Thursday, March 17th, 2016

If you’ve watched “Whiplash” -then you know how much pressure there is to play drums, and play them well. You don’t have to be like the drummer in that movie and practice until your hands are blistered and bleeding to know when to mix it up with a song.

Reading sheet music could really help you get a visual grasp on transitions between cymbals and drums. The more you take in the visual aspect of notes and rhythms and patterns, the more you’ll start to naturally follow that example. Music is a map. It’s a suggestion, a record, an effort to get you from one place to another in a fluid movement.

It’s a good place to start, but if you’re a drummer that has never read music, then of course there are other ways of developing better technical skills. Look up some of your favorite drummers from the bands you love and find them on YouTube. How did they learn? What influenced their style? Really making an effort to understand what taught them to play so well might lead you to some great material either visually or audibly.

When you start looking at, say, Artimus Pyle, the drummer from Lynyrd Skynyrd, it might lead you in a rabbit hole of other drummers just like him that you’d never heard of before. You’ll pick up on style, but also on related learning tools which will accelerate a more natural flow of transitioning around the drum set. There’s no formula to use that will tell you exactly what to play, which is part of the fun of discovering what you like to hear.

That discovery of hearing new things is probably the most important journey in developing your playing style. If you’re strictly into hard core metal or jazz, then take a deep breath and start listening to a genre that you’ve claimed to hate before. You can learn from your enemies (that has got to be some kind of ancient proverb or something, right?).

Let every sound you encounter be a teacher (again, with the proverbs). Even if you can’t stand bluegrass, or that one guy who plays trombone on the corner every weekend, ask yourself, “What can I learn?”. If you allow yourself to break your routines, your stereotypes, your routine listening habits, you’ll grow exponentially as a drummer.

You’ll feel comfortable picking up sticks and playing to anything. In a sense, you’ll both broaden and narrow who you are as a drummer. When you try out different methods and experience a wide range of drumming styles, you’ll be more certain of how you really want to play (the narrowing). But, in the broad sense, you’ll be able to understand and relate and sit down with any kind of band when you have a grasp of their styles.

We hope you reach to usher in all the sounds you can -they will only sharpen you. Was that another proverb? Man, we’re getting wise.


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