6 Steps to Setting and Accomplishing Your Drumming Goals

15245438663_80ee989f87_kWant to eventually land your dream drumming gig? As you learn to play the drums, setting goals from the very beginning will help you get on the right path. Read on for helpful tips from San Diego, CA drum teacher Maegan W...


We’ve all heard about goals before, right? We’ve heard the 1979 Harvard study that showed only 3% of the MBA graduates had written down their goals, and that they earned 10 times more money than those who didn’t have goals at all, and earned twice the amount of those who had goals but never wrote them down.

This is true with your drumming success too! Having clearly defined objectives and goals is the fastest and surest way to success.

That being said, setting and accomplishing goals goes beyond just writing them down. Once you are clear on what you want, then you can begin to figure out how to accomplish it. So here we go, six steps to setting and accomplishing you goals as you learn to play the drums and work toward a career in music.

1) Determine Your Vision

This is the most important step. If you don’t know what you want, how will you get it?

Take some time to really figure this out, and have fun with it. What do you want to create for your everyday experience? Once you do this, it becomes a lot more clear what kind of drum career you really want.

Write down what you want your life as a whole to look like, and also the specific drumming skills and experiences you want. What kind of drummer do you want to be? Would you like to play tighter grooves? The craziest fills? Be the fastest, most versatile? Whatever you crave, make it your focus as you practice.

2) Make A Decision

This is so important on many different levels. Making an actual decision tells your subconscious mind that you are committed and serious. Once you make a decision, the ball immediately gets rolling. This doesn’t mean that challenges won’t arise, or that your path won’t take unexpected turns, but it means you are committed to becoming whatever you set your mind to, whatever your future vision is.

Technically speaking, if you decide that you are going to be the best drummer in the world, you are setting yourself up for failure. There is no real way to measure this, because it is a matter of opinion. If, however, you decide that you will be able to play any chart put in front of you, or play a double paradiddle as 16th note triplets as a fill at 160 bpms, this is absolutely obtainable and measurable.

3) Take Action

This is the part a lot of drummers fail to do. They come up with all these great plans and goals as they learn to play the drums, but never take the necessary action to accomplish them.

We can become fearful of success. But the truth is we must act first, then motivation follows. You know the saying “Just do it!” Every day, do least one action that will directly bring you closer to your goals. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Brick by brick, my friend.

4) Measure /Track

Keep track. This is so often overlooked, but imperative to success. The entire job of a private drum teacher is to help keep track of your progress, give your higher goals to improve, and to celebrate those benchmarks when reached.

Keeping track can be overwhelming and seem time-consuming at first, but I assure you, it will save you time in the long run. You will be 100% more focussed, and your practice time will be cut in half! You will progress 10 times faster and feel more accomplished because you will actually know what you’ve done for the last hour or two.

Give yourself time to adjust and get used to this process, but don’t overlook its importance. All successful people in all areas of life — be it music, sports, or business –are very careful not to waste any time, and they track and measure everything. It is equally as important to drumming success.

5) Set Benchmarks

Big goals are necessary and great, but if we don’t have smaller benchmarks, then it’s easy to throw in the towel when the going gets tough. I like to set five-year goals, one-year goals, monthly goals, and weekly goals. This makes it easier to figure out what small steps to take to get big results.

Giving yourself smaller benchmarks makes success more attainable and more fun. Decide on some rewards that you will give yourself for accomplishing your benchmarks. They can be big or small, but always celebrate each and every success.

6) Adjust

Now it’s time to enjoy your successes. Take time to really look back over your progress. When we finally accomplish something we’ve been working on, it can seem hard to believe it was ever a challenge at all.

Once you accomplish your goals, it’s time to adjust them as your preferences grow and change, and then create new ones.

Thanks for investing your time in reading this article. I encourage you to give these steps a try if you’re not already –I know that you will see huge results when you do. And remember: they are not something to do once then forget. They are tools to use everyday, in every area of life, for as long as you want to grow and succeed.

Maegan-WMaegan 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!




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6 Practical Ways to Make Money Playing the Drums


Want to make money doing something you love? Here, San Diego, CA teacher Maegan W. shares her tips for making your drumming a career — or, if nothing else, a lucrative side job…


What do you call a drummer without a girlfriend/boyfriend? Homeless! OUCH!! Funny but all too often true.

This is not just a common stereotype from the general public that drummers are known as “broke musicians,” but one I often hear drummers harshly labeling themselves as. I know because I used to do it myself — and in fact, I used to be one myself!

Not anymore, though. I made a decision that I would no longer settle for playing for free drinks or gas money. I made it my mission to find all the ways I could to get paid for playing the drums. I am fully self-supported through the money I make playing, teaching, and writing about drums, and I even wrote a book that became a #1 Best Seller called “Drum and Grow Rich” — so I guess you could say I am qualified to give you some helpful pointers on the subject.

Here are six ways, other than landing the dream gig and touring the world, to make money playing the drums.

1) Teaching

You may think that teachers don’t make much money, but I assure you that you can make great money from teaching the drums. Depending on your skill level, experience, and confidence, you can make anywhere from $30-$200 an hour — and even more if you’ve played with big bands or have the right clientele. Most teachers bring in about $60 per hour, which means even working part-time you will make between $2,400 and $4,000 while still having time to play gigs at night.

2) Online Lessons

Similar to above, if you have the right experience, creating online lessons is another great option. You can film once, then create passive income from them over and over. This is becoming a very popular avenue for many fields, and is widely accepted as a reliable source of education. There are a lot of other drummers doing this, but don’t let that stop you. You have something unique that no one else has, and there are plenty of students for anyone who wants to teach.

3) Corporate Gigs, Weddings, and Parties, Oh MY!

This is where the big money is at, and you would be surprised how easy they are to get. As with any gig or drumming job, make sure that you are offering something of quality. You need to take pride in order to make the big bucks. The more songs you know, and the tighter your band is, the more gigs and referrals you will get, and the more you can charge. I have booked and played gigs that I charged more than $1,000 for that lasted less than two hours. Not bad! I have also been hired for other gigs where all I had to do was show up and know the songs, and I got paid $200 for an hour.

4) Musicals, Cirque Du Soliel, and Shows

Ah, who doesn’t love the theater? Playing for musicals and shows is a great way to make money and have a more steady lifestyle. These types of gigs almost always require above-average reading skills, but that is no need to worry. The way I see it, even a drummer at a beginner level of reading can grow his or her skills to above average (musical or show-ready) in less than a year if there is a serious effort to do so. Learning to read music efficiently will be one of the greatest investments of your time that you can possibly make. Even gigs like playing for Justin Timberlake or Lady Gaga require reading skills.

The best way to steadily improve is to read at least one piece of music each day. Even if you cannot practice or play it, just mentally reading through the form will dramatically improve your reading skills. Practicing hits, time changes, and odd meter is also imperative for these types of gigs.

5) Writing

Ok, so this one is not directly playing the drums, but it takes experience and knowledge of playing them to be able to write about them. Writing about drums has allowed me to grow my reach to drummers all over the world and educate in new ways I never thought possible. You can make great money from writing articles, books, and blogs about drumming, but the bigger picture to see is that writing makes you an expert. I have been fortunate enough to have success from writing about drums and it has opened doors that I never imagined. Plus, you can do it when you want, where you want, and how you want, all while helping people and tapping into another aspect of your creativity.

6) Playing Local Shows

Here is the catch with this one: If you are going to make any real money playing local shows or even touring on a small to medium level, you need to have a back end. In other words, you need to have stuff to sell. You can play shows and get paid $20-$75 on average, but this can be a lot of hard work for little pay-off. The key is to have CDs or T-shirts to sell to keep fans engaged and coming back for more. Now, you may be thinking this sounds shady or like it isn’t “about the music,” but if you don’t make money then you can’t keep making music. It is your responsibility to figure out how to make as much money as possible from each and every fan (ethically of course).

This goes back to giving value. Ask yourself and your band, how can we give our fans the most value? If this is genuinely your focus, you will come up with all sorts of ways to give them more, and make great money for doing it.


These are just six ways out of thousands to make money playing the drums. I hope these are helpful and inspire you to use your gift as more than just a hobby. Don’t give up! I was ready to give up completely on making a living from playing the drums, even though it was my dream, until I made a decision to keep on. It wasn’t always easy, but as soon as I committed to making it happen, everything changed. You can do it too, you just have to believe, be creative, and be committed.

Maegan-WMaegan 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!



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Learn to Play the Drums |What To Expect at Your First Lesson


Want to learn to play the drums? Nervous about the first lesson? Read on as San Diego, CA drum teacher Maegan W. shares what you can expect from a great first lesson… 


Drums are an art form, and like all art forms, there are as many styles and techniques as there are people.

Each and every instructor has his or her own unique way and style of teaching. The key to learning and progressing as rapidly as possible is finding a teacher that you can relate to and understand. A good teacher will be able to quickly identify how you learn best, be it visually, audibly, or kinesthetically. Then he or she should adapt the lessons to your personal learning style.

This being said, there are a few basics that will almost always be included in any first lesson as you learn to play the drums.


Any good teacher will take a few minutes to make sure you have a proper grip and technique.

There are three main grips used in drumming:

  1. Matched German Grip (both palms facing down, sticks make a right angle, arms at sides)
  2. Matched French Grip (both hands with stick pinched between first finger and thumb, thumbs facing up, sticks making a right angle)
  3. Traditional Grip (right hand using French and/or German grip, and left hand holding stick like a fork or spoon)

The grip you use is a mix between personal preference and practicality. Some styles of music may call for one grip over another, as will certain playing positions, such as which drum or area of the set you are playing on.

Playing Techniques

There are many different playing techniques when it comes to the drums. It is good to try out as many as you can, and see which ones work best for you. Depending on your teacher, you will probably focus on just a few to start as you learn to play the drums. Techniques can take a long time to master, but substantial progress can be realized quickly with daily repetition.

Getting to Know the Drum Set

Next your teacher will most likely go around the kit and make sure you are familiar with all the different drums and cymbals, including their names, sounds, and uses. You’ll review how to properly use the pedals, along with foot techniques. Again, there are multiple foot techniques, and they can be used in combinations or by themselves depending on the situation.


Now you’re ready to start playing! There are 26 essential standard American rudiments as recognized by most drummers and by the Percussive Arts Society. All of them are important and have many uses and applications. Any proper drum instructor will start off with the basic five:

  1. Single Stroke Sticking/Roll Right hand lead = RLRL
  2. Single Stroke Sticking/Roll Left hand lead = LRLR
  3. Double Stroke Roll Right hand lead = RRLL
  4. Double Stroke Roll Left hand lead = LLRR
  5. Paradiddle = RLRR LRLL

These are the most well-known, foundational rudiments. These will be the basis of everything you play, from beginner level to advanced. A good teacher will not pass these by, and will encourage you to practice these everyday. It is important to drill these into your muscle memory.

Moving On

This will most likely conclude your first lesson. If you are a fast learner you may also get to go over some basic counting and timing exercises. Sometimes I will feel out what my students are more likely to be interested in, and give them their next exercise based on that. I may go into accents, which are volume levels known as dynamics, or I may go right into teaching a basic beat. It all depends on the student.

The most important thing to remember is that it is not about the destination, it is about the journey. Drums are such an amazing instrument, and they have such a huge depth of possibilities that you can spend your entire lifetime studying them, and still not know everything. That is what I love most.

I hope this was helpful, and that you’re no longer nervous about going to your first drum lesson. You can do it! Give yourself a chance and remember that drums are not easy, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right away. It’s all about practice, patience, and progress — not perfection. Enjoy the journey!

Maegan-WMaegan 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!




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Toddler Drums

Should I Buy a Toddler Drum Set, or a Practice Pad?

When Is It Time To Buy My Toddler A Drum SetWe’ve all seen those adorable YouTube viral videos of toddler prodigies wailing away on the drums. If your child has expressed an interest in learning to play the drums, you should know your options before getting too excited!

There are many different ways to get your child started on a lifetime of musical enjoyment playing the drums. From a toddler drum set to practice pads to the latest silent (or low volume) electronic drum kit, you can encourage your child’s interest until he or she is ready to begin formal study. Let’s examine the best ways to encourage your child and a few options for getting him or her started!

First Steps – Before Age 5

If your child has expressed an interest in the drums, but is still too young to study formally (under 5 or 6), you might consider purchasing a toddler drum set. A basic toddler drum set can be found starting at under $100 and typically consists of a kick drum with pedal, snare, tom-tom, a cymbal, and drum sticks.

While it’s not a “professional” or even considered a student drum set, it’s a valuable learning toy that exposes your child to the fun side of music. You can easily find them online or in stores like Toys “R” Us and Walmart.

Most of us remember some basic music from our schooling. At the very least, you can show your child how to hit the drum and count along. Drumming will work to develop your child’s hand-eye coordination. There are plenty of instructional videos online that you can view to learn some basic rhythms that you can then share with your child.

In the beginning stages, the best way to encourage your child is to express positive reinforcement. As a parent, any way that you encourage your child musically is fantastic! Try listening to music with him or her and point out the drums in particular. Mimic the rhythm you hear together. At this stage your child may view the instrument as just a toy to be played with. That’s ok — just keep it fun and make it a game. Try not to push them too hard. Encourage your child to just explore and have fun with it!

Formal Training – Age 5 and Up

As your child gets a little older, there are many qualified teachers that can begin a more formal, targeted education. Many teachers specialize in working with younger children, which is important for keeping your child engaged.

At this stage, it’s probably time to retire the toddler drum set and invest in some practice pads. Your child’s teacher will most likely begin working with him or her on proper technique, how to hold the sticks and strike the drum, basic rhythms, and so on. Encourage your child to practice and prepare for each lesson.

In the beginning you’ll probably be fine with a set of practice pads, but as your child progresses, the next step up is a basic “junior” drum set. This can cost around $150 and up depending on the number of different parts (i.e. types of drums, cymbals, etc.) and the quality of the kit. Your child’s teacher can help you figure out exactly what you’ll need, and how much you should spend.

The Importance of Maturity

Keep in mind that the guidelines above are very general. You know your child better than anyone else. If he or she is showing a genuine interest in learning to play the drums, you may want to start with formal lessons sooner rather than later. Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you are considering private drum lessons:

  • Is your child developed enough physically to play the drums? Are his or her motor skills developed enough to hold and operate a drumstick?
  • How is your child’s attention span? Can he or she sit still and listen to a teacher for 30 minutes (the typical length of beginning lessons)?
  • Is your child ready socially? Does he or she understand the importance of listening to a teacher?
  • Is there a genuine interest or desire to take music or drum lessons?

If you answered yes to these questions, then your child might be ready to begin a formal education now! A good teacher will inspire, nurture, and fuel your child’s desire to learn music. The gift of music is one of the most precious gifts that you can give your child, and something he or she will remember forever!


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band practice

The Real Secret to Improving Your Band’s Sound

band practice

Do you want your band to sound even better? (Who doesn’t?!) Here, San Diego, CA teacher Maegan W. shares her secret for improving the group’s sound as well as your individual musical skills…


Do you think a metronome is just a personal preference for some musicians? Are you one of those musicians who KNOWS your time is perfect and unmatched? Well I’ve got news for you — it probably isn’t as spot-on as you think.

Most fights in bands are due to someone being off-time, and unable to accept that it is them. The truth is that most people honestly believe they are on time. As a drummer, I learned a long time ago the only way to know for sure how good your timing really is, is to use a metronome.

I’m not suggesting that you always play, practice, and perform with your metronome — not all music calls for that. What I am suggesting is that you take your musicianship to a whole other level, and take your power back! There is no greater feeling than knowing 100% where each note, beat, lick, and fill fits in the time and space of the song.

Singer-songwriters and guitar players… I’m calling you out. I challenge you to use a metronome when practicing and learning songs. I have played with so many amazingly talented musicians, guitar-playing singer-songwriters who performed and sounded fantastic alone, but when it came to a band setting, they were like complete beginners. Don’t let this be you.

Here are some ideas on how to get comfortable with the metronome as you’re singing or playing guitar with your band:

1) Listen to your songs against the “click.” This will help you to see where everything really lines up, and how much time you actually have to do whatever you want to do or play.

2) Devote at least 10% of your practice routine to practicing with the metronome. I recommend more like 50-90% but baby steps are fine for people not used to practicing with the metronome.

3) If you’re in a band, have “The Talk.” This will hold everyone equally accountable for doing what they can to improve their personal timing, which will improve the band’s time as a whole. Also having a group practice where the drummer listens to a click is helpful too. It instantly builds trust and competence. (If there is a problem member that can’t admit or see their faults, it may be helpful to have some practices where everyone can hear the click through the speakers, to shine light on what needs extra attention.)

4) Be humble. Learning that your timing sucks can be a hard realization, especially for sensitive musicians. This can bruise the ego and come out as anger. Remember the point is not to be “right” or make someone feel defeated. The point is to improve your band’s sound, as well as individual sound. The metronome is the Truth, and sometimes the Truth hurts.

5) Slow down! The best way to really lock down any song, riff, groove, fill, or solo is to slow way down. Take the tempo down to half or 3/4′s of the original tempo and practice in slow motion, to let your brain and muscles learn exactly where everything fits. Do this until your muscle memory learns the movement of the piece. Then when you speed back up, do it gradually in increments of 5 or 10 bpms until you arrive back at the original tempo. Then push past 10 or 20 bpms so you truly have it mastered. You never know when you will need to play it faster or slower, but with this practice, you will be prepared no matter what the speed.

These are just a few ways to incorporate the metronome as you’re playing guitar, singing, or whatever part you play in your band. I hope this is helpful — and remember, it’s about taking baby steps. This is not something you just want to brush off. Being a master at time will make you a more valuable musician, and more confident in your skills too. It may be tough at first, but anything worth learning is.

Go easy on yourself and/or your band. It is challenging, but I know you can do it!

Maegan WMaegan 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!



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how to become a musician

What They Don’t Tell You About Becoming a Musician

how to become a musicianWhen you become a musician — whether you’re playing the guitar, the drums, or another instrument — you’ll notice a pattern when others find out about your skills. Read on to learn what they don’t tell you about becoming a musician, in this guest post by Brookings, SD teacher Carl S…  


Every musician has his or her own story. Some people play as a hobby and may play the occasional gig. Others are gigging frequently or perhaps teaching music. No matter what type of musician you are, you should ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Be honest with yourself, and whatever your answer is, well, that is just fine. What don’t they tell you about becoming a musician? At some point, you’ll be a music teacher of some sort.

Surprise! You’ve learned one song on the guitar — now people identify you as a guitarist. If somebody you know decides that they want to learn guitar, they will likely come to you for advice on how to get started. What do you say to them? If you haven’t experienced this scenario to some degree yet, you will.

Early in high school, I decided to be a multi-instrumentalist. Saxophone has always been my “primary” instrument, but I play and teach many instruments. Like many 15-year-olds, I had the desire to try my hand at guitar. Having had solid experience with another instrument, it came to me very quickly, albeit self-taught. One day, I was in our high school music room playing a song I’d figured out on the guitar, and one of my friends heard me playing. “I didn’t know you played guitar!” he said. This was immediately followed by a request to join a garage band, help him with his bass playing, and write songs together.

Whoa! Am I even capable of this? Well, I went for it, but as soon as I said yes, I felt the overwhelming anxiety of not being as virtuosic as I was falsely perceived to be. At this point, I had learned everything that I knew about guitar from a Walmart poster. I’m serious. Poster + guitar = now offering advice?

I needed to learn some things and quick! I immediately started thinking, “Who do I know that plays guitar well?” Seeing a pattern here?

No matter when we decide to give making music a try, someday, you’ll teach somebody something about music. Don’t be afraid of this; rather, rise to the challenge and let this be your inspiration to submerse yourself in thoughts and ideas that will in turn push you to the next level.

For example, I’ve always been sort of a hobbyist in regards to guitar. I teach music for a living at a university, so guitar has always been an outlet instrument for me. I teach big bands, so now I have college-level jazz guitarists coming to me for advice. The best way for me to teach them was for me to pick up my guitar and put myself in their shoes. I’ve had great success teaching them, and they go on and on about how much more things seem to make sense. I’m just having fun playing guitar with them!

Music is an art. This art of how to become a musician is passed down from generation to generation via friends, family, and mentors. On behalf of music teachers everywhere, welcome to the club!

CarlSCarl S. teaches saxophone, music theory, piano, and more in Brookings, SD. He completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in saxophone performance at the University of Kansas in 2014, and his Master of Music Pedagogy and Performance from Oklahoma State University in 2011. Learn more about Carl here! 


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Reading Drum Sheet Music | 5 Tricks to Remember

2620170206_8bdb56da66_oLearning how to read drum sheet music can be challenging at first – here are 5 tricks to remember as you’re working on your skills, courtesy of Edmond, OK drum teacher Tracy D...


It can be a bit daunting when you are new to reading drum sheet music, to absorb and coordinate all the information contained in drum set notation. With that in mind, I have compiled a few tricks that I’ve learned over time, which should help you on your way.

First, let me say that while it is possible to be a good player without knowing how to read music, the ability to read will open up worlds to the musician! You can learn from any book, compose your own pieces or exercises, and transcribe the works of your favorite artists. Reading is power!

Let’s take a look at the rhythm staff:


(Staff courtesy of www.daveclarkdrums.com)

This is the standard notation. Occasionally, you may see a staff with the snare on the center line, but that is fairly rare. Most likely, you will begin by reading music that contains only the snare, kick (bass), and hi-hats. Now, let’s begin the process of decoding it all. In the grooves below, the time signature is 4/4 (four beats, quarter note gets the beat). They are counted as 1 2 3 4. The hi-hats are written as 8th notes (eight to a measure) and that is a subdivision. They are counted as 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &. (Each line below “says” the same thing, but it is a good comparison for common variations in notation). Each groove is two measures, separated by a “bar line.” Line A contains rests, quarter, and 8th, respectively, and they indicate silence for that duration.

Look for the parts on the staff that line up directly. Hi-hats and bass? Snare and hats? These will help ground your interpretation of the music. The limbs required for those voices will hit together. In the first measure of each groove, the bass plays beats 1 and 3, and the snare plays beats 2 and 4. They line up with the hats.


(Grooves courtesy of johnhinchey.com)

Observe the voices that change in the groove. Which voices do not change? Here, the hi-hats never change, so you do not have to busy your eyes (and brain) with continuous reading of those figures. Notice that the snare is always on 2 and 4 as well. You will quickly be able to move those to auto-pilot and concentrate on reading the bass part, because it is the only voice that changes. Nice shortcut, huh?

If you run into a tricky pattern within a measure, isolate that part and work it out before putting it back into the whole. For example, the first few beats of measure 2 may be challenging at first. Those are your target beats.

Be sure to count as you play! There is nothing better for correct note placement. In these grooves, the 8th note is the smallest subdivision that the drums, which are the main voices, represent. 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & – if you can say it, you can play it.

If getting all your limbs to cooperate is a challenge, start off with the hi-hats, and add the snare or the bass (whichever is easier) and get a solid feel with those. Then add the other parts until you are comfortable with the feel.

In sum, the ability to read drum sheet music will always serve you well. Remember to look for your anchors, notice which parts do or do not change, isolate trouble spots, count as you play, and add or subtract voices as necessary until you can play them all. These tips should streamline the learning process and make it more enjoyable. Practice, practice, practice!


Tracy D. teaches percussion and drum lessons in Edmond, OK, as well as online. She has been playing the drums in various bands for more than 13 years, and has also played intermittently with the OKC Community Orchestra for the past five years. Learn more about Tracy here! 



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Drum Kit

9 Dumb Drummer Jokes, Plus 3 Snappy Drummer Come-Backs

What is it about the drummer in a band that makes them such an easy target for musical humor? Even though the drummer holds the band together and recent studies have shown drumming increases certain kinds of intelligence, drummers often find themselves on the punchline side of a dumb joke. If you’re a drummer with a good sense of humor, or if you’re brave enough to try a few of these out on the drummer in your life, here are 9 dumb drummer jokes that might give you a chuckle.

1. What’s the difference between a drummer and a large pizza?

A large pizza can feed a family of four.

2. How do you tell if the stage is level?

The drummer is drooling out of both sides of his mouth.

3. What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians?

A drummer.

4. What do you call a drummer who just broke up with his girlfriend?


5. What’s the last thing a drummer says in a band?

“Hey, how about we try one of my songs?”

6. What do you say to a drummer in a three piece suit?

“Will the defendant please rise?”

7. What’s the difference between a drummer and a savings bond?

One will mature and make money.

8. How can you tell a drummer’s at the door?

The knocking keeps speeding up.

9. How is a drum solo like a sneeze?

Because you know it’s coming but you can’t do anything about it.

Drummers, you don’t have to take these jokes laying down! Here are 3 good ones to come back with!

1. What’s the difference between a drummer and a toilet seat?

A toilet seat only has to put up with one bum at a time!

2. Why are drummer jokes so simple?

So the rest of the band can understand them.

3. What’s the difference between an electric guitar and an onion?

No one cries when you cut up an electric guitar.

You can also replace “drummer” with “guitarist”, “bass player”, or whoever is hassling you in any of the dumb drummer jokes above and you’ve got yourself a good comeback.

Got any jokes you want to share? Or any drummer jokes you absolutely hate? We want to hear from you in the comments!


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Hi Hat

A Beginner’s Guide to Reading Drum Tabs

Hi HatDrum tabs are an abbreviated, simple form of musical instruction used in place of traditional sheet music for drummers. Many modern musicians and music students prefer to use this kind of tablature because it’s easier to write and easier to find. Instead of looking for sheet music in the music store, for example, you can simply go online and find thousands of drum tabs for all your favorite songs.

Sheet Music and Musical Tabs

Tabs are different from sheet music because they are written specifically for the instrument, rather than the sound. Sheet music is written with musical notes, while tabs are written with letters and various markings. Want to learn to play the drums? Understanding drum tabs is going to be a key part of that adventure!

Parts of the Drum Kit

The drum kit is made of several distinct drums and symbols, each with their own names and abbreviations. Once you recognize these, you are halfway to reading drum tabs:

  • CC, or Crash Symbol
  • HH, or Hi Hat
  • Rd, or Ride Symbol
  • SN, or Snare Drum
  • T1, or Hi Tom
  • T2, or Low Tom
  • FT, or Floor Tom
  • B, or Bass Drum
  • Hf, or Hi Hat with Foot

How are Drum Tabs Written?

The nine parts of the drum kit are written in the order listed above on each drum tab, from top to bottom; the musical instructions are written from left to right. For example:

HH  x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-
SN   -o- -o- -o- -o- -o
B      -x- -x- -x- -x- -x–

The preceding tablature shows you that three parts of the drum kit are being used in this piece of music: the hi hat, the snare drum, and the bass drum. Furthermore, it shows you when to play each piece during a musical count of 16 beats. Look closely, and you’ll see that each line of rhythm for each component has 16 marks per line, so 16 beats. The dashes (-) tell you not to strike the instrument during this particular beat, while any other symbol (x,o) tells you to hit it. A music teacher can help you better understand keeping rhythm, but first, it’s important to practice playing more than one piece of the drum kit simultaneously, as in the tablature.

Symbols Used in Drum Tablature

Full drum tabs follow this format for several sets, depending on how long the piece of music is. The different symbols on a line, such as o, x, X, #, or b, tell you how to hit a particular part of the drum kit. The “o” means open, the small x means normal and the big X means harder or looser.

If you want to learn how to read all the little intricate details of drum tabs and play them successfully, it’s best to pair up with a music teacher. The right teacher can help clarify instructions that are confusing and give you exercises to work on, which will build up your confidence and skills. Take a look through the professional drum teachers at TakeLessons and see who fits the bill! Working with a professional who knows what they are doing will get you drumming much quicker.


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Photo by Christopher Sessums

Drum Software

Is Learning With Drum Software Effective?

Does Using Drum Software Help You Learn One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself or your children is the gift of music – by learning how to play an instrument, use your voice, or simply appreciate the artform. If you’ve always wanted to play the drums, you have more options than ever before.

Today, technology from companies like Roland, Alesis, and Yamaha have given us electronic drum kits so you can practice anywhere, and at anytime. The features that come with these kits give you a variety of drum sounds to work with, replicating everything from heavy metal drums to small jazz combo kits and everything in between.

Even the way we learn has been touched by technology. Savvy drummers can now find thousands of free online drum tutorials, inexpensive drum software programs, and DVDs from some of the best musicians in the world.

Many of these options offer a carefully developed curriculum, put together by highly qualified teachers who can help you streamline your learning. This new generation of learning tools has advanced far beyond those that came before.  Roland, for example, recently released the first combination product, the drum tutorial DT-HD1, featuring a basic electronic drum kit teamed up with drum software designed to work hand-in-hand with the hardware.

While personalized, one-on-one instruction with a qualified teacher is always the best way to learn how to play an instrument, the advances in drum learning technology and hardware can provide fantastic results. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of software learning, and several software and DVD packages available for the practicing drum student.

The Advantages of Software Learning

  • Most drum software programs are downloadable. You can start immediately and the lessons are accessible at any time of day or night.

  • If you have more than one person in your home interested in learning, software or DVD learning can be shared.

  • Learning to play using drum software allows you to work at your own pace. It’s also possible to go back and rework concepts or review tricky material until you’ve mastered it.

The Best Drum Software and DVD Learning Materials

Drums can be a challenging instrument to learn, as they incorporate independent movement between the hands and feet. This requires focus, dedication, enthusiasm, patience, and persistence. Here are a few great drum software options and DVD learning sets to help you get started:

This drum software was designed to work hand-in-hand with Roland’s HD1 V-drums, but will work with any MIDI-enabled kit.  A big hit with beginners, this program takes you from learning the basic fundamentals to being able to play a variety of styles.

If you’ve ever played the drums in “Rock Band” you’ll recognize the interface. It’s a fun, interactive way to learn! Moving on to the notation screen, you’ll learn how to play fills, beginning and endings of songs, and how to read drum notation. Visit Roland’s website to learn more and to access downloadable songs to add to your repertoire!

This well-presented resource from professional educator, drummer, and percussionist Dann Sherrill features great production quality, and can help you earn a variety of styles, including rock, funk, blues, Latin, and jazz. The course covers the basics, like setting up your kit, up to advanced techniques like using brushes. The 12 DVDs contain 22 video lessons to help you learn visually and aurally. This is a complete course designed to take you from the beginner level all the way up!  

It also includes 70 full-length tracks in a variety of styles, backing tracks (minus drums) to get you playing in a group context, and over 100 pages of printed material, helpful information for reference, and illustrated examples. The Learn and Master drum course also offers support and additional materials online to take your playing to the next level!

This program features four separate but complementary multimedia packs that take you from beginner to advanced. The “Beginner” pack and book starts you with the basics, including tuning and setting up your kit, theory, drum notation, and beginning technique. Each level then progresses, adding additional techniques as you go along.

Tons of great info and drum techniques are presented in this course, including half bar and single bar fills, two bar fills, cross sticking beats, 300+ patterns, and open and closed hi-hat patterns.

The program also includes over eight hours of video instruction, books for each level, and lots of bonus material.

This is a great DVD to check out. It’s not an instructional video, per se, but instead showcases this drum master diving into some interesting and challenging techniques. While it’s not really suitable for a beginner, this is definitely a DVD to add to your library after you’ve become proficient.

This is a recording of a master class filmed at The Manhattan School of Music, and it presents a question-and-answer format between Gadd and the audience. He touches on:

  • Applying rudiments
  • Warming up
  • Using a click track
  • Seat height
  • Brush pattern
  • Odd phrases
  • Latin ideas
  • Tips for studio performance

With each topic, Gadd performs various tracks to demonstrate the skills involved. It’s a really interesting DVD, and the format allows Gadd to touch on some unusual techniques.

Drum Software Learning Vs. One-on-One Instruction

All of these drum learning tools can stand alone, but working with a qualified private teacher can enhance their effectiveness. There are many subtle techniques, especially when beginning to play an instrument, that if learned under the careful eye of a qualified teacher will make working on your own more effective.

Software and DVDs certainly offer flexibility, but they also require a high level of self-discipline. A qualified teacher will know when to push you, when to lay back, and when to offer another perspective when learning difficult techniques. A qualified teacher and one-on-one instruction is often the difference between success and failure when learning to play an instrument. Remember, there are no short-cuts – the most important step is to just get started! Good luck, and have fun!


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 Photo by Rob DiCaterino