Learning a new piece of drummers sheet music

Hi Drummers and Drummets!!

This has probably been posted before by someone but, I would like to know how you guys go about learning a new piece of drum sheet music? It'll be so cool to know how different drummers approach things.

Thanks!!

Joey Moujalli
Drum against Cancer 2012
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Hi Drummers and Drummets!!

This has probably been posted before by someone but, I would like to know how you guys go about learning a new piece of drum sheet music? It'll be so cool to know how different drummers approach things.

Thanks!!

Joey Moujalli
Drum against Cancer 2012
A lot of different approaches, depending on where I got it from, what I'm going to be doing with it, etc. Most times I've gotten sheet music, I also got at least a composer's scratch track to work with.

If you're performing the music live as a session pickup, generally speaking you'll get a rehearsal or two. Generally speaking. Even still, there's still going to be sightreading going on at points on the first night if that's all you get. If you're going to be recording, you'll be on the clock, so sightreading is a good tool to have there.

Bring your stubby pencil and make copious notes, write in cues ("horns in" or "piano solo"), circle important dynamics or figures (especially codas and repeats!), and be prepared to change stuff up on the fly. No score I've ever started with survived to the last performance without something chopped up.

If it's a drum solo piece, of course, a lot of that is going to be out the window and it's up to you to set a good rehearsal timetable to learn the piece. Chop it into sections and mark up your score.
 
Thank you for your reply,

That was very helpful, lately my method is learning the sheet music 2 or 4 bars at a time, once I get comfortable I move on and work on the next 2 or 4 then piece the two together once i got them down and continue through entire sheet. But from experience sometimes that is not the best method to go by as time in many cases is a major issue and the piece has to be learned by a deadline.

I will use a pencil to add markings from now on, thank you for that tip, it'll definitely be very helpful.

Joey
 

csnow

Senior Member
If it is song that has already been released, I use the music in addition to the sheet music. I practice new stuff on my electronic kit so I can use the computer to slow the song down. It helps me with my reading skills. I am getting where I can hear the rhythms on the paper now. It took me a while before I could do that, especially on fills.
 

Pete Stoltman

Silver Member
I would suggest you get your hands on as much written music you can and familiarize yourself with the various signs that will lead you through the piece. If you have the opportunity to listen to the music the arrangement is taken from sit down and listen as you read through the piece (not playing, just reading). Make sure you're very familiar with things like codas, first and second endings, repeat signs, etc. With a lot of drum parts you are just given an outline of the piece and a couple measures of the basic rhythm to be played with endless measures of repeat signs (jazz charts). There may or may not be cues to accented figures and specific rhythms to be played at key moments. Of course orchestral parts are different and need to be followed exactly. If you have a strong knowledge of reading those "road signs" then it becomes fairly easy to play a typical drum chart. Develop your inner sense of phrasing so that you don't have to count through 48 measures of repeats but just "know" inherently that there are four 12 measure phrases in that section as an example. You should be able to hear that in the structure of what the rest of the band is playing. You will be able to hear typical changes and resolutions that will help you keep on track. Some charts may even give you a reference to a specific featured part that is being played like a trumpet solo for example so that you know that when the trumpet solo starts you will be at measure X.
Overall reading music is a combination of being able to read language (the language of music) and follow a road map. The more you do it, the more proficient you will become. Most of the time when I am called on to read charts it's an "on the fly" deal. In other words I'm reading that chart on the job with little if any rehearsal. I will tell you this, if you get skilled at being able to read you will earn the respect of your fellow musicians and in the long run that translates to more gigs and opportunities to play more music. That's the ultimate goal right? As recently as last week I was on a band with tunes being called at the gig, many of which we had never heard before. At one point the sax player turned to the trumpet player next to him and said " a drummer who reads? unbelievable!" with a nod to me. I just smiled and nodded back. After the gig both of those guys came over to me shook my hand, complimented me on my playing and asked for my contact info. Not trying to brag myself up but just illustrate that learning this skill is well worth the effort. Good luck and do your best to not get frustrated. It takes a while to get this but it's not really all that hard.
 

mxo721

Senior Member
I'm really systematic about learing a piece of sheet music, I'm still very much in the learning stages of drumming, but been reading music for piano and everything else for over 30 years, what I do is, look at the music first, to see where the most difficult parts are, then I play just the hihat snare until parts first, until I have that down, then add the bass drum, and combine everthing last,,,any hard parts...I put the metronome way down slow, and just play it slow until I can do it....good luck...and mostly have fun.
 
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