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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

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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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Our 8 Best Tips for Effective Drum Practice

Our 9 Best Tips for Effective Drum PracticeWhat’s more important: the amount of drum practice you do, or the quality of the  practice? Although you might be tempted to lock yourself in your room for a week to goof around on the drums, studies have shown that the amount of practice isn’t always an indicator of outstanding drumming performance. Rather, drummers who employ long practice sessions of average quality will never perform at high level. And high-quality practice over short periods of time won’t help drummers achieve the results they expect, simply because they don’t practice enough.

So, how do you make sure you’re developing good practice habits? How can you ensure your practicing is efficient? Read on for ten helpful tips to think about the next time you sit down at your drum set:

  1. Make a practice plan. One of the things you can do to get the most out of your drum practice is to set goals for each session. For instance, if your hand techniques are more advanced than your foot techniques, you should place more emphasis on practicing foot techniques during the next few weeks. Then, you can gradually include more and more hand technique exercises until you obtain a perfectly balanced practice schedule. Consider keeping a practice journal that you can check at a later date to see what exactly worked best, and plan future practice sessions based on your strengths and weaknesses.

  2. Maintain a positive attitude. For effective drum practice, it’s important to stay positive! Unfortunately, your own fear of failure can prevent you from developing the attitude you need to succeed. So what can you do? If you feel that drumming is just too difficult for you, tell your drum teacher about your concerns, and then create a “plan of attack” together. Maybe you need to set some easier goals to begin with, or try some different styles to feel more inspired. Adopting the right attitude can help you overcome any challenges and get you back on the right track if you lose your way.

  3. Follow the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule is simple: basically, 80% of your success is determined by only 20% of your efforts. The trick, then, is determining where that 20% lies – and focusing on that. Reflecting back on your practice plan, whatever you’ve identified as your weakness should make up a big part of that 20%. By following this rule, you can eliminate the “useless” practice and instead really hone in your goals and progress.

  4. Pay attention to posture. Good posture is critical when practicing drums. That’s because posture plays an essential role in building physical habits, which can make or break your ability to play by affecting your speed, control, power, and overall technique. Since the body posture you adopt when practicing will become  like second nature over time, you need to pay attention to your posture from the very beginning. In addition, specialists advise drummers to warm up their muscles before a drum practice session if they want to gain speed and endurance.

  5. Use a metronome. Since a metronome emphasizes rhythm problems, using this tool may be discouraging, especially in the beginning. However, it’s the only way to improve your timing and help you stay in control of your playing. If you continue to practice with a metronome, you’ll be able to develop a solid groove and play the drums like a pro.

  6. Mix up your practice. While you’re using the 80/20 rule as your practice, keep in mind this doesn’t mean just practicing the same thing over and over – that can get boring! Instead, make sure to mix in fun songs and new things, jam with friends, play along with your favorite music, and practice in new ways (such as without your actual drum set). If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, don’t be afraid to speak with your teacher! He or she can offer advice and give you new things to practice, so you stay motivated and passionate about your playing.

  7. Set up your practice area. Setting up a comfortable, inviting practice area will help you find joy in what you do, which will encourage you to practice more. You might consider adding a mirror to your practice space, so you can check your posture, or record yourself using a video camera and then watch it to review your performance with a clear mind.

  8. Have fun. Practicing with attention is very important, but don’t forget to have fun while you’re at it! Play what you love to play and practice exactly what you want to practice. This way, you’ll learn new techniques, develop excellent drumming skills, and become a pro without even realizing it.

Drumming – what a wonderful way to express yourself! We hope that these tips offer you a perfect practicing recipe, which will help you get the most out of your drum practice sessions. Good luck!

 

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Five Drum Exercises You Can Try – No Equipment Needed

Five Drum Exercises You Can Try - No Equipment NeededHave you ever worried that not having access to a drum set would prevent you from learning to play? Think again – there are actually plenty of drum exercises that you can do without a drum set or a pair of drum sticks! And even if you do have a drum set, these exercises can be very helpful in learning basic rhythm patterns and paradiddles – especially if you need to practice quietly. Continue reading and check out some of these exercises, if you want to perfect your drumming techniques (and maybe pick up a few new ones) without a drum set  – or the risk of disturbing your neighbors.

1. Build Strength on Your Weak Side

Unless you’re ambidextrous, you naturally favor either your right or left side. With some instruments this isn’t really a problem, but with drumming you need to be able to work your weaker side for both your hands and feet. Your weaker side will likely get tired sooner, so it’s important to build strength on this side to keep up your stamina when practicing and performing. Otherwise, you risk negatively impacting your drumming, since it’s harder to stay balanced. Try simple things like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, or when watching the TV try to raise your weak leg up and down slowly in series of reps to help build strength and mobility.

2. Listen to the Greats

Drumming is a musical art form like no other; when you play a drum set you’re really playing 10 or more percussion instruments at once. While some popular music these days is pretty simplistic (and repetitive, in some cases), it’s important to listen to a variety of music styles to help culture your musical ear and introduce you to new styles. Try listening to music that uses irregular time signatures or different grooves, like reggae, to really train your ear. With each song you listen to, you’ll be improving your ability to discern different drumming within just a few beats.

3. Use a Metronome

Drum exercises don’t necessarily require any accessories, but a good one to invest in is a metronome. Traditional or electronic ones are equally effective. You can use a metronome when working with a practice pad or even by simply clapping or tapping along to its pace – as the metronome clicks, tap out rolls or fills. This will help make sure your rolls stay in time when you do sit down at your drum set. Your muscle memory, built up from working with a metronome, will also help your timing when you play.

4. Focus On Your Feet

When practicing, don’t always allow your hands to do the work; your feet are just as important when it comes to playing the drums. If you don’t have pedals at home, tapping your feet in time to a metronome or recorded music is a great alternative. If you’re just starting out, watch your tapping to see if you only bring your heel down in time to the music. If you do, try making your whole foot come down in a tap, which will help you prepare for new techniques. Once you’ve perfected this method, you can move on to alternately tapping your toe and heel to achieve the heel-toe technique, and add double kicks to your repertoire of skills.

5. Keep in Time

If you’re stuck in the car and want to use your time productively for drum exercises, simply turn on the radio and tap along in time with the music. You can check your ability to keep pace by turning the the radio down for 30 to 40 seconds, and then back up to see if you’re still keeping the right time. As you keep practicing, increase the time you turn the radio down to make it more challenging.

Working without drums, or even a pair of sticks, can help make you become a better drummer and improve your skills. Once you’re in front of a drum set, these few drum exercises will help you be your best.

 

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Health Benefits Of Drumming

The Surprising Health Benefits of Drumming

The Surprising Health Benefits of DrummingMusic is a universal language capable of transcending age, race, and nationality regardless of any existing language barriers that exist between them. At the heart of many types of music is a steadily beating drum, which maintains an even meter and allows the melodies and harmonies to soar. Some form of drumming tradition exists in nearly every culture around the world, meaning just about everyone has the chance to enjoy some of the surprising health benefits of drumming. Take a look at the benefits you may not have known you could experience every time you pick up your drum sticks:

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Drum Parts

Where to Buy Replacement Drum Parts

Where to Buy Replacement Drum PartsWith all that pounding, your drum set will likely experience some wear-and-tear over the years. Knowing how to evaluate the different parts of the drum, and when to replace them, will be essential to your success as a drummer.

Of course, this begins with knowing the type of drum you own. Beyond the basics, you can also customize your set with unique pieces and configurations. Keep reading to learn about the different drum parts, and what to consider when it’s time to replace them:

Drum Heads

Drum heads form the top and bottom portion of the drum. The top heads, which you strike with a drum stick, are called “batter heads,” while those on the bottom are known as “resonant heads,” and their purpose is to add resonance and sustain. Drum heads come in many varieties, including single or double-ply, and coated or clear.

Nowadays most drum heads are made from a plastic called Mylar, painted in different colors, and may or may not have a sprayed-on white coating.  If you are a jazz player, you should consider coated heads, as they emit less ring and projection. Coated heads are also warmer and therefore suit studio work better than clear heads.

Thickness of the heads also matters; thick heads have a faster decay and a more pronounced attack compared to thinner heads. They are also more durable and resistant to denting. Double-ply heads produce a focused, dampened, and generally more controlled sound.

Drum Pedals

Drum pedals have several movable parts, including the band, the chain, and the beaters; these parts will certainly wear out as time passes. You may also change pedals if you plan to change your style of sound. Rock, fusion, and metal drummers often prefer sophisticated pedals, but there are numerous simple, less costly options. Depending on your needs, there are also double-beater pedals intended for use with single bass drums, double pedals used with dual bass drum sets, and a number of other configurations.

Replacing Cymbals

Cymbals normally suffer cracks, dents, and keyholing over time. Keep an eye on your cymbals as you’re doing your routine cleaning or when you notice changes in your sound. Keep in mind, though, that cymbals are one area where you can completely follow your heart! Some drummers prefer brighter, louder sound while others may prefer dark, complex sounds.

Enhancement Ports

Bass drum enhancement ports enable drummers to improve the sound from the kick drum. The port achieves this through two processes: increasing low frequencies and introducing a dampening effect to the resonant head.  Drummers can usually remove internal materials, which naturally increases drum resonance. The enhancement port is also tunable.

Replacing Tension Rods

Tension rods connect the hoop to the lugs. When replacing them, be careful with the lengths. If you have been experiencing frequent rod wears, you may try finding matching rods for your drum set.

Die Cast Hoops

Die cast hoops are made by designing a frame (with exact shape and size) of the drum hoop and pouring molten metal into this frame. Die casts allow for greater fine tuning with fewer overtones. Unfortunately, die cast hoops can produce unwanted sounds if the drummer’s instruments are not perfectly round. Die casts can be used on just about any drum, but the snare is usually favored because it has a harder head.

Wood Hoops

Wooden hoops are made from 10 plies and are approximately 0.75 inches thick. The type of wood predominantly used is maple and the hoops can be stiff or flexible depending on preferences. Wood hoops typically absorb drum vibration allowing the drums to produce a bright resonance.

Flanged Hoops

Flanged hoops are made from metal, but types of metal and flange thickness often vary. Your choice of soft or hard metals depends on how you intend tune both the drums and instruments sounds. Thinner metals are great for flexibility, however they are more difficult to tune. Replacement flanges enable you get more resonance from your snare and toms.

Where To Buy Drum Parts

Now that you know the parts that make up an acoustic drum, the next step is to head to the stores. First you’ll need to make a list of the drum parts that you want to replace. Remember to include the sizes of these items in your list.

You may also want to know how much you’ll be required to pay – but keep in mind that prices can vary depending on many factors. These factors include:

  • Brand – brand prices will always vary, and more popular brands are traditionally more expensive

  • Material – flanged hoops, for instance, are more expensive than their wooden counterparts

  • Size – a 7” replacement head, for example, will cost less than a similar, but larger, head

  • The item itself – compared to toms, for example, bass drums are much more expensive

Check Your Local Music Store

Buying replacement drum parts from your local music shop is actually the best option – that is, if they actually stock the items. Some replacement parts, such as bass drums, are a bit expensive, so most shopkeepers opt not to stock them. Buying local also means that you will get the parts on the same day. You’ll have the chance to try the items in the store before you take the items home. Plus, the expertise of local shopkeepers can be invaluable if you’re looking for guidance.

Buy Online

Another option for purchasing drum parts is online. The greater variety means that you can easily compare prices before making a purchase. However, the main disadvantage of buying parts online is the potential risk of paying for an item you are yet to see. Because of this, it’s best to buy from trusted websites only – and make sure to look at their return policy. Some websites to check out include:

  • eBay

  • Drum Factory

  • Drum Maker

  • American Music Drum Parts

  • Precision Drums

  • Musicians Friend

Summary

If you’re using your drum set regularly, especially for gigging, purchasing replacement drum parts will be an ongoing process. Keep your set fresh and working properly, and you’ll sound your very best!

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Preparing for a Drum Audition: Cruise Ship Musician Gig

drumsA few weeks ago we discussed how to prepare for a gig, but what if you’re stuck on the very first step of getting through the audition? Check out this expert advice from DC-area drum teacher Andrew T., who has experience working as a musician for Princess Cruises:

 

As musicians, most of our gigs stem from informal auditions, which are typically very loose and relaxed. But what happens when you are asked to audition formally for a gig with a large corporation? From 2007 to 2009 I worked as a cruise ship show-band drummer and I am often asked by other drummers how to prepare for this type of audition. Here are some of my thoughts on the subject:

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3 Things to Master Before Learning Jazz Drumming

Jazz DrummingImagine you’re traveling to a foreign country, and you decide to learn the language.  You would probably start with simple words or phrases – “Hello, my name is…” or “Where is the subway?”. With the basics, and maybe a reference guide at your side, you’d probably get along just fine.

But for those of you who have mastered a second language, think about how much easier it got once you delved a little deeper: grammar rules, formal vs. informal language, even the evolution of the culture and how the language developed over time.  With a true understanding, you might go from being a simple tourist to being mistaken for a local.

Similarly, a beginner musician attempting jazz drumming beats may be able to learn quickly, but it’s when you learn the underlying history and application that the knowledge really sets in.  So what should you study to really solidify your skills?  Steve Houghton, renowned jazz drummer, shared his tips in this great article found at PearlDrums.com.

Here’s an excerpt from the article, explaining a few of the areas to focus on:

Rhythm Section Awareness
It is important for the jazz drummer to be aware of the entire rhythm section and their individual roles, as jazz music is not a “one man show.”  For example, the more aware a drummer is of the bass player’s role, the more successful the performance. Outstanding music can be made when the drummer and bass player are on the same page musically.

Tune Knowledge
The true indication of a serious jazz musician rests with tune knowledge; that is, a broad, in-depth understanding of all “standard” jazz tunes as well as the newer tunes of the day. The more a drummer knows about a tune’s form, melody, and even harmony, the more effective the performance.

Practical Application
This is an important part of the process because it provides an opportunity to put your ideas and concepts to the test. Unfortunately, many students learning to play jazz are limited to practice room study, accompanied only by play-alongs or CDs. Jazz is an improvisational art form, where skills are honed by interacting with other musicians; reacting to soloists, comping patterns, bass lines, time feels, song forms, developing long–lasting musical skills that can only be found in live performance.

Most of all, Houghton stresses, jazz drumming (and other styles) can’t be learned solely in the practice room.  You’ll learn Spanish a lot quicker if you immerse yourself in a Spanish-speaking country, and you’ll learn a lot more about drumming styles if you go to performances, listen to accomplished musicians, and notice the patterns and techniques out in the “real world.”  Learn as much as you can, as pretty soon you can call yourself a pro!

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You might also like…
Jam Session Etiquette for Drummers
Electronic vs. Acoustic Drums: Which Should I Buy?
Drumstick Sizes and Types – And Why It Matters

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