For all those who have read my book “Drumming: 10 Things I Wish I Learned…Sooner” I want to say thank you for all your support. I read every review. Over the past few months, I’ve received many requests for more material. However, if I release a new book, I want to make sure that it delivers exactly what my audience wants. So, if you have a minute, please leave me a comment and let me know if you would like a second book, and if so, let me know who I can make it the perfect book for you. Thanks again to all of you for a great 6 months!
One often overlooked aspect of sounding good on drums is the deliberate placement of notes. There are several common situations where people misplace notes, and the overall effect is that they sound less “solid.”
Make sure that when two notes are supposed to hit at the same time, that they hit EXACTLY together. This is not as easy as it sounds.
Be aware of the note spacing between 8th notes. Sometimes, when drummers play straight 8ths on the hihat, they use the shank-tip technique. However, sometimes the unaccented note is not placed directly on the upbeat and it sounds sloppy.
When playing the common jazz ride cymbal beat, sometimes drummers focus only on landing the 2 & 4 correctly, and ignore the 3rd note of the beat, which lands on 1 & 3. This makes it difficult for the band to find a groove.
If you can, try running all your audio through a speaker instead of headphones. When your click or play-along track is blaring through headphones, it is very difficult to listen to yourself playing. Alternatively, you could mic your drums and run that along with your audio to your headphones. If you are used to practicing with an ultra-clear, loud bass track, you may be unprepared for real world gigging, where your mix is vastly different from room to room. Years back, I experienced this with my teacher. I went in to play with a play along track, and I could not hear the bass player no matter how high he turned up the track, because he was running through a speaker, not headphones.
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I did this all through college, and you certainly can too. First, your skill needs to be at a level that people are willing to pay for. Once your skill is there, arrange your week this way:
Sunday- church gig—-$100
Monday-Thursday- minimum 4 students——————-$200 @ $50 each
Friday-Sunday- at least two nights of cover gig——————–$200
How do you get church gigs and cover band gigs? Churches usually advertise on Craigslist, and most won’t pay. Keep checking, and if you find a church that doesn’t specify whether it pays or not, assume it does pay and ask how much, after your audition. If they ask why you should be paid, when they have members of the congregation who will play for free, explain that you are being paid for the convenience of them not having to spend hours to teach the drummer every song, because you come to church ready to perform. See my Drummy Tip on Charting for help on that.
How do you get cover band gigs? Well, you can find mediocre cover bands advertising in craigslist, and they will pay. The best cover bands hire people they know. That means you need to go to their shows, buy them a drink, chat, and be social. Get to know them on breaks. The minimum payment you should accept for any performance is $100.
How do you get students? First, I don’t feel anyone should teach an instrument unless they have had extensive lessons themselves, from a reputable teacher. When you take lessons, you also are learning how to give lessons. To get students, you need to invest a little money in nice flyers and take them to music stores. You need to make relationships with the employees at the music stores. Sit down at the kit at the store and show them a couple things you think they will like. Also call the schools in your area and ask to speak with the band director, and ask them if you could meet with them about your private lessons program. Some schools will pay you to give lessons at the school. Just those things should be able to get you at least 4 students.
Couple extra things-
1. Always pay your taxes.
2. You can’t make money being shy.
A quick post here, just wanted to say thanks for the huge number of people who have downloaded my book so far, and especially for the wonderful reviews! It makes me very happy to hear how my book has helped or inspired you.
-Lets Talk Drums
I’m always here
This Drummy Tip is for drummers who make their living performing.
What you’re paid for-
1. Loading gear, and helping others in the band unload their gear.
2. Knowing the songs beforehand. You aren’t paid for showing up to rehearsals, you’re paid for your expertise in being able to learn a song quickly and supplying the right groove the first time you play it.
3. Making the band sound good. You aren’t paid for flexing your drum muscles, you’re paid because you make everyone on the bandstand feel great.
4. Keeping the band on the same page. The band often looks to you for cues to the next section, and sometimes they will literally turn around and watch you to see when you cue them. In those situations, you need to make it obvious with a clear sounding fill. This means you need to be aware when a band member is trying to communicate with you, which means you can’t just stare at the drums all night. Some drummers, including myself, will wear a headset with a microphone, and verbally cue the whole band into each section.
5. Putting on a show. No one goes to a show to see musicians in their own heads, staring off into space in deep focus. If you put out an energetic vibe, the band will do the same, and the audience will dig it. Remember, many people hear with their eyes.
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