I have had the good fortune of working with so many great drummers in my life.  All of them were different while having so many things in common.  You'll find those thing in common in the list of tips below.

Before reading on, I'd like to mention that while working with students, I find most of them are doing the opposite of the great tips we’ve assembled below.  Be wise and command the drum kit in short order by taking to heart and applying the advice from these great drummers!

If you don’t mind, I’d like to add my own tip.  I’m not a drummer but I have played with and produced many great ones and I have heard them extol this tip many times.  That is - practice to a metronome!  You can easily download a free app for you phone so you have no excuse.

Okay, in no particular order, I leave you to some of today’s greatest drummers.

Steve Jordan, says on his DVD, The Groove Is Here,” playing simple is not stupid!”  He goes on to explain in the video that you need to just lay down the groove, and he has been doing this for artists such as, Eric Clapton, John Mayer, James Brown and many more.

Bernard Purdie - studio legend known as “The World’s Most Recorded Drummer,” has more to add to Mr. Jordan’s thoughts.  “When you are grooving, you don’t have to play anything but 2 and 4, but when you miss it, it sticks out like a sore thumb.  It’s harder to play rock and R’n’B than anything else, because it’s so simple.” (Modern Drummer, November 1985)

Stewart Copeland, famed drummer for the Police, says to relax!

“If you listen to the really powerful drummers, you’ll notice that they’re actually very relaxed when they play.

Let’s take John Bonham (of Led Zepplin), who’s probably the mountain of power – he’s got a very relaxed, easy style. His contact with his sticks, and the way they hit the drums, is very relaxed.

This gives you a lot more power, far more than other drummers who clutch their sticks tightly, tense their muscles and attack the drums with ferocity. You actually achieve more impact with relaxation.

He also recommends that you learn to play quieter saying, “I had to learn how to play quietly. In pursuit of this new dynamic range, I discovered that the drums sounded so much better, and all the technique was easier and more relevant, when I played in a relaxed manner. There’s all kinds of blessings that come with it.”  (musicradar.com, April 2015)

Chad Smith of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, likes to practice some slow funk.

Practicing at a bunch of different tempos is great for control. Slow funk is one way I change it up, and when you’re doing it it’s great to work on little embellishments to your main beat.

... I might take a simple slow funk groove... and spice it up with tasty additions, like changing up the kick drum, adding hi-hat flourishes, or little buzz strokes on the snare just to try and build up the beat into something that’ll make you want to move!  (Drum Magazine April 2013)

Stanton Moore of Galactic and one of the funkiest and most versatile drummers of our time explains that you need to be aware of what the rest of the band is playing and consider what is best for the song.  

“You’ll hear drummers who play stuff and it’s like, ’Okay, I can understand it took you many hours of practice to develop that. And I can appreciate the work that went into that. But what does that have to do with the music that is here right now?’

Music is a conversation. It just is. It’s a conversation between a group of people and you have an audience that watches that. You want to stay topical.”  (Drum Magazine October 2010)

Kenny Aronoff, seems to have played with practically everyone. He is in such demand that he says the only way to keep all his scheduled gigs and be prepared at go time is to transcribe his drum parts.

When he gets to each gig, he takes out his sheet music and plays.  The trick, however, is to be able to play without sounding like you are reading.  Kenny says that took years of practice and instruction.  (Kenny started his drum lessons with the famous Vic Firth.)

Kenny’s advice to people is as you’re practicing all your technique, do not forget about listening to everybody, whether you’re playing with musicians live or you’re playing with recorded music.

Don’t just focus on yourself; listen to everything that’s happening including yourself because that will influence you on how you play. You have to go through this whole development and growth and figure out what you think is the best way to play the drums when you’re playing music with other people.

Obviously the things you have to focus on are play the right beat for the song, think about time, think about groove, making it all feel good, don’t just play from your neck up—you feel everything.

Even when you are practicing technique, there is so much to learn and so much to know, so much to think about that you can’t learn it in one year. You’ve got to be willing to commit.

Travis Barker, known as the brains and drummer of Blink-182, knows that taking lessons is the most effective way to be a great drummer quickly.  

At 5 years of age Travis Barker started taking drum set lessons with a jazz drummer named Michael Mai, who exposed him to a lot of different styles of music. It was also at this time that he began taking trumpet lessons.

Being familiar with other instruments is a great thing, since the drums are meant to be part of a band.  No sense taking drum lessons and just playing by yourself in the basement!

Editor’s note:

I encourage you to look up each of these drummers and learn about their history and listen to their music.

If you would like to play in a band and/or take drum lessons with proven methods to get you playing in a matter of weeks, or get simply get more great info like this, email me at create@originalmusicschool.com  and mention this ad.  I’ll give you a FREE lesson if you share the article and “like” it on Facebook.

Create!  Don't imitate!