Professional Country Drumming

The Drumming System (affiliate link) has a great section on country drumming. Country music began in in the 1920′s and continuously evolves through today. In the 1950′s, Johny Cash, Hank Williams, and Patsy Cline became incredibly popular. Today’s popular artists include Garth Brooks and Shania Twain. The success of this music is demonstrated in it’s worldwide appeal. In fact, some of today’s country music is also considered to be pop music because of its universal appeal.

While the majority of today’s country music feels strikingly similar to popular rock, their are small nuances within the feel that make it “country”. One particular technique that I learned from a friend was how to hit the snare drum. In this style, many drummers throw the weight of their arm into the snare and let the stick just sit. There is no rebound and it actually makes your shoulder kind of sore. With the potential for injury aside, you get a serious country backbeat.

This is responsible for the feel of many country songs.

The Drumming System (affiliate link) starts out with beginner country beats. These are simple quarter and eighth note beats with occasional sixteenth notes. The role of the country drummer is to play simple time and keep a great groove for the band.

Intermediate and advanced beats include train beats. W.S. “Fluke” Holland, the only drummer Johnny Cash ever had, made train beats popular. You will know this type of beat when you hear it. When done correctly, it sounds like a train going down the tracks. You can play this with sticks, brushes, hot rods, etc.

On a side note, I was fortunate enough to receive a consultation from Tiffany Gifford, a celebrity stylist and image consultant. Miranda Lambert, a popular country artist, is one of Tiffany’s clients.

Also, here’s a clip of a drum solo I did at a country music concert:

Professional Progressive Rock Drumming

The Drumming System (affiliate link) has a great section on progressive rock. It’s kinda funny, but the instructor, Mike Michalkow, refers to it as wild and bizzare playing. He’s not saying this to insult the style, just stating an opinion (which I share). In fact, he’s a specialist in this style of drumming.

It’s easy to label it as wild and bizzare because it includes odd time playing, crazy fills, intricate snare and hi hat parts. Since most music is written in 4/4, any thing that is performed in an odd time signature might feel weird. Although not a progressive rock song, Dave Brubeck’s Take 5 is one of the few songs with an odd time signature that became wildly popular.

This style of rock began in late 1960′s with bands such as King Crimson, Genesis, and Yes. In the 1970′s bands like Pink Floyd and Rush became popular. In the 1980′s and 1990′s, Dream Theater kept progressive rock alive. King Crimson, Rush, and Dream Theater are still actively performing today.

Neil Peart, Mike Portnoy, Chester Thompson, Phil Collins, and Bill Bruford are drummers who considered to be pioneers of progressive rock. Be sure to check out some of the incredible footage of each of them on YouTube.

The Drumming System (affiliate link) has progressive rock training for drummers at every level.

  1. For beginners, their are beats with snare drum notes in random spots and thirty second notes on the bass drum. It might seem difficult, but it starts off very simple.
  2. For intermediate drummers, the beats add more random snare drum notes, along with sixteenth notes on the snare and bass drum.
  3. For advanced drummers, the beats are straight up WACKY! You get stuff like broken ride cymbal patterns and two and handed sixteenth note triplet ride patterns. Really weird…but also really fun.

Professional Grunge Drumming

The Drumming System (affiliate link) has some great grunge drumming lessons. In fact, I’ve never actually knew of lessons being taught on this style of music until I saw this.

Grunge rock began in late 1980′s and was very popular through the early to mid 1990′s. Bands such as Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam popularized this music.

It became known as the “Seattle sound”: Sloshy, heavy, grungy 1 bar and 2 bar patterns.

Pearl Jam

One memory of grunge music that I will never forget is the first time I saw the video for the song, “Alive”, by Pearl Jam. I was in awe of the drummer, David Abbruzzese. His sound was very powerful and incredibly clear. He also played with great fluidity. I still work to emulate his fluidity around the drum kit today.

Check out the video:

Nirvana

I was in middle school during the birth of grunge music and was heavily influenced by it. Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York album was a CD that I regularly played. (Remember CD’s?) Nirvana’s bestselling hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” had a huge impact on my generation. I truly believe that this video captures the essence of grunge.

Check out the video:

Improving Your Skills

The Drumming System (affiliate link) has grunge drumming beats for beginner, intermediate, and advanced players.

  1. The beginner beats sometimes have no cymbals in them. This was very popular in the music.
  2. Intermediate beats are a bit more challenging with addition sixteenth notes on the snare and bass drum, plus fills at the end of the beat. Again this was very popular with grunge drumming. Most importantly, they need to be played with a “sloshy” sound.
  3. Advanced beats are so recognizable. They add broken up hi hat patterns, open hi hat patterns,  and sixteenth note triplets on the hi hat.

The actual beats in the style aren’t that technically difficult. The important thing is to develop that feel of this music.

Professional Hard Rock Drumming

The Drumming System (affiliate link) is an excellent training tool for improving your hard rock drumming. Hard rock music is sub-genre of rock music that began in the mid 1960′s. Popular bands include The Who, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and Def Leppard. It’s important to know the drummers in these bands.

Keith Moon played with The Who.
John Bonham played with Led Zeppelin.
Joey Kramer currently plays with Aerosmith.
Rick Allen currently plays with Def Leppard.


[Read more...]

Learn and Master Odd Time Signatures

If there is one thing that frustrates me about drumming, it’s odd time signatures. If fact, I will admit it: I wish everything I had to play was in 4. I share a feeling that many drummers have about odd time signatures…they are really complex.

The Drumming System (affiliate link) has a simple way of helping you understand odd time and has a huge library of beats and fills.

Time Signature

Before you can master odd time, you need to understand the basics of time signatures. The time signature is written at the beginning of a piece of music. It specifies how many beats are in each measure and which note value gets one beat. The time signature consists of a top number and a bottom number. For example, 4/4.

The top number is the amount of beats that you count. According to the Drumming System (affiliate link), going past 21 is a little unrealistic. The bottom number tells us the note value that receives the count.

[Read more...]

Learn and Master Speed Metal Drumming

Speed metal is a sub genre of heavy metal music that began in the late 1970′s and carried on through the 1980′s. Bands such as Slayer, Slipknot, Lamb of God, Strapping Young Lad, and Deathklok really made a name for themselves in this style. Drummers such as Chris Adler, Dave Lombardo, Joey Jordison, Gene Hoglan are the masters of speed metal. Be sure to check out as much of their playing as you possibly can.

The Drumming System (affiliate link) suggests that this style is more geared towards intermediate and advanced drummers. I am inclined to agree.

For intermediate drummers, it’s good to master driving, powerful beats with one foot. Even if you want to use a double bass pedal to play the beats, it’s important to first develop a very fast, powerful single foot. Do the exercises slow and then speed them up.

Advanced drummers are usually crazy double bass players. You get to go nuts! The key thing to remember is that everything has to align properly. You don’t want the hi hat not aligning with the bass drums or the snare flamming with bass drums. The Drumming System (affiliate link) gives you advanced patterns include sixteenth notes and sixteenth note triplets with double bass.

It’s rare that a drummer can actually play this style with a single bass drum pedal, but it’s not impossible. The challenge is that your volume won’t equal that of two bass drums. It’s very important that you do a thorough warm up before playing speed metal or you will cramp up.

I’ve always looked at speed metal as the most physical form of contemporary drumming. If drumming were ever to be considered a sport, speed metal would be the main part of the game. Although it’s not my thing, I have a deep respect for the musicians who play this style and admire the level of speed and stamina they have developed.

My favorite speed metal group is Slipknot because they wear creepy masks when they perform.

Learn and Master Heavy Metal Drumming

Heavy metal is a style of music that began in the late 1960′s. The style originated from blues-rock and psychedelic rock. Heavy metal is known for its thick, massive sound, that includes extremely amplified distortion, long guitar solos, emphatic beats, and sheer volume. Bands such as Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Pantera, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, and Metallica are some of the more popular heavy metal bands.

The Drumming System (affiliate link) contains a variety of heavy metal exercises for all levels of playing:

Beginner Exercises

These are usually eighth note based grooves with the hi hat cymbals slightly open. Maybe you might began to add sixteenth note variations on the bass drum and the snare drum. Play them at a moderate tempo and play them HEAVY.

Intermediate Exercises

Add a partial sixteenth note triplet added to the snare or bass drum. Make sure you play with a powerful bass bass drum sound, a convincing pulse on the hi hat, and a slamming 2 and 4 on the snare drum.

Advanced Exercises

These include broken ride patterns, incorporate the toms, and add quarter note triplets.

For myself, I play along to AC/DC.  I have found Phil Rudd’s grooves to be rock solid! There is an art to keeping the groove simple and solid. In terms of drum sound, Lars Ulrich (Metallica), has an incredibly clear sound that inspired many of the drummers of my generation.

Shortly after getting my first drum set, I remember seeing the “Lars Ulrich” drum set in the music store and wanting it so badly. Seeing all of those toms and cymbals looked so cool. Nowadays, I am only concerned about having the smallest drum set possible. It’s interesting how things change.

Sorry to go off on a rant, but I encourage you to check out the Drumming System (affiliate link) and work on the heavy metal exercises. If you’re new to this style, you will find these exercises challenging. If you’re a veteran of this style, you will find these exercises refreshing.

Professional Classic Rock Drumming

Hats off to the Drumming System (affiliate link). Their is an entire DVD dedicated to classic rock drumming! This style of music is an interesting subject because when it was invented, it wasn’t classic, it was new. What we consider classic rock is really older rock. You can listen to radio stations and hear bands such as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Led Zeppelin, The Who, AC/DC, the Eagles, Aerosmith, the Rolling Stones, The Doors, and The Beatles. The list goes on and on.

As a drum teacher, I’ve had much success turning people on to this style of music who weren’t into it at first. The reality that my students eventually come to realize is that you need to understand older rock to understand contemporary rock. When a student of mine reaches a certain level in their playing, we begin working out of the Led Zeppelin Mothership – Drum Transcriptions Book (affiliate link).

As we get into John Bonham’s mind and learn songs note for note, I’ve witnessed some of the most dramatic progress in students. After finishing the Led Zeppelin Mothership – Drum Transcriptions Book (affiliate link), I never ever get a question from a student about any of the rock drummers of today. Interesting coincidence.

Call me biased, but I truly believe that John Bonham’s drumming style and sound is not only the foundation for much of today’s rock drumming, but today’s drumming as a whole, including hip hop.

The Drumming System (affiliate link) contains a variety of classic drum beats for a variety of levels.

  1. Beginner classic rock beats. Some of the greatest beats were really simple, but fit the music well.
  2. Intermediate classic rock beats. A lot of the beats are two bar patterns. The second bar is drastically different than the first bar. This was common with many classic rock bands.
  3. Advanced classic rock beats. These are beats taken from some famous classic rock songs. It’s fun to guess which beat goes with what song.

As with every style in drumming, listening is the most important aspect of learning it. In fact, I would suggest putting more time into listening with focused intention than practicing the rock beats of the past.

You rock!

Professional Punk Rock Drumming

According to the Drumming System (affiliate link), punk rock began in the late 1960′s and carried on through the 1970′s. The movement was popularized by bands, such as the Descendants, the Black Flags, the Ramones, and the Sex Pistols. Drummers such as Bill Stevenson paved the way for many of today’s top punk drummers.

Contemporary bands like Green Day and Blink 182 keep punk alive today. Green Day’s drummer, Tre’ Cool and Blink 182′s drummer, Travis Barker are highly regarded in the world of drumming. Punk music has become more popular than ever. In fact, the Broadway musical, American Idiot, is an adaptation of Green Day’s album, American Idiot.

Although I’m in no way an expert on punk drumming, I have spent a good amount of time teaching private lessons to punk drummers in New York. Some argue that the style is very simple and not worthy of mentioning. In terms of complexity, most punk beats are simple. Regardless, you need to understand the feel of these beats to play them well. Like any style of music, I suggested you do a good amount of listening. The previous paragraph provides an outline for finding good discography of material to listen to.

The Drumming System (affiliate link) does a very thorough job of teaching punk beats. It teaches beginner, intermediate, and advanced beats.

  1. Beginner beats include quarter notes, eighth notes and some open hi hat.
  2. Intermediate beats include sixteenth notes, toms, and fancier open hi hat patterns.
  3. Advanced beats get faster and a little more syncopated.
  4. Punk fills can be very challenging. The fills are usually very busy and comprised of sixteenth notes, sixteenth note triplets, and open hi hat. An effective way to practice them is to do a beat for one bar and then a fill.
  5. The Drumming System (affiliate link) also has play along songs (music minus drums) for you to practice with.

One of the challenges that I have regularly encountered with teaching many aspiring punk drummers is lack of technique. I’ve witnessed many drummers WORKING TOO HARD to try to play as fast as they can. Speed is very important in punk drumming! It’s also important to prevent yourself from getting an injury. The Drumming System (affiliate link) has an incredible amount of material on developing good technique and speed.

Professional Folk Drumming

Please excuse my ignorance, but until I purchased the Drumming System (affiliate link), I never regarded folk drumming as anything more than rock beats. I learned a lot when I went through the section on this style of music. Fortunately, this has helped me as a professional drummer. I play drums for a variety of folk singer/songwriters, such as Pete Mroz, Brian Franke, and Andrea Nardello. Andrea’s latest album, My Aeroplane, was nominated for a Grammy Award in the American Roots – Adult Contemporary Folk category.

Folk music began in the 1950′s and became really prevalent in the 1960′s. Artists such as John Denver, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan really popularized folk music. Groups such as Simon and Garfunkel along with Peter, Paul, and Mary also helped set folk music in motion.

Folk drumming isn’t very technical. The beats serve their purpose for the music with very simple grooves. One feature that you will notice in classic folk music is a tambourine. In the 1950′s and 1960′s, singers would play a tambourine as they sang. Singers who have the ability to sing and keep time with a tambourine possess a very unique quality.  As a drummer you have the option of using a mounted tambourine in folk music.

The Drumming System (affiliate link) shows you how to play essential folk beats. Most of the beats are your basic rock beats with a mounted tambourine played in place of the snare drum. Even though the beats and fills that you play can be similar to rock, it is your feel that is gonna make it sound like folk music.  The best way to develop a good folk drumming feel is to play along to folk music

Several years ago, I saw Patty Griffin live in New York City. The show actually started with her drummer laying down the groove. Had I not known it was folk music, the groove he played would have felt like the beginning of a funk tune. One of the amazing things about playing drums is that so many of our beats can be used in so many different styles. I remember talking with Andrea Nardello before we were about to perform. She said that “folk” is a term that’s an umbrella for a variety of musical styles.

When people hear the term, “folk music”, it can have a certain connotation (acoustic guitar, mellow, slow). Lately the music industry has been using the term “Americana” to describe and market contemporary folk music. Regardless of what you call it, having a folk drumming vocabulary is essential to mastering this style. Be sure to check out the Drumming System (affiliate link).