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"Doug thanx a lot for this post i really appreciate your effort on making me a better drummer." - Ajose Tosine, LearnDrumsNow reader

Can You Get Sheet Music for Drums?

Want to know every single note that drumming great Kenny Aronoff played on the John Cougar Mellencamp hit Hurts So Good?  Did you ever wonder at what tempo Green Day drummer Tre’ Cool played American Idiot?  Do you know what Charlie Watts played at the beginning of the Rolling Stones hit Brown Sugar?

The answers to these questions and much more can be found in books like the one on the left.  These books contain note-for-note copies of drum parts for hit songs, called drum transcriptions.  They are the closest thing that a drum set drummer has to the sheet music provided for other instruments, like piano and violin.

I was asked this question recently: “aw hey i’d love to learn drums this might be a dumb question but can you get sheet music for it or is everything done by ear?”

First of all: Great question!  Drummers are always ready and willing to help others learn so you can become a member of our drumming community, too.  And we always learn something about our own playing when we answer a question from someone else.

I think this is really three questions in one: Read More…

Relax…It’s Just a Drum Set!

Do your hand and foot muscles start to hurt while you play the drums? Do you get blisters on your fingers from holding your drumsticks too tight? After you play the drums does your back ache? Do you have a chipped front tooth and don’t know how it happened? Do you have trouble playing fast tempos?  Do you have trouble playing slow tempos? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you are most likely suffering from I call “Tense Drummer Syndrome” or TDS (I made this up).

You’ve probably seen drummers with TDS.  They’re the ones who play without bending their wrists, hunch over the drums, and have their face so contorted they look like they’re a monster.

When I started playing the drum set I had all the TDS symptoms:

  • If I played for any length of time, even 30 minutes, the skin on my forefingers would be raw (I play matched grip).
  • My forearm muscles would cramp when I played fast.  The more I tried to relax, the more painful the cramping.
  • I would get cramps in the muscles around my ankles.
  • My back would ache after a couple songs because I was hunching over my drums when I played.  I thought I looked cool and relaxed, plus one of my drum heroes, Buddy Rich, hunched over when he played.
  • I discovered one day that my top front teeth were chipped but I didn’t know why. I realized later that I clinched my teeth together when I played. In fact, I clinched my teeth so hard that a dentist offered to smooth out the rough spots.  And I let him!

If you saw me, I was Read More…

Mel Brown – Drum Teacher Knows Best

An open letter to Mel Brown, great drummer, teacher and mentor from Portland, Oregon:

Dear Mel,
It was great to hear you at Jimmy Mak’s last week after so many (too many!) years.  My wife and I decided to spend a long weekend at a downtown Portland hotel so it was a short walk to Jimmy Mak’s in the Pearl District.  I’m glad we made the trip!

 The band sounded great:

  • Louis Pain on the B-3 and kickin’ bass – awesome!
  • Renato Caranto on tenor sax – what a player!
  • Curtis Craft on percussion – great groove, great fun.
  • Mike Denny sittin’ in on guitar – sounded like a regular.

And your playing…what can I say?

  • The time (“Love Won’t Let me Wait”)
  • The groove (“Killer Joe”)
  • The taste (your brush work)
  • The technique (trading fours and your solos)

There’s no one better!

Why am I Writing this Letter?
Read More…

Practice Without Drums – Think Before You Play

Visualize Playing the Drums

Did you know that you don’t have to be sitting behind a set of drums to practice playing the drum set? There is a technique called visualization that will allow you to create a mental picture as if you were playing the drums. We’re following a plan to play drums in 4 weeks and this is Lesson 10 of 12.  See the complete Plan by clicking here.

Most athletes use visualization to improve their ability.  Musicians also use visualization to improve their skills and help relax before a big performance.

Visualization is making a mental image of something, usually an event that will happen in the future. Seeing yourself already playing the drums tricks your brain into believing that the goal is possible. Imagining a goal will help you accomplish something easier and faster than if you don’t focus on it.

One of the habits in Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to “Begin with the End in Mind.”  In other words, we should visualize our end goal first and then determine what steps will be needed to reach the goal.  It is important to visualize your ambition often and in as much detail as possible.  You will be surprised how some of the steps will become easy as you continue to imagine yourself reaching a goal.

Read More…

How To Play the Bo Diddley Drum Beat

Once you hear it you’ve got to start movin’. You may not know how to dance; you may not even want to dance. But once you hear a Bo Diddley beat, your body starts to move in mysterious ways.

The Bo Diddley drum beat is the last of the 6 beats that I think can be used to play every one of the most popular rock, pop and country songs over the past 50 years.  Read these posts if you’d like some background information on my idea: 6 Simple but Powerful Drum Beats – Part 1 and Part 2.

Who was Bo Diddley and Why Should You Care?

Bo Diddley was a guitar player who, in the 1950’s, popularized the West African 3-2 clave beat (pronounced claw-vay). He used the distinctive rhythm in so many of his songs that it became known as the Bo Diddley beat. The reason it’s called a 3-2 clave is because the phrase is made up of 3 long notes, a pause and then 2 short notes.

It has been used as the beat for many popular songs like Read More…