Should you be counting while playing a song?

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....

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Does a Drummer Need to Know How to Read Music?

Will reading music make you a better player? Is your playing ability suffering right now because you can’t read music?

Maybe you’ve taken the time to learn, and you’ve been left wondering what all the fuss is about. It’s not like your groove and pocket became better after learning to read. So do we drummers really need to learn to read music? Is this important? Let’s unpack this a little.

Ringo Starr, John Bonham, Chad Smith, and Buddy Rich are just a few famous players who never took lessons - and who most likely never read a musical note. Legend has it Buddy Rich would listen to the band play the tune once, then he’d jump on the kit and play it. No chart, no notation. Each of these drummers were (and are) a force of compelling groove and musicality, and their inability to read sheet music or drum charts didn’t seem to hold them back in any way. What they may have lacked in the book-learning department they made up for with ear...

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