First let me thank you for reading and following the column. Over the first 24 columns I have covered many topics, concepts and facts concerning drumming.
Upon reflection it seems a few themes have reappeared that are relevant to drumming. Although there are many aspects of drumming, it seems the most important and relevant topics are tempo or time keeping, (this seems obvious), a professional attitude and good work ethic, a well thought out plan to becoming a professional musician, picking like minded musicians to align yourself with, tuning, training all of your limbs individually as well as together, and having a well thought out approach or concept to your drumming. I will briefly cover these points one more time in order to hammer them home before moving on to the next phase of this ongoing column.
First and foremost it is imperative you develop good time keeping in order to be a great drummer. You can play a thousand notes and be the most dynamic drummer around, but if your time keeping stinks you are basically worthless. Granted if you are in a situation where the rest of the musicians do not keep time well then this is more difficult.
Having your timing together will help this situation and provide a basis for the rest of the band to excel. If you are working with musicians who have great time as well, this allows for a freedom to play without restrictions, enabling you to freely challenge your musical thoughts.
Take the time to work with a metronome on many different time settings. Practice at slower tempos first and then progress to faster ones. It is harder to play something super slow than it is to play something fast. Music needs space in it to create mood. So practice your timing and tempos and you will be glad you did.
Next, like in any profession get your attitude in check. There are thousands of drummers who can play a gig. If you think you are the best drummer around there is always someone who is better than you or at least just as skilled. If they are easy to get along with, show up on time, and are always professional and responsible guess who is going to get the gig. Make sure to have good gear, reliable transportation, a good work ethic and excellent ability and you will be a working musician for a long time.
Do not just rely on the fate of the universe to dictate your career. Develop a long term plan and set goals to achieve your goal of being a gigging musician. Rarely do you fall in to the perfect gig and make a ton of money. You have to have realistic goals and aspirations. If you set goals to reach in a unrealistic time frame you will end up frustrated and disillusioned.
Again, take your time and set realistic goals. Lay out practice routines and stick to them. Find a way to get done what you need to get done in order to achieve your goals. It is different for everyone so there is not just one way to making a career playing music. Expect the road to be tough with many challenges. Embrace the challenges, work hard and the rewards will be many.
Make sure to play with like minded musicians. Do not trust that everything will work out if you are playing with musicians that are polar opposites of you. Trust me, it will not work out. Save yourself the aggravation and align yourself with musicians who believe in the same concepts as you. Make sure as a band all of you have the same vision and expectations.
Make sure to be able to tunes your drums. In fact it might be a good idea to learn to tune your drums before you learn to play them. Practicing on a bad sounding set will only discourage you. Playing a badly tuned drum set at a gig is obviously not good. Take the time to read and how to tune a drum and then work at it until you can do it. Again, learn to tune your drums.
Train your limbs individually so that when you use them together you can produce a strong even sounding beat. I have noticed many drummers have one weak limb and it shows in their playing. Most commonly it is the limb that plays the hi-hat that is the weakest.
Secondly it is usually the bass drum foot. If you take the time to practice and strengthen each limb so it is independently strong you will be able to master many beats where you use all of your limbs without much effort.
It is well worth the time and energy you put into it.
Lastly try and develop a conceptual aspect to your playing. This will lead to a unique sound for yourself. I play by imagining music as colours or moods. I use my different drums and cymbals to interpret these colours as sounds and it has worked well for me. This can be different for every drummer. There are many drummers in this world. The ones who stand out and make a living playing drums are the ones who have developed their playing conceptually beyond just technically executing beats.
Enjoy the Spring and again thanks for indulging me by reading this column.