How To Play Drums Along with Music

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How To Play Drums Along with Music – Learning Your First Song on Drums

The first song I learn to play drums to was a song by Procol Harem called A Whiter Shade of Pale. At the time I had great difficulty with it. I was nine years old and didn’t get what I was supposed to do. I believe my teacher, Terry Fogg, who worked for a band in the 60s called Sounds Incorporated. Made this my first song for a very good reason. Although, on reflection, it seemed a little complex as a first dip into playing along to my first song.

That reason was that it contained both jazz-style triplet fills. Played against a slow-medium rock tempo. This is odd because most music follows either a rock style or a jazz style. And so, my teacher gave me that song so I could further my skills in playing rock and jazz styles. Which I had already learned, and more he wanted me to integrate the two. That will become clear as you develop as a drummer. You will already get this if you are a more advanced or intermediate player.

First, he got me to play the basic beat of the song. And even though I couldn’t play the fills, he encouraged me to keep playing. On reflection, he was trying to get me to see the whole map of the song, the verses, choruses, and fills. After I had played the song through, a couple of times he began to focus on the drum fills and get me to play them too. He stood behind me, grabbed my hands, and demonstrated the movements as the song played. It was this that helped me to get the fills and then play the song through to the end with no issues.

It became easy because I felt the arm movements. The program I need to put into my muscle memory so to speak. The movements.

What Needs To Be In Place Before Taking On This Song

If you choose to learn the song I described above, then you will have to have a few skills already in place first. You will need to:

  • Be able to play a basic rock beat using 1/8th notes
  • Be able to play triplet fills using Jazz-Style drumming (and later within this song, rock style).
  • Be able to play 1 bar of Quarter Note Triplets
  • Be able to play to a metronome and or click track

In most other cases you will only need to have the following skills in place:

  • Be able to play a basic rock beat using 1/8th notes
  • Be able to play 1/16th note drum fills.
  • Be able to play to a metronome and or click track

Let’s presume that you already have the playing aspect down already. You will then need to have practiced along to a metronome and or click track. Although you will most likely not have practiced to a click track (if you’re a beginner) at this point. As this is usually the case only when you are actually playing along to a song at that time. Let’s take a brief look at both playing to a metronome and playing to a click track.

7 Tips for Playing Drums to a Metronome

Playing drums to a metronome is an essential skill for any drummer. And this is especially the case when you make the move from playing to a metronome to playing along to a song. In the beginning, it can be tricky to get the timing right, so here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Start slow and increase the tempo over time. It’s important to get comfortable with the feel of playing at a precise tempo. In time, before you start to push yourself.
  2. Pay attention to your footwork. The metronome should be dictating the tempo of your feet too.
  3. Don’t get too focused on the click. You should be able to hear the metronome, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you’re focusing on. Make sure you’re still aware of the drumming as a whole. Once you have the internal flow of the click, and understand how to play drums along with music, play drums to that flow. The metronome should appear to be ticking along to you when you’re getting it close to perfect.
  4. Play along with a recording of your favorite songs. Practice with a variety of different songs and use them as the metronome. This will help you develop a feel for playing in time with different types of music. And this is the first step to learning to play a full song from beginning to end. Including all the frills and phrases within the song. But here we are using music as a metronome.
  5. Use a variety of drumming techniques. Metronome practice is the perfect opportunity to work on different drumming technique. Such as rudiments, rolls, and sticking patterns. Not only will this help to improve your coordination, but you’ll also get bored less.
  6. Take breaks and come back fresh. If you find yourself losing focus, take a break and come back to it later. It’s better to practice for a short period of time each day. Than to try and power through for hours on end and end up accomplishing very little. It is an accelerated learning technique to take a break and walk around every 15 minutes or so. This is because you absorb more at the beginning and end of study times. So take lots of breaks, they will do the world of good and your drumming will fare well too.
  7. Relax and have fun! Playing drums is supposed to be enjoyable, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you make a mistake, keep going and learn from it.

As we have suggested here, the metronome is an essential tool for any drummer. So, use one often when you practice anything. By following these simple tips, you’ll be able to make the most out of your metronome practice. And improve your drumming skills in no time at all!

4 Tips for Playing Drums to a Click Track

Drums are the backbone of many great songs. They provide the essential beat that drives the rhythm forward. For many years now drummers have been required to play along to a click track. Which provided a consistent beat and makes the sound bigger. Through pre-recorded instruments.

The most common click tracks are comprised of the main click, usually a cowbell or woodblock. Along with extra percussion where necessary.

Then other instruments such as brass, string, woodwind instruments, and keyboards. And almost endless possibilities for extra sound effects.

The click track‘s main job is to provide the drummer and other band members with a consistent tempo. Which then enables the drummer to maintain a consistent flowing groove. Here are some tips to help you stay on track:

  1. Follow the metronome’s lead. A metronome is an essential tool for any drummer. And it’s especially helpful when included as a woodblock or cowbell within a click track. And then fed to the band through a suitable monitor system. By following the click you can ensure that your drums are in time with the music. After all, the other musicians are either following you or are listening to their own click track.
  2. Listen closely: It’s important to lean in and really listen to the click track when you’re first starting out. As you get more comfortable, you’ll be able to play with more freedom and expression. But in the beginning, it’s important to focus on staying in time.
  3. Stay relaxed: Tension is the enemy of good drumming, so make sure to stay relaxed even when the pressure is on. Keep your hands and arms loose, and let your body flow with the music.
  4. Don’t have the click track too loud. I have found that the main idea of a click track is to listen to the click as the first step to keep good time. But when you have a little experience you can loosen up a little. And listen beyond the click to the actual instruments playing the music. This is of course second to listening to the click track. You simply treat the click as another instrument. In the end, it’s about bringing the whole band together in a precise and practical way.
  5. Practice: Like with anything else, practice makes perfect. The more you play with a click track, the better you’ll get at staying in time whilst still playing musically. So don’t be discouraged if it seems tough at first – keep at it and you’ll soon be a pro!

By following these tips, you’ll be able to make the most of your practice sessions. And improve your drumming skills whilst at the same time gaining valuable experience.

How To Play Drums with Music

While drums are often thought of as not being a musical instrument at all. They are a great way to accompany and support other musicians. One might say they’re essential. Drums being a member of the rhythm section of a band, are mostly used to provide a steady flowing beat. The foundation on which other musicians create their music.

When playing drums with others, it is important to listen carefully. To all the other musicians and at the same time, keep the tempo steady. Drumming is for the most part a lead role, through being the lead timekeeper. But the drummer must also listen and follow along with the other instruments in the band.

Being the backbone of any band, it is often helpful to establish a “pulse”. By conveying that “pulse” throughout whatever it is that you decide to play on the drums. Above all, the drums support the music, they do not take over that music. This is done by playing a simple pattern on the bass drum. 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the hi-hats, and 2 and 4 on the snare drum with the left hand. This is done in such a way as to enhance the flow and project the pulse of the music. And if you’re lucky, your drumming will groove too.

This will provide a foundation for the other instruments and help keep everyone in sync. Of course, it is also important to know when to hold back and let the other musicians shine. Which happens to be, most of the time. And then playing appropriate drum fills into a new section. And playing a cymbal crash on the first note of the new section. These sections can occur in 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, or 16 bar intervals. But the most common sections (verse and chorus sections) last 8 bars or multiple 8-bar sections.

As with all things and with a little practice and experience. You can learn how to play drums along with music in a way that enhances any musical performance. But above all, keep a simple time flow going when the music requires it.

Additional Considerations When Playing Along To Music

When you’re first starting out, playing the drums along with music can seem like a daunting task. The key is to break the song down into smaller parts and focus on one section at a time. Start by identifying the song’s tempo and count out loud as you listen to the music. Once you have a feel for the rhythm, begin tapping your foot or clapping your hands along with the beat.

Once you’re comfortable keeping time with the music. It’s time to start adding in some basic drumming patterns.

Start by playing a simple four-beat measure on the hi-hat cymbal, then add in snare drum beats on the 2 and 4 counts. Then add the bass drum on beats 1 and 3. As you become more comfortable, you can begin adding extra drums and cymbals. To create more complex sounds and variations on the initial pulse of the music. The pulse that you create. Your interpretation of the music if you will.

How to Play Drums to a Song

To play drums along with a particular song, start by finding the tempo of the song using a metronome. Then, identify where 1, 2, 3, and 4 counts are. You can even count 1, 2, 3, and 4 throughout the whole song to make sure you don’t run into any surprises.

Then, if you double the 1, 2, 3, and 4 count up to count 8 instead of 4. ie. 1 and, 2 and, 3 and, 4 and, and so on. You can then play the right hand on the closed hi-hat cymbals throughout the whole song.

After which you may want to add the bass drum on beats 1 and 3. And eventually adding the left hand on the snare drum on beats 2 and 4.

Once you have the basic beat down, you can begin to add fills and variations. As and when you feel comfortable and depending on your skill level. To do this, start by listening to the other instruments in the song and identify when they come in. Then, try to play something that compliments what they are doing. While still staying on beats 1 and 3 with the bass drum and 2 and 4 with the left hand on the snare drum.

As with anything in drumming, with practice, you will be able to develop your own style and variations. And at the same time still staying true to the original song. All formed around your current skill level.

How To Play Drums Easy Songs to Learn

I always say whatever you do, start simple. With that in mind, I suggest learning the song I mentioned in the intro to this article. “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harem. Read the intro again to find out why. It is a good mix of beats and fills and will get the beginner acquainted with playing slow songs, in time.

Next, I will recommend one song for you to attempt. That song is “Moving On Up” by M People. I chose this song because it’s straightforward. And only involves timekeeping with a few stops and starts within the song. Apart from that, it is basic, but at a medium tempo so may be challenging for the beginner. Keep practicing until you can play these two songs.

After attempting these songs, try finding your favorite songs that are similar. To begin with. Then as you develop your skill you can move on to more complex songs.

Another type of beat is played throughout “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and The Waves. But this may be too challenging for the complete beginner. Give it a go and remember the beat for later in your drumming career. You can also make the base drum less complex to get you through the whole song. Never be afraid to play something simpler within a song. Remember the timing is more important than complexity.

As you become more confident with your drumming, you can try more challenging songs. But remember, even the most experienced drummers had to start somewhere. So don’t be afraid to try some easy songs to play drums to and get started on your journey to becoming a drummer today.

While some drum parts may seem very complex and difficult to play. There are actually plenty of easy songs that sound great on the drums. I won’t give you any examples, instead, I will point you to just about any Beatle song. Or Abba song. Try learning them as a second step after trying the ones I mentioned earlier. Then as Suggested, develop at your own pace and learn songs at your own pace. Find a few songs you like to play and keep playing them until you develop a larger repertoire. Of both drumming skills and songs to practice to. all the time remembering that most songs are very similar. And once you can play one or several. You will be able to play many more too because they bear similarities to many other songs.

Every Great Song Must Come To An End

As you will see when you start searching for songs to practice along to. There are a variety of easy songs to choose from, from pop to hip-hop and rock to jazz. So whether you’re a beginner drummer or looking for some new songs to play. My advice is to press play and count yourself in and then keep going until the end. Make the mistakes that will lead you to greater and greater successes. And increased drumming ability.

It would be great to know what songs you choose. Leave a comment on your number 1 song to practice too. That way, other drummers will have the option to play along to your favorite, and you theirs.

Keep up the beat, stay in time, and let’s share some music together.

the Drum Coach

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