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.
As a drum teacher I’ve noticed that one of the most difficult things for beginner drummers is to switch rates, e.g., to go from triplets to 16th notes, and moving between different 16th note variations.
This short exercise is designed so you can play along with me (or the click only), get comfortable with counting, and develop confidence in switching beats while keeping the tempo.
Try to keep a steady quarter note pulse on the bass drum during the exercise.
If you’re wondering about the sticking of some of the variations, you can find them in my PDF Kick Start.
Ps.: I posted both play-alongs in the educational section on my website.