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   Can you give me some tips on how to make music when working with a band.

   Ah, here we go! Making music. This is what it's all about isn't it? Not just "playing" drums, but making music with them.

   Here's the big secret - I'm going to give this one to you for free! It's the #1 thing all successful professional drummers do when playing music with others. Ready?

   Listen to the people you're playing with!

   Sounds simple, but it's not! You have to be comfortable enough with your playing to "lose" yourself and concentrate on the other members in the band. But, you must do this if you are to enjoy a measure of success as a musician, because making music is not a solitary affair, especially when you're in a band! You must compliment and reinforce what's being played, sometimes laying way back and letting others step forward.

   The best compliment a drummer can receive is "he has ears out to here", usually delivered with the hands about a foot from either side of the head. Meaning? You know how listen. If you can master this one, you'll see people lining up to play with you, because you respect them, and this helps them perform and grow as musicians.

   Should a drummer hit the hi-hat with only the tip of the stick or can I strike it like 1 to 2 inches from the tip down where the drumstick gets all chewed up. Both ways seem to produce different sounds depending if the hi-hat is open or really close.

   There is no rule here. Your question hints at the answer: hitting the hi-hats with a different part of the stick will give you a different sound. Each sound has a purpose: use it to its advantage! One will sound better with a specific song or style. This introduces more sonic colors into your playing and will make you a more versatile drummer: learn to harness the sounds you get and put them to work for you.

   Jeff Porcaro made a career out of the technique of varying his hi-hat "attack" during the course of a song: he called it the "slippery" hi-hat. It can be very effective, particularly in recording situations.

   Should the bass drum be played with the heel up or the heel down?

   Here's another one of those "no rules" questions. Drummers will be arguing about this one as long as there are drum pedals.

   I tend to go back and forth between heel-up and heel-down, depending on what I want from the bass drum; I can play just as fast both ways, so speed isn't an issue with me - sound is. If I want a boomy sound, I play heel-down, because the pedal will bounce off the head and not dampen the sound. If I want a "choked" sound, I play heel-up: the pedal beater stays on the head and helps to muffle it.

   Practice both ways so you will have more options in the sounds you produce.

   I played today and I noticed that I am always hunched over when I play. How long did it take you to get in the habit of sitting up straight? And what is a good height for my toms and snare? I notice that I setup my kit by the I slouch.

   First of all, my posture isn't that great either! It's something I'm continually working on. It's best to sit with your back straight because it doesn't tire you as easily. But, I have bad posture to begin with, so it's a constant struggle. I'm thinking of getting a throne with a back, which would help me be aware of how I'm sitting.

   In terms of snare and tom height, this depends on throne height. You want to position your throne so your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Then adjust snare and tom height and angle so that you can reach them without much effort. It's best to play down at them a bit - reaching up for the drums tends to be harder (use gravity to your advantage).

   Sit in on some other drummers' kits and see how they feel. If you find one you like, then make some notes and change your set-up to mimic it.

  • Dustin Hughes writes:
  •    During practice I usually position myself with my back close to a wall this prevents that lazy lay back when playing. I also tend to sit up, and leaning forward is hard when your toms are close to your chest.

  • Alexander Barrett writes:
  •    This may appeal to some players when setting up there kit and why if they decide to set up this way as explained by Dave Weckyl.

       First, as already said set seat so legs are about parallel to the floor, sit near the edge of the seat so you that you can lean into the drum kit, basically the toms can be angled so that they are all angled towards waiste level the same goes for the cymbals with the ride being an exception as you are not as likely to crash them. It is a good idea to angle the bass drum slightly buy raising the legs so that the beater comes into full contact with the skin. This should mean that you dont have to reach for any drum or cymbal. Try it and see it may work for you.

   I wanna know if I can emulate a double bass with any technique of double kick. Can I do a continuous playing of the bass with one foot?

   This should be simple to do, but will require a good amount of conditioning in your bass drum foot. Be prepared to woodshed this one a bit, spending time practicing various patterns only with the bass drum foot; expect some pain!

   Getting involved in a fitness regimen will also help: running, jumping, hiking, bicycling (great for the upper thighs!), and weight lifting should also help.

  • George Robertson writes:
  •    A couple of points struck me reading through the discussions of bass drum technique.

       The first is this - you may want to try to angle the bass drum out a little. This means that the front skin is pointing a few degrees to your right (for a right-handed player). If you think about it, your legs come out of your body at an angle. This will help posture and help keep you looking straight ahead, rather than twisting. [editor's note: I do this, and it's a huge help. You will probably get flack from your bandmates at first - my stage manager always wanted the front of the bass drum parallel with the stage, but I insisted on this setup; I wanted to be facing the audience!]

       Some people have wondered about playing double bass drum patterns on one drum. This might lead to your leg falling out of the joint! I have a very active right leg and I'm 6'4" - I've now got a slight problem in the hip joint that I'm working on. I think, if you want a lot of bass notes, use two drums. You'll be more balanced and a lot healthier.

       As for heel-up or heel-down; I find that I can play damped and undamped with heel-up. I teach heel-up only as heel-down smacks of the amateur (to me anyway). I place the ball of my foot towards the back of the foot plate. That way there is less travel, and I find less of a shock up the leg.

   How can I strengthen my weak hand?

  • Tom Kenworthy writes:
  •    Why not reverse the kit, so if you're right-handed try to play on a left-handed kit. Not only do you strengthen your opposite hand, you will learn totally new co-ordination.

  • Craig writes:
  •    Here's a little technique that made my left hand much much stronger. Using the hi hat & snare play normally this beat:

      (now un-cross your hands)

       Get faster, and progress you can also add a bass drum beat on the single hand.

  • Brandon writes:
  •    I think Rudiments are a great way of strengthening your weak hand. They also help you develop a great vocabulary of drum patterns.

  • Alexander Barrett writes:
  •    Here is another form of strengthing that weak hand, this excercise consists of a triplet excersise and also goes into a 3/4 timing. I have grouped the sticking in 3's to make it easier to read, it is still one continuous pattern and sound like triplets. the first pattern starts with 3 beats with the right hand then 3 beats with the left - looks like this:

      LLL RRR

       Play that for sometime; then without stopping, double the amount of strokes for each hand (still playing single strokes). Looks like this:


       After this, add another 3 notes to each hand which will put you in 3/4 timing and looks like this:


       And finally add another 3 notes to each hand, this will put you back in 4/4. Looks like this:


       It's a good idea to start with the last so you can determine what speed you can play at. Keep all patterns at the same tempo, metranome is good idea and try different volumes. Hope this is of some help.


  • Brandon writes:
  •    I think a great way of strengthening you're weak hand is by practicing rudiments and more rudiments. These cause you to work both hands equally. I especially like paradiddles.

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