What does it take to become a successful musician? This is a much bigger question than it first appears. First we must decide upon what we class as success. This differs from person to person. For example do you class success as being the multi-millionaire rock star doing a sold out world tour? Or do you just want to be able to play your instrument with confidence. For some, success is being in demand and the phone always ringing with more opportunities, while for others it is simply being able to make a living and pay the bills. Whatever your vision of success is will be personal to you so only you can say if you are a successful musician.
In my case it very quickly became clear that I was never going to be the legendary rock god that I thought I was. So, after much thinking about what was important to me and what I wanted to achieve in life. I realised that I just wanted to get paid to play my drums. if I could make enough money to pay the bills and feed my family, then I would be a happy bunny. As soon as I saw this it took a lot of pressure off of ‘trying to be a success’ and made the path to achieving my goal a lot clearer.
Nowadays I am lucky enough to run a successful music teaching business, I do the occasional theatre job, I record drums for people, play in a band and also dep for various artists. I’m not a household name or playing to 1000’s of adoring fans but I am playing my drums every day and helping others on their journey into music.
Whatever your definition of success may be. Enjoy the journey.
Metronomes. love them or hate them they are a fact of life and we, as drummers, need to get used to them and treat them as our friend.
Us drummers have one job and that is to keep time. It doesn’t matter how fast or clever or cool we are. if we cannot keep accurate time for the band, orchestra, dancers or whoever else we are playing for, then we wont have a job for very long.
So what is the best way to get on good terms with the click? It’s the same answer as everything else... Practice!
First of all grab yourself a metronome. Nowadays there is no reason to buy a metronome, there are loads available fr free on your smart phone, tablet and computer. in fact if you type metronome into Google, Google has its own metronome!
Next set it at a nice easy tempo. I would suggest nothing higher that about 80 bpm.
Now play the following for about 5 minutes a day:
4 bars of 1/4 notes
4 bars of 1/4 note triplets
4 bars of 1/8 notes
4 bars of 1/8 note triplets
4 bars of 1/16 notes
4 bars of sextuplets
4 bars of 1/32 notes
Then reverse the order back down to 1/4 notes and repeat all over again.
in no time at al you will be playing perfectly in time and happily using the click.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Students often ask what is the best way to practice. The easy answer is a little and often. Drumming is definitely one of those skills that benefits from repetition. This is because most of the time that we are working on something new it involves some form of muscle memory or to put it slightly more scientifically... we need to create and strengthen neural pathways in our brain. A couple of good examples of this are walking and riding a bike. At first, when you start trying to do either of these things they seem impossible but after time and patience they become second nature.
I usually recommend 10 minutes or so of drumming practice per day, every day. This is so much better than trying to cram an hour in once a week before your lesson. Also people are so busy these days that just 10 minutes is not only easier to schedule into a busy day but it can also be your reward for getting something done or a nice way to relieve stress.
So that brings us to... What, should we practice? This depends on circumstance and where you are. If you are away from home, or you don’t have access to a drum kit, then doing 10 minutes of rudiments and sticking exercises on a practice pad can work wonders. You will genuinely be surprised at your improvement if you spend 10 minutes a day on paradiddles for example. If you are lucky enough to get behind a kit, then you can play rudiments, practice whatever you are working on during your lesson and also just play to some music, as this helps develop your musical ear and exposes you to different sounds and techniques.
Whatever you do remember... Drumming is FUN! So go, enjoy yourself and stop treating practice like a chore.