This article is a pretty frank outline of why your drumming sucks and HOW to improve it.
This will help you really focus on what matters in order to become a great drummer. Don’t let yourself fall victim to any of these 5 problems!
You should view this article as a list of potential areas of improvement. It is not intended to insult or hurt anyone, but sometimes people need a reality check to keep progressing!
There are no hard rules in music. It is an art. Though it’s best to get the essentials down first before deciding if you want to break the rules or not!
1. You’re Not Playing With Proper Dynamics
An easy way to recognize a novice drummer is by their lack of dynamics. They play every drum and cymbal with the same strength, which can leave the most important parts of the beat hidden in the mix.
For example when playing on the ride cymbal, you need to develop the co-ordination to be able to strike that at a different volume than a hard hitting snare.
Check out this great video by Randy Cooke that explains some simple ways to make your grooves sound a whole lot better.
A drummer should also be really in control of how soft and loud to play their entire beats throughout the track. Decreasing the volume of your beat should lower the volume every drum/cymbal in proportion.
2. You’re Not Practicing Effectively
Many drummers spend quite a lot of time practicing, but don’t put enough thought into WHAT they are working on.
PLAN out what you want to develop on over the next few weeks/months and try to stick to it.
If you get behind your drum kit and aimlessly play drum solos for hours it’s not going to do a lot for your drumming skills.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for freestyle practicing. It’s very fun and it’s great to help you get creative.
However, you should always be looking to get BETTER at your craft. That means working on:
- Learning to play material that stretches your skills
Many drummers tend to plateau into this ineffective practice after a few months or years of playing. That’s where either a local music teacher or even an online program such as Drumeo is a great way to keep you disciplined into improving your craft. I’m not affiliated with Drumeo, you can also use any other great music tuition program or even Youtube videos.
3. You’re Not Practicing Enough
Drummers need to put large amounts of time into their craft.
People get the idea that drumming is an easy instrument to pick up. It’s very easy to play a simple drum beat, but playing it well is quite a different story.
For example, in the video by Randy Cooke makes a basic drum beat sound killer in the video above!
You should dedicate a reasonable amount of time a week to practice. If you think you don’t have time, then just try to set aside 20 minutes per day. That can go a long way.
4. Your Timing is NOT Amazing
Statement: “Imperfect timing will make our song sound more raw and real”
Answer: “No it won’t. It will make it sound sloppy and unprofessional.”
Drummers need to have SUPER timing. If you can’t play comfortably to a metronome then stop reading this article right now and start working on your timing.
Bands almost always record songs WITH a click track, and many styles of music require you to play to a click track on stage. If you’re not comfortable with this, you may be limiting your options as a drummer.
5. You’re Not Drumming Tastefully
It’s not all about killer chops!
Drummers should look to complement the music as much as possible. Be a team player. If everybody in the band is separately trying to show off then the music will sound bad.
The extent of flashy drumming that works for your music is largely dependent on the genre and style that you’re playing in.
For example, drumming takes quite a lead role in a lot of metal genres. That can give drummers more leeway to show off on their drums. That said, playing too many fills or going overboard may still make the track sound terrible.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple beat. For example, very busy drumming in recordings by the White Stripes or The Beatles may have destroyed the songs.
Drummers also often lock in quite heavily with the bass guitarist. The kick drum and the bass guitar usually occupy similar areas of the sound spectrum. If your kick drum and the bass guitar don’t complement each other that then it might sound sloppy. You don’t necessarily need to follow the rhythm together, you just need to acknowledge that each of these instruments will play a part in the overall arrangement of the track and adjust your playing to suit.
I hope that served as a short list of essential areas to improve your drumming.
Drumming is no different from almost any other skill. You need to get the essentials and foundations down before progressing to more advanced techniques.
It’s very easy to get lost in the glory of big drum fills and solos, but you need to stay disciplined to keep working on your craft.
Only then can you truly become a fantastic drummer.