Tips & Tricks
1. Transform your (floor-)tom into a bass drum
You don´t need a 16" or 18" tom for this. Even a 14" or smaller will do the trick. It´s probably even cooler with a smaller drum. If you have, for example, a 12", 13", 16", 22" - kit you can transform your 16" into a bassdrum, the 12" will be the small tom and the 13" a "floor" tom. It´s a perfect solution for jazz, drum´n´bass etc. grooves. Consider that sometimes a smaller, more high-pitched drum will sound better with the bass though you are not playing in the same frequencies. Maybe you are a street musician who needs a smaller bass drum or you are just looking for new sounds. The are plenty of mounting opportunities available so just try it!
2. Make your e-drum pedals quieter
For the most part it´s no problem to play an electronic kit, practice kit or pad in an appartment or hotel room. But what doesn´t work is the kick pedal. This is the cheapest (I think) solution for this:
Just buy a doormat, a cutting board and a seat cushion. Then glue these together. This will eliminate most vibrations from the pedal and the pedal is still not wobbling around too much. Maybe not the most elegant item, but it works!
3. A few things to consider when you set up your drums
1. Always sit close to the bass player and (if there is one) the percussionist. - Making it easier to hear and "lock in" with each other.
2. Always sit at the same height. - For better control.
3. Mark your set-up. - For faster set up.
4. At gigs: Make sure people can see you (no cymbals in the way). - People come to see you and not your drums.
Use lighter equipment! There´s no point in using 500 pound super boom stands. Single braced hardware will do fine!
4. How to practice a new groove or pattern
1. Start out by learning how to play the pattern mechanically. Take it slooooooooooooooooooooow. See how all the rhythms are interacting with each other. Maybe take one limb away or even play one limb at a time.
2. Play the pattern at different tempos. If you only can play the pattern at one tempo you´ll have to wait for a song that has that exact tempo to be able to use it. So take your metronome and play through all kinds of tempos and especially work on your weak tempos.
3. Change the dynamics. From super soft to to really loud so you can adapt to any given muscal enviroment. Also try to use different tools such as brushes rods etc.
4. Add fill-ins. Play 3 bars of time and one bar of the pattern. Or 7 bars of time and 1 bar of the pattern. That´s probably not the most musical way of playing but it will help you to go back and forth between patterns.
5. Start and stop the pattern. Play the pattern once or twice stop and then start again. This will make it easier to play the pattern at any given moment. A new groove often feels a bit weird the first few bars of a song. By practicing this it is easier to play the pattern right directly after the count-in.
6. Play along to some music. You´ll learn how the pattern works in a musical context and it´s also much more fun to practice this way.
7. Change the orchestration. Place the rhythms on different instruments. It will totally change the sound of the pattern.
8. Change the pattern a little bit and then go back to the original. This way you practice how to bring in your own ideas without completely changing the pattern.
5. How to make polyrythms easier
Let´s say you want to play 8 beats over 7. Do like this:
1. Choose a 7/8 rhythm that contains 8 notes. Play it over a steady 7/8 pulse.
2. "Flatten out" the rhythm to make it 8 equally long notes. (Still playing the same steady 7/8 pulse underneath.
6. Learn how to play another instrument
Just in case you don´t already play another (melodic or harmonic) instrument: How about learning to play one right now! It will definitely facilitate the communication between you and your fellow bandmembers, make it easier to incorperate you more in the songwrinting process and improve your overall musicianship. Try it!
7. How to progress as a drummer
Make a plan to speed up you personal development. Follow this 3 steps:
1. Ask yourself why you are playing drums and where you want to be in, let´s says, 5 years.
2. Write down what you have to be able to do to get there.
3. Break down these things into small portions that are esier to grasp.
8. Don´t buy more information than you can actually process
1.Don´t fall in the trap of buying new equipment and education material all the time. Just buy as much stuff as you are actually going to use. It´s easy to find millions of exercise through books and videos, youtube clips and what not. But you really have to spend time practising all the stuff as well. Not just sit in front of a screen or book.
9.Take a break!
Take some time off every now and then! From small breaks in between rehearsels to longer vacations. It´s just as important as rests are in a piece of music. It will keep your brain fresh and, after all, you can´t just talk (read "play") all the time. You´ve also got to have something to say!
10. How to make yor digital drumset "brushable"
1. Simple solution
Just place a drumhead on top of the snare pad. Then lower the gain from your kick pedal and raise the gain from everything else. Works just fine for practicing brushes on a digital set.
2. Fancy solution
Put a microphone on the "drumhead snare pad". Now you can even record brushes on your digital set.
11.Slow down and repeat!
Slow down when you practice and do many repetitions of the same exercise before you go to the next!
You really need to take the tempo down in order to give your body/ brain a chance to grasp what´s going on. And do at least 160 mistake-free repetitions before you continue to the next exercise. Otherwise you won´t be able to fully remenber it in a performance situation. To check if you really can play a pattern or not: Try playing it while singing quarter notes, quarter note syncopations etc. Can´t do it? Practice more. Slow, relaxed and with many repetitions.
12. How do you do to become a better drummer?
1. Answer the following 3 questions: Why do I play drums? Why do I practice? Where do I want to be in a certain amount of time (like 1 year for example)?
2. Now that you know where you want to be (and why), try to figure out what is "wrong" with your playing right now and how you can fix it. Be as specific as you can be.
3. Make a plan for how you want to improve your weak spots and make sure to break everything down into smaller steps that are easier to reach.