MEMORIZING DRUM PARTS

J5TRONG

Junior Member
I am having trouble when i go from practising a song by myself to live playing. When auditioning for a new band, i often learn the songs on my ipod and I literally learn them inside out and backwards but I still manage to lose myself when it comes to playing live. Its not nerves, i feel quite confident playing. I find I struggle especially at the beginning of a song (like how it starts) and in transitions (chorus to verse, verse to chorus etc). Do you guys have any good tips for putting songs to memory? i really want to nail the song on the first go.
 

KnockOut86

Senior Member
I do the same thing. The problem is you are unconsciously relying on various cues in the songs for the different parts. While playing to the ipod you always hear the song perfectly and thus think that you have it down. Then when you play it live with it sounds completely different and those cues are lost and so are you.

The only way I was able to become independent of these cues was to learn how to play the songs without any music, just the drums all the way through. If you can play the song all the way through without any other instruments to rely on then you KNOW you have it down.
 

topgun2021

Gold Member
When I look at music for my playing, There is usually A,B, and C sections.

May be try separating the song like that, and then count the measures.

So, you could count, "1 2 3 4, 2 2 3 4" and so on until spots like a fill or a new section.
 

sciomako

Silver Member
The only way I was able to become independent of these cues was to learn how to play the songs without any music, just the drums all the way through. If you can play the song all the way through without any other instruments to rely on then you KNOW you have it down.

You have to mentally sing the main melody in your head. Right? That adds another layer of interdependence/coordination... I usually can't sing and play drum at the same time... :(
 

jordanz

Senior Member
An important thing to develop is a feel for 4 and 8 bar phrases. I never count measures. I can feel 4s and 8s. Most music (particularly pop/rock) will always be constructed in these 4 and 8 bar phrases. Once you can feel that, memorizing songs is much easier. Most pop songs have the same form AABA where each A and the B are 8 bars.
 

sciomako

Silver Member
An important thing to develop is a feel for 4 and 8 bar phrases. I never count measures. I can feel 4s and 8s. Most music (particularly pop/rock) will always be constructed in these 4 and 8 bar phrases. Once you can feel that, memorizing songs is much easier. Most pop songs have the same form AABA where each A and the B are 8 bars.

jordanz,

When you say feel the 4-bar phrasing, do you mean pay attention to the chord progression? If not, what am I feeling here?
 

Monica McCoy

Senior Member
A bar being 1,2,3,4 in what ever subdivision. There's 4 or 8 of those bars in a section.

So you just internalize how many bars you've played or count as stated above: 1234, 2234, 3234, 4234, and so on. Go back to 1234 at each new section of the song.
 

grannydrums

Senior Member
Even if you decide not to learn how to read music, it might help to draw out a map or chart.

Quite simple, something like

Guitar into(no drums) 4 bars
Intro with drums( 4 bars)
verse(8 bars)
chorus(5 bars)
instrumental ( 7 bars, 1 bar stop)

etc

If it is long song with not many changes in the drumming pattern I look at the drums to help me count how many bars I have played-- 3 toms and a snare. I look at the 10 inch for the first bar, the snare for the second the 12 inch for the third and the floor tom for the fourth.

I do read and write music so when first learning a song I have a bit more detailed map with beats and fills on and I read that as i am playing along to the track, then once I think I have nailed it I see if i can write the simple chart from memory.

And yes--it is fun playing along to the music, but the only way to realy learn is to play to a metronome -- do it with the chart first and then without
 

Polymetrix1618

Senior Member
I am having trouble when i go from practising a song by myself to live playing. When auditioning for a new band, i often learn the songs on my ipod and I literally learn them inside out and backwards but I still manage to lose myself when it comes to playing live. Its not nerves, i feel quite confident playing. I find I struggle especially at the beginning of a song (like how it starts) and in transitions (chorus to verse, verse to chorus etc). Do you guys have any good tips for putting songs to memory? i really want to nail the song on the first go.
Write it out and keep playing the song to a click until it's completely memorized. Another option, which takes longer, is to play the song repeatedly until it's second-nature.
 

beatsMcGee

Pioneer Member
for practice start dissecting songs you hear into parts.. like A B C, so you can learn song format and then try to count the bars in each sections. this will help to train your ear to typical song structure.
 

Ambidextrous

Junior Member
Whats this TS trying to say?

is it u can't hear the song so u can't play properly?

i think there should not be any problem if u can hear everything.u will noe when verses & chorus are coming

if u can't hear the song and have to play everything using memory then we drummers aren't enjoying the music with bandmates.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Definitely write it out. I'll write out the structure, for example intro, verse, chorus, bridge, solo, ending... Once I see the structure written out with my eyes, it ingrains it my mind, and I usually don't have to refer back to it.
 

FBDrummer

Junior Member
I have the same problem, I can sit down and work out the song and play along with the mp3 but when it comes to band practice i have about a 50/50 shot of getting through the song remembering all the sections and fills.

I just started playing again after a 20 yr break, I played for a few years when i was in high school but then life got in the way and i sold the kit. Back then everything I played was stuff I listened to over and over so it was pretty simple to remember where I was in the song. I was also self taught and had a garage band so it didnt really matter if I made up my own sections or followed the actual song structure

Now I stated a cover band and we play a variety of stuff and I find it much more difficult to memorize the songs. i want to get them right and stick to the original song structure so it takes a lot of listening,counting and playing along to the song. I've been taking lessons since june and my teach is trying to get me used to playing in 4 or 8 bar sections. I find that if I try to play and count the measures i tend to lose count or lose my place..."1234,2234.3234,4....damn i missed my fill again"

wait till you play in front of an audience and the nerves make you totally forget how the song starts, that same song you've played a hundred times...just when you're about to freak out it'll come back to you lol
 

TheMallinder

Junior Member
I suffer the same problem. I have been playing once a week with an alt rock band for a year we are about to do our first charity event gig soon (90% covers).

I already struggle with the fact that I cannot play them accurately but I can live with that if its 'almost there'. I like to think I play with feel and that I have a certain amount of musical ability but I still miss parts, a fill, use the hi-hats instead of the ride or worse... forget where I am and miss a whole song section! I know I have a crap short term memory but this is starting to drive me nuts. Why can't I get it perfect? Is this normal?

Some of these songs we have been playing since day one and I don't think I have played a song in the same way twice!

The worst thing is realizing I am doing something wrong and try to correct it midway which can throw me off and and occasionally the band. Should I just go with the flow I am already in???

Having said all this...the band often play a song through and say it sounded great but I am beating myself up over little screw ups! Am I being too over critical? Will the crowd even notice?

I want to get a first gig under my belt but at the same time I have got hang ups on my ability and the bands ability to a certain extent. Maybe we are not ready...maybe it's just me!

Set my mind at ease or hit me with some tips! :)
 

Muckster

Platinum Member
Definitely chart out the tunes. You don't have to write a complete chart but it's nice to have tempos, song structure, cues and important fills notated. You'll be surprised at how much you retain by a quick glance at your cheat chart.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I would freak out if I couldn't recall music I've learned. That must be a nightmare. My musical memory is probably my best trait. I take it for granted. It is far and away the most developed part of my brain, requiring no real effort from me, apart from passive listening. If I take the time to write out the arrangement, fuggetaboutit. It's tattooed on my brain then. If only the rest of my life functioned as well, sigh lol.
 

grannydrums

Senior Member
Will the crowd even notice?

I have a few gigs now, and I think the answer is, sadly, no they wont. The only ones that will are any drummers that are there(very offputting if they stand at the front and airdrum, look the other way if they do)

Obviously you need to play the right beats and have good dynamics. And any signature fills need to be there. But unfortunately after all the work i put in to be true to the track, I soon came to notice that the only thing they notice is if you have bad time keeping, or if you go so wrong you throw the rest of the band off. I have made mistakes on stage, but usually covered them well enough, and just moved on.

As i said before when i am learning a new song i always make a chart. on simple songs its just the number of bars for each section and notes on what drums to use. On most songs though i write drum music. i use the charts at rehearsal until i find i am not looking at them any more, it just seems to naturally happen. On some of the more complicated songs I play them with the band without adding the fills and some of the hi-hat work to start off with until i realy know the song, and then work on the fills till they are perfect and pop them in once i have them under my belt, only the bass player seems to notice.I think all the band eally want is the right beat, and dynamics at a constant tempo and the signals they need for any changes. I do practice by myself to the track, but to get the thing really in my brain i play along to a metronome whilst reading the chart. If you can do that 10 or 20 bpm faster than the speed it should be it really helps and it seems a doddle when you play it along to the track later.

I do strive to be note for note perfect, unless there is a technique which is beyond me. I do it for my own satisfaction and I think it sits easier on the listeners ear if the drums are like the original, but if I fluff it I dont beat myself up about it.

If you make a mistake playing with the band or live stick with it, who says this section should be played on the hats or the ride, that will sound much better than changing half way through. If you dont come in at the right time, hit the bass or the hats to keep the beat and come back in at some musically sensible point, and something the band will recognise. If you make a mistake playing on your own stop and play that section again, dont move on till you can play it without mistakes.

One band i played with had I thought a brilliant practice technique. They had the set list and without stopping we played the whole set but just the introductions and the outro (we obviously agreed which bits we were going to do. I just clicked them in, we played the intro followed by the end bit and straight onto the next song. Really reinforces who has to start and gets the begining of each song in your head. And highlights any long pauses where the guitar player are twiddling with settings

Anyway good luck with your gig, remember that cover band playing local charity gigs are a huge range of standards, you will probably be surprised how good you are in comparison. The main thing is to enjoy the performance, and remember they are there to see live music, not some monkies miming to a backing track.
 
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