How to prepare for gigs when there are no gigs


As we’re getting into springtime, many of us are getting our hopes up that the gigs of 2019 we used to know and love will start to come back around. I know this is different for everybody depending on where you live, but I hope that you’ve at least been able to get back to rehearsing with your band or playing at your church if that's what you were doing pre-covid. Even if things aren't the way they used to be, any chance to play music with real people is a huge blessing!

I'm speaking to two groups of folks today:   

  1. Those who lost gigs due to COVID.
  2. Those who have always been wanting to gig…but just haven’t had the chance yet.

...and maybe there's a third group of folks who have no plans of gigging...but you know you want to get better at your instrument for your personal enjoyment and satisfaction, which is still awesome. Mastering an instrument is great, regardless of what you choose to do with that.

Besides the obvious of...

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How to break past your biggest drumming obstacle

If you’re totally honest with yourself, what do you think the biggest obstacle is standing in the way of your growth on the drums? I have an idea what it might be, but think hard for a moment before you keep reading…


Feeling demotivated because you feel like you don’t have enough time to practice nor the right resources to make sure you’re practicing the right things the right way. So as a result you don’t really practice much, and when you do you’re not getting much done.

Now I know I’m speaking to a wide audience, but this is something I’ve personally faced and seen a lot of other drummers face, too. If this is you, we want to help you break past this. Know this one thing:

You have to “show up” to your practice space, and you have to put in the work on a regular basis in order to grow.

Sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it? But here’s the key. You have to show up and put in the work…even...

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The band MESS-UP where we played two songs at once

“We as a band need to practice messing up.”

This was the statement my friend and I landed on over coffee the other day. He’s the worship leader at my church, and we were talking about ways for us to grow musically as a worship band.

The best bands are not the best because they never mess up. They’re the best because they know how to handle and hide mistakes. Sometimes we fear mistakes so much that our primary goal is avoiding them, rather than learning how to recover from them. You can try and try and try to never mess up, but it’s going to happen. The key in no longer fearing the mistakes is knowing how you’ll handle them. So we were brainstorming ways to actually practice doing this in rehearsal.

Believe it or not, Sunday rolled around and we didn’t have to intentionally practice messing up in order for a good old-fashioned, accidental mess-up to happen.

Now I want you to think about something for a moment… What’s the...

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All of My Drumming & Recording Gear, Broken Down

Today’s post is serving a purpose none other than to give you a super nerdy, detailed breakdown of every piece of essential drumming and recording gear I use regularly here in my home studio. I hope you enjoy!

We’ll break this up into categories to keep things organized. Here’s what I’ll cover:

  • Drums & Cymbals
  • Microphones
  • Recording Gear
  • Room & Acoustical Equipment

*Quick note: I don’t have any official gear endorsements. So know that these are all genuinely my favorite things that I paid for with my money. :) Also, you’ll find that I’m a gear minimalist.

Drums & Cymbals

My main studio kit is a Gretsch Renown (gloss natural finish), which is maple shells with Gretsch’s “silver sealer” on the insides. These drums are smaller than standard rock sizes, but I believe they’re more versatile as a result (topic for another email or video!). The kick is 20”x16”, the two toms that I use...

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What a 10 Minute Gong Solo Teaches Us About Drumming

There’s an important practicing truth that is the key to really mastering anything on the drums. Without following this key truth, you’ll never fully learn something to your best ability. What’s interesting, though, is that a percussion piece written for solo gong actually teaches us a lot about this piece of “practice wisdom.”

“Having Never Written a Note for Percussion” by James Tenney is a solo percussion piece consisting of one note:

The instructions are simply to play a roll on any instrument for a “very long" time. Generally the instrument of choice is a gong because of how interesting and complex its tones are. So most of the time, a percussionist will sit down on the floor in front of the hanging gong, poised to play a very, very long single stroke roll with two large mallets on the face of the gong. Here’s a video of a good performance of the piece if you want to check it out.

So what can this piece teach...

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How to MESS UP the Right Way on the Drums…

A recent survey response I received from one of you guys blew my mind… But it made me realize something interesting.

A few weeks ago I emailed out to you a survey asking you questions about what your struggles and goals are on the drums. Someone’s response read like this:

SURVEY QUESTION: If you could accomplish anything in your drumming in 2021, what would it be? (Your biggest drumming dream!)

RESPONSE: Play live

SURVEY QUESTION: What is your biggest fear that you worry about all the time as you’re learning drums?

RESPONSE: Playing live

Wait a second… you mean the biggest, most exciting, ultimate dream… is also the greatest fear? For a minute I thought this was crazy. Then I looked back at my own life.

In middle school my biggest dream was to play drums in a rock band. I got to high school and had the opportunity to literally play drums in a rock band… and I was terrified. Thankfully I faced my fears and did it....

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The Very Avoidable Mistake I Made at a Recent Rehearsal

Time to get real with you guys. The last several emails I’ve sent out have been about dealing with failure - overcoming it and using it to learn. The truth that I’ve tried to reiterate is that you’re never going to avoid failure, no matter how good you are at something. However, you can use the failure to learn and to overcome.

I failed at being a good drummer the other day at a rehearsal, and I’d like to share this story with you since I think it might help you out.

Speaking of avoiding mistakes, check out this video while you're here about the "5 toxic drummer habits you MUST avoid at all cost."

Ok on with today's story!

We were rehearsing this moderate-tempo, four-on-the-floor song that was very long and repetitive. The tune also didn’t have a lot of dynamic contrast throughout…It built up after a minute or so then stayed up the rest of the song. I launched into the first chorus, enjoying the rock ’n roll, driving feel. When the second...

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The First Time I Ever Played a Drumset

“Yeah… he…um- definitely has some…potential,” the music store employee gingerly observed after I laid down my very first sick beats on a real drumset.

The only problem was, my 12-year-old beats were not sick. At least not in a good way. I had no coordination and no idea how to hold my sticks. I actually remember just hitting everything I could as fast as I could in my nervous excitement. After all, I didn’t know when my next opportunity might be. Getting a drumset was way out of my reach. I was already pretty involved with playing piano, which I’d been learning since 3rd grade. My parents weren’t eager to sign me up for a second instrument, and I doubt they wanted the noise around the house either. Playing the drums and becoming a drummer was a very, very far-off dream at the time. Getting a drumset wasn’t going to be a quick and easy process for me…

Everybody dreams of something. Maybe you dream of retiring so you have...

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What a Failed 2015 Trip to NYC Taught me About Drumming

5 years ago I ran out of cash in New York City and almost didn’t make it back. The funny thing was…this was on my honeymoon.

My wife and I decided to do somewhat of an East Coast road trip for a week after we got married, and our tightly budgeted trip included a day trip to NYC from Washington DC. I’d never been to New York, and now was the perfect time to finally make it there - even if it was just for an afternoon. I’ve always been really excited to go to a place I haven’t been to, and this was no exception. 

Now if you do the math on those drive times, you’ll find that we were easily going to spend more than 8 hours driving that day. I had carefully scheduled out our time in the city, planning every detail of what we’d see and do and when we’d do it. We’d get to the “Top of the Rock,” stroll Central Park, see the new One World Trade Center, walk the Brooklyn Bridge, stroll the High Line…literally do...

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7 Things Every Drummer Should Own

We’re gearing up for Christmas here at the Clark household, and we're super excited for our 5-month-old daughter's first Christmas! :)

If you’re blessed this Christmas with cash gifts you’d like to use on quality gear investments, I’ll give you some good ideas today.

Whether you’re new to the drums or a few decades into the instrument, make sure you own these 7 important tools for success. Of course, this is isn’t an exhaustive list because I could just as easily send you another email next week with 7 more things. But these are the most essential, most important physical items that will contribute most directly to your personal growth on the drums. Here we go!

[1] Metronome

Seems pretty obvious. However, plenty of players fail to regularly practice with a metronome either because they’re lazy (I’ve been guilty too!) - or they feel it might damage their “natural, organic feel” on the drums. The latter is false, by the way,...

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