Let’s face it: to play the drums is hard enough. Who needs the aggravation of singing while drumming?
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.
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 and 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, all the other sections will seem a lot easier.
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.
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 most slowly 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 straight-forward 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.
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.
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 purchase 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.
Just don’t get discouraged: practice makes perfect!