Blog

On learning new songs

For drummers, it’s imperative to know the arrangement/structure of the song.

We are the conductors of the band, drive the beat and help create the sandbox that our band mates get to play in.

We use fill-ins and dynamics to set up the different sections of a song and help the other band members to play their parts with confidence.

So how do we learn new songs and familiarize ourselves with arrangements?

It goes without saying that the best way is to listen to the song you’re trying to learn, obsessively. 

Have it on repeat, and even if you’re not a singer, try to sing and hum along, as best as you can. 

In the beginning, don’t worry too much about specific fills or subtleties of the drum part. 

You have to get the big picture, first!

Sometimes, that’s all you need, especially if you choose to play a cover “your way” and give it your own interpretation.

In my experience, learning the song as a singer (if only in your head first) is the quickest way to familiarize yourself with new material; especially if you don’t use notes/sheet music on stage.

If you can use charts, or are a more visual learner, taking notes might be helpful.

Grab paper and a pen and start mapping out the tune, e.g., How many bars does the intro have? How long is the chorus? Is there a bridge/solo section?

Keep it simple and basic at first.

Let’s check out Tom Petty’s “Free Falling.”

  • Intro/Vers 1: 12 bars (no drums) + 2 bars drums
  • Vers 2: 8 bars
  • Chorus: 8 bars
  • Vers 3: 8 bars
  • Chorus: 8 bars
  • Interlude: 8 bars
  • Vers 4: 8 bars (different beat)
  • Chorus: 8 bars
  • Interlude 4 bars
  • Chorus: 4 -> vamp and fade

Next step is to identify the main drum beat of a song and the specific fills and rewrite your chart.

Here is an example of a quick chart that I use in my drum lessons. 

STYLES

There are lots of materials out there on different styles and drum grooves. The sheer amount of method books and sheet music can be overwhelming.

I put together a PDF to provide a basic overview of grooves that are used in different styles.

You can download it HERE for free.

Whether you are a drum teacher or are learning by yourself , I hope you find it useful.

Dinosaur Stick Control Jr.

“Practicing with a metronome is boring.”

As an alternative, I recommend practicing technique drills, or stick control exercises to your favorite music. Find a song you like with a tempo that suits you, lock in the groove, and play away.

As an inspiration, I’m leaving this short video here: Dinosaur Jr.’s “Tiny” feat. some George Lawrence Stone’s Stick Control exercises 🙂

10 Fills Every Drummer Should Know


10 Fills every drummer should know. Inspired by Stephen Taylor. I added/modified some fills, and of course, it’s more than 10 because some have variations…. “17 drum fills every drummer should know” just doesn’t sound as good. 😉

  • Use a metronome for the exercises and notice the spots where you tend to speed up/or slow down – aim for cconsistency.
  • Practice the fills by themselves first, then add one measure of groove before the fill, then three.
  • Once you’re comfortable with the fills as written, try to come up with your own orchestrations, while adhering to the fill sticking/rhythm

Adding the Bass Drum – The Loop

Fellow drummers!
Here’s the last video of my short drum lesson on timing/coordination/subdivisons/rates.
My playing is not as clean as I want it to be, … I’m still working on these drills and ideas, but that’s what practice is all about.
I hope you find the information presented inspiring and useful.
Aloha!
– Beck

Paradiddles – The Loop

Paradiddle Variations played as

  • 8th Notes (Paradiddle played 2 x)
  • 8th Note Triplets (Paradiddle played 3 x)
  • 16th Notes (Paradiddles played 4 x)
  • 8th Note Triplets (Paradiddle played 3 x)