10 Tips to Overcome Stage Fright as a Drummer

overcoming stage fright for drummers
Have you ever gotten nervous and tightened during in a gig?

It’s an uncomfortable feeling. Most musicians have felt it in varying degrees.

A few butterflies can help to keep you on your toes, but too much can ruin the fun on stage.

When you are comfortably practicing your music by yourself or in a group, you may perform many actions subconsciously

However, nerves on stage can cause you to consciously consider every individual hit, which can cause you to question everything you’re playing and destroy your entire groove.

Drummer often feel that going out of tempo or not locking in with a band can ruin the performance of the entire music group. This is why drummers often feel a large amount of pressure. However, rest assured that there are techniques that will help you overcome stage fright.

1) Approach the gig with a different mindset

Myth: “If I mess up the song on stage, I’ll look like a fool!”

band-audience

Many musicians approach gigs with such perfectionism that even the slightest issue can ruin the gig in their minds.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve congratulated a musician after a gig, only to be given the response “I messed up part X”. The truth is that in audiences don’t know any difference most of the time. This is both the case for originals and cover songs.

You might have tirelessly rehearsed the same set 200 times, but the audience probably has never heard it before. Therefore, the audience could be oblivious to you changing whole sections of songs!

Try to be ok with drifting off plan a little bit.

If your band is good, then going off track can really lead to something special.

If the mistake on stage is definitely something not special, then try to forget and recover from it as quickly as possible. That’s the difference between a newbie and an experienced musician.

2) Be OK with dropping a drumstick

drumstick

A professional juggler once told me that even world-class performers regularly drop their clubs or juggling balls on advanced moves.

However, they professionally and gracefully recover from it!

The same mindset should be adopted for drumming.

If you’re too scared of dropping your sticks, you would…

  • Hold the drumsticks too tightly
  • Tighten up too much
  • Start sweating
  • Possibly feel numbness in your hands
  • Drum your drumsticks J

So it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Cut the fear cycle with something so trivial. It’s not the end of the world if you drop a stick. If it happens, you could even try a one-handed drum solo like a boss!

3) Practice

drummer-practice

This might be an obvious one!

The risk of anxiety is much lower when you’re confident in your own skills

Logically, you should practice as much as you can to stretch your abilities. This includes honing your own technique as well as rehearsing with your band.

If you’re a drummer in a cover band and you make your living by playing live gigs, you should have rehearsals at numerous times a week.

This drumming routine will increase your self-confidence and you’re less likely to question yourself on stage.

Probably the greatest issue that comes from playing at different events in a cover band, i.e. playing for money, is the monetary aspect of drumming.

Namely, you get paid for your drumming, so that’s not only passion, but it’s a real job. This notion can dramatically change the way you perceive your live gigs.

Even when you don’t have a drum kit by your side, you can do some kitless exercises, to stay in good drumming shape. The tricks shown in this video tutorial will help you practice without drums.

Even better, a practice pad can help you improve your drum chops and warm up for your gig.

4) Breathe your way into the gig

I used to get panic attacks.

mindset playing live

Good breathing can make a tremendous difference.

It relieves tension, reduces stress and helps us carry out our performances in the best way possible.

Also, your sitting position while drumming can affect your lung capacity if you don’t sit properly.

The Rock Drumming Underground has delivered a useful guide on proper sitting for drummers, so you might want to learn something from them.

The right body posture at the drums will save your energy and let more air into your lungs.

Apart from proper posture, you should include some breathing exercises in your drumming sessions.

At first, you’ll need to pay attention to the way you inhale/exhale air while drumming, but it will eventually become automated actions. Here you can read a valuable piece on breathing in drumming, written in 1980 by legendary Roy Burns.

You can also make your own breathing rituals before and after every gig or concert. Think about some successful gigs you’ve had or audiences that you liked and take deep breaths while evoking those memories.

By gradually letting your mind slip into the state of satisfaction, you’ll boost the feeling of self-confidence.

In turn, all the potential negative feelings, including stage fright, will be covered with positive mental images.

5) Listen to your tracks regularly

One of the best ways to become more secure in your drumming is to listen to the songs from your set list over and over again.

Analyze the drum sections, but get into the music lines of all other instruments, as well.

Playing with emotion is something that counts. Invest your emotions into your drumming and you’ll see that the output you deliver is much more.

Singing is another extremely practical way to improve your self-confidence and learn tracks better.

Learning the lyrics of every song you play will improve your orientation in your setlist. When you know by heart the outline of the numbers you play, it’s easier to let things flow naturally.

Who knows, maybe you even start singing back vocals. Queen’s Roger Taylor wasn’t only one of the best rock drummers ever, but he was also an amazing vocalist. He managed to sing back vocals to Freddie Mercury.

6) Getting comfortable on stage during the sound check

We’re less inclined to feel fear if we’re familiar with our surroundings.

Sound checks before the gig can really help ease your nerves. Talking to the sound engineer can help ease your nerves, as it can help you feel like you have more support.

If possible, you should try to get familiar with every new stage on which they’re going to play.

When you know what the stage and space around it look like, you can visualize your gig there. That can be useful when it comes to self-confidence.

Imagine yourself playing drums with your band inside that venue and keep telling yourself that you’re going to deliver a top-notch performance. Autosuggestion is a practical way to boost your morale and improve your mental state before you get onto the stage.

Also, try to spend some time before the concert inside the space where you’re going to play and get used to it.

Always make sure that you see the bass player on the stage so that you can easily communicate in case anything unexpected happens during the gig.

7) Working on your physical stamina

Certain styles of drumming (particularly rock and metal) can burn a substantial amount of calories. The results of research published on the Livestrong website show that an average drummer burns about 250 calories per hour of drumming.

Further, a rock drummer could burn up to 600 calories during a one-hour period at a concert.

Working on your physical stamina can help keep your playing performance at a high level.

If you have an unhealthy lifestyle that includes a lot of alcohol and bad sleep, your ability to play long gigs might not meet the demands of such events.

These exercises will help them improve their physical stamina, which will reduce the risk of having stage fright. If you know that your body can stand your entire gig without any problems, you’ll be able to direct all your energy on the performance itself.

In addition to regular workouts, you might want to introduce a warm-up and stretching routine before your live shows. Learn more about some handy exercises in this informative video.

8) Go easy on the booze!

The rock star lifestyle comes with a lot of thoughts of drinking on stage. However, this should be avoided and alcohol should not be the answer to overcoming your nerves.

I can say from experience that you won’t be at the top of your game if you’re drunk on stage.

Also, getting dependant on alcohol for concerts can become a problem if your gigging diary starts to pack out!

I’m not saying that you must cut out drinking altogether when gigging, but make sure not to get too fond of drinking on stage.

9) You’re not the only one feeling nervous

When we’re feeling nervous, we sometimes start to overestimate other people too much.

In these times, you should try to realize that even the top world class professionals can get nervous before playing and still put on an amazing show.

It is very natural to be afraid of putting yourself out there and performing. The more you talk to other musicians, the more you realize that you’re not alone.

Just acknowledge that what you’re feeling is normal can help conquer stage fright.

10) Aim for lots of small improvements

When changing your mindset to deal with stage fright, you should aim for lots of small improvements.

If you’re taking 2 steps forward then 1 step back: You’re still going in the right direction.

When you courageously take the steps forward to overcome your fears, it can be a great feeling of accomplishment.

However, even a small setback can make you feel like you’re not making any progress.

If that happens, look back and think about all of the progress you have made.

Conquering this type of fear is a process that can take some time.

When you have stage fright, your brain is trying to warn you about something that’s not actually a real threat. Then afterward, you can be afraid of that fear itself happening again, which comes back and makes it worse. This is our instinctive fear cycle.

As hard as it sounds, try to accept what you’re feeling instead of fighting it. Keep confident that you will overcome this because with enough perseverance you WILL overcome it.

Most other musicians who are comfortable on stage were once in your position.

One step at a time

Stage fright can happen to anyone, which is why you should apply some techniques that will reduce the risk of developing this uncomfortable feeling.

If you practice regularly and have smooth communication with your band, you’re already going to feel more comfortable at your drum throne.

Working on how to deal with anxiety personally in different areas of your life can make a big difference. Fear comes in very recognizable and curable patterns. Whereas when we feel stuck in the middle of it, we can feel like we’re the only ones in the world with those symptoms.

Together with some breathing and workout exercises, you have a great combo of strategies for confident drumming performances wherever you go and whatever you play on your drums.

Finally, talk to your friends and family. It’s strong to speak out, and it can be a very fast route to helping you overcome your fears.

Keep persevering and keep trying to get better, one step at a time.

Good luck!

Mike­­­­

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10 Easy Drum Songs for Beginners

Learning to play new songs is a great way to stretch your skills as a drummer and have fun. At the beginning, your willpower can easily depend on the choice of the songs you practice. You want to strike a good balance between playing easy songs at the start, but also stretching your abilities a little. Playing songs you enjoy is a great way to maintain your motivation.

Here is a list of ten great songs for beginners that won’t be too demanding for a new drummer and will also keep you motivated.

1)     Californication by RHCP

This song from the eponymous RHCP album from 1999 has a perfect tempo for a beginner drummer. The drumming patterns aren’t too complex, but they do require your full attention and practice. RHCP drummer Chad Smith really did a great job on this song.

The great thing about this song, drum-wise, is that the famous intro is played only by the bass and the guitar. Hence, drummers have some time to grasp the rhythm and the tempo.

With this video, you can practice how to play “Californication” downtempo and we believe that you’re going to master it in a jiffy.

2)     Back in Black by AC/DC

In 1980 AC/DC released one of their best-selling albums, Back in Black. The opening track on this album was the eponymous “Back in Black”. Its catchy, classic-rock 4/4 rhythm makes it one of the most suitable drum songs for beginners.

Also, the regular repetition of the guitar riff makes it easier to keep the rhythm.

AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd delivered an iconic, yet simple drum pattern with strong beats and clear fills.

3)     La Grange by ZZ Top

When talking about straightforward drumming patterns, it’s crucial to add ZZ Top to that list. If you’re a drumming beginner, playing ZZ Top’s “La Grange” is a must.

Similarly to the abovementioned intro of Californication, the first few bars of “La Grange” are played by the bass and the guitar. As a drummer, it gives you some time to prepare for the rhythm of the song. This resourceful tutorial will help you learn every single bit (and beat) of this song.

Also, Frank Beard plays the well-known Texas shuffle rhythm in this song. It’s played in a variety of Southern rock and other popular songs. Learn more about Texas shuffle here.

4)     In My Life by The Beatles

Ringo Starr is one of the most underrated drummers ever. His unique drumming deliverance is best seen (and heard) in songs like Back in the USSR or Rain, but beginners should wait with these numbers for a bit.

One of the Beatles’ songs you’ll be able to drum almost from day one is “In My Life”. The reminiscent lyrics of this song are accompanied by a perfectly mellow rhythm. You play the bass drum, the snare and the hi-hat cymbal in the verse, while the chorus is dominated by the ride and hi-hat cymbals.

In this cover, you can see that “In My Life” is a perfect choice for the beginning of your drumming life.

5)     Blue Orchid by The White Stripes

One of the most notable songs from The White Stripes album Get Behind Me Satan, released in 2005, “Blue Orchid” is a real treat for every novice drummer.

Meg White gives a great performance not only on the studio version, but on live gigs, as well. Here you can see The White Stripes playing “White Orchid” at Glastonbury Festival in 2005. The tempos is a bit faster than the original studio song.

In this cover, you can see that playing this song is nothing to worry about. You start with the bass drum and play it along the guitar intro. Then you add the tom-tom drum to the bass as the verse starts and move on to play the snare drum, the ride cymbal and the bass drum. It’s a pretty straightforward rhythm that only takes some time for practice.

6)     Sing in Silence by Sonata Arctica

A mid-paced song released on the Silence album from 2001, “Sing in Silence” is a wonderful choice for drumming beginners who like Scandinavian power metal.

Sonata Arctica drummer Tommy Pertimo came up with a convincing, yet uncomplicated rhythmic pattern for this song.

After the intro that combines the keyboard and the vocals, you start with a smooth 4/4 rhythm steadily played on the bass drum and the hi-hat cymbal. See how an amateur drummer easily plays it in this educative video.

7)     Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones

“Gimme Shelter” was released in 1969, on Let It Bleed, one of the most influential rock albums of the 1960s.

Charlie Watts’ drumming was perfectly incorporated into the intimate atmosphere of this song.

A newbie drummer should take a look at this performance to get the gist of what you’re supposed to play here. It’s a basic r’n’r drumming pattern with a combo of the bass drum, the snare and the ride cymbal. Also, there are some fills later on in the song. For starters, stick to the verse and then add those other elements as you’re improving your drumming skills.

8)     Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi

One of the songs that defined the 1980s, Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” was released in 1986, on the Slippery When Wet album.

It has a powerful, but uncomplicated drum line, which put it in the group of the good songs to drum to.

Tico Torres played the drums on this recording and added a fine pop-rock drumming touch to an outstanding tune.

The rhythm flows smoothly with the drum bass, the snare and the hi-hat cymbal, as shown in this detailed tutorial.

In the middle part and the chorus you’ll have to include some sophisticated kicks on the ride cymbal, but don’t worry about it. Start with the basic rhythm, gradually learn other parts you certainly won’t stop “half way there”.

9)     Come As You Are by Nirvana

Nevermind was the album that introduced grunge to the mainstream. And “Come As You Are” has ever since been one of the favorite songs of rookie guitarists, because of its catchy guitar riff.

Apart from being a great pick for guitarists, it’s also a fine choice for drumming beginners. Dave Grohl didn’t complicate things too much here. He probably realized that the riff is so lively that drums shouldn’t overshadow it.

When you watch this “Come As You Are” cover, you’ll see that the verse mostly revolves around the bass drum, the snare drum and the ride cymbal, with occasional crash fills.

The chorus is a bit more complex, with some fills on the snare and transition on tom-toms, but you’ll get there eventually.

10) When the Levee Breaks by Led Zeppelin

A traditional blues number from the 1920s, “When the Levee Breaks” was covered by Led Zeppelin and released on the Led Zeppelin IV album in 1971.

At that time John Bonham was one of the best drummers in the world and he played this song in his unique, laid-back way.

You begin the song with the bass drum, the hi-hat and the snare.

In this video lesson, you’ll learn how to play “When Levee Breaks” in basic terms and then you’ll see how to add some additional beats to the bass drum and the snare.

Also, that last video was one of many from Drumeo. To learn more about, check our our article on Drumeo.

The numbers we’ve analyzed in this article are good songs to drum to if you’re only a beginner. You’ve most probably heard them many times, which means that you’re familiar with them. This makes them easier for you to drum along with.

When you’re beginning to play drums, it’s great to play songs that match your musical preference, as well as mixing it up with some other styles. So, combine the songs we’ve suggested with the ones you like most and you’ll have a great initiation into the world of drumming.

Also, if you don’t own an electronic drum set, it can be a great way to pick one up and practice songs like these.

What do you think, do you have any other suggestions for good beginner drum songs?

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The Moeller Technique – Drumming Power and Endurance

drum-set

The Moeller technique is a great drumming method that can swiftly improve your skills and teach you how to save energy while drumming.

Also, learning this technique is a great platform for some more advanced drumming styles.

This article explains how you can learn the Moeller technique, as well as explaining its origins.

Have a look at this video to see the Moeller method in action, before we dive in it. Jim Chapin is one of the main pioneers of the Moeller technique.

The origins and founders

This drumming technique was named after Sanford Augustus “Gus” Moeller. He was a drummer and an educator, professionally active from the 1910s to his death in 1960.

What he did was observe the military drummers in the years after the American Civil War. He admired the way they played their snares at military events and parades. If you’ve ever seen those parade drummers hitting large snares, you must have asked yourself how they don’t get exhausted from hours of walking and drumming.

That same question came to Mr. Moeller’s mind.

After analyzing their playing technique, he realized that the predominant grip those drummers used was the little finger-thumb grip. In other words, they would hold their drumsticks with those two fingers when hitting their snare drums.

Frankly, Moeller didn’t invent anything new, but he simply recorded what he noticed in those players.

In the 1930s, he met Jim Chapin, one of the most influential jazz drummers of the 20th century, and taught him this drumming style.

This influence Chapin had on drumming was largely anchored in the Moeller technique. He embraced this technique and kept popularizing it until his death in 2009.

Ergonomic grips for smooth drumming

Now that we’ve learned a bit more about Chapin and Moeller, let’s concentrate on the drumming benefits of the Moeller technique.

Before we move onto those details, it’s important to stress out that every drummer needs to find a fulcrum point. In a nutshell, it’s the position in which you have the best balance and control over your drumsticks. Playing drums without finding this point will be exhausting for your hand and frustrating for your mind.

Defining the fulcrum point is inevitable when it comes to the Moeller technique because this method depends on the stick grip and the bounces. When your stick bounces off a drum, it’s crucial to use the reflection momentum for the new swing and the kick of the stick.

Here are the strokes contained in the Moeller technique that can improve your drumming.

1) The Moeller full stroke

The Moeller full stroke will help you gain better control over your sticks and use their force to increase your drumming speed.

Before you hit the drum, put the stick in a vertical position. Hitting the drum should be done in a whipping style. Just imagine that your stick is a whip and try to imitate that whipping move.

By performing this kick on the drum swiftly, you’ll release a large amount of energy that will eventually be transferred to the drum. The reflection of the stick will be equally powerful, generating a new amount of potential energy for another hit. Here you can see Brad Allen playing those full strokes in accordance with Moeller technique.

Make sure that you do this drumming practice using both hands from the very beginning. Otherwise, they won’t be equally trained, which will be a drawback for your playing.

2) The Moeller Up Stroke

The counterpart of the full stroke, the Moeller up stroke begins a few inches away from the drum. What you should first do when performing this stroke is gently tap the drum (or the pad) with the tip of your stick. After that, lift the stick back to the initial vertical position from which you perform the full stroke.

The potential issue for drumming rookies is the low initial position of this stroke. Still, practicing this stroke will make this position completely natural after a while.

Also, use the aforementioned whipping move for this stroke. The more your practice both the full stroke and the up stroke in your rehearsals, the better technique you’ll acquire.

3) The Moeller Tap Stroke

The name of this stroke is quite self-explanatory: you simply “tap” the surface of the drum with your stick. Similarly to the up stroke, you should place your stick just a few inches above the drum and only barely hit it. You can accompany this stroke with the up stroke. Again, practice it with both hands and you’ll soon be able to combine all these strokes to make the Moeller technique work for you.

The benefits of the Moeller technique

As you’re practicing the three Moeller stroke, you should concentrate on the feeling you have in your sticks. Although this feel will depend on the position of the sticks, don’t pay too much attention to the height between them and the drum at the beginning.

The initial goal here is to find the fulcrum point and develop the right drumming sensitivity.

After going through each of these strokes separately, it’s time to play them one after another, to form the right Moeller pattern. When you put all them together, it will be first the full stroke, then the tap stroke and at the end, you’ll go for the up stroke.

As you’re playing them in a single drumming unit, you’ll see how your sensitivity is increasing. Soon you’ll be able to perform all three strokes smoothly with each hand.

This final outcome should be the following drumming feel: you’ll have an impression that you’re actually hitting only one stroke (the full stroke), while the two latter strokes (the tap and the up stroke) are more similar to bounces.

The ease with which you’ll eventually be able to drum is what makes the Moeller technique so popular among modern drummers. You’ll be able to play drums for a longer period of time, due to the optimal input of energy.

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The 3 Best Drum Practice Pads – Advice From an Experienced Drummer

My drum practice pad
The practice pad I’ve owned for 12 years. It’s still in great shape.

This is the first question I ask when a drummer asks how they can improve their drumming skills: “Do you own a practice pad?”

If they say no, that’s almost always the first port of call.

A practice pad is an exceptional tool for any drummer. It allows you to perfect your rolls and rudiments quietly, consistently, and when you’re on the move.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much my drumming improved after just a few weeks of consistently practicing on one of these bad boys.

For example, your drum kit fills will instantly improve after you practice your single or double stroke rolls consistently on one of these.

I’ve identified the top three drum practice pads that I think you should consider. There are many different options out there. However, I think the following pads cover the main types of practice pads that you’re going to find. I also really think these are the best ones out of each of these categories:

The Real Feel – Evan’s 2 Sided Drum Practice Pad

I own the both the 6-inch and 12-inch versions of this pad. I’ve had the 6-inch version for 12 years of pretty consistent practice.

I’ve given this drum practice pad a right beating. Including a large number of heavy hits!

That’s an insanely large amount of value for the low price tag. This comes in two versions. The 12-inch model and the 6 inch one. If this is your first practice pad, I would recommend the smaller model.

However, the 12 inch is a great option if a bit of extra weight and space is not a problem for you. You also get a lot more space to play with for your drum strokes.

This pad is double-sided. One side is made of a gum material, which gives solid rebound. This is great for practicing snare and cymbal strokes.

The other side is made from more of a rubber material. This is useful for putting your muscles to work. This is useful for practicing on deeper tuned drum heads that don’t give a lot of rebound.

Both of these practice options are very useful, as it allows for practice across different surfaces.

Also, Evan’s is one of the biggest names in drum head manufacturers.

 

The Drumeo P4 Practice Pad

The previous practice pad makes use of two surfaces. However, the Drumeo practice pad takes this premise to the next level.

This pad consists of four different materials, and it allows you to quickly switch between surfaces at once. It can help you to develop the versatility required to move between different playing surfaces such as a drum set.

This is also a very quiet practice pad, so it’s useful for drumming practice situations where you can’t make much noise.

This drum practice pad was also created by Drumeo, one of the biggest online drum education websites in the world.

This pad is a little bit more expensive than the others, but you get a lot of value for your price.

Check out the video below. It will show not only the Drumeo practice pad in action, but it will also give you a flavor for what you can practice using one of these.

 

The Remo Tunable Practice Pad

This drum practice pad is a little different to the previous one mentioned. This one really simulates the bounce of a real drum, but at the expensive of being a little louder than the other practice pads.

It’s also tunable, which enables you to simulate drums of different tension.

This practice pad has one serious benefit. It’s tuning and slightly higher noise makes it a lot easier for you to listen out and observe your drum strokes.

Therefore, you should really consider this if ultra quiet practice is not a top priority of your drum practice pad.

It’s manufactured by Remo, one of the top drum head manufacturers. If you choose this pad, you’re going with an exceptional brand (It’s also the brand of drum heads that I have been fitting to my acoustic drums for years).

 

What to practice first

Rudiments

When you get your practice pad, you should identify what your weak spots are with your drumming. If you have a drum teacher, they may have already hinted at certain parts of your strokes and playing.

If you’re unsure, then work through some of the basic drum rudiments, such as single stroke rolls, double stroke rolls, paradiddles, flams, etc. I would also highly recommend practicing with a metronome.

You should quickly be able to identify which ones are uncomfortable or unfamiliar to play. This is especially the case at high or very low speed.

Technique

Your practice pad is a great tool to try out new techniques. For example, try out the Moeller technique or simply perfecting your rebound.

Stick tricks

This one is pretty superficial, but some drummers and fans love it. Many stick tricks involve hitting the drum and working with your rebound. The practice pad is a perfect place to try these out.

What drum sticks to use

This is a matter of personal preference. I would recommend that you get a pair of heavier sticks for a real workout. These can be great for practicing your speed and endurance. You will notice the difference when you go back to using your lighter sticks.

Otherwise, just play with your regular sticks if you are warming up on the practice pad before playing on your drum set.

However, don’t just take my advise, play around with different stick types on your practice pad to see what suits you the best.

Learning resources to use

There are many amazing drumming instruction videos online. Check out Drumeo if you are interested in getting access to top quality online drum tuition.

You could also buy the fantastic book “Stick Control: For the Snare Drummer” by George Lawrence Stone. This has been referred to as the drum bible.

Personally, Dom Famularo’s book “It’s Your Move: Motions and Emotions” was one of the best resources I ever had for drumming. It’s first few chapters really paved the way for me to improve my technique.

If in doubt, you should always try to seek the tuition and help of a local drumming instructor. It can be quite difficult to identify bad habits for yourself. An experienced teacher could identify them in a heartbeat, saving you so much time, and possibly saving you from injury from bad form and technique.

Summary

I hope this article has thought you the importance of using a drum practice pad.

If you are still unsure what one to purchase, I would highly recommend the Evan’s 2 sided practice pad. I really think you can’t go wrong with this one. As I’ve previously mentioned, this has been my go-to pad for years.

Also, this pad is an extremely popular choice for drummers.

Do you have any questions? I’d be very happy to answer them below.

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How Learning Music Production Can Improve Your Drumming Career

I started producing electronic music as a hobby about 3 years ago. I’ve been playing drums my entire adult life. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of both tangible and subtle benefits that arose from this new past time of mine.

Some of them were directly related to drumming style and technique. Others are related to your taste and how you go about making music. You can also greatly improve how you communicate with other musicians and spread ideas.

I personally got into deep house and EDM music production. However, these transferable skills can apply to many different styles of music.

Some of these skills can also be learned by picking up another musical instrument, such a piano or a guitar. However, I gained a considerable amount more transferrable skills through music production than any other instrument I have learned to play.

So let’s get right into them.

It gives you more musical context

As a drummer, you are inherently focused on timing and rhythm. You can start to appreciate an entirely different musical context when you step outside of this focus and start arranging music.

Composing and arranging makes you think and appreciate about all of the aspects of the music. This includes how melody, harmony and rhythm interact with each other to make the overall track.

This can make a subtle but powerful difference when you play drums with a band. You can get more of a sense of taste of when to step back and when to go all out!

Of course, some drummers already possess this appreciation from playing other instruments or through very keen observation of their favorite track. However, I still think there is something to be benefited in manner.

More ideas for beats and fills

I hit a wall in my drum progression before I started producing music. I kept rehashing the same drum beats and fills over and over again.

Yes, this may have been down to a lack of discipline. However, the art of music production seriously kicked this into gear.

There are a wealth of drum sample libraries that can give you inspiration on new types of drum beats to use.

Mixing and matching beats within music production software can also free up limitations on what you can do behind the kit.

For example, you are no longer limited by your drum kit sounds. You can process, record, drag and drop as many different types of audio samples you want to get the sound you’re looking for.

This moves me on to my next point.

It can push you into the world of hybrid drums

Hybrid drum kits open up a world of opportunity for drummers. For example, adding a drum or sample pad to your acoustic drum set can instantly provide sampling capability to your live performances.

Drummers that are skilled in music production can also choose and process the exact samples to suit their sound.

There are many presets available on these devices, so a large amount of production knowledge is now essential. However, it extends your options.

Introducing electronic drum and trigger elements to your set also allows you to trigger loops and any other midi device. You could also hook your trigger directly to sound engineer software on your laptop.

It improves your communication

I used to get frustrated being in bands early in my musical career. As a drummer, I didn’t really have the vocabulary of melodic concepts to really contribute in a musical manner whenever I had an opinion.

When learning how to create music, you quickly need to get a grasp of scales and melodies. It’s actually very easy to learn the basics of these when you are playing with midi notes on a computer.

Eventually, after you learn about music theory, you may eventually just decide to trust your ear and work from there. That sort of confidence can go a long way!

It improves your independence as a musician

Drummers are often dependant on other musicians. Singers and other instrumentalists can go solo into a musical career, but this is not often the case for a drummer.

It’s very safe to say that drummers are almost always in demand; even more so than bassists. However, if you produce your own music it’s a great avenue to try out a solo project of your own.

Following on from this

I’ve been discussing some potentially unexpected subjects in this article. Technique and practice are paramount to the improvement of your drumming. However, once you can perform blisteringly fast double-stroke rolls and paradiddles around your kit. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have great ‘taste’ when it comes to you personal choice of how drums fit into songs.

Stepping outside of your drum set can actually give you a whole next perspective for when you sit back in.

You might even have a lot of fun along the way!

How to start producing music

If you’re interested in learning how to produce music, I’d highly recommend that you download or purchase a decent DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Ableton Live and Cubase are both very decent examples of these.

I also recommend that you purchase a decent audio interface. I own a Focusrite scarlett 2i4, and this suits my needs very well. You can use an audio interface to record audio from your microphone or outputs from your external instruments.

MIDI controllers also give you the flexibility to use external hardware that controls virtual studio technology. These range from anything between MIDI keyboards to the MIDI outputs on your sample pads or drum machines.

Good educational resources to get you started

Masterclass.com currently have two fantastic video resources: Deadmau5 teaching electronic dance music, and the legendary Hans Zimmer teaching film scoring (Zimmer is a real synth nerd at heart).

Ableton’s own book ‘Making Music’ is a great buy. It does not teach you basic concepts, but it helps offer many solutions to common barriers that you may run into.

There are a wealth of online video tutorials, podcasts, and books that you can learn from.

Summary

This article was a bit of a departure away from my usual ones. It was more of a personal opinion piece from my own experience.

If you don’t plan to get into producing music, then you could also consider picking up another instrument. Even simply listening to a completely different style of music could also do the trick.

If you are currently playing in a lot of alternative bands at the moment, maybe listen to jazz music. Alternatively, you could really mix it up and go for more atmospheric listening and see how you can integrate those concepts into your playing.

Do you have your own opinions on what I’ve talked about? I’d love to hear them!

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The History of Electronic Drum Sets – 1960s to the 2010s

When you go to a party or a live gig nowadays, it’s very common to see drummers playing electronic drums. They are easier to transport, quicker to sound check, and they offer a vast array of sound options.

They are especially useful to bands that play modern styles of music. Many of these require a more diverse set of sounds.

Electronic drums have come a long way from their early versions in the 1960’s. They have quickly developed into the fantastic rhythm machines we currently have.

We’re going to discuss the development of electronic drums and their most prominent players. We will also talk about some cool new models that will inspire electronic drummers wherever they are.

The Roots of Electronic Drumming

When digging into the roots of electronic drumming, you’ll always find a man and a machine. The man was Felix Visser, a Dutch drummer who was into sound engineering. The machine was the Ace Tone electronic rhythm box. This was an early rhythm machine which enabled its users to play live gigs with a few rhythm presets.

Visser added a longboard with a dozen circuit boards attached onto the Ace Tone box. Those 12 smaller boards were enriched with copper traces. This combination of copper as the conductor and the boards as touchpads were connected to the Ace Tone box.

He added computer relays to each of the touch pads to conduct an electronic circuit to them. Those Siemens-made relays were connected to the sounds produced by the Ace Tone rhythm box.

Naturally, the sound Visser got wasn’t as perfect as it is today, but it was a revolutionary move towards modern electronic drumming.

Interestingly enough, Ace Tone would later develop into Roland – one of the most popular manufacturers of synth and rhythm machines in the world.

The founder of both companies, as well as the Ace Tone rhythm box, was Ikutaro Kakehashi, a great musical innovator who paved the way to numerous music genres from the 1970s to the present day.

The Rise of the Electronic Drum Kit

After Visser and Kakehashi had come up with their findings in electronic drumming, it was time for commercial manufacturers to take the lead. Pollard Industries released the first commercial electronic drum in 1976. This was the Pollard Syndrum, invented by Mark Barton and Joe Pollard. Despite its originality and authenticity, the product didn’t take off as successfully as its creators thought it would, so the business failed.

The Simmons Company came up with their commercial electronic drums in 1978. This time the market reacted in a more positive way, which helped this business rise to prominence at the beginning of the 1980’s. Their best-selling electronic drum kit was Simmons SDS-5. It was released in 1981 and became a part of many studios in the 1980’s. Also, you can hear its characteristic ‘metal-can’ drum sound on many songs from the 1980’s, from Spandau Ballet and Rush to Duran Duran.

The 1990s saw the arrival of electronic drums from two large manufacturers of electronic instruments, Yamaha and Roland. The latter made an exquisite contribution to the development of electronic drums with their TD-10 model from 1997. This model was based on modern mathematical features, which created synthesizer-based sounds, rather than classical acoustic sounds.

Also, it replaced rubber covers on pads with a skin similar to mesh. These two innovations opened room for a modern electronic sound.

Electronic Drummers in the Spotlight

Four years after Visser put together his homemade kit of electronic drums, Graeme Edge, the drummer of Moody Blues, made the first modern electronic drum.

He played that kit on the Moody Blues song ‘Procession’, released in 1971. Since Moody Blues covered a wide scope of music experiments, the use of his electronic drums expanded their range of sounds.

Bill Bruford is another prominent drummer who supported the use of electronic drums and became its promoter in the 1970’s. Having left the band ‘Yes’ in 1972, he joined King Crimson. Their progressive attitude to rock music and hunger for original sounds were a perfect chance for Bruford.

He used the Simmons SDX kit during his stint in King Crimson. You can read more details about his experiences with electronic drums in the 2009 interview on his official website.

Also, here you can hear him playing an electronic drum kit in Japan, in 1986.

Although heavy metal drummers often do not approve of electronic kits, Def Leppard’s Rick Allen played them for a long time. He had to learn how to play drums only with his left hand since he lost his right hand in an accident in 1984. This is where electronic drums were extremely helpful.

Roger Taylor, the drummer of Duran Duran, played electronic drums on some of their songs. Since they were one of the major representatives of synth pop, it was a must for them to use electronic drums. Here you can listen to him playing the Roland TD-30KV kit.

Apart from these drummers, many other drum players and music producers from the 1980s and 1990s used electronic drums in a wide range of genres – from disco and synth/romantic pop to funk, dance, hip-hop and R’n’B.

Modern Electronic Drum Sets

Electronic drum sets have come a long way from Visser’s amateur electronic kit to the powerful sound machines that we admire today.

Take the Roland TD-50 for example, which feels so like playing behind a regular drum kit. Of course, it offers many features that are not available on acoustic kits, for example, custom sampling and even gives you playing instructions to improve your technique. Here you can see (and hear) Kai Hahto from Nightwish playing the Roland TD-50.

Apart from the entire electronic drum kits, there are now modern lines of amazing sampling and percussion pads. The Roland Octapad SPD-30 and the Roland SPD-SX are both stellar models.

Modern electronic producers are often adding live electronic percussive elements to their sets. MIDI technology enables them to communicate these devices with their digital audio workstations or other gear.

Modern music production will make even more room for electronic drums in the years to come. It’s great to look back on what sound engineers and music enthusiasts have done in the last fifty years to improve the nature and quality of drumming. In the time ahead, we can only look forward to new innovations in the field of electronic drumming.

Interested in getting your hands on an electronic drum kit? Check out our electronic drum set reviews and guide.

Mike

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The Surprising Benefits of Learning to Play Drums


Learning to play the drums is extremely fun, but you might be surprised at how many other amazing benefits you can get from playing and mastering this instrument.

Playing drums has had a massive impact on my life. It has improved my own confidence in my own ability to learn and work independently.

It helped me get out of my shell and perform in front of actual people (which was certainly challenging at first).

Drumming for me is a lifelong passion and something that helps me relax and think. It has opened the door for me to so many new experiences, and it provides me an income from playing and performing music live.

If you are a parent, I would highly suggest you consider introducing musical instruments into your family as early as possible. In addition to it being an amazing passion, the educational and confidence-building traits of it are something that you should not ignore.

I’m going to share a few really important benefits to learning this amazing instrument in a bit more detail, in addition to a great Infographic!

Academic Performance

Studies have shown that playing a musical instrument increases academic performance, including a big link between rhythm and percussion students understanding math concepts more easily.

This makes a lot of sense. Even beginner drummers quickly start grasping these transferable concepts. For example, take a simple rock beat, it might have 2 kicks every bar, 2 snare hits every bar, and 4 hi-hat strokes. Even playing this simple beat will constantly cement these concepts in note frequency, and make math concepts easier and more concrete to understand.

Improve Confidence

Playing a musical instrument is a great way for you to get more confidence in yourself as well as your interpersonal relationships with others. You get more confidence in your own ability as you constantly overcome obstacles and master new concepts.

If you play in a group or band, it is a great way for you to get outside of your shell and develop connections with people. Playing music performances and gigs is an unbelievable way to improve your confidence also.

It might seem a bit daunting to get up on stage. However, you slowly get more comfortable with it and it becomes extremely enjoyable. Playing music in a live setting is an amazing life experience.

Transferable Skills to other Instruments

I have many friends that play other musical instruments. They are always surprised at how practicing drums and striving to play in time improves their ability to play their other main instrument.

Many non-drummers approach their musical training from a completely different perspective, focusing on melodies, notes, and other techniques.

They get into a different mindset when picking up a pair of drumsticks. More often than not they will retain this timing mindset when they go back to playing their main instrument.

Stress Relief and Mood Enhancer

Getting into the groove while drumming is like meditation. Playing the drums fast and with power acts as a workout for your body. Both of these together act as an amazing mood enhancer.

You would be amazed at how great you feel after sitting behind your drum set. Obviously, you will need a bit of practice to get to this stage. Once you do, you’ll never want to leave your drumsticks down!

Stress Relief with drums comes with one major connotation: loudness! This does not have to be the case. Electronic drum sets offer a quiet alternative to acoustic drumming. Many modern sets do a great job of reproducing the experience of playing behind a regular drum kit.

They also offer many additional benefits, such as playing sounds and samples that would be impossible with an acoustic kit. If you are interested, check out our buyer’s guide and electronic drum set reviews.

Drummers are always in demand

Can you make money from playing music? The answer is yes. However, you need to be very dedicated and work hard. The music industry is extremely competitive. But even on a local level, you can make money from pub gigs, weddings, etc. A good drummer is generally a lot rarer to find, so it would be easy enough to get gigs. In fact, there’s a great post over at DrummerWorld about this.

If the local pub gig scene is not your thing (and it’s not my thing either), there are other ways to make money while drumming. Once you get more experienced, you can start offering lessons locally or playing in other music production.

You could also learn how to mic up your drum kit and advertise your services online for recording drum tracks. You could assemble a following online from uploading drumming videos or starting your own website. None of these methods are obvious, but there are always opportunities when you think creatively and work hard at it.

There is also the most obvious but most difficult to attain method: making it big in your own band or act. It’s also not something worth banking on, but if you are talented enough, have unique and exciting music, and work extremely hard developing the right connections and getting the right experience, then you might have a chance!

I do not think that you should start drums with the intention earning money. You should start it for the passion. But if you do in fact get very passionate about it, it is certainly worth thinking about it creatively.

Different Styles and Cultures

Once you have good rhythm and skill then you can pick up any different percussion instrument and give a good go at it. In order to truly understand and appreciate drumming, you need to go outside of your standard musical genres and really dig into new styles.

Doing so opens you up to understand these other styles and also their cultures more deeply. For me, this has had a very true effect when traveling around the world.

There’s nothing quite like going to the other side of the world and playing music with some locals by joining in using a djembe or local percussion instrument.

Check out this great infographic done by the people over at takelessons.com.

top-10-benefits-of-playing-drums

 

If you play drums, and you think there are other benefits that I have not mentioned then please write a comment below!

Playing drums really opens you up to such a wide amount of benefits in your life. Playing a musical instrument can easily become a passion. Even if you decide to keep it as a hobby, it is a great release away from a hectic working world! If you would like to go the electronic drumming route then be sure to check out my electronic drum set reviews!

Thanks for reading,

Mike

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