Passing On Experience


Silver Member
While there is a plethora of information on this forum, it is all over the place within the forum. I thought it may be nice to have a one stop shop that young people can reference and perhaps gain some insight from the experience of others. Even us old people can learn as well. Some rules though for posting here would be suggested. No opinions and no negativity nor pointing to a video somewhere. Like they said in the old TV series Dragnet, "just the facts “. Those who are or have played professionally should be the major contributors here; those who can share their own experience and expertise.

I’d like to start this off with a couple things.

First would be fundamentals. The most important parts of playing drums is the ability to keep time and listen to what other band members are playing. A metronome can be your friend, but it needs to be used to develop to be a ‘feel’ rather than becoming a dependency. When you are listening to a recording, you can listen to what the drummer is doing, but it is just as important (or more) to listen to the other band members are doing. From that you begin to learn dynamics and what can fit.

Like real estate has ‘Location, Location, Location’, in music it is ‘Practice, Practice, Practice’. Concentration being on timing and syncopation – not how many fills you can do. You can have the greatest chops and fastest hands in the world, but if you cannot keep time and feel stops most likely you are not going to be part of a good band. It is still important, though to develop your wrists. When I first started out I used pillows and cushions with heavy sticks to help develop mine.

Next would be professionalism. If you follow this board there are many places you see this topic. Bottom line is that if you are being paid to play, it is a job. Behavior should be the same as any other job. Remember, you are being paid because someone is trying to make money in which to pay you.

Then there is gear. Most gear today is fairly well made and sounds good. However, the fact really is still that the more you spend the better the quality and the better the quality the better you will sound; but also, that any amount of currency you spend should have a purpose. If you are really just starting, you don’t need the best just to practice. Just think about the configuration you may want in the future and build that set up. As you progress and want to be in a band, you can get something mid-range. As you progress further, you will hone in your skills and begin to look at factors which fit you style of playing and select appropriate gear for that.

When you join a band, remember that you are there for rehearsal, not practice. Have your parts down before you get to any rehearsal.

I’m hoping others will jump in and give some advice as well so that we can all pass on what they have leaned. Things like why and when to mic drums, reading charts and ‘playing by ear’, what else Is important, paths leading to career in music, etc, etc., etc. Again, feedback in this thread should be from your own experience and NOT a video (you-tube or otherwise) showing what someone else is doing.


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I think this is a great idea, and it will be monitored closely to make sure all stay on subject. Not a place for debate , but a place to post what you think will help younger or less experieinced drummers gain knowledge. If you disagree with a particular post, post your own, without passing anything negative on to a previous post. What works for one, may not work for you, but may very well work for someone else. Be good and help others. Thanks.


Senior Member
Two things I learned along the way:

It's not what you play, it's how you play it that matters.

And, if you can't play with people, you'll have a hard time playing for people.


Gold Member
Learn to play quietly as well as loud. Watch you don't drag if you're playing softly.

Play at an appropriate volume for the style of music and size of the venue. Balance your sound with the rest of the band.

Don't bring a Nicko McBrain sized kit unless the gig really requires it and the playing area is large enough.

Make sure you haven't left sticks, drum throne or snare drum behind. Most people gig weekends, it's really not difficult to make sure you have everything you need before you leave home.


Silver Member
Melin5's spot on comment about what to bring triggered another thing to pass on.

Respect your equipment. Have cases, bags, etc. for everything including stands. You do not have to spend a lot of money. Don't just throw things in the back seat of a car or truck. If you don't have respect for your gear, be it a low end set or high end set, people will probably not take you seriously. You may not think it, but there is an important perspective here that reflects on your professionalism and perhaps what people get as an impression of your ability.


Silver Member
Take an extra snare drum, and bass drum pedal with you to gigs.

It's handy to have gaff tape and/or adhesive-backed bass drum impact dots, in case a head breaks (may not sound awesome, but it'll get you through the show).

Have with you whatever adjustment/tightening tools you may need for your drums/stands/pedals.

Also, it's not a bad idea to have some extra snare wire cords, straps, or grosgrain ribbon. Though you can always use a few drinking straws from the bar in an emergency.


Silver Member
My advice would be..:

* With every song that you play you should also be able to make that song sound ok on just kick, snare and hihat..

* When you start earning money, be a professional in behaviour etc but never forget 'the child' in your playing..

* Always remember why you started playing drums and if things (within a band for example) are not feeling like that anymore, move to another band or situation..

* Stay curious regarding music, always..!


Platinum Member
When thinking about gear, many young players focus on flashy finishes or name brands rather than on function. get a good, versatile snare drum and tune it well with good heads. It can be wood or metal, whichever you prefer or whichever sounds best for your ear.

Buy dependable hardware. Cheap hardware is never worth the savings because it can't withstand repeated setups and teardowns. That $99 double bass pedal is not going to last you long enough to get good, and for heaven's sake, don't skimp on your throne.

Try out various sticks until you find something that feels good. You should get the right amount of bounce, your hand should not hurt from having to over-grip, and you shouldn't have to fight the stick.

There is no "best" snare/pedal/cymbal for anything, beyond what sounds good to your ear and feels the best to play for you.

Learn how everything on your drumset works, know how to fix minor issues, and learn to tune.

Used is often the best way to get great gear for lawn-mowing amounts of money.

Drums are a musical instrument, not a punching bag.


Silver Member
Work some.

Practice some.

Explore some.

Listen some.

Play some.

Not necessarily in that order, but all are necessary to grow.


Senior Member
When you join a band, remember that you are there for rehearsal, not practice. Have your parts down before you get to any rehearsal.

I would just like to repeat this.
If you show up unprepared, you're wasting everyone's time. Nobody wants to teach or practice with you when everybody is supposed to be there to rehearse.


Platinum Member
-Buy cheap equipment, and learn how to tune it with good heads. Do not respect it in any way. It's a tool and as long as it works you shouldn't care what it looks like. Nobody is impressed by your expensive drums except other drummers pretending to care while they obsess about their own stuff.

-Do not learn the "moeller stroke" from the internet.

-Paying for literally 2 lessons with a good teacher will give you more "technique" than you'll know what to do with for months and is a much better value than watching 200 youtube videos on the subject. A video cannot tell you what you are doing wrong.

-Do not compare yourself to other drummers and do not put down other musicians. Help excite new players and tell them what they currently do well.

-Tip the sound guy when you get good sound and monitoring. You'll likely come back through and they do remember. Yea, you're losing ten bucks out of your hundred or less for the night, but it's worth it and makes you really cool.

-Tip the bar-tenders who make your free drinks.

-Stay and watch the other bands play. Applaud and support local music. Don't be the asshat who leaves the moment they come off stage. At the very least watch a few songs if you "have work" in the morning.

-Even more importantly, encourage your fans to stay and watch the other bands. Try to play with other acts that your fans will like. This is a two way street and music does travel by word of mouth.

-If you break something, offer to pay for it. Goes double when you're using another drummers kit, but still applies to the house kit. If a house kit is totally trashed, they won't ask you to replace anything but you should still check.

-Don't be a douche during sound check. Keep playing whatever note the sound person is asking for clearly and consistently until they ask you to move to the next kit part. Do not flail about with crazy slop fills when they say "okay, whole-kit, please? Play a groove!"... Just play a few bars and move around the kit a bit so they can hear how everything sounds together.

-The whole band should have a sound-check song ready to go especially when the audience is filtering in the doors during a late sound check. Playing the same song twice is sorta lame.

-Just do what the sound guy/gal wants even if it is stupid. I've learned over the years that arguments with the sound guy literally never pay off and he can in fact make it worse or even be vindictive.

-Going faster is not the goal of playing drums. Music is the goal. Ensure your practice time is musically oriented and not just stepping up metronome numbers.

-You can get away with it when you're younger, but it's best not to eat garbage fast food too much when you're on the road. Hit up the supermarket from time to time and stock on healthier things to munch on like fruit.

-Learn to play with smaller/different setups instead of crying when you can't use yours. It's never a good look and I see it all the time. It makes you look like a little bitch instead of a musician.

-Don't incessantly play the same venues near each other over and over. Give some space between or people will stop showing up because they've seen the act too many times.

-Learn styles of music that do not fit into your current listening profiles. Get suggestions from people who like the genre and study what makes it different from your favorite styles.

-Do not spend all your time practicing things you're already good at. If your practice sessions are fun to listen to, you're not doing it right.

-Understand that in almost all cases, the performance you're giving isn't about you. Serve the song and be creative, but keep yourself tamed.

-Don't get drunk and hit the stage.

-Do not use pre-programmed relentlessly practiced fills and beats over and over. Learn to let the music guide your playing by really listening and not just looking for places to insert all the different licks you've practiced. It does not sound good.

-Intentionally filling your drumming with easy to pick out "rudiments" does not sound anywhere near as good as you think it does.

-Relax. If your body is tight and wound up, so too will your playing be.

-Play with other musicians as much as you can. Locking in with other players and making something amazing is one of the best feelings you can encounter.
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Vintage Old School

Gold Member
Take an extra snare drum, and bass drum pedal with you to gigs.

It's handy to have gaff tape and/or adhesive-backed bass drum impact dots, in case a head breaks (may not sound awesome, but it'll get you through the show).

Have with you whatever adjustment/tightening tools you may need for your drums/stands/pedals.

Also, it's not a bad idea to have some extra snare wire cords, straps, or grosgrain ribbon. Though you can always use a few drinking straws from the bar in an emergency.

In addition have an Aquarian Kick-Patch in your emergency kit. In the remote possibility you put your beater through the bass drum head this 12" patch can be applied quickly and get you through the rest of the gig.
You may never need it, but if you do it's a life-saver.

Also a great piece of advice from Neil Peart: "Earn your audience."


Silver Member
One more thing...

If you end up breaking your bass drum head, and must repair it with gaff/duct tape, put the tape on the inside of the head. If you put it on the outside, your beater will quickly wear a hole through the tape, and start sticking to the residual adhesive while you're playing.

drumming sort of person

Make sure you bring your wallet and valuables on stage with you, where you can keep an eye on them.


Silver Member
When gigging, always bring your own rug. Even if others say the stage has carpet. Worst case, you can outline your drum set boundaries on top of the carpet on the stage.

I recently showed up for a mega-gig, and got there early enough to ask the sound guy, 'does the stage have carpeting?' Of course, he mumbled, yes.
I decided to keep my rug in the car, one less item to bring up to the stage.

Just as the prior band was dismantling, I asked their drummer, 'is that your rug?' He said yes, didn't you bring yours- I repeated what the sound guy said.

I got lucky, he lent me the drum rug. But never again!!


Senior Member
Practice dynamics. Practice playing at fff, and then at ppp. Practice playing crescendos from ppp to fff and decrescendos from fff to ppp. And practice playing all the different dynamics in between.

Get New Breed and practice it with dynamics.

Learn lots and lots of songs.

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
There is so much good advice here, and I'm sure there will be more.

All I can add here is: practice hard but also have some fun when you practice.
Part of your practice should be playing with music that you love.
When the fun stops, the drumming will stop.



Platinum Member
Sage advice- duct/gaffers tape, WD-40, pliers, and screw driver come in handy for whole band. I got an emergency drum bag too-felts, plastic sleeves, etc. I've duct taped my kick head-after beater plowed through -and it sounded pretty good. I had a cymbal stand that was barely on stage so I duct taped it to the stage so it wouldn't fall over. Bringing your own reliable good snare is always a safe bet-even if it stays in your vehicle. I use to carry my hi hat stand just in case too but I quit and just took my chances with cymbal stands and hi hat stand (I like the idea of bringing an extra clutch though-that's a keeper good idea). Cymbals are always a concern to me-so I put some good hats and ride in my cymbals case and leave in my car-so that and snare is it. I'm not too picky with kick pedals or beaters I usually take off all the spring tension and get it all loosey goosey and spray it with WD-40 so the dang thing don't squeak, but an old speed king is just as sweet (after I spray it with WD-40).. Cruddy snare and hi hats suck beyond measure-the adage a good drummer can play anything is true up to a point, if out of tune and trash cymbals you can be wailing and it still sound like crap. Those cheap Zildjian ZBT's give me the hebby jeebies with their shrill tones. You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear.