Drumming do's and don'ts


"Uncle Larry"
Hopefully gleaned from personal mistakes you've made, or a personal epiphany you found that was pivotal to your playing.

Don't: Stop the song to take a phone call. ESPECIALLY at a gig.

OK that was fake. Could you imagine? I'll wait.


Do: Shut up and play (Best drumming advise that helped me personally. So simple, it allowed me to let stuff go and not be an obstruction. Courtesy of Tony)

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
Hopefully gleaned from personal mistakes you've made, or a personal epiphany you found that was pivotal to your playing.

Don't: Stop the song to take a phone call. ESPECIALLY at a gig.

OK that was fake. Could you imagine? I'll wait.

Obviously fake, everyone knows you make/take calls/txts 'between' songs at a gig.


Platinum Member
When learning a new song, don't panic if it's beyond your abilities.

Simplificate until you can play the song, and then go about re-introducing the complexities.

If you never get the complexities back in there, don't stress - it's unlikely anybody will ever notice.


Platinum Member
Do play.
Don't think.

Do play your cymbal.
Don't hit your cymbal.

Do clean your drums.
Don't just dust your drums.

Do sit up straight.
Don't slouch.

Do listen to various genres of music.
Don't listen to only your favorites.

Do push yourself.
Don't ease up on yourself.

Do play.
Don't just practice.

Do try new and harder things.
Don't be complacent.

Do set a financial drumming budget.
Don't go over your budget.

Do have faith in yourself.
Don't second-guess yourself.

...and that's just off the top of my head.

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Do put the seat on your throne before sitting down to play or adjust things.
Don't forget.

Do make sure the beater on your BD pedal isn't going to get stuck inside your pant leg while playing.

Don't waste your money on an e-kit, get a hybrid kit instead.

Thunder 42

Silver Member
Do case your gear
Don't let anyone touch or play your gear

Do buy good heads and learn how to tune
Don't have anyone tune for you

Do listen, take advice, but find your own sound
Don't waste time or money on cheap gear

Do play, feel, flow, enjoy making music
Don't be a technocrat

Do listen
Don't not listen


Platinum Member
Do show up to sound check on time.

Do arrive ready to set your gear.
Don't break every last stand down to it's smallest part and then spend hours trying to assemble your kit at sound check.

Do be prepared to play a house kit.
Don't whine about it if you have to.

Do realize every room is different and just because your drums sounded great with no muffling in your normal room doesn't mean they still sound great without muffling in a a bar with large glass walls.
Don't whine about having to add a little muffling or re-tuning to compensate for the room differences.

Do look at every gig as a potential opportunity.
Don't just find a sub for your $50 gig because someone offered you a $100 gig.

Do look at every gig for how it can be a potential opportunity.
Don't pay to play.

Do drive the band on stage.
Don't drive the band members, clubs owners, sound people or the audience mad.


Senior Member
DO: learn about head selection and how to tune your drums to achieve the sound you're looking for.
DON'T: forget to tune all your drums BEFORE heading out to the gig/rehearsal.

DO: spend as much of your budget on cymbals as you can; even cheap drums can sound good with the right heads and tuning, but there's practically nothing you can do about a cheap cymbal.
DON'T: buy quantity over quality. It's better to get fewer pieces of good gear (which you can add to later if necessary) than more pieces of crap gear.

DO: practice with a metronome or with clicked backing tracks/sequences to help improve your timing.
DON'T: forget to practice fills (including long over-the-barline fills) to said click/backing tracks, as this is the best way to keep you from rushing through them during performances.

(speaking of click tracks)
If you're recording to a click in the studio and can't lock in because you're rushing, DO practice a take or two at a slower tempo (~3-8 bpm slower than normal works for me) and try locking into that as best as you can. When you go back to the regular tempo, it will feel much easier to "stick" to it, almost as if a weight has been taken off. Sort of like how in baseball, batters warm up by swinging a bat with weights on it; once the weights come off (i.e. once you go back to the normal tempo), everything feels much easier.

That's it for now.

Matt Bo Eder

Obviously fake, everyone knows you make/take calls/txts 'between' songs at a gig.
Wait a minute - I've done that! I've even filmed from my phone at the last gig. Just so long as you don't mess up the time, why not?

Of course, DO take on the attitude of the those around you. Which means, if nobody else is screwing around, then DON'T screw around ;)

Here's a big one that's kept me in gigs longer than some:

DO show up early. Usually the time given is your downbeat! So whatever you have to do to make that downbeat is what you have to do.


Platinum Member
Do, listen to the other instruments in the band, you dont play in isolation.

Dont, get hung up on what other drummers do, be yourself.


"Uncle Larry"
Gig story of a "don't":

About 2007 or so, we were headlining in an intimate music listening venue in Phoenixville, PA. GREAT room, classy joint. Really cool audience, and the place was full. I was there with a different band than the one I'm in now. GREAT opening act, you had to peel me off the floor she was so good. One woman and a piano. Great original songs. Stephanie Nilles. WOW. I was seriously impressed with her, thinking she should have been the headliner.

So we go on. The leader/singer/frontguy Paul doesn't say word one about the AMAZING talent that just preceded us. (HUGE mistake, you ALWAYS give big props to...everyone really) The place is dead silent, and the leader asks on mic if anyone in the band has to go to the bathroom before we start. How awkward!

Then he singles me out personally and says over the mic to a whisper quiet audience, "How about you Larry, do you need to go to the bathroom?" Dead silence.

I was mortified. At first, just for laughs, I thought I would take him up on it, grab a wireless mic, and then walk in the bathroom. Where I would have proceeded to audibly fart, take a big ole steaming dump, complete with the straining sounds, followed by a nice watery plop, a prolonged wiping session, and of course, the iconic toilet flush over the PA system lol. Just to teach him a lesson.

But I didn't. Instead I smiled and said, "No Paul, I'm cool".

Inside I wanted to break his legs. The next day, I let him have it with both barrels in a scathing email. I blasted him like I never blasted anyone before.

He said other things that were equally embarrassing/condescending/disrespectful to some really awesome female singers who were in the audience. They helped us out with some unscheduled impromptu background vocals, which killed. After the song was done and the audience was all hopped up, Paul says to the singers as they exited the stage...."Hey what are you guys doing tomorrow? Do you want to play a barbecue with us?" (for free was the implication) Put them right on the spot, ruined the cool mood, and treated them disrespectfully IMO.

They really didn't know how to respond, so they just kind of slithered away. I mean he didn't ask the audience to give them a hand, he didn't introduce them, he didn't show any appreciation at all for how they elevated the song like they did. He totally ignored how much they added. He managed to ruin a really cool thing. What a tool. I also took the opportunity to blast him for that as well in the email. It was embarrassing. You ALWAYS recognize everybody. Thanking people is easy, and it works. It makes people feel good to be thanked publicly. But socially, the guy is as dumb as a bag of hammers. It was him who put himself in the line of fire by singling me out and embarrassing me publicly. He had it coming.

The moral of this story is if you have a microphone, don't be an idiot with it. It's a big responsibility.

As a side note, this guy Paul, a few weeks later, ended the band. Then about a month after ending it, he reforms it with another drummer lol. What a pussy move. Add him to the list of band leaders I pissed off and got fired for, there were a few others too lol. No regrets though, the guy wasn't the type of person/musician I wanted to be associated with.
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Gold Member
DO NOT acknowledge or react to any mistake made by anybody in the band during a performance!

DO act as if nothing unusual happened.

DO NOT believe that musicians should always looks serious.

DO smile - a lot! Add as much levity as you can. Audiences come to see you, to enjoy music, have a good time, and feel better. Help them!

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