5 Steps to Nail Your Next Drum Performance

5 Steps to Nail Your Next Drum Performance

Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate drummer, you may have aspirations to perform or play with a band. Here, Edmond, OK drum instructor Tracy D. shares five important steps to help you take your drumming skills to the next level…

Taking your drumming from the practice room to the stage requires a whole new set of skills. You have to learn to play in tandem with others to develop a certain sound and feel.

While playing drums on stage requires a lot of practice and experience, you can nail your next drum performance with these five tips…

drum performance

Learning the music for a big band or ensemble is a bit different than learning music for a smaller pop or rock setup. In an ensemble, the sheet music is typically a chart. Look for ensemble figures (unison hits with the band), solos, and the main groove (which may or may not be notated).

Here’s an example of a chart used by an ensemble.

drum performance

You typically have some creative license with time. Sit with your music and listen to the recording. Make notes about form and instrumentation (auxiliary percussion), if needed.

If you play with a smaller band, there should be a lead sheet (lyrics and chords; usually not notated). Below is a picture of what that looks like. lead sheet

It’s pretty simple to chart your moves because you already have the form and vocal cues. Listen to your tune and make notes about the intro, fills, section lengths, breaks (count), and changes in groove or meter.

drum performance

Take the time to simply listen to the music. Absorb the rhythmic feel and emotion. This step will also help fuel your creativity.

After you’ve listened to the music a few times through, play along with the track and make more notes. You can further this practice by drumming along with your favorite songs.

drum performance

The stage isn’t the place to try that new crazy fill you’ve been working on. Perfect your new ideas in practice — your band will thank you.

If you do want to work on some cool new fills (in practice of course), try these three simple steps.

drum performance

The beat is the backbone of the band, and with a bit of focus, you can own it.

Confidence comes from practice and preparation, so do your homework before your drum performance.

drum performance

Watch your band or band director for cues, especially for solos, breaks (count), and rubato passages. Make sure your intros and outros are tight.

Enjoy making music! You’ve done the technical prep work, so concentrate on creating an awesome feel with your fellow musicians.

drum performance

One more important tip: make sure you always warm-up for practice or a gig. Even after you learn these basic tips, it’s important to implement them at every performance. Not only will you and your band feel good about your performance, but your audience will enjoy it even more!

Not quite ready to take the stage? We can help you get there. Sign up for lessons with a private drum teacher today! 


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!

Photo by Thomas Hawk


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