need advice about drumset and orchestra

lloydscoobs

Junior Member
Hey all, I hope I am posting this in the right section. But basically, I recently joined an orchestra with a local college. It's basically a beginner orchestra, nothing too difficult, with college students and others from the local community. I did this because my drum teacher told me that I need to challenge myself. But my question is, I have no interest in classical music. It seems like a waste of time. Also, the first rehearsal was entirely a disaster. We were sight reading through a piece in 12/8. I could have easily read through it with no problem if I was using a metronome. But the second the director started to wave his hands and lead the band, it became really really difficult for me to follow. Needless to say, there was a snare drum solo and I threw the entire band off. The same thing happened with other pieces, we would start off on pieces that are not difficult to sight read, but I could not follow the director without getting lost. Does anyone have any advice? Is learning these kinds of things a waste of time? I just want to learn drum set and it was very demoralizing, especially since I believed in my abilities before but was discouraged at my inability to play in a large group.
 

Zickos

Gold Member
I love orchestral music and my wife and I play in one. Some orchestra conductors get a little "flamboyant" with their batons. Sometimes you just have to listen and not watch.

No, it is not a waist of time. Broaden your horizons.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I've played kit with an orchestra over many years, and it's as important to follow the conductor, as it is for the him to be able to conduct well. If one of those links in the chain is weak, well... you know the old saying.

Assuming everyone's on their game, and unless the conductor lets the orchestra follow you (and he just conducts along with you...) you need to position your music so that you can read it and also see the baton in your peripheral vision. Keep your eye on the music, and use about 10% of your concentration to follow the baton.

Keep in mind also that other players may be having problems following the conductor - or you - and that will cause a lot of looseness.

I love the power of strings and horns, you'll have fun once you're more comfortable with it. Good luck, and keep at it!

Bermuda
 

Souljacker

Silver Member
Are you playing a full drum kit or part of the percussion section? The latter is more common in which you would play timpani, solo snare drum, marimba etc. I'd recommend practicing learning to count bars in your head. You may go 102 bars playing nothing until you come in, which is tough going.
 

lloydscoobs

Junior Member
There is no full drum kit, I am just part of the percussion section. And yes, that is true. One song is about 50 bpm and I don't come in until the very end. I can't stand it hahaha
 

mandrew

Gold Member
Everything new is scary. But, it is great discipline. sight reading is always more difficult than being able to practice out a part first. whether and orchestra or a local band, everyone has to learn how to hold steady through the piece. There may not be a conductor in a small group, but someone leads, and it is good practice to learn how to listen and stay true to your part. Some directors can direct and play, like Benny Goodman, etc. You have to learn how to combine listening and watching, and that is a learned skill. Hang in there and give your self time. On recent conductor with the Chicago Symphony was famous for just stop conducting in mid piece if he liked the way things were going, and wanted to "let the horse run." That only comes with understanding between the players and the conductor. Learn the conductors methods (assuming he/she has one). When in doubt, listen to recordings done by others to help out, if they are available.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Yeah, it's a little different-- it's not your job to keep steady time independent of what the conductor is doing-- you have to follow him completely. Be sure to position your music stand so your music is as close to your line of sight to the conductor as possible-- he should be visible right over the top of your music.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Yeah, it's a little different-- it's not your job to keep steady time independent of what the conductor is doing-- you have to follow him completely. Be sure to position your music stand so your music is as close to your line of sight to the conductor as possible-- he should be visible right over the top of your music.
Yep. And again, if the conductor is good, it can be very easy. If the conductor's time is even slightly worse than yours, it can be a train wreck. His concept of ritard and yours may be miles apart, and if he doesn't convey the change well, the entire orchestra stumbles.

It depends who handles their role with more authority - you, or him. If he can conduct, follow him. If he can't, you have to hold things down without appearing to fight him. It's a fine line, and neither of you - nor the orchestra - wants to look bad in the process.

Good conductors make a world of difference. They really do make an orchestra their own, it's not just a bunch of people reading music, staying in time, and it somehow turns out great. The conductor adds life and emotion to the music, it's a real art.

And, it's good experience for musicians. Drummers aren't always the timekeepers, and in the studio, they're often slave to the ultimate conductor: the click. It's important to know how to follow someone or something.

Bermuda
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I just re-read the original post, and it's much clearer to me now.

I recently joined an orchestra with a local college... I did this because my drum teacher told me that I need to challenge myself. But my question is, I have no interest in classical music. It seems like a waste of time.
Your teacher is right, you do need to challenge yourself. That's how you learn, grow, find personal achievement, and become experienced, well-rounded, and valuable as a player. Whether you have an interest in the genre is irrelevant, you still need to know. If there's not enough going on for you, that's a sign that you're going to have a problem with other musical styles where the drums are playing a lot 2 & 4. If you can't hang with that, you're not going to be very desirable as a drummer.

Vinnie is a pretty desirable drummer, right? Wanna guess how he makes a significant part of his income? Hint: it's not playing Burning For Buddy every night!

I just want to learn drum set and it was very demoralizing, especially since I believed in my abilities before but was discouraged at my inability to play in a large group.
All the more reason you need to perservere and conquer it. Then you can move on and explore other genres where a kit is required. With more experience, you'll discover that playing with a large group isn't really different than a small group, except the parking is worse. :)

But most importantly, you have to love playing the drums, not the genres. I don't know any pros who cherry-pick their gigs, sessions, or tours. They may not necessrily like the music, but they love the drums. That's why they're pros. That's why they work. That's why other drummers revere them.

Bermuda
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Following a conductor is an art in itself. I spent some time playing in a big band with no monitoring and poor stage sound - you absolutely have to trust the individual with the baton.

This is a good place to start. If you can follow the basics, you should be absolutely fine.

Before I started drumming, I had a background in choral music. It must be tough to be thrown into a full orchestra like that but persevere with it and you will grow very as a musician very quickly.
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
All genres can give me a rush when the musicians play as a group! I played in school orchestra and junior philharmonic. I think it gave me an appreciation for the thing that results from everyone's play, not just mine. That is critical for any genre.
 

mymarkers

Senior Member
Stick with it. This will be a valuable and enjoyable experience more many reasons. You might seem lost at first, but you'll be surprised at how quickly your other experience adapts to the new situation. I joined the band as a freshman in high school after nothing but piano lessons and some percussion lessons. I screwed up a snare drum part at the concert. You just had some trouble in your first rehearsal.

Learning to play with a conductor can be tricky. Some are much easier to follow than others and some keep much better time than others. For now, assume your conductor keeps good time and just follow the stick. Watch more closely than you think you need to. At a minimum, keep the conductor in your peripheral vision. On battery parts like snare drum, I like to have my part half-memorized. That way, I primarily can focus on the director and peak at my music as I need it. Sight reading, of course, is a bit trickier. Watch the conductor closely during rests. And watch closely anytime in rehearsal that he just wants to hear another section play by itself. That is how you can get a feel for his or her particular style. Finally, try practicing to a metronome with a silent mode. That should help you get used to using visual cues for tempo. Keep your head up- literally and you'll be surprised how quickly you learn.

In the process, you will be exposed to a variety of changes. Orchestral and concert music will have more tempo and meter changes than any rock, blues, country, pop, or jazz. The phrasing often varies from the 4,8,12, or 16 measure patterns you encounter on the drum set. You will learn to count rests. You will wonder why on earth the (insert least favorite wind/string section here) section cannot count a $#%*(&$#% 16 measure rest.You will learn to trust that you counted the rest correctly before playing your big cymbal crash. You'll explore the full dynamic range of percussion instruments from cannon shots on the bass drum and the "bom-bom bom-bom bom-bom" on the timpani to a delicate little ding on the triangle. You might even have a chance to trying playing the drum set with an orchestra. That can be trickier than it sounds. Have fun and know that you are learning skills that will set you apart from the drummers who think classical music is a waste of time.
 
Top