Playing Live


Senior Member
Hello. Fellow drummers. I am 16 and I've been playing 10 years. And I was wondering, what do you drummers do if you play live and forget parts of a song. I'm looking for ideas and techniques on how to prevent this if I "choke" on stage.

-Funnyman. "They call me the Funny Man." (Boondock Saints)

Mr. Pasquini

Gold Member
The best method to avoid choking is being well practiced. If you've all been practicing together recently (I'm assuming this is a band situation) and you know your parts well there shouldn't bee too many problems. If you do get lost, fake it. Lay down a four four until you figure out where you are. DON'T stop playing, that's when people notice for real.


Platinum Member
that can definitely happen! my band lost its lead guitarist a couple weeks ago and we had to play a paying gig last saturday. we hustled up a new guitarist post haste and came up with a set list combining the songs we already knew plus about 15 songs he knew that we didn't know. we only had time for a couple practices so we went into that show just barely knowing most of the music, but you know what? the show was a big success! we got through it by doing a lot of jamming, improvising, and looking at each other for visual cues. there were some flagrant and outright hose-ups even on my part, but believe or not no one in the crowd cared! i'm always amazed at how forgiving a crowd of drunk people can be as long as everyone in the band is grooving and having fun. as was already mentioned, it's important never to stop playing because of a mistake, and to never make a face, glare at your bandmates, or do anything to let on to the crowd that anything's wrong. you can power through an awful lot that way.


Platinum Member
The key is to understand how songs put together.

Knowing 101 different beats and fills is only part of being a drummer.

The key is count out how many bars in in the songs intros, verses, choruses, etc. and memorize the counts rather than just which beat and fill goes to which song. Most songs start to fall into predicable patterns of 4 and 8 bar increments. It's much easier to not lose your place when you under these patterns of the songs your band is playing.

Bands I've been in, some times we'd rehearse without the singer singing, so everyone knew the song inside and out without the crutch of "wait for the singer to say this line and then go to the next part..."


Platinum Member
what drumeatdrum said. learn the arrangements inside out, not just the drums that you are playing. i can usually work out where i am in a song due to a certain chord being used (e.g. chord four from a I-IV-V sequence). obviously this is easier in rock and pop music, but that is much of the stuff that i'm playing atm.

i will be looking to transcribe drum scores for songs that i am playing in the near future (strangely i can already transcribe melodies/piano parts, but have some trouble with the drums).


Senior Member
I'm actually about to play a first show and I'm not sure anyone in the band knows the songs well enough to be 100% confident, and I had to learn a cover in two days, but I think we'll be alright as long as nobody stops playing (except the bass player, 'cause nobody can hear him but me, apparently). We jam well together, so I'm pretty excited.

It'll be great if there are no drummers in the audience. =P


Senior Member
other than the obvious replys of just keep a 4/4 beat till you figure out where you are and knowing the arrangments inside out(very important), always remember with the mistakes that you notice the crowd in general are usually gonna have no idea.My bassist always says "if i make a mistake i do it twice so everyone thinks i did it on purpose".always makes me laugh that one.


"Uncle Larry"
You should write the arrangements out. Like verse, verse, chourus, bridge, lead, bridge verse ending for example. Don't embarass the family now. Use a cheat sheet if you have to but don't get lost dude. Your membership could get revoked ha ha..


Senior Member
I agree with everthing said. My two cents is stay focused on what you're doing and don't rush. I have seen as well as been guilty of speeding up songs when in front of people. Your nerves and adrinaline get to pumping and you forget the basics. Just relax and put on a good show. Good luck!