Here are my top tips for drummers. Whether you are just starting out on the drums, or if you are a veteran of the gig scene, here are some things to think about.
TOP TIP FOR DRUMMERS #1: Be Early
In my mind, it works like this:
you are early = on time
you are on time = late
you are late = fired
I am generally a patient easy-going person, but I will do everything in my powers to avoid arriving late. I’d rather sit in the car waiting to get into a venue rather than rush in late and have a stressful load-in and setup. A professional attitude to timekeeping will lead to a calmer, more productive rehearsal/gig/session. And people appreciate someone who sticks to pre-arranged plans.
TOP TIP FOR DRUMMERS #2: Be Prepared
This applies to a variety of aspects:
– Equipment. Make sure you have all the gear you need with you*. No-one likes having to wait whilst you wander around a venue trying a suitable alternative to the drum stool you have forgotten to bring. Same goes for setlists/music, stage clothes. Also, don’t forget directions, maps, contracts for gig.
– Do Your Homework. Learn the songs you are supposed to learn.
TOP TIP FOR DRUMMERS #3: Be Nice
“Be nice to people on the way up, as you will meet them again on the way down”
A much-used but very true saying. Life is too short to be rude, arrogant or condescending to fellow musicians, venue owners, door staff, sound engineers, and of course the audience.
TOP TIP FOR DRUMMERS #4: Accept Criticism
Life is a learning curve, and we never stop discovering new things. Years ago I was touring with a band, and at the soundcheck before each gig, the bass player would suggest more things to change and work on for a numbers of songs. He’d point out where he thought I was going wrong, and we’d go over little sections again and again. At times I felt this was intrusive, especially as I had been playing the songs longer than he had, but on reflection, he was making excellent suggestions on how to make the music sound and feel better. He was (and is) a very respected bass player, and now I really appreciate what he was doing – helping a younger guy out with some advice. I still think about his comments today, but in a positive way.
* on a slight tangent, bring the APPROPRIATE equipment. You probably don’t need 2 bass drums, 7 mounted toms, 9 crashes and a set of Roto-toms at a jazz gig. For 90% of my engagements, bass, snare, 2x toms, plus hi-hats, ride and 2x crashes is enough.