbals to suit your needs.

Anatomy

  • The raised center of the cymbal is the bell, and the bow is the area between the bell and the edge; you will use all of these surfaces when you play.
  • Higher quality cymbals are made of bell bronze (an alloy of copper, tin, and silver) usually called B20.
  • Entry-level cymbals are typically made of a B8 (92 percent copper, eight percent tin) alloy.

Sound

  • Lathing produces the concentric circles on its body, and the width – or lack of, affects the sound.
  • Hammering also affects sound by adding depth, dryness, and complexity.
  • The finish (brilliant, natural, or raw/unlathed) will also affect the sound (brighter to darker) and tend to accentuate the following qualities: glassy or shimmering (brilliant), steamy or simmering (natural), or complex and dark (raw).
  • The size and weight of the cymbals will affect the sound in terms of decay (the duration of time before the sound terminates) and volume.
  • Smaller, thinner, and usually with a flatter bow = quick or fast-decaying. Larger, heavier, and usually with a pronounced bow = “washy” or long-decaying, and will produce higher volume. A cymbal that is very dry and quick may be described as “trashy”.

All of these variables influence the overall effect, and several different options make it possible to create a customized palette.

Cymbal Types and Applications

There are several different types of cymbals that make up an expressive set, and each has a different, sometimes overlapping use:

  • Hi hats: Usually 13- 14 inches, have bark and bite. Hi hats keep the clock ticking; they have attitude and are tremendously expressive.
  • Crashes: Anywhere from 14- 22 inches, they add drama, mark transitions, and act as the loud speakers. You will most likely want several of these.
    • Splashes: Usually six – 12 inches, these are great for quieter passages or quick punches.
    • Rides: Generally 20 to 22 inches, rides range from articulate to washy. They carry bridges and choruses. They are prominent voices in jazz, and the bell is used quite often.
    • Effects: These come in all sizes and they can be Chinas, stacks, perforated, cup chimes, etc. They are your color instruments.

Now, let’s look at a few well-known brands. Remember, a cymbal series is like a family that plays well together.

Sabian

sabian b8 pro

Sabian B8 Pro – photo from Sabian

Sabian offers the B8 and B8 Pro series, among others. These are bright, entry-level cymbals.

Higher-quality cymbals in the brighter range include the AAX, AA, and Paragon series.

The darker series are the HH and HHX.

Zildjian

zildjian zbt

Zildjian ZBT – photo from Zildjian

Zildjian’s entry-level lines include the ZBT and ZHT (bright).

Higher-quality brights include the A Custom, or the K Custom in the dark range.

Meinl

meinl brilliant

Meinl Byzance Brillaint – photo from Meinl

Meinl offers the MCS at the entry level (bright) and on the upper tier, the  bright Byzance Brilliant.

The Byzance Dark speaks for itself.

Paiste

Paiste

photo from Paiste

Paiste offers the PST (bright) and others, at the entry level, and the more refined Signature Precision on the brighter side.

The complex Signature Dark Energy rounds out the range.
While you can get a picture of a cymbal’s sound from online sources, nothing beats first-hand trials when making your selection. Consider how the cymbals will interact with your drum set, and know that the room will affect the sound, as well.

You may choose to stay within a specific series or mix it up a bit for a more customized sound. Either way, enjoy the process and have fun!

What type of cymbals have you tried? What did you like about them? Let us know in the comments below!

Get started with your drum lessons today, find a drum teacher near you! 

Photo by j_arlecchino

TracyDPost Author: Tracy D.
Tracy D. teaches percussion and drum lessons in Edmond, OK, as well as online. She has been playing the drums with various bands for more than 13 years. Tracy earned her Bachelor’s in Music Education from Oklahoma Christian University and has played with the OKC Community Orchestra since 2009.  Learn more about Tracy here!

 

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Play Drums

Drum Sticking Stars: 10 Celebrities Who Play Drums

Play Drums

In the age of reality television, talent isn’t always a prerequisite to stardom, but some of today’s celebrities are legitimately multi-talented — and some of them are even drummers.

Here are 10 celebrities who play drums.

1. Miles Teller

If you saw Miles Teller play drums in “Whiplash, you probably thought he had a double, or that the filmmakers used camera tricks or CGI, but that was actually the actor playing the drums.

Not only was Teller a rock drummer as a teenager, he also practiced jazz drumming for two months prior to filming.

2. Will Ferrell

While he may be well known for his cowbell on “Saturday Night Live” (SNL), Will Ferrell can also play drums.

His drum skills and striking resemblance to Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith inspired a drum-off on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

3. Craig Ferguson

Before becoming the host of the “Late Late Show,” Craig Ferguson was a drummer for the Dreamboys, which featured “Doctor Who’s” Peter Capaldi on guitar and vocals.

You can also catch Ferguson playing drums in the “Late Late Show’s” opening theme montage.

4. Billy Bob Thornton


At age nine, Billy Bob Thornton wanted to be Ringo Starr. Thornton played drums in high school and later toured with a ZZ Top tribute band.

After filming “Sling Blade,” Thornton headed to Nashville and has since released multiple albums.

Thornton’s band, The Box Masters, recently did some shows with the real ZZ Top.

5. Jeremy Piven

“Entourage” star Jeremy Piven plays drums every chance he gets.

In 2012, he moved into a London apartment while working on the Masterpiece series “Mr. Selfridge.” Piven told InStyle, “I got a drum kit for my place. I was so excited to play it, I ran in…and just jumped on the kit and started playing. Maybe a minute and a half into it, I looked up and all my neighbors were surrounding me. It was a nightmare!”

6. Gary Busey

Gary Busey received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Buddy Holly in 1978, but did you know he was originally cast to play the drummer in an earlier version of the biopic?

Busey broke into showbiz as a drummer, playing for the likes of Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson—two men with whom he would later share the big screen.

7. Fred Armisen


Fans of “SNL” recognize Fred Armisen for his comedic genius, but fans of Chicago punk rock know him as the drummer for Trenchmouth.

Armisen’s passion for drums actually led him to comedy. While interviewing bands, Armisen acted like funny characters. “It kind of took off. Within the space of about a year, I completely went from being a musician to being a comedian,” Armisen told Drum Magazine.

8. Jason Schwartzman

When Jason Schwartzman was in the third grade, he and some friends decided to form a band. After his first two friends called guitar and bass, Schwartzman was left with the drums. The rest is history.

Schwartzman played drums for Phantom Planet. Their single “California” was used as the theme for “The O.C.”

9. Mike Piazza

Mike Piazza was one of Major League Baseball’s heavy hitters, but he also loves heavy metal.

Piazza began playing drums as a high school senior. He actually took lessons from session pro Gregg Bissonette, who played with David Lee Roth.

Piazza told MLB.com, “It’s fun for me. I’ll always have a drum set in my house.”

10. Patrick Stewart

When this “Star Trek” alum has down time, he practices his newest passion: drumming.

Sir Patrick Stewart just started learning drums, and the 74-year-old actor proves it’s never too late to try something new.

Want to learn to play drums like these Hollywood stars? Sign up for drum lessons today! 

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The Five Hardest Drum Songs- are you up for the challenge-

The 5 Hardest Drum Songs: Are You Up to the Challenge?

The Five Hardest Drum Songs- are you up for the challenge-

Everyone learns drums at a different pace, and it’s important to determine the right pace for you. Sometimes, however, you want to challenge yourself and see what you can do. Take a break from your normal practice routine and try your hand at these challenging drum songs, chosen by San Diego, CA drum instructor Maegan W

Calling all drummers! If you’re ready for a challenge, here are some of the hardest drum songs (in my humble opinion) for you to tackle on your drum kit.

These songs are the most challenging because they include several, if not all, of the following criteria:

  • Precise dynamic control and execution: Every level of every note is intended and complimentary to the music.
  • Technicality: Most if not all of these songs contain very unique and challenging grooves and fills. They may seem simple at first, but they are much more difficult than they appear.
  • Speed: Many of these songs have grooves and fills played at high speeds for the amount of notes being played. They include complex beats played at top speeds.
  • Polyrhythms: Hard drum songs usually contain poly rhythms, or the simultaneous use of two or more conflicting rhythms.
  • Odd meter: Many of these songs are in odd time or odd meter. Common time is 4/4 and anything else is considered odd. Challenging drum songs will often incorporate several different time signatures in one song.

If you’re still up to the challenge, let’s get to the list!

Drum roll please…..

1. “La Villa Strangiato” – Rush


This song contains almost all of the criteria on our list, along with other aspects that make it extremely challenging.

Not only are there a ton of different parts to learn, but the technicality, speed, and precision put it on another level.

2. “Moby Dick” – Led Zeppelin


This song features some crazy footwork by John Bonham and great bass dynamics. There is a world of difference between playing these hand-foot combinations, and playing them with dynamics.

If you want to nail this song, you need to play with complete control and finesse.

3. “Ticks and Leeches” – Tool


This song can be described in one word: insane! But seriously, the polyrhythms are hard enough to figure out, let alone play all at once.

Watch the video, and pay close attention to Danny Carey’s precision.

This song is also physically demanding and requires a good deal of endurance.

4. “Goliath” – The Mars Volta

(or anything from The Mars Volta, really)


Start with a nasty groove in multiple time signatures, then add a blazing fast double bass beat, crazy fills, and blast beats (and that’s all before the breakdown).

Try this song, if you dare!

5. “Sedation Deprivation” – Nerve (Jojo Mayer)

Let’s compare this one to our list of criteria for the hardest drum songs:

Odd meter? Check!
Blazing speed? Check!
Insane Poly rhythms? Double check!
Complete dynamic control? Check!
Funky breakbeats? Check!

The list goes on…

This one may take a while, but will be well worth it once you’ve got it down; it has a hypnotizing groove and a smooth feel.

Of course, there are millions of songs that could be included in a list of the hardest drum songs, but these are my top five. My list may vary from other peoples’, but I wanted to include different types of music.

I hope you have fun with these songs, go ahead and have try to play some, or all of them.

Feel free to share your experience with us in the comments below!

Want to improve your drum skills? Search here for a drum instructor near you! 

 

Maegan-W
Post Author:
 Maegan W.
Maegan W. teaches drums, songwriting, and more in San Diego, CA. She earned a degree in Percussion from the Musician’s Institute, and has been teaching private lessons since 2004.  Learn more about Maegan here!

 

Photo by Sean Molin

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DRum News

Don’t Miss a Beat: The 10 Best Websites for Drum News

DRum News

If you’re serious about learning drums, you want to stay up to date with all the latest drum news. These 10 sites are great sources for gear reviews, industry news, artist interviews, and anything else experienced and aspiring drummers need to know.

1. Drummer Cafe

A leading resource for percussion and drum news, Drummer Cafe  connects a community of players from novice to professional.

Read the latest industry stories, check out product reviews, and find out about upcoming events like drumming clinics and specialty classes.

2. Not So Modern Drummer

Not So Modern Drummer is your go-to source for columns, product reviews (including a Drums of the Month feature), and other industry updates.

Stay up to date with the latest drum news by subscribing to the free monthly newsletter.

3. DrumChattr

On DrumChattr, you can find opinion pieces from top drummers on everything from recent performances and gear, to professional development advice and technique tips.

If you’d rather listen instead of reading, there is also a podcast with drummer interviews.

4. The Official Kind Beats

Along with advice, tutorials, and free drum loops, The Official Kind Beats website specializes in artist interviews.

Drummer Andrew McAuley runs the site, and posts on upcoming events, book releases, and the latest gear.

5. Sick Drummer Magazine

Sick Drummer Magazine features tips, tricks, and drum news from professionals in grind, metal, hardcore, progressive, and experimental styles.

Watch drum videos and catch up with the latest industry news.

“Sick Drummer Magazine is the first interactive drum magazine to focus on extreme drumming, while still providing content from other styles,” says I. Macdonald from Sick Drummer Magazine. “Our content is regularly promoting education through interviews, lessons, videos, and blogs from a wide variety of drummers, both up and coming, as well as established professionals.”

6. Music Radar

Music Radar is a top site for musicians, and there is an entire section dedicated to drums.

The site provides links to iPhone and iPad apps that you can use to practice, and you can also find press releases, news stories, reviews, and more.

7. Modern Drummer

Modern Drummer publishes many of their magazine features online, so you can read about industry news, events, products, and more.

Every few days, the site spotlights a different drummer, which gives you a chance to hear secrets and advice from your drumming idols.

Take a break from reading and check out some of the awesome performance videos.

8. Drummer Magazine

Drummer Magazine specializes in tuition pieces and interviews with drummers.

Catch up on the latest drum news and read gear reviews before making your next purchase.

9. Drum Gear Review

As the name implies, Drum Gear Review is all about products for drummers.

Read the unbiased opinions and recommendations on drums, cymbals, sticks, brushes, mallets, pedals, hardware, and more.

10. Vance West

This website and blog were created by professional live performer, studio musician, and gear blogger Vance West.

Find out about upcoming events, read interest pieces, and get a professional opinion on drum gear.

Whatever your style and interests, you can find all the inspiration you need on these websites.

What are your favorite sites for drum news?

Want to get started playing drums? Find a drum teacher near you today! 

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drummer

Words of Wisdom: 11 Drummers Share Their Best Advice for Beginners

When you’re learning to play drums, it’s important to remember that it takes hard work, determination, and patience in order to improve.

It may be a slow process, but don’t get discouraged; even experienced drummers had to start somewhere.

Need some inspiration? Here, 11 experienced drummers share their best advice for beginners.

 

1 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Never stop learning from everyone around you. Confidence, skill, dedication, and determination will ensure you go far!”

#NeverStop – @lindsaybird44 – Ontario, Canada drummer for @DirtyJeans

 

2 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Never give up and don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t play because your’e different. And no matter what you do, love what you’re doing. Smile and have fun! It’s what music is all about.”

@Jynyates – professional drum set and percussion teacher

 

3 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Take lessons. They give you a solid basis to build on until you’re ready to step out and explore on your own. You can never be too good at rudiments!”

@harryomatic – drummer for JuneBug

 

4 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“When it comes to getting good at anything, you have to put in the time; practice, practice, practice. Take lessons and learn from anyone and everyone. Play, play, play, and always have fun!”

@Richredmond – drummer, producer, and author

 

5 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Practice from the head, play from the heart.”

@Jonesylessons – Ireland session player and teacher

 

6 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Get a metronome, and always practice with it. It will help you keep time. And practice hard and don’t give up on your dreams.”

@drummerboi911Hole Dug Deep drummer

 

7 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Make it your passion! Even the simplest of lessons can be an intense learning experience! Also, watch ALL drummers and absorb what you see!

@jeffpagedrums – Burbank, CA drum teacher, drummer for @alicecooperland @theremotesband and @its_memargaret

 

8 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“I tell my students who struggle learning a new beat: If you can sing it, you can (almost) play it.” #rhythmisamelody

#rhythmisamelody – @beckbeat – touring drummer and songwriter

 

9 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Practicing without goals is like playing basketball without a hoop.”

@keithperc – Salt Lake City musician and educator

 

10 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Live in the pocket. This is so crucial. Play for the band and not for yourself; your career will go a long way!”

@MattPanaMitchell Grey drummer

 

11 - 10 Words of Wisdom for Beginner Drummers

“Learn the 40 rudiments early in your drumming career and NEVER stop practicing them! Mastering these will enhance your creativity behind the kit when playing beats and fills. Practice the rudiments on a practice pad and then apply them to the drum kit using multiple drums, cymbals, and even your feet.”

@MikeD_rums – New Jersey-based drummer

Follow these words of wisdom, keep practicing, and stick with. Before you know it, you’ll be an experienced drummer just like these guys, and beginner drummers will look to you for your advice!

Ready to get started? Search for a drum teacher near you! 

Photo by Anais

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drums-755530_1280

10 Steps Guaranteed to Make You a Better Drummer

10 Steps to Become a Great Drummer 3

If you’re taking drum lessons, you probably want to know the fastest, most efficient way to improve. While learning drums takes practice and hard work, there are certain steps that can take you from a beginner to an intermediate drummer, and beyond.

In this guest post, Marcel Blanchet, a drummer, producer, composer, and recording artist, shares his 10 steps to help you advance beyond the beginner stage, and put you on the path to becoming a great drummer… 

Every beginner has to have a starting point, but a beginner also needs a reference point to come back to in order to move forward.

I have been playing drums professionally for many years, and during this time I have learned  important lessons from trial and error, drum teachers, friends, and other professionals.

Here are 10 steps that will help you become a great drummer.

 

REPETITION

Repetition is the key to learning anything, but when it comes to drumming, you will have to repeat the same exercises over and over in order to improve.

Repeat the same hand and foot movements, read, or play the same rhythm over and over.

 

CONSISTENCY

 

For drummers, consistency is related to accuracy. When you’re accurate, you play in time. The groove is a consistent groove.

You will always be looked upon as a time keeper first.

sticks

 

You need drum sticks, you don’t necessarily need drums, at least when you’re a beginner.

Don’t just get a pair of drum sticks and think it’s the only pair of sticks you will ever need. Really spend some time at a music store or drum shop, and hold and feel the drum sticks.

Make sure they’re not too heavy or too long. Go with a teacher or another drummer and pick sticks together.

*For a look at different drum stick brands, check out our drummer’s gear guide.

WATCH AND LISTEN

Between YouTube, DVDs, and live performances, there are so many ways to watch and listen.

Watch as many other drummers as you can. Listen to the way they sound. Watch how they tune their drums, how they play, and how they hold their sticks.

Pay attention to their technique and practice this on your own.

 

RUDIMENTS

As a beginner, you don’t need to know all the rudiments to start playing, but it’s important to learn the basics.

Learn the single-stroke roll and the double-stroke roll, and learn to play them with your feet, too!

 

experiment

Experiment when you play; try something new every day.

If you’ve mastered the single-stroke roll, try playing it in between your hands and feet.

Try to play new sounds. You don’t even need a drum set for this, look for new sound sources like boxes, tin cans, plastic paint buckets, plastic pipes, and metal lids.

BE OBSESSIVE

We mean this in a good way, of course, but be obsessive about learning and playing drums.

Eat, sleep, read, watch, and consume all things drum related.

BE UNIQUE

Don’t just copy others, set yourself apart from other drummers.

This doesn’t mean you can’t learn from watching other drummers.  In fact, study their every move, but figure out what you have to offer that is unique, different, and special.

Find and develop your own signature sound.

stick with it

Find a style that you like and stick with it. You can always try new styles, but as a beginner, pick one style and stick with it.

If you like rock music, then play rock music. If you’re a hip hop fan, then play hip hop.

find a teacher

Find a teacher, and let him or her know what you really want to learn.

A private drum instructor can help you reach your goals and master your technique.

Marcel Blanchet is a drummer, composer, producer, and Sony recording artist. Marcel is a touring drummer for traveling shows, and has provided motivational keynote speeches and business entertainment through his drumming skills. Learn more about Marcel here!

 

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bass drum

5 Simple Ways to Boost Your Bass Drum Technique

bass drum

 

If you want to add some deep, booming sounds to your drum solos, then you need to develop your bass drum technique . Here, Saint Paul, MN drum instructor John S. shares his five keys to help you improve your bass drumming skills…

 

The bass drum is the heart and soul of the drum set. If you’ve ever been to a rock concert or blasted the radio in your car, you know that the bass drum is the drum that you actually feel. The bass drum is important, it’s often up to the bass drum to establish the foundation of the groove.

The bass drum also presents a unique challenge because you play it with your foot rather than your hands. There are countless techniques and exercises to help you develop your bass drum technique.

To help you get started, here are five things to remember when you practice the bass drum.

1. Use a Metronome

This is without a doubt the most important point on this list. Using a metronome may seem pretty straightforward, but there is a correct and incorrect way to use a metronome to practice drums.

As a general rule, you should start practicing at a slow tempo, and gradually increase your tempo in small increments.  For many drummers, it’s actually harder to play a slow pattern because there’s more room between each note.

To improve your bass drum technique at a slow tempo, use subdivisions on the metronome (8th- and 16th-note patterns) to improve your timing and accuracy.

Hint: If your metronome doesn’t have a setting for subdivisions, multiply the tempo times two to get an 8th-note pulse.

2. Technique

There are two basic ways to play the bass drum: heel up and heel down. Playing the bass drum with your heel up gives you more power, while playing with your heel down provides a quieter, more resonant tone.

Regardless of the type of music you’re playing, it’s important to develop both techniques since many advanced patterns require the ability to integrate techniques.

3. Coordination

Coordination refers to the fluid relationship between the bass drum foot and the rest of your limbs. To develop coordination, practice exercises that force your hands and feet to work together in alternating patterns.

For example, alternate two strokes on the snare drum with two on the bass drum. Start at a slow tempo and gradually increase your speed.

Here is a nice exercise that explores bass drum coordination with both hands.

4. Independence

Independence refers to the ability to play a wide range of bass drum patterns with a repetitive hand pattern. The best way to develop independence is to start with a simple pattern (1/4 notes on the hi-hat), and play a non-repetitive bass drum rhythm over the simple hi-hat loop.

Here is a great beginner/intermediate exercise in bass drum independence.

5. Repetition

Regardless of which music style you want to play, it’s imperative that you repeat each exercise for more than just a few measures.

Repetition reinforces the muscle memory in your brain, which allows you to naturally transfer your skills seamlessly into real-life playing situations.

There is an endless supply of bass drum exercises, both for free online and in many well-written instructional books. The best way to develop your bass drum technique, however, is to work with a drum instructor.

As with all areas of drumming, start with slow, easy exercises and focus on developing good practice habits before moving onto harder exercises.

Happy bass drumming!

AndyWPost Author: John S.
John S. is a drum and percussion instructor in Saint Paul, MN. A full-time musician and teacher, he performs with two different bands and teaches in-home and in-studio lessons. Learn more about John here!

Photo by alexmerwin13 

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3 Ways to Play Complex Drum Patterns (With Audio)

3 Ways to Play Complex Drum Patterns (With Audio)

3 Ways to Play Complex Drum Patterns (With Audio)

As you advance in your drum lessons, you will want to take on more complicated drum patterns and grooves. Here, Federal Way, WA drum instructor Kendra M. explains how you can learn to play complex drum patterns…

Complex drum patterns can be intimidating for new drum students. Take this “tricky” groove for example:

Learning Complex Patterns 1

Even though this groove sounds complex, there are actually several ways to break patterns like this one down into manageable parts. Before you know it, you’ll be able to play complex drum patterns with ease!

Using the example above, here are three ways to conquer difficult drum patterns:

Method 1: Simplify Each Line

Take out all of the 16th notes to play a simplified version of the pattern.

complex patterns 2

Then, add the 16th notes in, one limb at a time.

complex patterns 3

Method 2: Create Short Loops

Loop a short section of the pattern while keeping time on the ride cymbal.

Create short Loops

Keep adding a little more of the pattern into the loop.

keep adding

Method 3: Reduce the Number of Parts

Play the parts for only two limbs. For example: the right hand on ride cymbal and the left hand on snare.

reduce number of parts

Then, use a different set of two limbs. For example: the right foot on bass drum and the left hand on snare drum.

complex patterns last

If a groove is too difficult to play all at once, break it up. Keep building the groove from the most basic version you can create, to its complete form, step by step.

The more familiar you become with each element of the groove, the closer you will come to putting it all together. Don’t worry about speed at first; practice each variation at a tempo where you can play it successfully.

Be patient. Think of each challenging groove as a puzzle created for your enjoyment. Then, piece it together and have fun!

Want to improve your drumming skills? Sign up for lessons with a private drum instructor! 

KendraMPost Author: Kendra M.
Kendra M. teaches drum lessons in Federal Way, WA. She has performed with professional orchestras across the United States and earned her Doctorate of Music from the University of Arizona. She is interested in the percussion music of cultures across the globe, and she has spent time studying drums abroad in Trinidad and Ghana! Learn more about Kendra here!

 

Photo by Kyle Sorkness

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