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....
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...