In the last column I asked 15 of 30 questions regarding drummer and provided answers. Here are the next 15 questions.
Are you balanced when you are playing?
Too often drummers slope to one side, sit with terrible posture or flay when they are playing. When you are not balanced you are expending energy you otherwise would not have to expend when you are playing. Make sure you are on a level plain with your drums when sitting. Ensure both your feet and arms do not have to cover a lot of space in order to hit the drums. Keep yourself balanced and not leaning to one side or the other.
If you make sure to keep yourself in position where you do not feel any stresses on your body when playing it will be much easier to play for longer periods of time. You can get great tone quality as you are in position to hit the drums correctly.
You will feel much better because you will alleviate soreness or muscle tweaks.
If you can't play four drums efficiently, why do you have 12 of them?
We have all seen a drummer with 50 drums and cymbals and they only hit three or four of them. This is not smart. If you have not mastered playing your basic trap set, (bass drum, snare, ride tom, floor tom, ride cymbal, crash cymbal and hi-hit), then why do you need to have any more drums? Learn all you can applying the basic drum set before you add drums.
It also means you have less drums to move from gig to gig. Sound people will love you because it is less work for them.
Other musicians will love you because they do not have to help you carry your stuff. Playing fewer drums forces you to be more creative in your playing and the fills you do. This knowledge acquired really helps when you start adding more drums and noise makers to your set. The best advantage of playing fewer drums is it is less expensive as you do not have to buy the drums, maintain them and worry about them.
How many hours a day do you practice and is it good practice?
Many drummers will tell you they practice eight hours a day. That is great and commendable as long as the practice is good practice. This means is it productive and you are achieving goals you have made. Of course to compete on a professional level you are going to have to practice quite a bit. Natural talent can go a long way but at a point it becomes stale and progression starts to diminish. Set a realistic goal for the hours of practice that works for you. Once you have this, outline a practice regime of many different disciplines. This will alleviate boredom as well as burn out. Stick to this outline and you will see major improvements at a quicker rate.
Do your drums sound the best they can at all times?
Tuning your drums is so very important. Keeping them in tune is just as important. Make sure to keep your drums sounding their best. Check their tuning every time you play. It is usually just a few quick adjustments and they are sounding great.
Carry a tuning key with you on your key chain. This way you always have one with you and will not be stuck playing a bad sounding kit. Keep all of your drums in good mechanical shape. This means keeping the lugs oiled and having all of the hardware in good working order. Just remember drums are like guitars. You must keep them in tune or it just sounds terrible. I am always surprised by how many drummers do not take care of this detail. They must assume drums are always in tune or just do not need to be maintained. It is a interesting phenomenon but it exists and I see it every day.
Why do you want to be a drummer?
This is a great question for all drummers. For me it was I wanted to play jazz. It does not matter whether you play for a hobby or want to be a professional. Drumming is great for the soul and is a healthy way to experience something great.
Whatever your reason for drumming hopefully there is a passion involved with it. If you want to be a professional make sure you love it because it is a cruel profession with many obstacles. Make sure you know why you want to be a drummer and keep reminding yourself of this as you progress in your development.
Do you hate jazz?
It seems a small percentage of drummers actually like jazz music. Even if you do not like it take the time to study it. Out of all the styles to learn I believe a greater understanding of Jazz leads to your playing being better. It opens your mind to many concepts musically you can learn that other genres just do not offer. Jazz teaches you independence of all of your limbs. You learn to think music instead of just playing it. You are forced to listen to the other musicians you are playing with. Not only do you learn a greater understanding of independence it teaches you structure. Take the time to learn what jazz is about and I guarantee you will get better not only as a drummer but as a musician.
Do you control your volume when playing?
How many times have you realized you are playing too loud. I will admit it I am guilty of this occasionally still to this day.
Your volume or dynamics might be the single most important aspect of your drumming to pay attention too. Granted when you are playing a big gig with a lot of electricity in the room you naturally will have an adrenaline rush resulting in playing loud.
This is easily overcome by just reminding yourself to calm down and just play. Playing with dynamics will set you apart from other drummers. You will be a better player for the band you are with and provide a well rounded canvas for other musicians to play to. Sometimes though it is just fun to play as loud as you can but just remember there is a time and place for it.
Do you embrace drum machines or discard them?
Whether you like them or hate them drum machines are here to stay. They have many practical applications. The sounds and functions they now have are incredible. Drum machines are not your father’s drum machine. It takes talent to effectively use them. Not only can you use them by themselves they work great to incorporate into your drumming. Try sequencing a drum pattern into a beat on the set. The beats can sound incredible. When you do this you work on your time keeping because the machine does not rush or drag.
Having a good knowledge of drum machines increases you abilities in a studio setting. Go ahead and give in, drum machines can be good to the drummer.
Do you feel stuck in your progress to get better?
This happens to everyone. If you have never had this happen well then hallelujah for you, maybe you should bottle that and sell it. To me, it is 90 days from when you learn something and perfect it in your practice that it shows up and is easy to execute in a live playing situation. If you get stuck try these things. Take a lesson or two from another teacher.
Stop practicing for a week to refresh yourself. Practice another instrument as your main instrument for a month or so. Go see several different shows in a two week time period. You would be amazed at how good seeing 10 different drummers in a two week period play works for getting out of a progression rut. Try and find something that works for you and use it when needed.
Do I rush or drag when playing with a band?
If you rush or drag at least be aware of it. There are natural areas in music where you will tend to rush or drag. Going into a chorus of the song usually will rush. During a long verse, things tend to drag. Sometimes you will see a band do what is called a race to to the finish. This means they start and progressively get faster and faster until it is out of control by the end of the song. When rehearsing with a band have the band play to a metronome to reign in this problem area. Play with a metronome as much as possible to fine tune your time abilities. Of course it is up to the drummer to create the tempo and hold it there.
This is true but when the rest of the band is rushing it can be a difficult process to keep things at an even tempo. Do what you can to alleviate the problem of rushing and dragging because without a focused effort to work on it it will get out of control. Nothing sounds worse than a band who is all over the tempo map in a three minute song.
Do I live in the right place to achieve my drumming goals?
There are many talented drummers who have given up the pursuit of a drumming career due to a lack of opportunities. In a small town there are limited places to play. The jobs for giving lessons, teaching at a local school, drum tech, etc, are usually filled by very competent professionals. The pool of other musicians to start a band or play with is usually not very deep. This obviously adds up to limited available avenues to practice your craft. Do some research where best fits for you, get your chops and ability to a competent level, save some money, prepare to work hard and take the leap and move. Try picking a great school of music or a college near or in a great musical community. A good rule of thumb is treat your career like a career. Many people relocate if needed for jobs why not you?
Am I ready to be a professional drummer?
This is a hard question. It will become apparent to you when you are ready. You will have a quiet confidence about your playing.
You will have played several gigs and feel comfortable with your surroundings. I believe that someone is ready as soon as they have control of playing with a band and are being offered gigs. The real test and sure indication is when you are consistently getting paid to play as well as having an overload of playing opportunities. When you have too much paid work it becomes obvious you are ready to be a professional drummer.
Are electronic drums something to be aware of?
For clarification, electronic drums are different than a drum machine. I believe the electronic kits are great but they take a while to get used to. There are so many sounds and sound modules available that they can be relevant in your drumming world.
They are great for practice kits as they are certainly quieter. Beware though that you play with headphones or plugged into an an amp or PA system. When wearing headphones the noise of the sticks hitting the drums can be fairly loud depending on how hard you hit them.
When plugged into a amp or PA they of course can be bone crushing loud if you want. Take the time to check them out and see if they fit you in any way. If you decide to buy, look for used ones. Pick your brand and see what different modules are available to use. The software is the pearl here. The hardware is interchangeable so buy it used.
Is your workout routine the best routine for your type of drumming?
I am not a big proponent of the weight lifting drummer. That does not mean there is not uses for it. Take the time to get into good cardiovascular shape. Mix in some yoga and you are good to go. The sheer act of playing the drums for a long period of time will build the muscles you need to drum as long as you are playing properly. Do some research regarding the muscles used in the playing of drums and develop an exercise regime in conjunction with your playing to build those muscles. Building a good workout routine is beneficial but just do not overdo it.
Is drumming worth the time and effort to learn?
Of course it is. If you plan on being rich, then maybe it is not for you. But again, of course it is worth it.
It's great as long as you let it be.
There are many questions you can ask yourself in relation to your drumming. These are just a few. This is a good exercise to do every once in a while to remind yourself why you are a drummer and if you still want to be one.
Thanks and someone please remind me what is good about winter time.