School of Drums
In the early days of this course, this was once a form
the student filled-out and submitted. As a free service I would
analyze the input, then e-mail a specific set of lessons
that each individual student should pursue, depending
on their level of ability. It was a great service,
but now there isn't anyone available to do the assessments
for you. However, I have a prepared response that
sufficed in 90% of the cases. What follows here, is the
most likely response you would have probably received.
Hopefully, this little pep talk will encourage you to follow
the most direct path of lessons leading to your speediest
success at the drum set . . .
THE BASIC DANCEBEATS . . .
The basic beats are really the WHOLE BALL OF WAX!
Many long-time, working pro-drummers do not know
this . . . but it's true . . . You'll come to realize
it too . . . over-time, as you play along with
more and more music.
Memorize ALL those basic beats . . . push them ALL
to the limit (tempo wise), as you do your routine jams . . .
Just bang on anything if you aren't behind a drumset.
Get into the flow of the music . . .
Keep doing those routine jams . . . Jam with
all your fav recordings . . . relate ALL the music
you hear, to those basic beats . . . You'll be using
all of them (and more), as you try to play along
with ALL the music that's out there.
You'll get to where you can hear those patterns
instinctively as any song begins to play . . . AND
by the 2nd, 3rd or 4th bar of the song . . . you'll be
playing along . . . even though it may be the first time
you've ever heard the song in your life.
This is the way we operate onstage! It OFTEN occurs
onstage, that a song will come up that we've NEVER
heard before. This system of Basic Dance Beats will come to
the rescue every time.
With those beats . . . you'll gain the ability to
'feel' your way into ANY song quickly and 'naturally'.
This is the way all 'NATURAL' drummers do it,
whether they know the theory and notation or not.
Many times, the 'natural' drummer may not know the name
of the basic pattern he's playing . . . but he'll be
playing it, just the same. (It's a math thing.)
The 'gear ratios' are numerical . . . and that's that!
We can study it . . . and see it visually . . . or we can
grope in the dark for 20 years by 'feel' . . . before we
realize it. The numbers don't lie and they ARE there
whether we see them or not.
Visually inspect all the basic beats . . .
slowest to fastest . . .
See the way the cymbal notes are ordered from
the top beat (16th rock) down to the bottom (4th rock),
. . . 4 + 4, 3 + 3, 2 + 2, and 1 + 1.
Dancebeat #4 seems to upset the theory . . . but
in reality . . . it DOES fit into the tempo patterns . . .
and it's a VERY common . . . BASIC beat structure.
READING NOTATION . . .
DON'T be overly concerned about the sight-reading thing.
The course is stair-stepped in a way that will (hopefully)
have you reading like an old-timer by the time you finish
THE BEST WAY TO STUDY THE COURSE . . .
Half Bar fills: Just follow the
links at the bottom of each lesson, to the next lesson.
Take each lesson, one-at-a-time, very slowly. As you study
any of the lessons. Get the basic idea, then put on a medium
tempo 8th rock song, and try to do what you have learned in the lesson. Technically, you can place fills of any length, anywhere
you choose, inside of any song. You do NOT need to copy the recorded drummer unless you
wish to make such a rule. Such a rule does NOT exist in music
theory. People often impose rules that do NOT exist. Don't
fall victim to that sort if thinking. Keep your creative
channels open. It's important! I always strive to out-play the drummer on the recording. What could be wrong with that idea?
- MEMORIZE all the Basic Dance Beats first . . .
- Begin jamming with recordings asap (I know you
are already doing this.) Keep at that, ALWAYS . . .
- You may want to get into the standardized fills
at "Rudiments, Rolls & Fills" . . . Study them and try
to pick up on the idea of 'HALF BAR' fills, beginning here:
AD-LIB YOUR OWN FILLS!
We can do ANYTHING as a fill. We needn't do those
specific standard fills. It's BETTER to just use your own 'good
ear' and creative imagination. Play what you feel . . . try to do things that fit the music you are playing . . .
Listen to the fills on the recordings and do something
similar (if you wish), or do anything you like.
There's really only one rule.
"STAY IN-TIME WITH THE MUSIC!"
As you emerge from a fill . . . be certain that
you are still connected in-time with the song. Your BACKBEAT FLOW
should still match the BACKBEAT FLOW of the song.
The Standard Fills are good for developing coordination.
They're good for getting the 'chops' (hands and feet) up to speed . . . but there's nothing
better than the ad-lib, improvised fills that come from
within your own spirit and imagination.
Just let it flow . . . and ALWAYS strive to stay in-time
with the drummers on the recordings.
Once you've completely conquered the basic beats and
the basics of fills . . . you can randomly JUMP AROUND within
the course without too much confusion. I think it's best to
do that. Study what you are 'into' at the time you are 'into'
That's exactly the way I teach all this in the private
classes. First, I figure out what the student is most
interested in . . . then we study that! Each week, we do a new
and different lesson . . . but we are ALWAYS trying to target
the students goals and interests.
It's sorta hard to shove 'Waltz Beats' down a students throat . . .
if all their CDs are blasting away with blazing-fast, 8th and 4th rock.
HAVE A BALL with all this! The ability you are seeking will
come from PLAYING THE MUSIC itself! The more you jam, the more I can
guarantee the lessons will be fruitful and productive.
I'm an old seat-of-the-pants (ear) drummer myself.
All these lessons have been taken directly from bandstand experience
with the 1,000+ bands I've worked with over the years . . .
This is the stuff you'll need in your heart, mind, and soul, as you get
with a band and play 'off-the-top of your head', as we tend to
do 99% of the time.
Memorize ALL the basic beats first. They're here:
THE BIG-5 BASIC BEATS.
ADVANCED LESSONS . . .
After memorizing those, here are a couple of
more advanced lessons . . .
Master 16th rock . . .
There are 4.3 billion possible variations,
of this pattern, but if you can confidently play 20 to 30 of
them, you will soon learn to love playing all songs that
fall into this very important beat structure.
ADDITIONAL LESSONS: For the more advanced students.
This lesson below, is designed to help get you
smoking even hotter with 8th rock . . . Don't be happy
until you can play ALL these in your sleep. The bass
syncs in the middle of the lesson are VERY difficult.
Once you can repeat each of them comfortably at rapid tempos, your
playing will go ballistic. There's a LOT of work, here . . .
8th 4/4 (rock) variations and bass
For every 15 minutes of study with the
lessons, you should jam with recordings for an hour
or more. This formula will have you kickin' mo butt,
in just a few weeks.
Your measure of yourself is VERY IMPORTANT! How do
you measure up as a person?
This may offer a clue!
International copyright secured @ Bill Powelson 1994 all rights reserved.