Missing fills in higher tempo songs


Platinum Member
I hope everyone was practicing proper sandwich technique.

For me, the most important part of making a sandwich is "the pinch". This refers to a very specific technique of pinching or bunching the slices of meat, rather than laying them flat or folding them in half. The benefit is that the result feels like a more substantial sandwich than a comparatively layered/stacked sandwich, and you don't end up pulling out entire slices of meat when biting into the thing. In addition, any spices and dress are applied with greater uniformity as a result of the increased surface area.

If you're going to work on your pinch, remember to say "sliced thin" at the deli counter.... Or move to NJ where the general population knows how to make a proper sandwich and operate a deli slicer. Even Wawa makes a legitimate sub.

Wave Deckel

Gold Member
I would venture to guess that this does not apply when you're learning something new or tackling a "difficult" fill in the moment.
It is something different when I practice things. Then - of course - I use my brain. And I practice the fill until I get it nailed. Again and again. When that fill is stored in my brain and muscle-memory, THEN I apply it on the drumset with the band. And at that moment, I don't need to think. It just ... flows in my case. Maybe I am lucky but I never had encountered a scenario, e.g. duing a live-gig, where I was forced to think and thus went into a jam. I just go out on stage and play.

Moon was a unique-styled drummer and what he did certainly worked for that band. I think if he went to cover something really fast and replicate a specific fill, I'm sure he'd have to think about it at least a little.
Moon played only like Moon, he never replicated others, always played by instinct. Thus that problem, I guess, could have never made his life miserable (other things like alcohol were better suited doing just that, though...)


Platinum Member
You normals apparently have it easy.
For the overwhelming majority of music, yeah. Ringo played all his fills leading off the left, since he's a lefty playing a righty set up. Carter Beauford leads left as well on a righty-kit. But that's about it. Billy Cobham had lots of dexterity, but his fills go righty for the most part.

Later on, the challenge for righties is when we realize later on that our left hand and foot totally suck.

In the beginning it's tough for a lefty to learn right-hand lead, but it can be overcome by practicing certain exercises that force you to really control your limbs when leading right-handed. I have a student that is going through this as we speak, and I've had many others over the years. Practice can easily overcome handedness, if you practice effectively.


Platinum Member
I have a student that is going through this as we speak, and I've had many others over the years. Practice can easily overcome handedness, if you practice effectively.
One of the tricks that got me past the physical awkwardness of right-hand lead was to begin fills one note early on the left hand. It is often as simple as dragging into a fill. To illustrate, the "Pat Boone Debbie Boone" fill becomes "The Pat Boon Debbie Boone" with the "The" played on the left as a drag.

The other cheat that was suggested to me today was to forego some of the notes prior to the fill... Instead of "groove->fill", try "groove->space->fill", which sometimes means intentionally missing a backbeat or cutting out the Hhat an 8th note early so I have room to switch side-ded-ness both mentally and physically. Nobody is going to miss that one extra eighth-note tick on the hat/ride between the groove and fill. My friend A/B'd this for me, and I noticed that my listening brain filled in the 8th note irregardless of whether he actually played it or not.


Platinum Member
Seems like some of you are confusing the problem he's having. I've heard his playing and I don't think it's a time issue or note placement issue....
If this is aimed at my count out loud suggestion, what I meant (but didn't write), was to be counting bars as well as beats. I find that this works for me, for songs where if my attention slips, the on-ramps to the fills just pass me by, waving cheerily as they go.


Platinum Member
So for songs which (for my skill level) move fast, I count bars as much as beats.

For me, that includes Call Me by Blondie. The fills themselves are straightforward enough, triplet rolls from snare > high tom > low tom, but I need to count the bars out loud to make sure I get them in the right place. There are the added excitement of the fact that sometimes the fill is half a bar long, some times a full bar and sometimes a bar and a half, and the song has two 2-beat bars, and 2 verses are of different length (by a bar).

So I count like a mo-fo...moving lips, the whole deal!


Platinum Member
Nobody is going to miss that one extra eighth-note tick on the hat/ride between the groove and fill.
Well, the music police aren't going to arrest you, that's for sure, haha! But making the transitions as smooth as butter should be your goal. As a temporary solution to this one fill in this one song, sure, go ahead and skip notes, and/or switch your leading hand. But in the long term, learn to transition while maintaining a right-hand lead.

Force yourself to learn a song that demands a right-hand lead approach. Dyer Mak'r is a good one.


"Uncle Larry"
An example of a fill in a specific song would help. Just to give us an idea of what you feel is hard, and what tempos we're talking about.

I have a rule where if I have to think about the mechanics of a fill....it's not ready for prime time. Example, I tackled linear triplets in my practice space awhile back, but I have to honestly say that it took at least 4 years before I could incorporate them in my gig playing. They didn't come natural to me. Forcing stuff sounds...forced. If it can't happen easily for me, I avoid it at gigs.

Headroom to me sounds better than a drummer who is playing on the very edge of their abilities.