Have you ever watched another drummer and just thought to yourself “Man… that drummer is so much better than me. He just lays it down like he owns the world, and he’s way more fun to watch than I am. Everyone talks about how great he is and how he’s ‘the man.’ I wish I could play that way.”
I grew up at a large church that launched a modern worship service while I was in high school. They’d bring in professional musicians each Sunday, and it was always a thrill seeing who was playing drums. Some of these guys were local legends, and they were all great drummers.
There was one particular guy, though, who was the absolute loudest drummer I’d ever heard. Even with a drum shield up, the sound guy had to boost the house mix a bit to compensate for how loud the drums were. He was slamming rimshot backbeats, stomping the kick, and smashing cymbals in every song. He played like he owned the place, and he laid down grooves and fills...
If you want to master the drums, there’s a mindset that you absolutely must have in order to ever see success. This has nothing to do with any particular techniques, drumming skills, or hacks. Instead, it’s an across-the-board mindset that applies itself to everything you ever do.
I’ll share with you this mindset, which will help you out big time if you’ve ever felt like you lack talent. Then we’ll wrap up with 3 super key things you can practice right now to get the fastest possible results on the drums.
Here’s what the big mindset is:
You have to be patient.
Without patience, you’ll never reach the potential that you’re capable of. But I get it! Patience is hard when progress is slow and you begin wondering if you lack talent.
Maybe you’ve started late in the game, and you’re afraid you’re simply too old to learn the drums. (Believe me, you’re NOT. I have students in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who...
Do you try to count while playing a song, whether you’re playing along to a record or playing with your band? Then do you get panicked and frustrated when you realize you’ve miscounted and you don’t remember how much longer to play a particular pattern or when that fill coming up starts?
Then everything just becomes chaos and anxiety because you realized you’ve failed at counting yet again. How will you ever REALLY learn the song where you know when everything is coming?
I’VE BEEN THERE. Time and time again. I’ve also spent time in the classical percussion world where you have to count every bar because you’re reading sheet music, and that's scary sometimes.
But do we really need to be counting bars while playing music on the drums? Here’s my short answer:
Let’s unpack this a little, because I really want to help you learn songs well and play them the right way - yet not have to freak out about counting. YOU CAN DO THIS....
Let’s be honest. We all face those times when we’re frustrated by a lack of progress, we feel like we’re practicing the same things over and over, and we’re not sure where the light at the end of the tunnel is - if there even is one. We lose sight of our goals, and maybe we’re doubting our decision to even get into the drums in the first place.
This is a real challenge, and I bet every one of us has been there at some point. Good thing is, there are some simple solutions to the mental traps that halt our progress and stall our motivation. Let’s dig in.What was your biggest hobby as a kid?
Think hard… Were you into sports, music, riding your bike, building forts in the backyard, playing video games, designing your dream mansion, collecting rocks, trapping bugs….?
What got you excited about it? What made you want to rush to it each day after school? Here’s my guess why:
Because it was fun, there was no pressure, and you were a...
Sit down and listen to this record, and you’ll feel yourself becoming a better musician by the minute. I believe that every drummer should listen to John Mayer’s Where the Light is live in LA record. Whether or not you’re a Mayer fan, you truly can’t deny the world-class musicianship on every track.
The record features two world-class drummers, Steve Jordan and J.J. Johnson, and a whole host of fantastic musicians including bass players Pino Palladino and David LaBruyere. Check out the credits here on the Wikipedia page.
Grab a pair of headphones and get ready to listen along with me, because I’ll be including a bunch of Spotify links to all the tracks I’m talking about. Without further ado, here are the 5 biggest things every drummer can learn from this record.
#1: Undeniable groove is created by simple, musical consistency free of clutter.
If you’re unfamiliar with John Mayer or this particular album, the...
Do you remember the first gig you ever played, first song you ever learned, or just that first moment when something got you really excited about the drums?
I think we can all pinpoint one of those moments, because we all have a reason deep down inside why we play the drums. Something happened at some point in life that lit a fire that drives us to keep working at the nitty gritty non glamorous skills that help us to nail our favorite songs.
That big, motivating moment for me was when I got dragged into playing in the high school worship band at my church. I love looking back at this story, and I actually have a blog post about it on the website right here if you want to read the full story.
I was unprepared, timid, and didn’t want to play in front of people. But the “trial by fire” created by the opportunity to play in church completely transformed my relationship with my instrument, and I quickly started learning some key skills that would carry over...
BIGGEST MYTH: The most important thing you'll do as a drummer is listen to the bass player and lock with what they're playing, because this is the most important relationship in the band.
Why is this false? We’ll break this down, and I’ll share with you what you should ACTUALLY be focusing on when playing.
What’s the most important part of any song you might play on a gig? Think pop, rock, country… most typical styles of music you’d play. What’s the most important element of the song in any of these styles?
It’s the MELODY! That melody will be sung by the vocalist, or it might be played by a guitarist during an intro riff. Either way, all other parts in the song are based off of that melody.
Now what’s the SECOND most important part of a song? If melody is most important, we could probably say that harmony (or chords) is second most important. But we could also go another direction...
Perfectionism is the thief of joy. So is comparison, as the saying typically goes. These two attitudes together can form a deadly combo that will stop your growth and possibly even destroy your potential on the drums.
I don't mean to be overly dramatic here, but it’s true! And if you’ve spent any time obsessing over perfecting your playing or comparing your playing to others, you know what I’m talking about. This is a dead-end street.
If you’ve struggled with...
...Then you need to take a step back and release the perfection you’re holding onto....
If you have a weak hand, odds are it's not gotten any stronger over the years. Meanwhile your strong hand has excelled. Why is this?
We’re answering this frustrating question today, and we’re digging into a super solid, 4-step method for fixing your weak hand once and for all.
Stop worrying about your slow, clumsy hand that can’t keep up with the other! Let’s deal with this. This is the method I put every one of my students through, and it really does have a 99% (if not 100%) success rate. If you follow these steps, you’ll get the same results too!
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Why is it that some people get really good at certain things, and others don’t? I remember being in 8th grade and wanting so badly to get good at basketball, but I just never could. What were the other guys doing differently from me? They were all in better shape, more buff, and just seemed to understand the sport better. Even though I tried hard and even worked on my technique and my free throws, I just never became any good at it.
Then I got serious about drums in high school and quickly got way better at music than sports. Why did that happen? Why is it there are certain things we get good at quickly…and other things that just take forever?
Maybe you’re in that boat where you feel like learning drums is taking too long. You feel like you should have reached a more solid level of mastery by now, but time keeps ticking and you’re not sure you’ve grown as fast as you should have.
Well, in my personal opinion, there are 4 things that must...