June 5, 2005

Eight Essentials of the Artist Drummer

Eight Essentials of the Artist Drummer

Solid Time

First and foremost is the ability to keep solid time. You can develop this by using a metronome every time you practice on the pad. Without a solid time foundation, you'll never be able to build solid chops.


Learning how to play musically is something that comes naturally to some and takes lots of practice for others. The key is to listen to as much music as you can; and when playing with other musicians, listen to each of them and enhance the overall sound of the band. Never overpower it.


Learn to play many styles of music and play them all with an authentic feel. This goes for the drum solos and breaks as well. Listening to the best bands in each musical genre will help you develop this ability.

Never Overplay

Notes may be good, but rests are even better. Develop the ability to fill in the right places, but learn when to lay back and let the other band members have some too.

Good Dynamics

Drummers have a tendency to cook at loud levels but die when volumes get low. Work hard to "cook" at all dynamic levels, from ultra-soft to mega-loud.

Strong Chops

Develop the fastest chops and the best coordination you possibly can. Why? Because you need to be able to play anything that comes to mind. If you get a great idea in the middle of a song but fail to execute it properly, you'll completely blow the groove. The best players have the ability to play anything that comes to mind, effortlessly. That's want you want to strive for.

Early Bird

Although not related to your performance on stage, this is directly related to the number of opportunities you'll get to appear on the stage! No leader likes holding up the gig so the drummer can finish setting up. Try to get to the gig early enough so you can set your gear up and have at least 20 minutes to relax before show time.

Positive Attitude

This is the eighth and final essential element of an artist drummer. Positive people radiate an energy that is infectious and makes everybody around them feel great and play better. Louie Bellson has this ability.

Negative people, on the other hand, drain you and leave you totally exhausted. Life's too short for that. Don't hang around the negative types and if you have tendencies yourself, change. It may not be easy but you can do anything, if you want it bad enough.