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  #1  
Old 07-01-2010, 12:44 AM
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Default What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

All,
I recently had a bad experience with a new band. I auditioned for a rock cover band who was doing older rock tunes and got the gig. many of them not so easy (at least for me), like Blue Collar Man, Radar Love, Boys Are Back and Tie Your Mother Down.

I burned all the tunes on CD's and was making road maps for them, as I haven't played them before.

At the second rehearsal, I wasn't playing these songs perfectly, in fact I was having trouble with with a couple, but some I did real well. I was getting a real bad vibe from the singer, in fact I'm no longer in the band.

I think this attitude at second rehearsal is too soon for this sort of thing.

The band didn't have a gig, so I figured I had some time. I should have talked about ti before, but live and learn.

My question is, if you havn't played most of the songs, what is a reasonable amount of time to learn them with a once a week practice?
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Old 07-01-2010, 01:31 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

It sound like the chemistry just wasn't right.

it is my personal opinion that a new band needs to just let loose and jam together for a bit to just get to know each other..

As far as learning songs. This comes with (1) experience playing in a band and (2) your resource of songs that you know.

I know my abilities fairly well. If I am learning a lot of songs that I am not that familiar with, I would probably tell everyone. I would ask if we could first play some songs that I do know. This will help give the band a positive edge from the very beginning. I am positive THEY were very familiar with these songs. This wasn't really fair to you.

However, as I said, I know my abilities fairly well, I would also know if I was playing with guys that were out of my league..

Really it boils down to one thing.. Experience. When you know, and you know you know, confidence replaces fear.

One last point. People need to just get real. They must have liked what the heard when they asked you to join..! so, what happened. They were unrealistic concerning you. IMO you are better off not being with these guys. Sounds like they aren't real..
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Old 07-01-2010, 02:09 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

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Originally Posted by AZslim View Post

My question is, if you havn't played most of the songs, what is a reasonable amount of time to learn them with a once a week practice?
As many as possible.

I think that clear communication is needed before you suddenly "don't live up to expectations" that you didn't know were expected of you. If they expected that you have all 40 songs perfect in a week, especially after you expressed that you'd never played any of them, then you should have told them that it's too lofty of a goal and you want to set your sights a little closer to reality.

As for my opinion...I think that 40 songs should/could be learned in a month. 10 a week is reasonable, if you really want to work on polishing them. But, keep in mind that rehearsal isn't a time for learning the songs...that's what practice time is for. Rehearsal is for making sure that everyone is on the same page, locks in to the groove, and that the arrangement is understood. That's it...learn your parts at home or don't rehearse the tune that night...
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Old 07-01-2010, 02:22 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

Yeah, something here is not quite right, for mine. 40 songs in a week is a big ask, especially since you'd mentioned that you were unfamiliar with most of them. Almost as if you were set an impossible task that was destined for failure. Considering there was no gig to be up to speed for, I think they've had second thoughts and used any excuse to chop you. But then again I'm a cynical bugger by nature....so perhaps I'm reading more into this than what's warranted.
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:17 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

With no gig coming up,they should have been a little more laid back,unless they told you they wanted you up to speed quicker.10 a week is doable,but that can be tough,or slow going at first,esp if you are not real experienced with the genre of music.I will usually ask how close to the original do they want,and then I try to learn as many as I can,giving myself some easy ones so I can have a lot ready for the first rehearsal,then I will tell them what songs I may need more time to work on and ask which ones they want me to focus on for next rehearsal.I always try to learn the beat like the record,and really key fills,but I would rather concentrate on having the arrangement down,the start, the stops ,the middle eight and bridges,and the ending.When you learn a style or genre of music,you start to fill up a" bag of tricks" and usually your learning curve will increase expotentially if you are doing your prep work.
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:44 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

I think it all depends. I have been called on in a few situations to learn 50-60 songs in a week, though that is rare. My main cover band right now, Pulse, auditioned me that way. On Friday I was contacted for an audition and sent the first set from their last show, which was to be my audition (about 18 songs). On Saturday, the manager said he really wanted to find a drummer who was ready to go, so he sent me the second set as well (an additional 18 songs). On Sunday, he said he really wanted to try everything, just to see what I could do, and sent me the last set (you guessed it, 18 more songs). My audition was Monday night. I walked in there with three sheets of paper (more on that in a minute) and we played their entire show. With the exception of one or two minor errors, I nailed it all. The funny thing is that after we finished, the band asked me to come back for the second audition (we have a three audition process to get in). I agreed, and as I walked outside to call my wife to check on when I could come back, they had a quick meeting and offered me the job. No one there expected that I could learn all that stuff so quickly, they just wanted to see how far I'd get, and if I'd be honest about what I couldn't do. Instead I got the job as soon as I walked back in to set up my "second audition!"

Now, a suggestion for anyone who is joining an already-establilshed band: you can make up cheat sheets for yourself. Write out the basic beat, basic structure, etc, of songs you don't know. Take them with you, and work off of them until you get comfortable. That way, you aren't holding back the band, but you also aren't killing yourself trying to learn new material. Cheat sheets can be as drastic as actually writing out the music, or as simple as some shorthand. For instance:

Name of Song: 2 bar intro, V1 (basic rock on hats), CH (basic rock on ride), V2 (same), CH (same), BR (1 mm rest after 7th bar), CH (double time), outro (16 bars, fade out)

Name of Next Song: Already know it

Name of Next Song: Guitar and vox for 16 bars, fill into verse, V1 (latin rock), CH (hard rock, double bass), V2 (same), CH (same, heavier), BR (half time on hats), CHx2 (light then heavy), Outro (go nuts at the end, watch singer for cut).
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:47 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

I think you got stuck with a strange band.

I had an audition once and they gave me a list of tunes, one of them "Freebird". Well, I asked if they played it like the record, they said "yes", we go to play it, and the end jam section was completely different from what I actually charted out on a 3x5 card from the actual song!

Of course I didn't get the gig. I didn't protest, they had a strange vibe from the beginning.

If the guys you were dealing with are actually a real working band, I think the expectations would have been different since you already told them about what you know and they were willing to deal with you. I wish you better luck on the next one!
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Old 07-01-2010, 05:13 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

My first thing here is you mentioned "once a week practice" that's not your practice time its the bands practice time. You should practice the songs on your own and go to band rehersal already knowing the tunes. You dig? Band practice isn't for learning songs, its to perfect them and work on the rough spots. You should be running the songs at band practice not learning them. That you do on your own time.

To learn 40 songs it should take you about 2 days!! I have done this many many times to get gigs in my career. The biggest problem comes later on after about a week or so when you learn them that fast then you start to mix up starts, and ends, even tempo's with other tunes. Then after about 2 weeks it all comes together, but you should as a drummer be able to learn 40 tunes in about 2 days max!!
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Old 07-01-2010, 06:11 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

When I joined my last corporate band, I had about two weeks to learn 50+ songs. No charts or anything, just some CDs of the originals. They played them pretty close to the original though. So over the two weeks we went though 20 each of their regularly scheduled once a week rehearsals. Similar to the OP's situation except that this was for guitar so I had to work out all the chords, specific parts from the songs and so on. They saw that I had written out simplified charts for everything so we didn't go though the entire songs. Once they realized that I could play it, we just went though the special parts, breaks and endings. No need to go though every verse and chorus. I used some of the charts for about a month and then just put cheater notes on the set list for the next month or so.

I do this for any new gig that comes up, even if its just a short term thing (except maybe a last minute casual). Even sub gigs to the extent that I can. I write out any important lines even though I can't sight read well enough to follow them on the gig. Writing it out helps me burn it into my brain, and I can always sit down on a break before that song comes up and go over the part again.

On drum gigs, I try to make at least a simple counting cheat sheet for everything. You can even do this driving (less distracting than a phone to just count along, reach over to a piece of scratch paper and scrawl the bars in the verse, chorus, bridge and how many of each). Then I can re-do it neatly for the gig or rehearsal.

Homework is what separates the men from the boys. Coming in to rehearsal prepared to play the song like the record. Then if they change it up, it's a simple matter to ask if there's any differences, scrawl them on your chart and hit it.
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Old 07-01-2010, 07:21 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

I think canning someone after a 2nd rehearsal is pretty lame, and shows a lack of living in the real word. I.e. if you want perfection, be prepared to pay for top level players. If you aren't willing to pay for top talent, realize the next level down is going to require a few rehearsls to smooth things through.

On the other hand, If it's a cover band, doing oldies, it's reasonable to assume a player knows most of the songs before hand. It's not like the songs listed are obscure, or originals you have never heard. You should have done your homework before even auditioning or joinig the band to become familiar with typical classic rock songs.

Yeah, learning 40 tunes in just 2 rehearsals is not enough time, but if you join a cover band, you shouldn't be just learning all 40 tunes for the 1st time, you should have at least a vague idea how most of them went before hand.
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Old 07-01-2010, 08:06 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

Thanks all, I feel a bit better, although it looks like I'm pretty slow to learn songs compared to some of you. I'm fine if it's a basic verse, verse chorus song with no breaks, but I'd say about half of these tunes had arrangements with a lot of specific changes or multiple breaks. With this many songs, I get them mixed up or forget them. I think part of the problem is had some down the first week, practiced new songs the next and forgot some parts to the ones I learned the previous week because I didn't practice them because I wars trying to learn the new ones.

Next time, I think I'll start with say, 10 songs, learn those, then add a few more the next week, but make sure we play those original 10 again then play the new ones. Next rehearsal play those and add more, etc.
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Old 07-01-2010, 08:15 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

Yeah, although don't beat yourself up too badly mate. You've had a couple of responses from some pretty seasoned players too. Take all advice on board as a matter of course, but I honestly think it's a bit much for an up and coming player to learn 50 songs in two days. I really don't think you should lose heart that you're not able to keep up with guys who's very livelihood relies on the ability to gel instantly. You'll get there, but you gotta walk before you can run mate.

Personally, I think you got a raw deal, but use it as a learning experience and aim to set your bar a little higher next time. Sound advice given by those who stated that you should "learn" the songs in your own time and "practice" with the band though. This approach is pretty much par for the course with every cover band I've ever played in. Do as much as you can in your own time and leave rehearsals for 'run throughs' and working out any nuances that need to be developed.

All the best, my friend.
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:33 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

Just as a follow up AZslim.

We usually run into two different situations when learning new material.;
1) The chops to play the songs. Some songs have some stuff gong on that make it more difficult to play. I remember when Toto released Rosanna. I struggled with that song for quite a while.

2) The blocking of the song. Learning a lot of songs can be difficult when it comes to blocking.

For Number one, you need to sit down at your kit and hash them out. learn/figure out how to play the parts. For number two it's a matter of memorizing the blocking of the song. For this you do not have to be sitting at your set. Keep your ipod with you all day listening to the songs whenever you can. You will assimilate a songs blocking best by simple repetition.
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Old 07-01-2010, 02:00 PM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AZslim View Post
Thanks all, I feel a bit better, although it looks like I'm pretty slow to learn songs compared to some of you. I'm fine if it's a basic verse, verse chorus song with no breaks, but I'd say about half of these tunes had arrangements with a lot of specific changes or multiple breaks. With this many songs, I get them mixed up or forget them. I think part of the problem is had some down the first week, practiced new songs the next and forgot some parts to the ones I learned the previous week because I didn't practice them because I wars trying to learn the new ones.

Next time, I think I'll start with say, 10 songs, learn those, then add a few more the next week, but make sure we play those original 10 again then play the new ones. Next rehearsal play those and add more, etc.
Don't sweat it, man. A lot of these cover bands that are pros expect you to be able to learn their set list in 2 days, and some guys can do that, but not everybody can do that. I certainly can't. I have to actually play the songs through with the band to actually learn them while making mistakes.

The reality is, is that a lot of these bands have been playing these songs over and over for a while, so they sure don't want to do that again while you learn the songs. It is much easier if you're already familiar with a lot of the songs. If you're not, then it's gonna be a monumental task learning that many unfamiliar songs. I'd say try out for a band that plays material you're familiar with, and are more casual than the pro bands that want you to have their set down real fast. I'm lucky in that I'm forming a cover band with a friend and his son-in-law, so we're basically learning all these songs together at the same time, so it's much more relaxed and fun. Cover bands are a lot of work either way.
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Old 07-01-2010, 08:05 PM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

Interesting point I was thinking about. The Professor, Neil, usually starts about two months before he goes on tour to refamiliarize himself with his own songs.

Guess these guys would have been unhappy with him too!
@:-)
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:23 PM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

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Originally Posted by ChipJohns View Post
Interesting point I was thinking about. The Professor, Neil, usually starts about two months before he goes on tour to refamiliarize himself with his own songs.

Guess these guys would have been unhappy with him too!
@:-)
I knew the band was a bad fit, but I did want to find out how off the mark I am in general, so I can get a better fit next time.
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:34 PM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

Was this a cover band that plays twice on weekends every weekend or a cover band that plays once a month or one starting up that plays cookouts? If a bunch of yokels starting up a weekend party band expect you to learn 40 songs in a week that is too much. A band that is gigging regularly and pulling in some bucks every weekend I think would expect you to learn the songs quicker. If you have a day job it is hard to learn half that many to the letter in one week. If all you do is play drums for a living, well that is a different story.

I auditioned for a band once that one of the members got really upset because I did not know all their songs the first night I showed up, even though I asked for a song list a week before my audition but was never given one.
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:39 PM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

One more thought...most cover bands I've been in and subbed for just kind of "expected" you to know the tunes, or at least be familiar with them. If not, why would you be in contact with them(?), is their thought.

It's like when you go to a jazz jam session and someone calls out a tune like "St. Thomas" or "Autumn Leaves": it's kind of expected that you'll know them, 'cause they're some of the songs that EVERYONE who's well-versed in the genre knows. If you can't play them at the drop of a hat, then your knowledge and understanding of jazz will be severely questioned, and therefore the actual credibility of you being on that stage at that moment, and you'll probably even get booed off the stage by the jazz snobs!
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:12 PM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

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Originally Posted by Masheanhed View Post
Was this a cover band that plays twice on weekends every weekend or a cover band that plays once a month or one starting up that plays cookouts? If a bunch of yokels starting up a weekend party band expect you to learn 40 songs in a week that is too much. A band that is gigging regularly and pulling in some bucks every weekend I think would expect you to learn the songs quicker. If you have a day job it is hard to learn half that many to the letter in one week. If all you do is play drums for a living, well that is a different story.

I auditioned for a band once that one of the members got really upset because I did not know all their songs the first night I showed up, even though I asked for a song list a week before my audition but was never given one.
That's the thing. They hadn't played many gigs, and said they thought they would play once or twice a month. Sounded like I would have some time.
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:13 PM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

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Originally Posted by caddywumpus View Post
One more thought...most cover bands I've been in and subbed for just kind of "expected" you to know the tunes, or at least be familiar with them. If not, why would you be in contact with them(?), is their thought.

It's like when you go to a jazz jam session and someone calls out a tune like "St. Thomas" or "Autumn Leaves": it's kind of expected that you'll know them, 'cause they're some of the songs that EVERYONE who's well-versed in the genre knows. If you can't play them at the drop of a hat, then your knowledge and understanding of jazz will be severely questioned, and therefore the actual credibility of you being on that stage at that moment, and you'll probably even get booed off the stage by the jazz snobs!
This is a good point. I havn't been playing classic cover tunes for thirty years. Even if I've heard a song for thirty years, learning to play it is a different animal for me. I find a lot of little nuances I never heard while casually liistening to it.
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:35 PM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChipJohns View Post
Interesting point I was thinking about. The Professor, Neil, usually starts about two months before he goes on tour to refamiliarize himself with his own songs.

Guess these guys would have been unhappy with him too!
@:-)
Big difference is Neil doesn't show up to rehearsal to do this. He does this on his own time BEFORE full band rehearsal.
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:55 PM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

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Big difference is Neil doesn't show up to rehearsal to do this. He does this on his own time BEFORE full band rehearsal.
That is true, Not quite the point I was shooting for! He takes a couple months before the band gets together.. probably couldn't do it in two weeks, like they expected AZslim to do..
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Old 07-02-2010, 02:22 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

One thing that happened to me that was similar. I joined an already existing cover band who's drummer was wanting to quit but gave them a notice so I had 6 weeks to learn around 70-80 songs. These guys are prolly 20 years older than me & have been playing most of this material locally & beyond for close to a decade.

My first rehearsal is a week into my learning time, I had the first set down (15 songs). I had been listening & playing along to this stuff everyday beforehand. The first couple of tunes went awesome. However, at some point in the set, things started to go wrong, it seemed I was missing breaks, ending at the wrong time, basically just getting off from the structure. It seems these guys had been playing for so long that they had no idea how the original recordings went! They also seemed to want to play everything about 10bpm slower than the record. The bass player was shooting me dirty looks, the singer was bitching about stuff, such as "well, our old drummer did it this way." After rehearsal I told them I would work harder & that if they played a song differnently than the recording to just let me know.

I should have known then these guys were full of shit & just moved on but I really wanted the gig b/c it could pay anywhere from $100-$600 a week. After a few gigs the original drummer in the band asked for his job back & they gave me the boot. After learning all those songs, not just the album version but their interpretations as well. I was pissed but it worked out for the better.

I learned an important lesson, if the band doesn't click its not gonna work out. Even if the money is great people have to be able to work together. Look for another band & don't make the same mistake twice.
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Old 07-02-2010, 05:07 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

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Originally Posted by AZslim View Post
This is a good point. I havn't been playing classic cover tunes for thirty years. Even if I've heard a song for thirty years, learning to play it is a different animal for me. I find a lot of little nuances I never heard while casually liistening to it.
This is something worth exploring. As a drummer, you should never be casually listening to music. Always pay attention, always count while listening, always be actively listening. This accomplishes a few things...it teaches you those songs, it helps you absorb what drummers (and songwriters, etc) are doing and why, it puts those songs into your head for a situation like this one, and it's a way of practicing when you're not around your kit.

I'm constantly amazed at how often I am asked if I know a song, and I say, "yeah, kinda," and then when I sit down, I can play it note for note, except for maybe some of the fills (which, except in rare cases, don't matter if they are exact). Songs like "3 AM" by Matchbox Twenty are simple rock songs, but actually have lots of different parts to them, stops and starts, etc, and yet the first time I sit down to play them, with no prior preparation, I find I know them note for note. It's a fantastic thing! I also find that just by listening to songs enough to learn drum parts, I also pretty much know the lyrics, melodies, bass lines, guitar strumming patterns, etc, much of which I use in helping my bandmates when they are unprepared. It all comes from active listening.
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Old 07-02-2010, 05:08 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

amount of time...
in there mind...ONE DAY!
but realistically I would think if you had to cram a week or so...

This happens.....unfortunate part of the music/club gig scene....
this is what makes you a more "seasoned player" and wears away the "green" !!! lol

Good luck....roll over it....it wasn't meant to be and there is something better waiting.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theindian View Post
One thing that happened to me that was similar. I joined an already existing cover band who's drummer was wanting to quit but gave them a notice so I had 6 weeks to learn around 70-80 songs. These guys are prolly 20 years older than me & have been playing most of this material locally & beyond for close to a decade.

My first rehearsal is a week into my learning time, I had the first set down (15 songs). I had been listening & playing along to this stuff everyday beforehand. The first couple of tunes went awesome. However, at some point in the set, things started to go wrong, it seemed I was missing breaks, ending at the wrong time, basically just getting off from the structure. It seems these guys had been playing for so long that they had no idea how the original recordings went! They also seemed to want to play everything about 10bpm slower than the record. The bass player was shooting me dirty looks, the singer was bitching about stuff, such as "well, our old drummer did it this way." After rehearsal I told them I would work harder & that if they played a song differnently than the recording to just let me know.

I should have known then these guys were full of shit & just moved on but I really wanted the gig b/c it could pay anywhere from $100-$600 a week. After a few gigs the original drummer in the band asked for his job back & they gave me the boot. After learning all those songs, not just the album version but their interpretations as well. I was pissed but it worked out for the better.

I learned an important lesson, if the band doesn't click its not gonna work out. Even if the money is great people have to be able to work together. Look for another band & don't make the same mistake twice.
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Old 07-02-2010, 05:12 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

A lot of great points being made here. If the expectations aren't set up right away, this kind of stuff happens a lot. When it's a job, conversations happen before rehearsals. It makes me think that this was more of a casual scenario that ended up not being a good fit for some other reason.

I am not a pro drummer. I will dabble for kicks, cash and drinks. If I'm going to get paid $100-$200 a gig or more per week on an ongoing basis, then I'm not agreeing to a rehearsal until I've learned the material. If there was no talk about money, rehearsals or upcoming gigs then I'm going to assume that we're going to have several rehearsals before anybody throws in the towel.

40 Classic rock covers. If 30 of them are songs you don't really know the parts for it can take several days. On top of that you have to get into the groove with musicians you haven't played with before.

Don't worry about it. Those guys were rude to do that the second time you play together. That's bad form.

I was asked once to learn 19 original songs. I was given the music on a Wednesday and rehearsal was Friday. The music was very progressive and had unfamiliar arrangements. I was very clear at rehearsal that I only could learn 5 of the songs. The bass player was fine with it but the guitar player/singer was irked. They had not played a gig in over a year, nothing was lined up and there was no talk of money.

It was strictly a "let's jam, we'll talk"

They had been playing those songs for a couple of years. I got the boot at the second rehearsal because I wasn't "working" hard enough to learn their songs.

The expectations were unreasonable. They kept bringing up how good Mike Portnoy is. Their music was very much of the Dream Theater vibe.

I wasn't good enough and they should have never asked me. Especially when they knew what (who) they wanted. Mike Portnoy.

My best band experiences have been with musicians that I was friends with first.

On the bright side, you know some more questions to ask for that "next" time.
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Old 07-02-2010, 05:58 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

Well, crap. Now I'm starting to feel slow. I have to play a song over and over before it finally sticks. If don't play it for a while, I still have to brush up. I think maybe I've been doing it all wrong. I'm thinking I'm concentrating so hard on the drum parts, I'm not learning the song. In fact I can't sing any of them all the way through in my head.

Maybe those guys were right. Yikes.
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Old 07-02-2010, 06:27 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

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Originally Posted by AZslim View Post
All,
I recently had a bad experience with a new band. I auditioned for a rock cover band who was doing older rock tunes and got the gig. many of them not so easy (at least for me), like Blue Collar Man, Radar Love, Boys Are Back and Tie Your Mother Down.

I burned all the tunes on CD's and was making road maps for them, as I haven't played them before.

At the second rehearsal, I wasn't playing these songs perfectly, in fact I was having trouble with with a couple, but some I did real well. I was getting a real bad vibe from the singer, in fact I'm no longer in the band.

I think this attitude at second rehearsal is too soon for this sort of thing.

The band didn't have a gig, so I figured I had some time. I should have talked about ti before, but live and learn.

My question is, if you havn't played most of the songs, what is a reasonable amount of time to learn them with a once a week practice?
Depends what it's for and what level it is for too. A while back I got asked to sit in for a last minute (week actually) gig that was three full sets. I had to learn about 30-40 tunes in four days with one rehearsal before the gig. It was a nightmare along with trying to keep up other rehearsals and regular gigs in the meantime but if you can read well and know how to notate charts in a solid shorthand manner musically, then you can pull it off very quickly and with a good degree of success. This is pretty normal too though. If it's what you want to do for a living or whatever, then you have to be able to pull that stuff off. If you want to learn from it, learn how to write music, and how to write in all the parts of the tune you need to know. Groove up the top of the page, along with any other groove changes for chorus', bridge whatever, highlight breaks, accents and hits very well and make sure you can read while playing in a relaxed, grooving manner.

I didn't know any of the tunes we played as it was in a different genre than what I usually do which was the only difficult part, but I got through with a minimal amount of stress and the gig was a lot of fun....especially with the pay I got for it.

Edit: The only hard bits are the hits, starts, ends and any breaks during the tune. If you are able to highlight these well so you don't miss any, along with sitting on the correct groove nicely, then they'll be very impressed or at least happy. If you mess it up, they won't call you back and won't be happy. Simple as that. Most people understand what they are asking when they expect you to come in last minute and learn a lot of new tunes and there should be a small amount of leeway. But, if it's for a major gig that needs to be tight then you have to nail it as if you've been the drummer forever, whether it's on one days notice, four days notice or whatever.

Last edited by jazzin'; 07-02-2010 at 06:44 AM.
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Old 07-02-2010, 06:51 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

Oh, and one other thing. In a similar vein to what Mrchattr mentioned: If you play in one genre for the majority of your stuff, you should be learning all the classic tunes, old and new on a regular basis and always picking up the new ones that will be pulled on gigs.

It is expected that if you do this type of thing, you know all the major tunes of that genre. If you want to do this stuff, start learning those tunes now. Make part of your daily practice to learn a new tune every day, two days, three days etc etc, and you'll find after a short period that you know a hell of a lot of tunes.

During that practice, or to start out with anyway, go through the tune and write out a gig chart. Easy to read, understand and has all the information you need to play the song perfectly. It's very good practice and down the track you'll find you have your own charts to all the major tunes that get called in an easy to read way instead of being given a chart that might be terribly written and hard to read on gig.
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Old 07-02-2010, 07:30 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

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Oh, and one other thing. In a similar vein to what Mrchattr mentioned: If you play in one genre for the majority of your stuff, you should be learning all the classic tunes, old and new on a regular basis and always picking up the new ones that will be pulled on gigs.

It is expected that if you do this type of thing, you know all the major tunes of that genre. If you want to do this stuff, start learning those tunes now. Make part of your daily practice to learn a new tune every day, two days, three days etc etc, and you'll find after a short period that you know a hell of a lot of tunes.

During that practice, or to start out with anyway, go through the tune and write out a gig chart. Easy to read, understand and has all the information you need to play the song perfectly. It's very good practice and down the track you'll find you have your own charts to all the major tunes that get called in an easy to read way instead of being given a chart that might be terribly written and hard to read on gig.
I will admit I have tried to be a jack of all trades studying jazz, latin, funk and rock. So I haven't learned a bunch of songs in any one genre. I have concentrated on chops and groves from these different genres, thinking that when the time came this wold equip me to jump into anything.
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Old 07-02-2010, 07:42 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

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Originally Posted by AZslim View Post
I will admit I have tried to be a jack of all trades studying jazz, latin, funk and rock. So I haven't learned a bunch of songs in any one genre. I have concentrated on chops and groves from these different genres, thinking that when the time came this wold equip me to jump into anything.
People may disagree with me on this, but I think that it's good to study all styles...but the way to do it is to master one, then another, then another. It takes time, and effort. But when you really get into a style, learn hundreds of songs in it, etc, then it's like nothing you hear in a song is completely new...it just becomes, "Oh this is the beat from such and such, with the feel of so and so, and then the chorus has stop time like this tune," etc, and it all becomes very second nature. It also helps to practice learning songs...just like any other skill, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Since going pro, there are times (like now, actually) where I'm involved in two musicals, two bands, and working with two singer-songwriters on a for-hire basis. Over the next two or three weeks I'll learn well over a hundred songs...some by listening, some by reading and retaining, etc. No biggie. But then, I've been doing this for years, and professionally for the last three or so, so I'm used to it.
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Old 07-02-2010, 08:17 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

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People may disagree with me on this, but I think that it's good to study all styles...but the way to do it is to master one, then another, then another. It takes time, and effort. But when you really get into a style, learn hundreds of songs in it, etc, then it's like nothing you hear in a song is completely new...it just becomes, "Oh this is the beat from such and such, with the feel of so and so, and then the chorus has stop time like this tune," etc, and it all becomes very second nature. It also helps to practice learning songs...just like any other skill, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Since going pro, there are times (like now, actually) where I'm involved in two musicals, two bands, and working with two singer-songwriters on a for-hire basis. Over the next two or three weeks I'll learn well over a hundred songs...some by listening, some by reading and retaining, etc. No biggie. But then, I've been doing this for years, and professionally for the last three or so, so I'm used to it.
Did you get faster and faster at learning songs? In other words is it a skill or something you just "get?" I know some people are better at it than others, but I'm hoping to get better at it.
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Old 07-02-2010, 02:06 PM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

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Did you get faster and faster at learning songs? In other words is it a skill or something you just "get?" I know some people are better at it than others, but I'm hoping to get better at it.
I got faster and faster over time. I remember almost quitting marching band my freshman year of high school because I was struggling to memorize the first 5 minutes of our show in two weeks like we were supposed to. Now, I learn two weeks of music in 5 minutes! (OK, no quite, but you get the point!). The more you learn, the more you recognize trends, get used to certain common musical themes, etc. It's easy to figure out when a band is going to put stops in, just by listening to the chord and dynamic changes, etc, once you've learned songs like that time and time and time again. That's why I recommend focusing on one style at a time...you notice trends more easily when you aren't hopping from style to style.
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Old 07-02-2010, 04:44 PM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

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Originally Posted by AZslim View Post
I will admit I have tried to be a jack of all trades studying jazz, latin, funk and rock. So I haven't learned a bunch of songs in any one genre. I have concentrated on chops and groves from these different genres, thinking that when the time came this wold equip me to jump into anything.
Yes, you should know about all styles and be able to play all styles and know the foundation of everything but you need to master one. It's rare that you get called to play bebop, funk, latin, rock and some r'n'b on one gig.

In my experience you get called to do one of those usually. I make my living playing jazz and some latin on the whole in their many guises, but also do some funk and experimental/electronic/ambient stuff. Although I can play rock/pop and things like that fine, and probably even pretty well in comparison to a lot of people, there are many more guys that focus on that style and would get a call over me. To be honest though, it's rare that I do anything outside of jazz and Latin gigs because there are guys that focus one those other styles, just as I focus on mine, and they will get the gig over me just as I would over them in my area.

I work on getting everything as good as possible but I make sure that I am mastering (trying to anyway) one style or one area of playing as, without it, someone else that is better at that one thing/style/genre/area would always get that gig over someone that is good at everything but not great at the one main style they need.

I think really focusing on one thing first will always help the rest later too. That will probably come naturally anyway. I think everyone focuses on one style/area at first, maybe later get good at other things but you will usually always be better at one area. It also gives you ideas how to go about doing it and you will already be in the market for an area. You're on a jazz gig and do a latin number and play it really well, and you might get asked to do some work on a purely Latin gig. Maybe you do a funk/soul number on a jazz gig too, and someone digs how you play that style and so you get a call there for some gigs. A lot of the corporate stuff I do (the money side of things lol) entails playing background classics of many areas. We'll do some soft jazz, a bit of soulful funk and some softer classic pop numbers too so you still have to do everything well.

Often it will just happen that you fall into one area too. You might start playing with some people and have an affinity for that area and so you excel in it. It's not hard to know the basics of everything or all main genres but it is hard to get great at one. To do really well though, you need to be great at one, in my opinion.

Think about all the great players. They are great at one style, sometimes two but there is always someone else better at another that is working just as much in that field. Steve Smith is great at fusion/rock....he is also ok at jazz, but he doesn't get any good work in that area because there are a hell of a lot of guys that are much better and understand the nuance of that style.

You need to master the nuances of a style to do well in it and that takes serious time and while you can dabble in many you'll not get really good gigs with great players unless you have the nuance down.

This is all just my opinion of course and I'm sure many will disagree.

Last edited by jazzin'; 07-02-2010 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 07-03-2010, 12:41 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

AZslim,

Don't stress about it. You will get faster at learning songs. One thing that helped me is to take a song that you know really well. If it's in 4, sit down with a piece of paper and write out the breakdown of the song sections, i.e.

Intro HH kick & snare groove # of bars
repeat full backbeat # of bars
verse # of bars
chorus # of bars
verse # of bars
chorus # of bars
chorus repeat for solo # of bars
breakdown # of bars
stop with fill to
chorus # of bars
end describe how it ends

After you've done this from memory. Listen to the recording of the song and see how your memory served you.

Make any corrections.

Play the song while going down the song chart you made.
Get comfortable with eyeing the chart while you work through the whole song.

Doing this to a song you know well will help you look to the chart when transitions are coming up and (depending upon the genre) if it's classic rock, what Tim said will start to happen. You'll be able to anticipate the transitions well and learn songs faster.

When you're comfortable with orienting your eyes to the chart and practicing like you will perform, repeat the exercise with a song you don't know.

You'll get fast real quickly if you break songs down like this. It also really helps to learn the words. It helps you internalize the song better and faster as well as loosening up to accent the song according to the way the lyrics need it.

I hope this helps.
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Old 07-03-2010, 02:40 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

Some bands are just hard to work with...
I had a situation much like yours this year...

Late last year I went and auditioned for a classic rock cover band. I didn't get the gig because one of the other drummers was a friend of the guitarist... No big deal.

Then they called me up a month later and asked me to replace him. The things they told me they didn't like about hit didn't sound that important, but I just said, ok no problem.

I was sent 83 songs to learn. Some of them I knew, some I didn't... And they didn't want to rehearse, EVER!
The first gig was about a week and a 1/2 after they sent me all the files. I was told to learn the first 20. Well we played maybe 5 of the 20 they wanted me to learn, and the other 15 songs we played that night had not been on the list. Needless to say the gig was rocky at best...

I did one more gig with them, again NO REHEARSALS. The 2nd gig was much better, ( crammed to learn all 83 tunes as best ad I could) but I still got the axe the next day. Honestly I was glad. F* those guys! lol.
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Old 07-03-2010, 03:00 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

It depends how well you are supposed to learn them. Bare bones or really getting inside the song?

40 weeks :)
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Old 07-03-2010, 03:01 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

Tough question...

I would say the 1st factor is your skill and dedication level- can you download the songs and listen to them daily at home/work/etc?

Second factor would be are they "new" songs to you, or ones that you have been familiar with- that makes a big difference (to me) when learning or "re-learning" songs.

3rd factor would be "band pressure"- too much of that can hinder the hell outta learning songs, and adds a frustration level that's hard to deal with on ANY level.

I agree with what TTNW said- learning the song's lyrics can be great "cues" for drum parts.

I rehearse at home doing three things- with my MP3 player doing all the songs my bands do, playing along to whatever song is on the radio, and just full-out solo "whamming and bamming". Keeps me sharp & frosty for whatever comes down the pike.
I dunno about you, but I practice daily for 2-5 hours per night, and it really, really helps.

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Old 07-03-2010, 04:47 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

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Originally Posted by Pollyanna View Post
It depends how well you are supposed to learn them. Bare bones or really getting inside the song?

40 weeks :)
You bring up a point here. I have a tendency to try to get as many details as I can, and that does cause me to think about the part instead of the song.

For example, the singer is involved in a Zeppelin cover band. I saw a video of them playing Fool In The Rain. The drummer was playing eighth notes on the high hat. No half time shuffle at all. I could play it that way but it never even occurred to me to play it that way. Hmmmmmm.
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Old 07-03-2010, 09:10 AM
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Default Re: What's a reasonable time to lear 40 songs?

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Originally Posted by AZslim View Post
I will admit I have tried to be a jack of all trades studying jazz, latin, funk and rock. So I haven't learned a bunch of songs in any one genre. I have concentrated on chops and groves from these different genres, thinking that when the time came this wold equip me to jump into anything.
The saying goes, "jack of all trades, master of none" for a reason.

You need to really immerse yourself in a genre in order to play it comfortably and with conviction and the proper feel. I grew up on rock and have been studying my tail off in jazz for the last 10 years (and there's STILL so much for me to learn about in both genres). Just when I feel as though I have "mastered" one genre in my mind, there's always a situation that pops up, through divine providence, that knocks me down a notch and makes me realize that I don't have the answers, just more and more questions

Then again, most of the pick-up gigs around town I get are blues and world music gigs, which I know hardly anything about (according to my mp3 library). Yet, because of my experience of working out the basic coordinations beforehand, extensive playing experience in many ensembles, and huge ears while in the moment, I get the referrals and the calls...weird!

I used to think that it all just bleeds together into "music", and I needed to only know the basics of each genre, but it's like being really good at baseball and then trying tennis (they're all "sports", right?) Each one is its own animal with its own set of rules, history, culture, and nuances.

But, hey, it's a life-long pursuit, right? And besides, nobody ever "gets there" anyways...
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