Pros vs. Average Joe's

sonnygrabber

Senior Member
The ability to know what needs to be done and the generosity to give the other musicians, and the song, what they/it needs. Being authentic to whatever style you're playing, and flawless execution is expected.
I agree with this...but, there is something that needs to be addressed. The French call it 'Je ne sais quoi'. It is something that lifts the music to another level. Sure it is played perfectly, but there is something about it that just gives the energy...the 'just right' thing that makes it work. This is why I believe in developing one's own thing. Hopefully that thing resonates with what is trying to be achieved. Sometimes (most times?) it does not...in fact that's why loads of pro guys (front men, band leaders) go through lots of players. It's not that they aren't good...it's just that they aren't 'just right' for what is being sought. It's a fickle old world out there friends. And the more you delve the more discerning it gets.
 

THit

Junior Member
Here it is:

The ONE thing that separates the Pro (highest level possible) from everyone else is...

TIME. Regardless of style, the players whose names we all know have impeccable TIME.

That's it! It doesn't matter whether they can play a lot of stuff or very little. It's the TIME that they project and that is all.

Great TIME takes care of everything else.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Here it is:

The ONE thing that separates the Pro (highest level possible) from everyone else is...

TIME. Regardless of style, the players whose names we all know have impeccable TIME.

That's it! It doesn't matter whether they can play a lot of stuff or very little. It's the TIME that they project and that is all.

Great TIME takes care of everything else.
Nope.

There is but one real line of separation. Everything else falls under it. The real pros get called by other musicians to play with them. Joe's might be good, or even technically better than some "pros" but they don't have whatever it is that gets the phone ringing for the other guy.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I agree it being an active working drummer. I use to be a (professional) scientist because I got the education (PhD to allow me in the club) but more importantly was an active researcher publishing "science" in journals and acquiring grants. Then I still was educated and had a PhD but became an educator which isn't the same as being a scientist (although a professional)-as my primary work was education (just minor research efforts). I am pretty much retired now so I am neither-just another educated idiot with a PhD. I am a professional retiree I guess. Personally I really admire the people who put in the work to acquire a well rounded music education and then put it to good use either playing or educating. I must admit I am a bit jealous too because my main interest initially in college was art and music-I don't know how the heck I ended up in the sciences. I often lament I am ill informed of the language of music-I really see it as a weakness. My orchestra conductor friend tells me I have a good ear for music and good feel and instincts for music shifts and changes (despite being clueless of music), and he wishes some of his students who really know the language would pick up some of that feel. I have been learning to read music to play single percussion parts with his help in the orchestra, but drum kit music has been a challenge. I still have to play the music and play by ear. I don't think my brain can think that fast. I will never be a professional drummer and I'm not a good of an average joe either-but I sure as heck love trying and love playing. So leave me alone and let me have my folly. It's funny how many "professional drummers" there are on Youtube though many have never played in public but have a huge youtube audience just covering everyone else's music. I sometimes feel I am living in Bizarro World.
 

Djentlynow

Junior Member
When I think professional drummer, I think of people that drum for a living. They can be good, great, or mediocre, as long as they make a living doing it, by definition. I see a real, awesome drummer as more of a jack of all trades- studio musicians, live musicians, and people that play different genres.

I think the gigging experience, chops, and versatility are the biggest differences. After playing gigs and jamming in the bands, you get the hang of being able to improvise/groove to something better than you would using YouTube, iPods, or nothing. Playing with other people is a whole different ball game, especially if you don't already play along to songs/backing tracks. They're much more comfortable playing with other people than an average Joe.

The chops are a very big part of the separation. Rudimentary understanding and improvisational skill are key. Most professional drummers (ones that go do studio work for people, Dennis Chambers & Vinnie Colaiuta, for example) are very fundamental in their chops- the fundamentalism is what builds up to chops that blow the minds of us drummers.

Versatility is also huge. Drummers I follow can play jazz, funk, blues, rock, soul. They lay down a back beat when needed, and go crazy when needed. The chops they have can be applied to any music- because it's theirs. Their own touch makes a big difference in any music. Check out Carter Beauford from Dave Matthews Band- his grooves are unlike any others I've heard, because the energy of the band is different already, and so is he. If DMB had a different drummer who just played straight rock beats the whole time, it would sound way different.

Equipment can sometimes be a factor, but Benny Greb can rip on a little spongebob kit :p
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Curious as to what do you believe separates the professional drummer from the average joe drummer ?
Probably about 20K-30K Annual income greater for non-professional drummers( from their non drumming profession)...on average.
 

Super Phil

Senior Member
One thing I've noticed from pros is consistency of strokes. Through their hours of practice, years of performing, etc, They hit the drum pretty much exactly the same way every time. (I'm not considering dynamics here, either. Of course their stroke will be different if they are playing softer, etc.)
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
Nope.

There is but one real line of separation. Everything else falls under it. The real pros get called by other musicians to play with them. Joe's might be good, or even technically better than some "pros" but they don't have whatever it is that gets the phone ringing for the other guy.
thats exactly it

there are guys on this very board who are not pros and have zero desire to have drumming be their primary source of income ....
... I am out there with other guys who make their living playing music....and I can tell you this....
... some of the guys here who are self proclaimed "hobbyists" play circles around some of the guys out here making a living .
... but guess what?.... their phone rings

I thank the stars above every morning when I wake up and every night when I lay my head down that my phone keeps ringing

I am blessed to be paid to do what I love
 

mymarkers

Senior Member
Curious as to what do you believe separates the professional drummer from the average joe drummer ? I'm not talking about luck being at the right place right time. I'm talking playing wise. What are the essential playing elements that are superior in the professional?
There are none. The difference between professional and amateur is everything else.

Professional is an attitude. Amateur is an attitude. That applies as well to drumming as software development. I do one for a hobby and the other for a living. For the hobby, I do what interests me because it interest me. For the profession, I do whatever the person writing the check needs. It's that simple.

Of course, over the years the difference in attitudes will likely manifest itself in different skill sets. In the case of music, I've heard far too many excellent amateurs to say that any particular playing skill distinguishes the professionals. Likewise, I've seen plenty of adequate players make their living from music simply by approaching music with a professional attitude.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I'm in a weird place; not quite pro, or joe. At this point in my drumming, I'm noticing that I'm very "in demand" along the vein of what we're talking about here. There's plenty of guys around who can play super technical stuff better than I, but right now my door is getting knocked down by bands and guys who want me to come play with them. Overall, it's a cool feeling for someone who started drumming on their own and came up playing with the same buddies most of my life.

I didn't "follow my dreams" as a kid, and instead I let my lazy ass lead me into corporate IT work, which for some odd reason, by all accounts, I'm good at, and get paid well for it. Too bad there's just no passion there. I do it because it's easy for me.

At this point, I worry that if I "made the switch" the bills I've accumulated with this salary will be tough to manage with the money from even steady paid drumming work. Working with local rock bands so far really hasn't produced what I would call "living money" even if I multiply it for more nights a week.

Dunno how some of you guys do it. The cliff looks so huge that I can't even fathom jumping off. Scary stuff, but what's a little fear, if happiness is on the other side? Grrrr.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
thats exactly it

there are guys on this very board who are not pros and have zero desire to have drumming be their primary source of income ....
... I am out there with other guys who make their living playing music....and I can tell you this....
... some of the guys here who are self proclaimed "hobbyists" play circles around some of the guys out here making a living .
... but guess what?.... their phone rings

I thank the stars above every morning when I wake up and every night when I lay my head down that my phone keeps ringing

I am blessed to be paid to do what I love
I'll wager you work your ass off to enjoy that status. ;) It's almost 24/7 over here.

Creativity is hard to profit from because everyone thinks you are "having fun"...Of course you are, or at least ought to be! But all the hours training, putting in the time on the pad, calling all the people daily, showing up to hang at the local places and see those with whom you work... that's a lot of tending.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
The difference between professional and amateur is everything else.

Professional is an attitude. Amateur is an attitude.
This is probably the most succinct and accurate response.

By definition, a professional is one who makes his living/career at a specific trade or craft.

But being a pro is something else, and hobbyists can possess that, just as a drummer who makes a living playing may act in a non-professional manner. And that something else is "everything else" as mymarkers correctly pointed out.

Playing well and keeping time are a given, but it's not just that. Having good gear is important, but it's really not that either. That is, doing those things doesn't make you professional, or necessarily even desirable for a project. And not doing those things doesn't keep you from earning a living. It's that elusive "everything else" that is kinda hard to put my finger on, but it's very apparent in musicians (or anyone) who acts in a professional manner. It is attitude, but it's more complex.

What I'm saying is, it's a very difficult question to give a definitive answer. It's the 'Je ne sais quoi' that sonnygrabber mentioned. In other words, if you went to a pro and said "teach me to a pro", he probably couldn't do it.

Bermuda
 
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WhoIsTony?

Member
I'll wager you work your ass off to enjoy that status. ;) It's almost 24/7 over here.

Creativity is hard to profit from because everyone thinks you are "having fun"...Of course you are, or at least ought to be! But all the hours training, putting in the time on the pad, calling all the people daily, showing up to hang at the local places and see those with whom you work... that's a lot of tending.
a lot of tending indeed Bill ... and yes I work my ass off... but I definitely enjoy it

granted I don't always enjoy going to a gig to see so and so at such and such a place just to show may face when I would rather be home spending time with my daughter .... but it's good for business and it puts food in my daughters belly and clothes on her back

but my old man told me a long time ago before he passed... you work your ass off while you can because you can't do it forever
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
By definition, a professional is one who makes his living/career at a specific trade or craft
I don't assume any level of success to consider someone to be a professional; they could be an unemployed, or underemployed pro-- I know a lot of those. They don't become amateurs or "semi-pro" just because they're out of work. Or they could be in business, but losing money at it, like a lot of regular businesses. So you can be a struggling, or failing (if you want to be harsh about it) pro. I guess in my book if you're filing a Schedule C for music income, you're a professional.

There's also a certain amount of field experience, expertise, and maybe education implied-- like in college, all of us perc majors considered ourselves to be professionals because we were undergoing professional training; I guess we fulfilled a minimal pay requirement anyway, because we were also doing paying gigs when we could get them.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Well you guys worked your asses off and it paid "noticeably" too. That I respect and I find very inspiring as a novice. Work my ass off GA and I will get a return-study and work.I like that ethic I'm an old fart. Sadly the arts aren't as appreciated as they should be-in my locale that is the case. However so many people of every occupation are inspired by music and the arts-nobel laureates have lamented as much. Think back in history how man great aspiring artist and musicians died in relative poverty-you are taken back-but gosh the music and art it created is just phenomenal what a freaking legacy that outlast any meager income. I didn't make doodle my whole career compared to my wife who is a physician (but I felt like I did make a contribution-meager as it may be). Studying under Elvin Jones is comparable to me studying with a Watson and Crick. I dig that.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Let me try and shed a little light on some of the aspects of what I do.

I am by definition a professional drummer, in that I make my living from playing drums. It's my career. But it simply means I get paid to play, and there's nothing mysterious about that (unless you've actually heard me play and wonder who'd pay for that?!)

But I'm also considered a 'pro' for other reasons.

I show up on time for gigs and sessions. Correction: I show up early for gigs and sessions.

I never turn down work, unless I'm already booked. In other words, if someone says "we're playing oldies" I say yes. "We're playing Country, most of the Merle catalog"... yes again. "Blues" - yes. And so on. On the rare occasions where I was asked to play Latin or Jazz, I warned the caller that I play those styles like a rock drummer does. Still got the gigs though! But I have never turned down a gig or session based on how I feel about the music. "Sorry, I don't like [genre], but thanks for calling" said I, never.

I'm sorta cheerful, I respect my bandmates du jour as well as the permanent ones, I respect the club owner, theater manager, promoter, local crew, or whoever I encounter while on the job. I keep any cattiness to a minimum until I'm absolutely confident that it's not inappropriate to say something that might be considered mean, unnecessarily critical, or make me sound elitist (which I may do for shock value only.)

I can be relied upon to bring the appropriate drums and cymbals, and play at the correct volume for the venue and the music. I dress the part and make sure I shave when it matters, which is most of the time.

On a performance level, nobody has to tell me to play less, or more. The biggest compliment I can receive from a band I'm subbing with, is that they didn't have to think about me. I've also heard it from my regular bands (usually after they have a sub that they do have to hold their hand through the gig.)

I have a healthy perspective on bands, venues, audiences, the business, and the companies whose products I endorse. In fact, my endorsements exist not so much because I'm a good drummer and have good exposure on different levels, but equally important, I'm a good endorser. One of the nicest emails I've received was from someone at a large company: "I think I need to take Bermuda Lessons, because I sincerely admire your integrity. Thanks so much for not only being such an amazing person to work with, but for being an unfailing friend as well." Extremely nice words, I only hear them now and then, but that's enough for me. :)

Anyway, I'm not trying to be immodest, I'm just detailing some of the things I do that apparently cause people to regard me as a pro.

Bermuda
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Thinking about this thread today,there really are a lot of things that separate great players from the average players. I think that is the real question here. Pro just means you make your living from drumming, it doesn't guarantee a great drummer.

Of all the things that do separate, I put probably the highest importance on being able to listen, to hear the big picture, and also being able to react virtually instantaneously to any new stimuli. Playing with people, not just playing next to them, and a great ability to control the drumset dynamics for whatever your environment is...is huge. In short, being the drummer that the great musicians want behind them.

There really are many things going on in a great drum performance, it's impossible to cite one thing as the only difference. I could make a very long list of things that are all equally important.
 
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