Drummers who play other instruments also....

cantstoplt021

Senior Member
Do you feel that playing the drums helps you on the other instruments that you play? In what ways? I'm primarily a guitar player who is also learning drums currently. I don't know if I've seen any huge benefits to my guitar playing yet, but then again I haven't been playing drums for that long. I have noticed however that my ability to sing and play has gotten much better since learning drums interestingly. I'm primarily interested in being a really solid rhythm guitarist, more than a soloist so I'm sure learning drums will definitely help with that. Plus I really want to be able to drum.

There was a Charlie Hunter (an incredible guitarist who plays an 8 string bass/guitar) quote that I saw somewhere that said if someone wanted to play like him he would start them on drums for a year so they could learn how to make other people sound good as opposed to just standing there making noises.

Thoughts?
 

Otto

Platinum Member
I think cross training on various instruments will give perspectives you might not already have on your main instrument.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
It will help with timing, dynamics, playing with others, overall appreciation of music in general.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
I originally a guitar player as well.

First of all, I now speak the language and can relate to a drummer on a much deeper level than before.

The other thing is that musically, ever since I started drumming the emphasis is on understanding rhythms. It's actually a bit funny, considering how many years I've played "melodic instruments" learning melody and harmony, how little focus there has been on understanding the basic building blocks of rhythm even though I have a degree.

I'm defiently more into drums now. It's much more challenging, interesting and fun for me. MOst of the time a bit of a hassle to transport, though. lol
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
The more you know about music and how the different instruments contribute to an overall sound, the more complementary your own playing will be. Plus, rhythm and time is everyone's job, not just the drummer. The more you understand about groove and beat displacement the better for all instruments.

Two of my favorite guitarists; John Wedemeyer (in Vegas playing with Wayne Newton, Donnie & Marie and others) and Garth Webber (Miles Davis) started out as drummers. Garth actually gigged around Colorado before picking up guitar. Coco Montoya was Albert Collin's drummer before he picked up guitar. When I briefly studied guitar with John I noticed (and he confirmed) that he would typically spend the first 6 months or better working with beginning students on rhythm, before going into any scales or single line stuff.

Most music is about rhythm and groove. Today, extended guitar solos are all but extinct unless you're playing blues or fusion. The groove: learn it, live it, love it.
 

cantstoplt021

Senior Member
I figured rhythm was the big thing. Rhythm has always been my favorite part of music. I saw Soulive a few weeks ago and I was most impressed with the drummer first of all. Also with Eric Krasno's playing I wasn't so much impressed with his solos, but more when he was playing rhythm for the organist to solo over. Kraz has a deep groove and that's the stuff I love. I'm sure drums will help with that immensely, although I'm not entirely sure how yet. I'm still pretty new to drums so it's not like I'm doing very complex rhythmic things yet. But I'm sure if I stick with drums it will get a lot more complex, more so than most guitar players deal with/work with. So far it's been more of an independence challenge than a rhythmic one, but I'm sure that will help.

Oh and I bet it helps immensely with doing fills on other instruments as well.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
My only instrument was the drums.

I just started to sing. I’m not very good at it.
But now I realize that learning to sing is the same as learning another instrument; carrying the melody, learning the words, breathing, inflection, singing with feeling, etc.

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New Tricks

Platinum Member
My only instrument was the drums.

I just started to sing. I’m not very good at it.
But now I realize that learning to sing is the same as learning another instrument; carrying the melody, learning the words, breathing, inflection, singing with feeling, etc.

.

We need to get you into my studio one more time. I can have you writing and recording your original music in an hour.

With a little direction and very small investment, you can set up something at your place.

You will have a few songs completed in a very short time. Then you take the rough draft to your band and ask them to play it.

It's very simple.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
We need to get you into my studio one more time. I can have you writing and recording your original music in an hour.
With a little direction and very small investment, you can set up something at your place.
You will have a few songs completed in a very short time. Then you take the rough draft to your band and ask them to play it.
It's very simple.
I love what you are doing at your place. I could really have some fun making music.
I’m afraid to come over. I’ll get addicted and have to buy some software and other junk.

Ah Heck let's do it. I'll call you.

( However, what I really need right now is a voice coach! )


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KamaK

Platinum Member
My only instrument was the drums.

I just started to sing. I’m not very good at it.
But now I realize that learning to sing is the same as learning another instrument;
That's awesome!

A second singer, even someone that can harmonize but doesn't have the gusto to front, is a tremendous asset to any band and really opens a lot of doors. Cover bands can pull for a more diverse pool of songs, songwriters can do a lot more compositionally.
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
I think I got most of my gigs because I could sing, and not because I was a drummer. It's the usual story - why hire just a drummer when you also need another vocalist? It's like a two-for-one deal. My current band has me singing too much for my tastes, and they take for granted that I'm trying to play these drums parts correctly too.

When I studied piano it made me appreciate what I wanted from the drummer, and I actually started playing less drummistically and more groovy - to the point where I wish I didn't have so many chops because it's so easy to fill up the music with drum bull-$%&! and ruin the songs.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
When I studied piano it made me appreciate what I wanted from the drummer, and I actually started playing less drummistically and more groovy - to the point where I wish I didn't have so many chops because it's so easy to fill up the music with drum bull-$%&! and ruin the songs.
EXACTLY !
I'm starting to change the way I play. (I graduated with honors from the Keith Moon school of drumming)

But sometimes I get a little depressed just being the foundation of the band.
All the other instruments play solos all night long. No one ever offers to let the drummer have a solo.
The drummer is supposed to be happy just sitting in the back behind everyone holding everything together.

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M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
EXACTLY !
I'm starting to change the way I play. (I graduated with honors from the Keith Moon school of drumming)

But sometimes I get a little depressed just being the foundation of the band.
All the other instruments play solos all night long. No one ever offers to let the drummer have a solo.
The drummer is supposed to be happy just sitting in the back behind everyone holding everything together.

.
Sometimes you have to honor your role as the 'glue'. Actually, I've learned to love it because you can feel the tension when people are playing against you. In fact, the tension between the other musicians is what makes a great performance. But no one can perceive the tension unless someone is being the 'glue' holding it all together. This is where drummers shine, or should strive to shine.
 

evilg99

Platinum Member
Yes, agree with all the insight given above. I am a drummer first but I have been playing guitar for 30 years and play well enough that I can actually call myself a guitar player, not just "a drummer who can play guitar". I play bass too. I own a bunch of guitars, basses and amps. I love it and I play them daily.

I just want to echo Bo's comment about playing another instrument with somebody else playing drums - to give you the perspective of what you would want in a drummer. Its an important point of view, it changed me forever. Learning a common language/understanding of the whole picture. Rhythm/groove is such an important foundation for all music, regardless of instrument - it seems wrong that the 'rhythmatists' should not know anything about harmony and melody.

Somebody mentioned above about being depressed just holding it together...'just groove playing'. You need to dig deeper - listen/watch guys like Steve Gadd, Steve Jordan, Keith Carlock, etc etc - they put their whole body into the groove.
And it's not just drummers. My favorite guitar players and bassists do the same kind thing - saying so much with so few notes. David Gilmour comes to mind...

Neal
 
Jack White learnt the drums before picking up the guitar.
He mentions this on an excellent guitar doco called It Might Get Loud.
Do yourself a favor and check it out. Features Jack, Jimmy Page and The Edge from U2. Worth it for seeing the real Jimmy Page, who shows the entryway where John Bonham's kit was setup to record a little known song called When The Levee Breaks.

Jack plays drums with "The Dead Weather", and has a very distinctive kit layout. He can play guitar a bit too.
 

iwearnohats

Silver Member
I actually played piano for a year when I was 8, didn't really start playing drums until I was 12. Two years ago I got back into playing piano, because I've always loved the instrument and my motivation was learning Moonlight Sonata 1st movement. Which I did (as I can read music), and then I bought some good books and started learning from them again... I'm currently working through grade 5 stuff in the Alfred system.

From my personal perspective, I think it's important for all musicians to expand their capability and musical knowledge through multiple instruments. The voice you have behind a drum kit is going to be different to what you have with a guitar, piano, violin or saxophone. What you learn on one instrument will enable you to grow musically on the others because it gives you a different perspective on how you play and sound. At least, that's what I feel for myself. I know personally that my time-keeping with my piano playing is quite good, simply because I'm a drummer, but at the same time utilising free time (which is pretty much a given with classical music) is also very easy and natural to me - I guess because of how well I can feel what I'm playing.
 

BFrench501

Senior Member
As others have said it really helps your overall musicianship. It also means in my experience at a gig where a guitarist has snapped a string I've been able to replace it while they play an acoustic song without drums while I fix it. So I'm drummer/guitar tech at once :p
 

proxmire

Junior Member
Learning the language of tabla has helped me play all instruments rhythmically. This is something that is lacking in western music teaching. The brain's speech center is a powerful tool not just for memorization, but physical coordination with speech. That is why you will never see a tabla player with sheet music. When I think "Dha Dha tirekite", those syllables are tied in perfect unison to may hand movements, not just on tabla, but on kit, bass, and even keys.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I started on trumpet and saxophone before transitioning to bass and finally drums, and most of my childhood musical training was in classical music and marches. It's been nothing but a benefit.

Music is pitch and rhythm combined, but generally drums are only called on to provide rhythm in the context of a modern band. As a result, many drummers never take the time to learn the entire rest of music theory. We could compare this to five people working in the same office. One of those people only knows half the words in the common language, and only uses ten keys on his computer keyboard. Sure, he can contribute, but it's not at the same level as what the other musicians can provide knowing their scales and keys.

Additionally, to learn a melodic instrument the chances are high that you will learn to read music, which despite all the bad press can only help you as you hustle for gigs in today's music business. I find it very interesting that the modern gigging musician, who often has to learn new songs on the fly with little to no chance of rehearsing them, will refuse to learn a fairly simple skill that could help immeasurably in those situations. I take on summer gigs playing musical theater and the musicians who can't read music are usually a ball and chain around the ankles of those of us who can.

Finally, the skill of learning multiple instruments means that you have an increased chance of being able to share a more complete picture of your musical vision with others. You could craft a melody, a harmony, a vocal line, and the structure for a solo on top of your drum part. Even if you're not technically capable of playing it yourself, you have written the majority of the song and can find the person capable of playing the part you envisioned. (Very few drum scores in sheet music are written by drummers, in a similar vein.)

I recommend piano or guitar as a very versatile, common, and approachable instrument to learn.
 

proxmire

Junior Member
Finally, the skill of learning multiple instruments means that you have an increased chance of being able to share a more complete picture of your musical vision with others. You could craft a melody, a harmony, a vocal line, and the structure for a solo on top of your drum part. Even if you're not technically capable of playing it yourself, you have written the majority of the song and can find the person capable of playing the part you envisioned. (Very few drum scores in sheet music are written by drummers, in a similar vein.)
Yeah, and that is the problem with a lot of musicians, they think about music entirely from the perspective of the instrument they play. Drummers are the worst because they have so much volume, and if they do not control themselves and listen to the music as a whole, they end up just ruining the tune, usually by playing too much cymbals. Often the drummer tunes the kick way too low, which sounds good with only kit, but then they step all over the bass players toes and vice versa. The best bands play like it is one person playing all the instruments, and everybody is playing each other's instruments and mixing at the same time.
 
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