Playing drums to music

drfill

Junior Member
I've never been able to play to songs, I know it sounds messed up, but for whatever reason in my almost 20 years of playing drums I just cant play to music. I find memorizing parts and getting them right in order and on time, near impossible. Anyone have any tips? I also have never gotten counting down pat, like trouble picking out time signatures (cant do it) And playing to a metronome never gets easier, just can't get it
 

lefty2

Platinum Member
Wow. You should be able to play along with some real simple songs, like Last Worthless Evening by Don Henley. I've played along with music, far more, than playing my drums by themselves. Have you played with other musicians? If not I would suggest that you do. It'll make you grow so much as a musician. It'll be a blast also. You could just play a beat, and have a guitarist play along. You can just keep playing the same beat, until you get comfortable. Then you can start changing things up a bit.
 

Mighty_Joker

Silver Member
I am assuming you're talking about playing along to existing songs, as opposed to playing with your own band as the drummer.

My suggestion would be to break it down into easy steps. First of all, forget about learning the drum part as the recording drummer played it. When the song starts, listen to the groove, the pulse, and the style, and play what YOU would play, even if it's just a bog standard rock groove.

From here, just sit on the groove for the entire song. Don't try and hit the fills the original drummer hit, don't (yet) try and copy his groove, just play YOUR groove to the song, until you are able to play from start to finish.

When you can groove in time to the whole song, start adding your own fills in, and gradually build up your own drum part. Playing along well, I believe, comes from familiarity, so pick a song you like and just keep jamming to it. Once you are more familiar with it, you can start using the original drummer's parts as IDEAS for your OWN drumming.

Piecing it together this way allows you to familiarise yourself with the song bit by bit, and gradually you will learn, simply by osmosis, what the original drummer did, and you may find yourself using their fills.

Take it slow, and just try and have fun playing your own groove. Let familiarity build it up part by part.

I hope this helps.
 
I agree with all that is written below.

I rarely play without music now, normally just to get the patterns going etc so the sooner you can at least get simple beat going with a song the better.


I hate playing with a metronome but it is occasionally a must as a measurement of speed for development for a hard/new technique.

I personally find it far easier to play with a band than along with a CD but unfortunately can only use the band in rehearsals rather than every time I want to play lol.

But as said earlier, choose a simple beat you can play without thinking, I hike the cd player to full volume or sometimes use headphones, the balance between you and the recording makes a big difference in maintaining a beat.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
If you're playing for 20 years and can't play to songs...what does your typical drumming session consist of?

If you can get around the set, but just can't seem to put a song together, I'd say it's all in your mental organizational abilities. Writing song arrangements out, in big block letters that you can see from a few feet away, with notes on which beat to play for the verse, which beat to play for the chorus, notating where fills come in (for example play a fill after 2nd chorus leading into the solo) and any other notes you need to get you through the end, is a very helpful tactic. Have you tried anything like this?

When learning a song, I'll write something like this:

Verse/Verse/Chorus/Bridge/Solo 2x/Verse/Verse/Chorus/Outtro/Ending... That shows the order of the arrangement.

In addition I'll write notes: train beat for verse, 2/4 w/ backbeat for chorus, halftime beat in bridge, stop in the bridge, 2/4 w/ backbeat in solo...etc. Whatever you need to remind you how the song goes.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
Depends what you've been doing all this time but If you really can't play after 20 years maybe you're just not really suited or interested. I pretty much dropped piano and trumpet when I found drums because I knew in my heart it was what I wanted to do. And I progressed so much more than I ever did with the others.

I'd go get a professional opinion.

We can't see your playing so for all we know it might be fine and you're beating yourself up.
 

MrPockets

Gold Member
Everything you mention should have taught you in a beginner drum lesson. What have you been doing for 20 years.
 

drfill

Junior Member
Well in highschool I jammed with a guy in my music class a few times, I've never really considered myself to be a drummer as much as a guy who has drums. Just dabbling away for 10-15 mins here and there has always done it for me. But lately I've been watching alot of youtube drum covers, and I want to start playing to music, but I find it very difficult to pick out the parts and know the timing.

Theres alot of good replies with very good advice that I'm going to try.
 

shemp

Silver Member
Take some real simple songs with steady and very basic drum tracks....like Hella Good from No Doubt and start there. I suspect you have had drums for twenty years but maybe have not sweated it out in the woodshed?

Also, start living with a metro-gnome. It's your friend. It makes an immense difference especially for a drummer. You can start slow and set it at something comfortable between 100 and 120 and just do a steady 2 and 4 with quarters/eights on the hat and ride....a week of this and you will begin to advance quickly.
 
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Zickos

Gold Member
Take some real simple songs with steady and very basic drum tracks....like Hella Good from No Doubt and start there. I suspect you have had drums for twenty years but maybe have not sweated it out in the woodshed?

Also, start living with a metro-gnome. It's your friend. It makes an immense difference especially for a drummer. You can start slow and set it at something comfortable between 100 and 120 and just do a steady 2 and 4 with quarters/eights on the hat and ride....a week of this and you will begin to advance quickly.
Metro-gnome? Does this live under the bridge or in the garden?
 

shemp

Silver Member
Metro-gnome? Does this live under the bridge or in the garden?
lol...since it is a "metro" gnome, this guy must have struck out on his own, dissatisfied with the life around the home... and could possibly be found anywhere in the metropolitan area :)
 

MisterZero

Senior Member
When you say playing for almost 20 years, do you mean almost 20 years ago you started? Then took, say 10 years off, and began again keeping the clock running? Like me, I've been playing for about 36 years, but there were times in the middle where I didn't play, like college. Then 2 years after college, when I began my carreer. So, i gues I haven't reall yplayed for 36 years..... Is this the same for you? I think maybe you started playing, horsed around, then the clock kept ticking, and 20 years later, your amazed you can't "play to music". which, by the way, is an interesting statement. What CAN you play to, if not music? I'm assuming you get behind your drums, and wail away like Keith Moon. ( uh-oh, i'm not going there in this thread....)

Anyway, yes, get a teacher, trust me, it works. Youtube is great for tips and tricks and such, but a private teacher sitting next to you is the best way to learn.

sorry if I sounded harsh, no harsh words were meant.
 

stellar92010

Senior Member
I'm working with a teacher, and going step by step from reading, to sticking, to rudiments, grooves, he is working on each weakness and training me to high level.

He says playing with songs is great for timing and ear training, and i should always be listening for techniques I've learned when playing songs. But he also said, until you get a good foundation of basic skills, it will be hard to play with songs, and it is easy to get discouraged. it isn't fun if you cant do anything.

His point? until you nail the fundamentals, just playing songs might not be very helpful. One has to practive grooves, exercises, etc, to build enough of a skill set and bag to play songs.

with that said, after 5 months I can already play a lot of simple songs rather tightly. And that is rewarding.
 

CCdrummer

Senior Member
Perhaps you need to take a real honest look at exactly what you have been doing for the last 20 years. If you have been basically just farting around on drums every so often, and then thinking you will have magically gained the skills necessary to play on actual songs, without sitting down working on things, you are most likely kidding yourself.

I speak from personal experience on this one.
 

dazzlez

Senior Member
All you have to do is read a drum tab, if you don't know how to read a drum tab, get one stare at it at the same time as you play the song and you should be able to figure out what it all means. If not, search on youtube... "How to read a drum tab"

After reading a few tabs you will realize that sheet music is far more accurate and you need to learn that. Spend 30 minutes to reserach note values.
Then you don't have to try to figure out the beats through listening. Simply read the music!

The beauty of this is that after 20-40 songs you will be able to transcribe songs yourselves. You will start to see patterns on how a song is built, after reading loads of tabs and sheet music and you will start to hear things you didn't notice before.

There are easy songs you should be able to transcribe yourself right now, "I love rockN roll - joan jett" for example. Just count out loud 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & while you are listening and you will figure out when a certain accent comes etc. the more you do it the easier it becomes and suddenly you can play a long to most pop/rock music without a problem!
 
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