Blog‎ > ‎

Slowing down and reading the notes

posted 23 Aug 2014, 04:37 by Chris Morris

This week in lessons, I've been focusing most of you on slowing down a bit and reading the rhythms in the pieces you've been working on. When it comes to the fills, some of you have had real trouble getting your heads around them. But it all comes back to the theory we learned on the snare drum. Let's look at a little example:

Here's a fill from Cold Pants in the Grade 4 Rockschool book.

It might be a little bit intimidating at first, because you've got to think about the rhythms and what drums to play them on. To make it simpler, just think about the actual rhythm itself. I've written it down for snare drum only here:

Most of you can play this easily on the snare. Our next step would be to put them onto the drums that the composer intended. We'll leave out all of the cymbals at the moment.

Take your time and think about what each drum is. We have a bass, seven snares, then bass, snare, and bass again. Okay, now let's put those cymbals back in.

And all of a sudden it makes sense, doesn't it? This is all you have to do to tackle these tricky fills. In lessons, I'd rather you worked it out for yourself than me just telling you and giving it away. That would be like going to school and instead of your teacher handing out a maths test and letting you work out the answers yourself, they just write all the answers on the board for you. The process of thinking about these notes and understanding them will make you a better drummer.

Later on in the same piece, we have the same fill again, but this time with more drums!

Don't be intimidated by it. You already know the rhythm, now just take your time and think about what drums it is played on.

This brings me to another point. Never, ever guess with notation. A few of you are bad for this (You know who you are!). You wouldn't get away with that on other instruments, so you shouldn't get away with it on drums! Read the notation, and if you don't understand it at first, it's okay, take your time, think about it. As Tommy Igoe famously says, it's not a race. I've seen loads of drummers who have somehow managed to go from learning the names of the drums to taking off and drum soloing all over the place. But most of the time they are going so fast that they miss important things. Important things that you won't miss, and when you catch up with them – and you will catch up with them – you'll know more than them.

So my advice for this week would be to get out all of that snare drum stuff I've written down for you and revise it. Understanding your crotchets and quavers and minims and hemidemisemiquavers and everything else is a vital part of learning the drums, and it's an advantage we usually have over other musicians who don't need to bother as much with that stuff. We know things they don't know! Sort of.

Anyway, great week from everyone this week. Get practising, and I'll see you all soon!