In the age of flashy YouTube and Instagram drumming stars it’s easy to forget that it’s surprisingly hard to play slow beats with lots of space between the notes.
It makes sense to me: The more notes you pack into a beat, the easier it is to get away with sloppy placement or bad timing. Especially to the untrained ear.
Here’s a simple, yet challenging exercise I like to practice:
I play through all rate variations on the hi-hat while maintaining a simple beat between bass drum and snare drum. Note, there is no “One” on the bass drum, which really forces you to feel the rhythm internally, rather than relying on coming down hard on the downbeat with your right foot.
In the video I play each beat twice, before moving on to the next one.
Background music: So Cold (feat. D’Angelo on Rhodes) by Don-E & Azure
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
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.