How to Build Drum Speed, Part 4: Bass Drum Speed

When it comes to improving your drum speed, especially bass drum speed, you’re going to have good days and bad days. Be patient as your leg muscles grow and stretch. Keep it mind that the legs and feet have more muscles and larger muscles than the hands and arms.

One thing that I always have to remind my own students is that your feet will never go as fast as your hands. It’s just how we’re built. Before you can develop bass drum speed, it’s good to work on bass drum exercises that help you develop control. A great resource for bass drum exercises is Colin Bailey’s book,
Bass Drum Control (affiliate link).

The Drumming System (affiliate link) says that one of the secrets to bass drum speed is to wear ankle weights while you practice. This well help you develop the muscles in your legs. After a practicing with them, go back and practice without the weights. You will notice results immediately. Another tip for developing bass drum speed is to try playing as loud as you can for a long period of time while wearing ankle weights.

A great exercise is to practice playing singles on your feet heel down and heel up. Playing heel down, you will feel the burn. If you find this boring, put a practice pad on the snare and play along. Years ago, my teacher Chet Doboe, the founder and musical director of the Hip Pickles Drum Band, taught me to practice the samba to develop my foot technique. The samba is great exercise because it allows you to work on controlling two notes in a row.

The Drumming System (affiliate link) recommends Hansenfutz (affiliate link) pedals for training. These are great because you practice in any chair that you are sitting in. You can even them under the desk in your office.

How to Build Drum Speed, Part 3: Hand Speed

According to the Drumming System (affiliate link), a drum pad is only one surface with one feel. It’s a bouncy type feel that’s great for practicing. On the other hand, a drum set has many surfaces with many types of feels. Speed will allow to move your ideas around the drums with much more ease.

  1. Your drums and cymbals should be within easy reach so that you can get to where you need to get really fast. This will constantly change with time, but you want to make as easy as possible.
  2. Practice moving around the kit as fast as you can with a single stroke roll. Do this until your arms are tired. Try to go for five minutes and you will be sweating. Try to keep an eye on where you’re going so you’re not hitting rims. Ask yourself questions, such as  “where am i hitting?” and  “where i am i going?”
  3. At midnight, when everyone is sleeping, air drum AS LOUD AS YOU CAN. This strengthens you wrists. Remember that if you hit your drums you will wake people up. This is a good warm up, too.
  4. Try to play a single stroke roll on you floor tom only holding the middle of the drum stick. Not only does it feel awkward but you have no convincing balance point. Also, practice using the lock grip in the middle of the floor tom. If you have a high pitched floor tom, detune it low (before it loses its tone) so its soggy.
  5. Finally, practice playing double stroke rolls on your floor tom.

The Drumming System (affiliate link) goes into much more depth about how to improve your speed. This is one subject that most drummers from around the world are very interested in. As with everything in drumming and in life, patience and perseverance go a long way.

The Top 2 Professional Drum Set Courses on DVD

If you type the words “drum course” or into your favorite search engine, numerous results will come up.

Learn and Master Drums with Dan Sherrill (affiliate link) and
Mike Michalkow’s Complete Drumming System (affiliate link)
are the Top 2 Drum Courses Available.

So which one is the best?

Watch My Video Comparison

Course Comparison Chart

Drum Course Learn and Master Drums
(affiliate link)
The Complete Drumming System
(affiliate link)
Instructor Dan Sherrill Mike Michalkow
Review Read My Complete Review Read My Complete Review
Price $149 $197
Purchase Buy Now (affiliate link) Buy Now (affiliate link)
DVD’s 12 Full Length DVD’s 20 Full Length DVD’s
Play Along CD’s 5 CD’s 15 CD’s
Workbooks 112 Page Workbook 5 Workbooks
Bonuses Online Support Forum Start-Up Resources & Guide
One Handed Drum Roll DVD
Drum Gear Buyers Guide DVD
Members Support Forum
Unlimited Coaching
Level Beginner, Intermediate Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Guarantee 60 Days – Full Refund 90 Days – Full Refund

[Read more…]

How to Become a Professional Drummer and Find Jobs, Part 6

The Drumming System (affiliate link) has an entire section dedicated to dealing with drum sound checks. Whether you are performing with your band for the first or 500th time, you’ll have to do a this before you perform. The sound person will meet you hours before your performance to make sure everything sounds good for you, your band members, and the audience.

Here are some tips:

  1. This can take a while and requires patience. In fact, it’s tedious and boring.
  2. Once the sound person arrives, you want to become his or her friend. It’s important to break the ice.
    Sometimes they can be incredibly cool. Sometimes they can be incredibly cruel.
  3. Remember that this person is in control of how you sound.
  4. When your asked to hit a drum, play slow quarter notes until you are told to stop. Don’t show off your chops. Sound checking one drum can take up to 45 minutes. Most good sound people can get a good sound in less than 5 minutes.
  5. Hit the drums as hard as you will in the show.
  6. After finishing one drum, you will be asked to do the same on the next drum.
  7. If there is a problem with the sound of a drum, be prepared to tune it and/or muffle it. Therefore it’s important to have a drum key and muffling on you.
  8. Play as many sounds as possible with your hi hat.
  9. When asked to play the whole kit, play the whole kit! Many drummers play the snare bass and hi hat. Also, keep it simple.
  10. When your sound check is done, you might not be needed for a while.
    This is a good time to warm up on a drum pad.
  11. After the other band members get sound checked, you will have to play as entire band. This is the time to make sure sound levels are good and you can hear everyone. If you need something, ask for it.
  12. In most cases, sound check won’t take that long, but sometimes it will. Again, be patient.

How to Become a Professional Drummer and Find Jobs, Part 4

The Drumming System (affiliate link) has an entire section dedicated to reading drum charts. Your ability to read drum charts is so important. You will become a better musician, get better work, and play better performances if you can read drum charts, you will lay an excellent foundation for becoming a great live musician and great studio musician.

Here are some tips:

  1. Before you can read a drum chart, you have to understand basic drumming notation. The Reading Drummer (affiliate link) by Dave Vose is a great book to help you master drumming notation.
  2. Reading drum music can be challenging and frustrating. The more you do read drum charts, the better you get. (The unwritten rule for anything in life).
  3. Transcribing drum parts will help you read better. Write out drum parts from music that you like, note for note. Not only will this help your reading, but you will get into the mind of great drummers.
  4. Understand that some auditions REQUIRE that you know how to read.
  5. A chart doesn’t always tell you everything that you have to play. It might just indicate a tempo, style, and some dynamic markings.
  6. When you read a drum chart, the first thing you have to do is figure out the roadmap. Where do you start? Where do you end? Is there a coda? Having the ability to understand all of this will improve your reading.
  7. Shows on Broadway and in Las Vegas require reading. If you look in a Broadway pit, you will see music stands in front of every musicians.
  8. Practice with materials such as the Drumming System (affiliate link).  The Drumming System (affiliate link) has over 100 songs in a variety of styles. Each one can be played with or without drums on the track. This allows you to be the drummer in the band and practice reading drum charts.

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 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).

The Best Quiet Practice Drum Set

Drummers don’t have it easy. Practicing and keeping the volume low is a unique challenge every drummer will face at one point or another. Although many options are available for keeping the volume level low, I am still on the quest for the perfect “quiet drum set“.

Initially, I tried using drum mutes and cymbal mutes on a standard drum set. They felt unnatural and had no rebound.  I felt that it made me work harder and I would end up playing very tensely. Drum mutes and cymbal mutes have improved in recent years. If you want to make your acoustic drums quiet, these are be your best choice. I highly recommend Vic Firth Drum & Cymbal Mutes (affiliate link).

Just a side note: One of my drum teachers (who shall remain nameless) actually put briefs (underwear) over the cymbals to mute them. As entertaining as it was, it kinda worked.

A few years ago, I discovered mesh drumheads, which are extremely quiet drum heads. They were similar to the heads used on electronic drums. I liked them because you could actually hear the tones of the different drums. Although they were great for keeping the volume low, I easily broke though the heads on a regular basis.

I currently practice at home on a Gibraltar GPo8 Powerrack Pad Outfit (affiliate link). It takes up a small amount of space. I had to purchase a separate bass drum pedal and drum throne. I also added a hi-hat cymbal stand, hi-hat cymbals, and a hi-hat mute to use with the Gibraltar GPo8 Powerrack Pad Outfit (affiliate link). This has given me quiet practice setup that emulates an actual acoustic drum set.

Practicing on the Gibraltar GPo8 Powerrack Pad Outfit (affiliate link) combined with using my acoustic drums has actually helped me to make some significant improvements in my drumming. The drum pad set forces me to focus on precision and to really visualize the sounds that I want to come out of the instrument. When I practice on my acoustic drum set, I get to refine the sounds and feels that I have worked on at home.

Another choice is an electronic drum set. Electronic drum sets allow you practice quietly, but get real drum sounds. In fact, electronic drums made by Roland and Yamaha sound like acoustic drums. I am partial to Roland, because they feel more like acoustic drums in comparison to Yamaha.

Keep in mind that most electronic drum sets don’t come with a drum throne or bass drum pedal. The best part of having a drum set like this is that you can plug in your headphones and play all night long without disturbing any of your neighbors. There’s even a place to plug an iPod in so you can jam with your favorite music.

If you want the best electronic drum set available,invest in the
Roland TD20SX V-Pro Electronic Drum Set
(affiliate link).