This article post is designed to follow on from my 2 previous posts regarding Tips For Intermediate Drummers & Tips for Beginner Drummers.
At this point it is assumed you have the playing side of things somewhat down. It’s always a work in progress but it’s time to sort out the one percenters that can make all the difference. Lot’s of people are really good drummers.
So what is going to set you apart? How do we become hireable and valuable?
1. BE ON TIME. BE ON TIME. BE ON TIME: No excuses. Got it? Okay let’s move on.
2. KNOW THE MATERIAL: It doesn’t matter how fast your single stroke roll is if you don’t know the tunes. Do your homework or don’t do the gig.
3. DON’T GET DRUNK: People lose gigs and even get kicked off tours for this all the time. You have to have self-control. You couldn’t turn up to a 9-5 job and get raging drunk. This is no different. You don’t have to become a Monk. One beer is fine, 12 isn’t.
4. DON’T PLAY DURING SOUNDCHECK OR BREAKS: This screams unprofessionalism. There is nothing more annoying and distracting than a drummer trying out his best licks at inappropriate times. Of course you DO need to soundcheck. Do your soundcheck and be done.
5. NEVER OVERPLAY: Play the music. Don’t try and dominate the gig. You are a sideman and your job is to make everyone else sound good. If you are easy to play with you WILL get hired. The music needs to feel great. Random polyrhythmic linear bursts of that new hot lick are not required.
6. IMAGE: Yes this IS important. Maybe more important than your playing. Are Britney Spears or Justin Bieber the best singers in the world? No. You have to have a great attitude. Be easy to work with. Beam confidence and ‘vibe’ with whoever you play with. Always dress appropriately for the gig.
7. SMILE: Cheesey? Maybe… maybe not. If you look bored, the crowd will not give you anything back. It’s a give and take relationship. If you are having a GREAT time, the crowd will too. If you aren’t happy on the night for some reason, fake it. If you notice someone in the band not giving 100%, give them a stupid look. Do a stick trick. Anything to make them laugh and snap back into reality. Looking like a sad sack on stage is unacceptable. If there is a genuine issue you or a bandmate is going through, DON’T gig till you sort it.
I swear if you can tick off everything on this checklist, things WILL happen for you. You have everything working in your favour.
Let’s recap what we’ve covered and what you can work on to tip the scales in your favour from the last 3 posts. Imagine you were hiring or looking for a musician and they ticked ALL of these boxes!?
- They have fun playing.
- They practice diligently and with purpose.
- They have a coach.
- They transcribe songs.
- They practice with a metronome.
- Their gear sounds great.
- They record themselves to improve and stay honest/humble.
- They are ALWAYS on time.
- They know all of the repertoire inside out.
- They are always sober and in control but still a blast to hang with.
- They play for the song.
- They have an awesome image, presence and smile.
Just imagine THAT player? It could be you!