I’ve been playing drums for about 13 years now. I’ve been playing in “worship bands” since I was 14 and I’m not here to say that I’m an expert. But I do think I have a couple things that you can tell your drummer that will help him to do more than just play the drums, but also teach him to play in your band as part of the group. (When I refer to a drummer as “he”, it’s only because I’m a guy, and because I don’t want to say him/her every single time.)
1. “Follow the leader” – Drummers need to know the power that they have, but they also need to know who’s in charge. They need to be able to speed up and slow down as well as get loud and get quiet as the leader dictates. If they can’t follow where the leader’s going, they become a distraction and a liability because you never know where they’re going to go or what it’s going to sound like when they get there. Whether it’s with a look, a tap of the foot, or whatever, drummers have got to learn to “follow the leader.”
2. “Fills are not important” – As a drummer, this was the LAST thing that I wanted to hear, but probably the best thing (I hate being wrong). If a drummer is going to lose the tempo, it’s more than likely going to be during a fill. Fills are also when uncreative drummers tend to think they’re creative and really just end up hitting the cymbal every four counts or just completely losing the beat altogether. I would rather have a drummer who never hit a crash cymbal or a tom the entire time than someone who hit it all the time and can’t keep a beat.
3. “Find the groove” – It blows my mind how many drummers are unable to “find the groove” and spend the whole song desperately trying to stay on beat. In every song, there’s a “groove” that you just kind of feel and it’s hard to explain. But the “find the groove” exercise teaches a drummer to listen to the instruments around him and figure out with his ears (not his hands/feet) where he fits into the group’s sound. Be patient with drummers who have a little trouble at first, because once they “find the groove” (Can I say that one more time?) they will be tremendously easier to play with and they will be able to “find the groove” (YES!) much quicker next time.
More to come. And as always, encouragement goes a long way.