Fundamentals of Playing Drums in a Band

Start with this question … what can I do, as the drummer, to make this band successful?  If you can answer this question honestly you will be well on your way to playing successfully in a band.  A drummer plays a supporting instrument and any time you can put the interests of the band first, you will be well served in the process.  It’s painful but true … it’s not about you. It is about the band and the audience and enjoying the music. Whatever you can do to enable this to happen will make you a better drummer.

A wise man once defined success this way … “a few simple habits practiced everyday” [Jim Rohn] If you can take this simple list of fundamentals and practice them everyday you will be a successful drummer in a band. It is also important to remember that there are only a few fundamentals for you to consider. There is not a hundred things to think about, only a few. And here they are …

1. Relationships

This may sound soft to you but relationships are fundamental to playing in a band. You must enjoy being in the company of your bandmates because if you don’t you will not enjoy the experience. It’s as simple as that. But as they say, it’s simple but not easy. 

2. Songs

After relationships, songs are the second most important elements of playing in a band. First of all, you must like the songs the band will be playing. It is important that you connect with them and enjoy sharing them with your audience.  There are also lots of things you can do with the song to help the band be successful.

3. Style and Feel

When you get the songs selected … the next thing to work on as a drummer is the style and feel of the songs. This is fundamental to how the band sounds and the drummer is … in my opinion … the most important musician to determine the style of the band.  For the others, the chords don’t change and the words don’t change but the style and feel of any song can be altered significantly.  The drummer is fundamental to this process.

4. Performance

Once you are a member of a band and you have selected the songs and you have a style, you are ready to perform. This is were the rubber hits the road and all the work you have done comes to fruition.  Many people spend time sitting at home practicing but playing for an audience is the ultimate thrill when it goes well.  This blog is dedicated to helping people get our of their practice rooms and play. It time to share you gifts with the world.

5. Technique

Most of the drumming literature is dedicated to this topic. It is important but not the most important element to playing in a band. You need to have basic skills and technique but the ultimate goal is to play live for an audience.

6. Equipment

Equipment may be discussed more than technique but is the least important element to playing in a band.  Let me explain.  Imagine the best drummer you know of … [what name comes to mind?] … and you give him [or her] one drum stick and one drum.  They will be able to perform better with these limited tools than you or I can perform with a stage full of equipment. It all comes back to experience and ability. What are you capable of as a drummer?

The bottom line

This blog is dedicated to exploring these fundamentals of playing drums in a band.  We will be discussing all aspects of relationships, songs, style, performance, technique and equipment.

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