Singing while drumming is a challenging but achievable task. In this article, I’ve included 10 essential tips to help make it a lot easier.
Well, as hard as combining the two activities can be, don’t forget it is also utterly fun. After all, who wouldn’t want to be as cool as great singing drummers such as Peter Criss, Roger Taylor, Don Henley, or Phil Collins?
However, you should be prepared: to combine singing and drumming requires a lot of practice. You have to become so familiar with your drum part that singing won’t become a distraction. The only way to achieve this is practice, practice, practice.
If you want to become the next Phil Collins, keep reading: we have some tips for you.
1. Know the drum line inside-out
There is no easy way to put this: you must know your drum parts like the palm of your hands before you can even try to add some vocals.
Drumming has to be second nature to you in order to incorporate your singing. You want your hands to be able to play the drum-line easily and this requires practice. Then you can start to implement your singing and focus on that.
Singing is a whole different task, that requires a totally different approach. If you are strong on the drumming side, you will have more room to think about your voice.
2. Focus on the hard sections
To optimize your practice, identify the hardest sections in your drum parts and focus on them first. Start slowly then gradually increase the pace.
Once you’re familiar with these sections, take a step back, play them slowly again and try adding your vocal parts. It will be hard, but if you manage to grasp the hardest passages, you are on the right track.
It is preferable to focus on the hard parts first. Once you get that out of the way, the rest of the song will be a piece of cake.
3. Work hard on your singing technique
…or at least do your research and learn how to use your voice healthily and effectively.
Singing requires good breath control and a relaxed body. This can be a challenge for drummers, as hitting those drums can be physically demanding, leaving you with little or no breath at all. On top of that, muscles can get tense and you may not be able to focus on relaxation at all.
If you practice your singing as much as you practice your drumming, you’ll find that you can go on autopilot even when it comes to vocal technique and that’s the key here. To get to a stage where you don’t think about drumming or singing but it just comes naturally.
4. Do some breathing exercises
To master your vocals, start from the basics: your breath.
Learn how to get in full control of your breath by doing as easy but powerful exercise.
Concentrate on your belly while you breathe in. Put a hand on it and, as you inspire, try to move the hand apart. It has to be quite a long, deep inspiration.
Now, while you breathe out, control the airflow with your belly. Don’t let the air flow out all at once. Try to breathe out in the slowest way you can, controlling the air emission with your belly.
This is a basic exercise, but it helps a lot when it comes to breathing control.
5. Control your posture
To breathe properly and have enough air to hit those notes with your voice and those drums with your sticks, you will need to keep a good posture.
This is pretty straightforward but people often forget that sitting up straight, with a relaxed neck and relaxed shoulders, can do miracles to our breathing.
As you play your drums, try to check your posture every now and then, making sure it doesn’t obstruct your breathing. No hunching whatsoever!
Also, make sure you are not tensing your abs. To prevent this, you might want to play heel-down, so that you won’t have to raise your leg too much and affect your breathing.
6. Learn new skills
This might not be necessary, but it would be of great help to be able to read music notes and play a simple part on a keyboard.
If you play in a band with a lead singer, chances are you’ll be required to sing harmonies.
Now, harmonies are not always so easy to sing, especially as an ensemble, with other people singing and playing other notes at the same time. In this case, having your little keyboard to practice your melody can be vital.
When it comes to music, you are never done learning or improving your skills. Anything extra is always of great help.
7. Have a good monitoring system
To sing properly amidst the strong sound of your drums you’ll need to be able to hear your voice. Over singing would be dangerous on your vocal cords and ineffective.
In other words, you’ll need a good monitoring system during performances. Being able to track both your voice and drumming can really make the difference between a bad and a good show.
If you have monitors near your drums, ask the engineer to crank them up a bit to be able to hear everything perfectly. Or, a better option would be an in-ear monitor, so you can emphasize anything you don’t hear quite clearly.
8. Get the mic stand out of the way
This might sound silly, but it’s actually very practical advice you might not even think of.
To sing while drumming, get a mic stand that won’t get in the way.
Get a pretty long one, so that you’ll be able to place it behind you, with the boom on top of your head. This way the mic will be right at the front of your face, but the mic stand will be completely out of the way.
Another solution could be getting rid of the mic stand and purchasing a head-worn microphone. That is super-handy!
9. Get the right mic
As a singing drummer, you will need a unidirectional microphone that will mostly pick up only the signal coming from your mouth.
Omnidirectional microphones are not good at all for singing drummers, as they will pick up a lot of your drums too, making the result confusing and ugly.
Don’t compromise on the quality of your mic: it will become one of your best friends.
For more information, check out our article on the best vocal mics for drummers.
10. Don’t get discouraged
It will take a lot of time and practice to master singing and drumming at the same time.
It took years to become a good drummer so it is reasonable to expect that it will take quite a lot of time to become a good singer too.
In music, it all comes down to practice and we all know it. Start practicing little by little and in no time you will be at the desired level.
Just don’t get discouraged: practice makes perfect!
Singing while drumming can be a very troublesome task, especially if you are not yet experienced in it.
Although singing while playing the drums does sound cool, you should make sure that your body is physically ready for this first.
If you are too tired or stressed before performing, there’s no way you’ll ever pull off singing and drumming at the same time.
You need to be confident and relaxed, as this will allow you to play your best. Luckily, confidence comes from practice and practice makes perfect.
If you follow our advice, we are sure that you’ll get the hang of it in no time!