Learning more songs @ 80% or fewer at 95%

I have been ordering sheet music for easy songs, then buying the tracks on iTunes. And once, I start to get the song down, but not perfect. I seek out another song, and repeat the process.

Do you think it's better to, stick with one song a long time, and try to learn said song as close to 100%, then to just move on, and start something else that seems interesting?
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I do a mix of both, depending on the time I have to learn it. I let small areas simmer and develop as I go. I usually have about 3-5 songs in the learning box at the same time.

And honestly, I have never ever played a drum song "note for note"...I have never needed to. I play well known, or key parts note for note, but for some songs, as long as the groove is there, and the overall song is recognizable, I am fine. I have never had an audience member come up and pick apart my fills etc.

On bass, I am definitely more detailed since melody is involved
 

JJKK

Member
Similar threads popping up here...

I find that learning songs as close to original boosts confidence in your ability to play new songs. The devil is in the details.

BUT, having a new song to work on gives me enthusiasm and makes the practice sessions more interesting. I tend to use songs I've learned before as warm ups to learning new tracks. When I'm warmed up and feeling confident about my playing, I try to get into a new song.

edit: Learning to listen to the tracks is not a given either, I've played songs wrong a lot before I hear some detail or a part I've not paid attention to before.
 

basset52

Senior Member
A way back, when I came back to drumming and then joined a band, the perfectionist in me wanted to learn every song perfectly and I tried to do that for quite a while - I think , in hindsight , it was me trying to prove to myself and the other band members that I was OK. When we played our first few gigs I found myself focussing entirely on getting the songs exactly right to the point at the end of the night where I found I hadn't really enjoyed the gig . At the end of 2018 I decided I was going to approach my playing differently. Now, as others have said I get the key parts as they should be and the rest I focus on just getting a good groove down. As X said, I've never had anyone , audience or other band member mention I hadn't played a song "note for not"
I have found now that I am more relaxed and enjoy my playing more. I find learning new songs refreshing and challenging and I always have a few on the go.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
For learning songs to play with bands I go with whatever sounds and feels good. It’s not realistic or wise to learn 40 songs note for note and hold up gigs.
For learning songs to become a better player I go note for note.
Time is better spent on specific exercises if the goal is to improve than to learn songs 80% for no purpose.
 
Last edited:

Woolwich

Silver Member
For learning songs to play with bands I go with whatever sounds and feels good. It’s not realistic or wise to learn 40 songs note for note and hold up gigs.
For learning songs to become a better player I go note for note.
Time is better spent on specific exercises if the goal is to improve than to learn songs 80% for no purpose.
Pretty much what I was going to say but more precisely put.

You specified that you’re buying the sheet music to easy songs. Now one person’s idea of easy may not be another’s, but if you think they’re easy then why not just do it by ear?

Also what is the purpose of what you’re doing? As Dan alluded too, if you’re doing it to challenge and improve then you have to go note for note. If you’re exposing yourself to different material to broaden your knowledge and building up a bank of songs to be able to audition or jam then doing it by ear, bearing in mind these are easy songs, is possibly a better option.

Picking up on basset52’s comments, I was the same many years ago. My originals Metal band was great (yes we really were!) but we spent so long rehearsing ourselves up to a point of perfection that we did far fewer gigs than we should have. We’d go out and see the bands who used the same rehearsal rooms as us doing gigs and note the sloppy time keeping, lack of guitar solos, decreasing energy levels as the gig progressed, flat singing (hey we were teenagers, in hindsight it sounds awful but that’s what we did), and we’d inhabit the moral high ground saying we’d never short change an audience like that.......but the audience didn’t care, and they were gigging while we were only critiquing. There’s a middle ground between perfection and “only just gig ready by the skin of your teeth” and we spectacularly failed to inhabit it.

And as X points out, where melody is involved then that note for note attitude is more evident. I dabbled on bass for a short while and the stuff I did practice was pretty much note for note. As drummers we have the benefit of rarely being under the microscope in the way that a melodic instrumentalist is because often it doesn’t “matter” as much. And please no one take that last statement absolutely literally because it does matter, what I mean is that it’s generally easier for a drummer to not do everything note for note and get away with it while guitarists and keys don’t have that luxury.
 

johnwesley

Silver Member
I don't play note for note. I learn the basic rhythm/groove and improvise different ways to play it. For example the basic Bo Diddley beat can be played on different drums throughout the song to add various tones. I can only think of 2 songs I play "stock" because they're so specialized. The Beatles "Ticket to Ride" and the Who's "Happy Jack". The latter was a giant breakthrough for me in my approach to playing. Especially watching Moon do it live. I learned there was a hell of a lot more to drumming and being part of the actual music than sitting there like a gargoyle doing 2, 4 backbeats with occasional rolls and cymbal crashes.
 

BruceW

Senior Member
I'll echo most everyone else here, I don't (and probably can't) play them note for note. I will try and make sure any signature fills and such are in there, to the best of my ability (or come up with a cheat to get close) and otherwise make sure I know where I am in the song, where to move things along, and how to play it comfortably.

If you can read music, you already have an aptitude that many don't have. Try learning one without the sheet music, and see what happens.

I get bored if we don't add some new songs every so often. Its rare among local bands to add stuff as often as we do, but we all enjoy the challenge. Some bands around here play the same set list, over and over. Its pretty telling when I see them a few months apart and i can tell you whats coming next....it obviously works for them, they're booked regularly, all over, and do very well. That would drive me nuts.

Good luck
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
I'll echo most everyone else here, I don't (and probably can't) play them note for note. I will try and make sure any signature fills and such are in there, to the best of my ability (or come up with a cheat to get close) and otherwise make sure I know where I am in the song, where to move things along, and how to play it comfortably.

If you can read music, you already have an aptitude that many don't have. Try learning one without the sheet music, and see what happens.

I get bored if we don't add some new songs every so often. Its rare among local bands to add stuff as often as we do, but we all enjoy the challenge. Some bands around here play the same set list, over and over. Its pretty telling when I see them a few months apart and i can tell you whats coming next....it obviously works for them, they're booked regularly, all over, and do very well. That would drive me nuts.

Good luck
I hear what you’re saying and I do enjoy the odd set shake up. But having said that in my neck of the woods many of the gigs we get are on a once a year basis, some but not many are twice a year, and looking at our calendar for the year ahead, of our 30 or so gigs we’re not even playing pubs in the same area often enough for someone to see us more than a couple of times a year even if they’re the type of person who goes out of their way to see live music. We’ve just stripped a couple of songs out and put 3 or 4 in and I anticipate that’s us through to next year before we feel the need to change again.
 

BruceW

Senior Member
I hear what you’re saying and I do enjoy the odd set shake up. But having said that in my neck of the woods many of the gigs we get are on a once a year basis, some but not many are twice a year, and looking at our calendar for the year ahead, of our 30 or so gigs we’re not even playing pubs in the same area often enough for someone to see us more than a couple of times a year even if they’re the type of person who goes out of their way to see live music. We’ve just stripped a couple of songs out and put 3 or 4 in and I anticipate that’s us through to next year before we feel the need to change again.
You don't get bored playing the same songs each night, in the same order? Cool, if that works for you, no judgement here, really. I just would be bored silly. I know, we're not there for our own entertainment, and I suppose the bigger/more accomplished the act, the less you'd want to be messing with stuff.

Hell, we try out a new song almost every week, if not every second or third week, at least. With varying degrees of success, I suppose ;) most times, we pull it off reasonably well enough. Very few train wrecks. It keeps us amused, in our little bar band. (Having said that, I don't have a new one to play tomorrow night, lol. Tho we did add three new ones two weeks ago, so it won't hurt to refine those.)
 

Rochelle Rochelle

Senior Member
I have worked through lots of songs, but I probably can't play each one perfectly. I move on quickly as I hear something and I want to learn it. Moving on helps me learn new concepts. I don't play in a band so this is all just for my enjoyment.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
If you are learning a song for your own satisfaction then learn it 100%. If you are playing with a band, learn it 80%.
I say this because when you play with a band you will need to adapt the drum part to the way the whole band plays the song.

For instance last week I learned how to play Take It Easy by the Eagles. The beginning, drum intro, of that song was very very difficult for me to learn. When it came time for the gig the band played the beginning intro differently. They did not realize that the drums come in on what is the after beat, the "and" of the tempo. They wanted me to come in at the end of the guitar and bass intro in a more natural sounding tempo that goes along with the guitar bass intro. Well if you listen to the beginning of the song you will get what I'm talking about.

Also I sub for another drummer in a band that plays Mustang Sally in a way that is completely different than the original song.

Anyway, the bottom line is, you will have to play the songs you learn, beginnings and endings, the way the band plays them.

.
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
You don't get bored playing the same songs each night, in the same order? Cool, if that works for you, no judgement here, really. I just would be bored silly. I know, we're not there for our own entertainment, and I suppose the bigger/more accomplished the act, the less you'd want to be messing with stuff.

Hell, we try out a new song almost every week, if not every second or third week, at least. With varying degrees of success, I suppose ;) most times, we pull it off reasonably well enough. Very few train wrecks. It keeps us amused, in our little bar band. (Having said that, I don't have a new one to play tomorrow night, lol. Tho we did add three new ones two weeks ago, so it won't hurt to refine those.)
No boredom at all, I wouldn’t be so big headed as to call us a finely tuned machine but we’ve got our gaps, segues and count ins as rehearsed as the songs. We’re only on “stage” because a bar is paying us to entertain their customers so we do that to the best of our ability and speaking only for myself I take my pleasure from a job well done and seeing a happy audience. If you think about it way above my level there are nationally touring bands playing exactly the same set each night for months on end and songs that they may have been playing for 30 or more years that they might be completely fed up of but have to play.
 

BruceW

Senior Member
No boredom at all, I wouldn’t be so big headed as to call us a finely tuned machine but we’ve got our gaps, segues and count ins as rehearsed as the songs. We’re only on “stage” because a bar is paying us to entertain their customers so we do that to the best of our ability and speaking only for myself I take my pleasure from a job well done and seeing a happy audience. If you think about it way above my level there are nationally touring bands playing exactly the same set each night for months on end and songs that they may have been playing for 30 or more years that they might be completely fed up of but have to play.
That is very cool. We certainly are trying to address the segues and count-ins...that is certainly a mark of a more professional presentation, and we struggle with some of that. I REALLY love songs that start with just drums, as I can move things along, and they can come in when ready, and it eliminates the chatter or count-ins. And drop-d tuning....gak...waiting for that, hearing it (yes, he should be able to do it silently, but doesn't) drives me cuckoo. :unsure:;)
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
Yep, songs with a drum intro, especially a repetitive one that can be played until the band are tuned and ready to join, are a godsend. There were a few of those in my last band and as one song finished I could launch into the next while the singer talked to the audience then there’d be a nod or two and everyone would join in. Re the tuning, yes the guitarists should do that with their volumes off and if possible you should group songs that need a tuning change together. 6 songs in drop d grouped as pairs or in threes equals 3 or 2 pauses for tuning instead of 6.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
For learning songs to play with bands I go with whatever sounds and feels good. It’s not realistic or wise to learn 40 songs note for note and hold up gigs.
For learning songs to become a better player I go note for note.
Time is better spent on specific exercises if the goal is to improve than to learn songs 80% for no purpose.
pretty much exactly what I do.

And I have been doing it for so long now that often times, the songs the bands I play in choose, are songs that I have worked on any way, so realistically in a set list it is probably 60% songs being played almost note for note, and 40% songs that I get the key part down on and then play groove

have had gigs where the one or two drummers in the audience will sometimes call me out on a part, but I usually read the situation and either react jokingly if it warrants, or analytically if it warrants...
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
No boredom at all, I wouldn’t be so big headed as to call us a finely tuned machine but we’ve got our gaps, segues and count ins as rehearsed as the songs. We’re only on “stage” because a bar is paying us to entertain their customers so we do that to the best of our ability and speaking only for myself I take my pleasure from a job well done and seeing a happy audience. If you think about it way above my level there are nationally touring bands playing exactly the same set each night for months on end and songs that they may have been playing for 30 or more years that they might be completely fed up of but have to play.
2 of my 3 bands are like this...everything is planned out and runs the same. My OCD loves this way of doing it. I am never uncomfortable in those gigs and can give 100% to each song...we even plan audibles for if time gets cut short, or the rare, rare occasion where we get to do an encore...we even go so far as to visit the club before hand to plan where load in, set up, storage, parking etc are if we can. Given what i do at my job, I am a logistics and "crowd control" kind of guy...I want everything to run as smooth as possible

My other band knows about 120 songs, and never runs with a set list...the leader just calls em out. I am always super stressed about those gigs...BUT...they are teaching me to be adaptable, and the test of keeping on my toes is awesome.
 

BruceW

Senior Member
2 of my 3 bands are like this...everything is planned out and runs the same. My OCD loves this way of doing it. I am never uncomfortable in those gigs and can give 100% to each song...we even plan audibles for if time gets cut short, or the rare, rare occasion where we get to do an encore...we even go so far as to visit the club before hand to plan where load in, set up, storage, parking etc are if we can. Given what i do at my job, I am a logistics and "crowd control" kind of guy...I want everything to run as smooth as possible

My other band knows about 120 songs, and never runs with a set list...the leader just calls em out. I am always super stressed about those gigs...BUT...they are teaching me to be adaptable, and the test of keeping on my toes is awesome.
I FAR prefer that we at least have a set list, so I know what's coming up next. We can and do audible, and that's ok, but I don't like doing the whole night by having them called out.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I FAR prefer that we at least have a set list, so I know what's coming up next. We can and do audible, and that's ok, but I don't like doing the whole night by having them called out.
i have gotten used to it now, but the first 6 months of gigging was nuts...it also didn't help - in that time frame - that I was brand new at learning half of those songs, and brand new at playing the genre old school country/jump blues etc) and was not at all familiar with 90% of the artists we were doing
 
Top