The Unsexy Fundamentals

I love teaching drums. 

The most rewarding part is meeting new people, watching them progress, and helping them on their journey to become better drummers and musicians.

Yet, I’ve noticed the learning curve is not a linear one.

There are many set-backs along the way, and as an instructor, I often find it challenging to keep my students motivated and inspired. 

When I reflect and look at my most proficient students, I’d say they have two things in common:

  1. A passion and love for drums & music.
  2. The willingness to put in the time and dig deep on the fundamentals. 

Let’s face it, all great drummers have great fundamentals.

What do I mean by fundamentals?

  • timing: knowing quarter notes, eight notes, triplets, 16th notes
  • solid timing within a beat and when transitioning, e.g., going from a beat to a fill-in and back
  • basic coordination between the limbs; bass drum independence
  • playing singles and doubles

There’s more, of course, but these are the big pillars of drum set playing, in my opinion.

Focusing on these things, I believe, will make you a great song and groove drummer.

When I was younger, I played along to music, all the time. I loved Tom Petty, AC/DC, and straight-forward rock tunes. I didn’t focus on crazy fills or drum chops, my goal was to lock in with the band, and play with them, as if I were the drummer on the recording.

I’m convinced that this is the most important drum-practice, I’ve ever done, because it made me focus on my groove and timing, and what it means to play with others.

One problem I’ve noticed is that many of my students want to move on too fast, when they aren’t ready yet, and haven’t mastered some of the basics.

I get it, we watch all these drummers on YouTube or Instagram and we’re inspired and fired up to do what they do.

Problem is, 90% of those drummers have been playing for 30+ years and, therefore, have way more mileage under their belts than the average drum student that comes to learn with me.

I admit, I often struggle with keeping folks motivated, because I can understand and see their frustration and where they want to go.

Learning an instrument, especially later in life, can be challenging. 

So kudos to all of you!

But I keep coming back to The Basics.

A house is only as strong as its foundation.