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Cool Drumming Tips

Are your drumsticks slipping? - No problem, here are some tips: Go to the hardware store and buy some heat shrink tubing and cut it into two 4" lengths. Place it on each drumstick near the bottom then take a heat gun to shrink it onto each stick. You can also buy drumstick grips inexpensively by using hockey grip tape from your local sporting goods store. Another solution is to wrap rubber bands around the bottom of your sticks. Keep experimenting with different amounts of bands until you get just the right feel. There is also stick grip on the market where you dip the sticks in the liquid and it dries to a tacky finish.

Drum Lessons

Practicing Accents on Drums - Hi. I'm Mike Bacon. I've been a percussionist for over 23 yrs. When I was teaching way back when, I developed a practice routine for beginners on accents. I call it Tens.

Play a single stroke roll LRLRLRLRLRLRLRLRLRLRLRLRLR etc. Start off with 10 accents on the right or left hand, then switch and play 10 accents with the opposite hand (this also works well with dbl bass too). Then after you play 10, play 9, the 8, 7, 6 down to one.

A sample of what this looks like (accents are noted as capitalized letters):

Start off with no accents to warm up: r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l..........

Then when sufficiently warmed up, play 10: R l R l R l R l R l R l R l R l R l R l r L r L r L r L r L r L r L r L r L r L

Then instantly go to 9: R l R l R l R l R l R l R l R l R l r L r L r L r L r L r L r L r L r L

Then 8, 7, 6 and so on...

Ones (triplets, actually): R l r L r l R l r L r l

I hope this explains and you find it useful on your site!

Michael J Bacon
Member Percussive Arts Society
Drum Circle Facilitator

(Thanks for your contribution Mike!)

Videotape yourself playing drums. You will be amazed at what you can learn from this. Everything from that stupid look on your face, to the snare that's tilted at a 45 degree angle.

Shoot for the stars, and you might just hit the moon! If you set your goals high, you will likely go much farther in life because you have a longer way to go and you'll work harder to get there.

Inventory your equipment: Log all of your instruments, take pictures of your drums (all sides), and make up a separate page for serial numbers.

Say it, then play it. The best way to learn a new rhythm is to say it out loud first. This allows the brain another method of comprehending it.

Transcribing is one of the best ways to learn rhythms and will help your overall comprehension of music theory. Write it out.

Custom Drumsticks

• The Timbale player is most closely associated with the "drummer" of the band. His job is to hold time and to setup band figures using fills.

Don't forget to practice your double stroke roll as triplets (Ex. RRL, LRR, LLR, RLL)

Midi - It's here to stay. It is a bit of our past and certainly our future. You're not obligated to partake but remember, everything helps in this highly competitive field. At least familiarize yourself with the very basics of electronic drumming and how to use basic electronic drumsets and drum sound modules.

You can make your own plastic cymbal sleeves for your cymbal stands. Go to the hardware store and purchase a foot of plastic tubing slightly larger than the shaft of where the cymbals will sit. Simply cut it in 1" (or so) lengths, slip 'em on your cymbal stands and you're ready to rock!

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Drummers get a lot of flack. We get blamed for tempo fluctuations, etc. Many other musicians have never even practiced with a metronome, but they'll often be the first to speak up about it. Take the time to talk to your bandmates about the importance of their contribution to timekeeping.

Don't snub the groove! And don't put down drummers who make their living off of a strong backbeat. They are valuable commodities. Just ask the musicians who play with them. They have a feel that usually can't be surpassed.

Chops ... it's not a dirty word! Respect the time those musicians have devoted to their vocabulary. They're often more creative players and have much to offer the world of music.

Drum Terms: Get to know your drum terms. Sure, you know what a snare drum and a tom tom is and maybe even a cowbell but do you know what a drop clutch is? Do you know what linear drumming is? Take the time to get to know your drum terms.

• Diplomacy is everything! If you disagree with your fellow musicians about something, bite your tongue! Keep your cool and approach the matter patiently and with great thought before you speak. Don't burn any bridges by saying the wrong things. You just might have to walk back over those bridges one day.

Protect your ears! We can't stress this enough. Most musicians take this for granted. Buy a good set of ear plugs and start using them, especially while you practice. Drums are quite loud and ongoing exposure is detrimental.

Think deterrents. Keep your drums hidden and/or covered in your car or van. Take extra precaution at clubs and venues. Make sure someone is always around when you're not there. Don't underestimate the thief. He's just waiting for you to let your guard down.

It's about time. Our primary responsibility before anything else is to lay down a steady beat for the band. You should understand "groove" thoroughly and be able to lay a backbeat down like nobody's business.

Drum Play Alongs

Don't be afraid to crank down your bongos when tuning them. Too often people confuse the sound a bongo should make with congas. Bongos should be able to pierce above all of the drums with your fingertips.

Don't underestimate posture. This is one of the most overlooked facets of drumming. Sit up straight when you're playing the drums so your back is aligned properly.

Engrave your cymbals and drums. If they ever get stolen, this will increase the likelihood of you ever seeing them again.

For those that use a drumset rack: Take white gaffers tape and mark each section where a stand goes with a number. Put the stands in sequential order and anyone will be able to set up your kit effortlessly.

Learn how to spell the word RHYTHM. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not spelled rythem or rithem or even rhythem. Here's a phrase you can remember to help you out: The Reason He Yearns Tonight is His Music.

Vintage drums are "old" drums. They make great collectibles and some drummers are real serious about this hobby. For a great resource, check out "Not So Modern Drummer" magazine.

Do you get a ringing sound from your cymbal stands when you play? Fill the hollow tubing of the stands with strips of cloth.

Clave is an instrument AND a rhythm. Claves are two wooden sticks that are played by striking the two together. There are many different types of claves (i.e. rosewood, and now even synthetics.)

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• Remember to KISS. (Keep It Simple Stupid).

Drumset players: Use a double tom case (where you put two toms in one case). It'll save you some time as you'll have less case to carry around.

Invest in a small portable handcart for your drums. This thing can save you a lot of time and trouble on those gigs where the set up location is far from your vehicle.

Be nice to your soundman/monitor engineer. They control your mix!

At soundchecks, don't show off. Hit the drums one by one and play nice steady beats. Many times they just need a line level and don't want you playing bombastic solos. Only play out if they ask you to or if it's an acceptable routine in your band.

Famous actors that were also drummers: Bob Crane (Hogan's Hero's), Mel Torme, Sammy Davis Jr., Dizzie Gillespie, Johnny Carson. Tipper Gore also plays a little drums as does Michael J. Fox.

Brilliant quote: "Tuning a 3 yr. old drumhead is like polishing a turd. Why bother, it'll still be a piece of crap."

Adopt the "overlearn" concept. It's often not enough to just practice a lick for a couple of times and then think you have it. To get stuff down to where you can play it without thinking about it, you must "overlearn" it.

The Money Beat: Nashville studio drummer, Paul Leim often refers to the Money Beat. The money beat is 1 and 3 on the bass drum and 2 and 4 on the snare ("Billy Jean"). "If you want to make a good living playing drums in America, make sure you can play this simple beat with good time and lot's of groove!

Drummer Signs and Posters

Polyrhythms: There tends to be an ongoing debate over the actual definition of a polyrhythm. For the record, Webster's Dictionary defines it as: "The simultaneous combination of contrasting rhythms in music".

• Use a can of compressed air to get the dust out of those hard to reach places like in-between lugs and under the foot pedals of your drums.

Teachers: Use flash cards to help your students learn note values, dynamic markings, etc. You can make them yourself on 3 X 5 index cards.

Have a "Don't Forget" list for all your instruments and related drum gear. Be sure to include such things as extra drum heads, drum sticks, mics and mic cables, etc. This list will help you to never have one of those gut-wrenching moments when you realize you left something at home 2 hours away.

Listen to "all" styles of music. This boosts your creativity and makes you more aware of how to approach these styles if you ever confront them in your band.

For dried up duct tape residue on your cymbals or drum stands, invest in a bottle of "Goo Gone". This stuff is amazing (and even smells good!).

Teaching drums is an excellent motivator. You'll learn a lot and your students will constantly keep you challenged. When you're able to articulate your point about any given subject, it's then that you truly understand it.

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Play "heel up" on the bass drum for more power and speed. The heel down technique will work but requires a bit more effort.

Books: There are many good drum method books that are not out in the limelight but are brilliantly written. Check out magazine reviews in drum publications, the web, etc.

Gaffers Tape: Ever hear people talk about "gaffers tape" and wonder what they're referring to? Although it is similar to duct tape, gaffers tape leaves no residue, is a bit thicker and easier to tear. It's also considerably more expensive.

The Library: Don't forget your local Library as a rich resource of information about drums, drumset, and overall drumming and percussion (CDs, reference books, music history, etc.).

Soundproofing: To truly soundproof a drum room, you must create air channels between wall layering. We will be describing this in more detail later.

Warming up before a gig. This is terribly underestimated. Spend 20 to 30 minutes warming up with rudiments and related sticking exercises. Practice them with music playing through a Walkman. It's a great motivator and you'll be very loose when you get ready to play.

Drum Set: It's a bit of a misconception that you always need a drumset to work out licks or patterns. One can still have an effective practice by playing in the air and/or tapping on their legs. The main idea is to go through the motions so you form some amount of muscle memory.

Jewelry: Before sitting down at your kit, remove any rings and/or wrist watches. This will give your hands an even balance with sticks or brushes. - Ron Geraci

Buying Cymbals : When buying new cymbals, always, i stress ALLWAYS bring your own sticks. Same applies to a new kit.- Filippo Nigro

Drumstick Slipping - Avoid sticks from slipping out of your hands. Try this: Check out your local electrical store. Ask for some shrink tubing. This is used for electrical wire repair. The size needed is half inch. This will shrink onto the drum stick without slipping out. Price range is under ten dollars. Use a heat gun or hair dryer. Keep the heating device about an inch and a half away from the shrink tubing. This works.

Drum Community - We don't all have the gospel chops type of atmosphere to grow up in so make sure you have a community somewhere, even if online, to bounce around ideas and learn from other drummers. A popular drum community online is DrumChat.com. This huge forum has over a half million posts and thousands of members.

For more tips, see DrumTips.com

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