This is the follow up to a previous blog post Tips For Beginner Drummers.
I would classify an intermediate drummer as someone who is gigging around Town a bit. Progressing nicely through their lessons. Is developing an understanding of theory and can play different styles. Probably someone who has a lot of musician friends at this point and loves to talk drums and music. How can we turn into someone who gets noticed and maybe even stands out at a gig? Someone ‘hireable’, valuable and sought after by other musicians. Here are some great ways to get to that next level!
1. TRANSCRIBE: Imitate, Assimilate, Innovate. Transcribing is crucial to your development as a musician. All great musicians have done it, a lot of it! At first the task can seem daunting (even impossible). You CAN do it. Just start out with something simple and build into the harder stuff. Transcribing builds your musical vocabulary better than anything else, and helps you commit things to memory.
If transcribing seems out of reach. Get help from an experienced teacher. You got this!
2. USE A METRONOME: Impeccable time is what separates a good musician from a GREAT musician. It’s so elusive. Very few musicians have excellent time. It comes down to a lot of practice and control of the instrument. It’s generally hard to play things very fast or very slow. Use a metronome at all different speeds, not just for trying to get really fast at double kick licks! Apart from playing along with actual songs, i would recommend doing ALL practice with a metronome.
3. LEARN TO TUNE YOUR DRUMS: This sounds silly but it’s crazy how many people can’t get the most out of their gear. There are many schools of thought on how to do this. I have a really fast and straight forward trick i hope to post soon. Whatever system you choose, get REALLY good at it! There’s no point doing hours of practice if your gear sounds like tin cans and cardboard boxes.
4. HAVE GOOD GEAR: By ‘good’ i mostly mean reliable. You don’t need the latest sparkly DW stuff. Just solid and robust gear that can handle lots of trips in the car and multiple set ups. Cymbal choice is crucial and depends on your style of music. If you are a jazz guy there’s no point in having ultra bright Paistes.
5. RECORD YOURSELF: Did you ever hear a recording of your voice and say (or think) ‘oh my god, do i actually sound like that?’. Yeah well drumming is a bit like that. My heart was broken when i first recorded myself. I sounded absolutely dreadful. I could hear myself speeding up and slowing down. I was making massive and obvious mistakes that in the moment i didn’t notice. And worse of all, some of my favourite licks just didn’t work! Listening back and analysing your playing is an incredibly powerful way to improve.
6. LEARN ANOTHER INSTRUMENT: Preferably piano. This will give you a much better appreciation for the ‘bigger picture’. Most top drummers are top MUSICIANS. It really changes how you view music.
Ultimately (whether you know it or not) you want to be a great musician, not just a great ‘drummer’.
7. Be Organised, Prepared, Professional & Punctual:
Boring? Yeah maybe.
But it can’t be overstated how crucial your personality is. Turning up late, unprepared or with a bad attitude will get you nowhere FAST.
‘Good news travels fast… bad news travels twice as fast’
– Rich Redmond