Posted on Leave a comment

Equipment Tips – For Drummers

Some drummers find it useful to keep a checklist for supplies and maintenance of their drum kit(s).

Sticks-keep a good supply of your favourite sticks handy for recording or playing live. If you notice cracks or severe wear grab a new pair.

Cymbals-use a good quality cleaner-especially when playing live or if you are being photographed or filmed.

Keep your drums dust free so they look their best. Tuning may go out due to changes in temperature or humidity. Let the drums sit in the new environment for as long as possible and only tune them at the last minute before recording or playing live. Periodically tighten all components in the kit including cymbal stand settings. Buy high quality drum heads which will sound better and last longer. Many Pro’s keep a second snare on standby in case of a broken drum head during a performance or recording session. Neil Peart (Rush) has his snare head replaced for every performance.

Occasionally check your drum cases if you tour/travel a lot. Also check other items such as electronics, headphones/ear pieces, fan, clean towels, clean water bottle, drum stick wax, etc.

Maintain your kit and it will perform trouble free for you for many years.

Power Drumming Canada coaches beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be.

Posted on Leave a comment

Practicing Without Making Noise – For Drummers

The excitement and power of playing drums at full volume is hard to replicate in any other activity. There are times however when playing loud is not possible.

Here are some options which will allow you to play with full power but at near zero volume. The first option is to soundproof a room. This can be done with little expense or work. I’ve seen people do this with egg cartons, foam, sound baffling, etc. The beauty of this is that you can also rehearse a band and even record in your soundproof space without disturbing others. A second method is to play a practice pad or a set of practice pads. This is especially useful when working on hand techniques. A third option is to play an electronic kit with headphones. This is very helpful when working on 4 limb exercises and also when in creative mode as the electronic kit is ideal for experimentation. The fourth option is a method created at Power Drumming Canada called “ Off Kit Training”.  This is a fantastic way to practice all 4 limbs anywhere, anytime.

If you are dedicated to practicing and improving, you can literally do it anywhere without disturbing others. If you’re a beginner drummer and your parents don’t want the noise of having a drummer in the house, let them read this blog-I hope it helps you overcome their concerns.

Power Drumming Canada coaches beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be.

Posted on Leave a comment

Getting Started – For Drummers

There are 3 main things you need to get started as a drummer: a drum kit, drum sticks and lessons.

Let’s look at these one at a time. The first decision you want to make regarding a drum kit is, do you want to rent or own. The second decision is do you want to start out with an acoustic or electronic kit. Both of these questions can be answered by dropping by your local music/drum store and asking questions and trying out different kits. Whatever you decide, start small. Get really good on a small kit before considering moving up to a bigger kit. The main advantage of an electronic kit is you won’t disturb anyone when you’re playing because you’ll be wearing headphones. The main advantage of an acoustic kit is they can be less expensive than an electronic kits. The question of drumsticks can also be answered at the music/drum store as they should have a large selection of sticks. Try different thicknesses, weights, wood or nylon tips, etc (nylon tips give you a brighter sound on the cymbals. When you find the right pair of sticks buy an extra pair as drum sticks break and get worn down from rim shots.

Now that you have your kit and sticks the best advice I can give you is take some lessons. It will accelerate your learning and you won’t pick up bad habits by trying to teach yourself. Find a versatile teacher who will work with you to achieve YOUR goals. Does he/she insist on learning to read? Will they travel to you? Do they teach the style of music that interests you? What is their drumming experience? Consider a more mature teacher who posses more skills, experience, knowledge and insights than a young teacher will have. Finally, find a teacher who will allow you to progress at your speed, whether that may be fast or more slow and steady.

Power Drumming Canada coaches beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be.

Posted on Leave a comment

Building Your Dream Kit – For Drummers

The number of options when building your dream kit are endless. Factors that should be considered include the type of music you play, your skill level, your budget and your creativity. Music genres such as blues, jazz, bluegrass, etc don’t require a large kit as the primary role of the drummer is to keep time. Genres such as rock and metal allow for much more creativity and therefore a large kit is exciting. Other factors come into the equation as well. The logistics of touring with a large kit, does your kit include electronics, etc. If you choose to build a large kit you can do it slowly over time adding pieces as your budget allows.

I currently play a standard electronic kit and a 55 piece acoustic kit. Here’s how I built it. The basic kit I started with included double kick drums, 4 rack toms and 2 floor toms, hi hat, snare and a few cymbals. Over the next few months I added 8 octobons, 5 rototoms, a gong drum, an additional snare and hi hat, timbales, conga drums, and a vast array of cymbals. Next I added cowbells, wood block, and an array of pedals with various percussive instruments attached. The most recent (and exciting ) addition has been 2 sets of double kick pedals (2 beaters on each kick drum). Some people might think this kit is over the top or just an ego trip. The truth is not only is it more fun and challenging to play a large kit but it allows for unmatched creativity.

As you become more advanced creativity becomes one of the most exciting elements of drumming. The entire left side of the kit is arranged for more Latin style drumming. The centre and right side for rock and metal. The kit wraps around the drummer more than 180 degrees so cymbals are within reach from anywhere. The double/double kick pedals allow for double kick playing regardless if I’m playing the left, centre or right side of the kit.

Build a kit you are comfortable with and one which excites your creativity.

Power Drumming Canada coaches beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be.

Posted on Leave a comment

Keeping Practice Fun – For Drummers

One of the most important aspects of improving is keeping your practices fun.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Create a playlist of your favourite songs and play along – this is very effective as a warm up to your practice session.
  2. Create a second playlist of songs you would like to learn and/or you find challenging.
  3. Record yourself and identify areas you would like to improve. Record yourself again after a few practices to see the improvement.
  4. Join or form a band.
  5. Have drum battles with other drummers (choose people who are better than you currently are) to share ideas and learn new skills.
  6. Work on creating new patterns and fills.
  7. Construct a drum solo (this is the subject of an upcoming blog).
  8. Set new goals – this is the gold standard for improving your enjoyment, skill set and motivation.

Try incorporating some or all of these ideas into your practicing. True enjoyment comes from the satisfaction of improving so keep at it.

Power Drumming Canada coaches beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be.

Posted on Leave a comment

Developing Speed – For Drummers

Modern drummers often play with extreme speed either because the music genre they play requires it or it can be used as another tool in their drumming toolbox. Speed can also be used in circumstances such as drum clinics, instructional videos, drum solos and showmanship opportunities.

If your goal is to develop speed in your drumming there are some steps that will help you get there. First of all visualize your goal. What drums are involved, are both hands and both feet involved, is it just a fill or is it the entire length of the song, etc. For the hands focus on the fulcrum of the stick which allows you the greatest involvement of your fingers to control the rebound. For the feet you may find heels up works best for speed. Experiment with where you place the ball of the foot on the pedal to locate the sweet spot. Also experiment with different settings on the pedal. Start the pattern slowly focusing on clean separation between the notes. Slowly add speed while maintaining separation. A good exercise is to start slow, gradually add speed until your separation suffers and then gradually slow down maintaining control. Each time you do this exercise try to go just a bit faster with control. As your skill and speed increase to your maximum try adding accents on the 1, 2, 3 and 4.  Also using a metronome can help with staying locked in the metre and recording yourself can help identify areas enquiring additional attention.

Speed is a great skill to have in all aspects of your drumming but remember it’s only effective if metre, separation and control are rock solid. Finally, speed as in all drum skills should only be used to serve and enhance the song.

Our mission at Power Drumming Canada is to coach beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be. 

Posted on

Recording Tips (Part 3 of 3) for Drummers

CCI29012019_58

In part 1 we discussed before entering the studio (pre-production).  In part 2 we discussed the recording process (production).  In part 3 we will discuss after recording (post production).

Now that all your drum parts are recorded you have an opportunity to make small enhancements. These may include overdubs and/or studio magic.  This is the point where every drummer has to make a fundamental decision. Do I want to be able to reproduce the songs live myself without any additional help or do I want to work with technology to produce (in the studio and live) a hybrid of myself and technology including samples, loops, triggers, studio effects, etc.  This is a personal decision, although depending on the complexity of the songs the decision may become obvious. A great deal of the post production will be completed by the engineer including EQing and mixing. You may find EQing tedious and best left to the experts however mixing is something you may want to participate in, if only to give feedback after the initial mixes are done.  A word of caution-Pro Tools is the software used in most studios and offers endless possibilities for studio magic.  Don’t lose sight of serving the song. If used properly these options can truly enhance your performance.  If not used properly they can sabotage your performance and the song. Be flexible to other people’s ideas as they may improve on your drum parts and therefore improve the song.

Power Drumming Canada offers lessons in home recording as well as drum lessons, songwriting lessons and strength and conditioning lessons for drummers.

Posted on

Recording Tips (Part 2 of 3) for Drummers

CCI08012019_31

In part 1 we discussed getting ready to go into a studio.

In this part we will discuss tips for the actual recording process. When you book a studio you normally have an engineer assigned to your project and maybe also a producer. The engineer is the most important person in the room so make sure you are comfortable with him or her. Hopefully they are a fan of the type of music you play and are easy to talk to. Their job includes mic placement, getting the best sound out of your drums, working directly with you during recording, EQing the tracks, mixing, etc. Have an understanding with the engineer that once you have the right take you will move on to the next item so you’re not wasting valuable time and $ and energy.

In order to get the best sound out of your drums hit them as hard as you can while maintaining tempo and the drum part. If you start to feel tired, take a short break. Splash some cold water on your face or step outside for some fresh air. Be open to suggestions. Sometimes a band mate or engineer or producer will suggest something you hadn’t thought of. At least try it as it might improve on what you had originally prepared.

Serve the song/enhance the song. Everything you record on drums should be to serve the song (make the song the best it can be). After you’ve recorded a song or section of a song listen to the playback and see if you can do anything to make the song better. Fresh ears is a very important idea. After you’ve finished recording something leave it for a few hours or even a few days and then listen to it with fresh ears. You may be surprised how good it is or you may decide to re-record it. During recording you will likely be focusing on 3 or 4 things at once: a click track, your drum part, hitting all 4 limbs as hard as you can and taking instruction over the headphones from the control room. It is unfamiliar to be doing this many things at the same time and you’re going to make mistakes. Relax and enjoy the ride. The finished product will be worth it.

Power Drumming Canada coaches beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be.

Posted on

Recording Tips (Part 1 of 3) for Drummers

Before setting foot in a recording studio there are 3 things you need to have prepared:

Your drum parts, your equipment, and yourself.  Studio time can be very expensive so you want to have the songs rehearsed and your drum parts worked out.  For a week or two prior to recording, practice your drum parts over and over so you know them cold.  This will allow you to be relaxed in the studio and also allow you to improvise if and when appropriate.

Next, make sure your kit is in good working order.  You may want to clean the cymbals if you’re being photographed or filmed.  Also make sure you have enough sticks, a towel, drum stick wax if you use it, tuning keys, a water bottle and snacks.

Last but definitely not least make sure YOU are ready to record.  Get plenty of sleep, don’t party during the recording process as you want to be at your best.  Recording is physically and mentally demanding so make sure you are ready.  Something that will help maintain high energy levels is carbo loading.  This is a technique used by athletes where you start eating carbs a few days ahead of recording and continue throughout the process.  Eating lots of pasta, potatoes, bread, fruit and other high carb foods will give you lots of energy to meet those mental and physical demands.

Nowadays home recording is popular.  This is particularly useful for getting ideas down and also for recording demos.  If engineered properly home recordings can be of broadcast quality.

Power Drumming Canada offers home recording lessons as one of our additional services.  Our goal is to coach beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be.

Posted on

A great bass player – Crucial for drummers

Regardless of the type of music you play a tight rhythm section is the foundation of a great song and a great band.

One of my favourite (and most skilled) bass players is Billy Sheehan (Mr Big). He approaches the bass like a lead guitarist and can shred with anyone. While his skills are off the charts, what also makes him great is his ability to know when to “serve the song” and when to step up and dazzle.
 

When you combine a great bass player with a great drummer you have a powerful rhythm section and are one step closer to creating something special. Often a great bass player will step up and fill in the sparse sound of a band when the guitarist takes a solo. In funk music the bass player is everything when creating those incredible grooves. When the bass and drums are locked in the effect can give you goose bumps. When songwriting and recording, if the drummer and bass player can work out killer parts that sync well together, the guitars, keyboards, vocals and post production can all be added to create a great song. Having a great bass player will also push a drummer to be better and to be able to appreciate the incredible effect of a powerhouse rhythm section. Too often bass players take a back seat when in my opinion they should be showcased and appreciated for the vital role they play.

Our mission at Power Drumming Canada is to coach beginner, intermediate and advanced drummers to be the best they can be.