Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Advice for beginning drummers

Obligatory inspirational picture
1. Play every day.
Consistency is the main thing. At some point in your playing career, you will need to put in many hours every day, for several years at least, if you want to become an impressive, well-rounded professional player. If you're not ready to do that now, you can at least continue to improve steadily if you play for a little while every single day, no exceptions.

2. Don't give up.
The other big thing is not to give up. As a beginner you are not qualified to judge your future potential as a musician, so, if this is something you want to do, give it a chance to happen by continuing to do it. Any person of normal physical abilities should be able to play drums functionally at a professional level given time, a considerable amount of practice, and playing experience. This means you.

3. Talent is overrated.
Playing music comes easier to some people than others, but what actually matters is interest, persistence, and a reasonable work ethic (at least when it comes to music). Declaring yourself to be “not talented enough” is not an excuse for not being able to play the drums.

4. Be music-centric.
Everything you do in drumming follows from music you love, and music you play, so listen a lot, and play with people a lot. For all of the fascinating drum junk available to look at and practice— it's boring. Without any musical context and meaning, it's empty stuff, and you're going to get bored with it. Being in love with music is what will hook you to continue playing and improving for the rest of your life.

5. Learn to read music.
It's strange to have to mention this, but this is the Internet, and everyone seems to think they can learn just by watching videos. Video demonstrations are fine, but in 2014, real drummers read. With a little bit of familiarity, you will take in information a lot faster by reading it off the page.

6.  Be around other musicians
Being around other drummers, you're always thinking about the drums, and seeing what other people are doing well, or badly; and it fills out a lot of background knowledge you don't get by just playing alone in your basement and looking at web videos. Non-drumming musicians are the people you're going to actually play music with, so you need to be friends with them to have a chance to do that.

7. Take every playing opportunity.
When you get a chance to play music with people, take it, no matter what. I don't care if it's a country gig, a church gig, a musical that looks really bad, or playing triangle in junior orchestra; it doesn't matter. If your friend who doesn't play bass very well wants to come over and play with you, say yes. Say yes to everything.

8. Playing is sacrosanct.
Treat all playing situations seriously, no matter how bad you think it is, or how much everyone around you thinks its a joke. You don't have to be a jerk about it, showing off how serious you are; just be focused on doing the best, most professional job you can, no matter what. You can joke about how messed up the situation was after you're done playing, after the gig or rehearsal.

1 comment:

Ed Pierce said...

This is incredibly wise advice, and any novice (and some not-so-novice) players would do well to take it to heart. Nicely done. And items #1-3 are applicable (I think) for someone seeking to excel at ANY endeavor, not just music.