Often times I speak with people who wonder what it might take to be a good drummer. That’s not an easy response as there are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration. However, In the end I kind of break the rules and say “just go for it!” You’ll never truly know until you try it out.
For those of you who want to calculate your drumming potential, I will share 5 tell-tale signs that you might make a good drummer.
1. You Have Some Form of Rhythm
For some, rhythm comes fairly naturally, but unfortunately for others, it’s not always the case. Did you know that If you have a heart beat you can actually feel the rhythm of your heart? There is a pattern of pulses and they make up the rhythm of your heart. In a similar way, a good drummer develops an inner clock that helps lay the rhythmic foundation for the rest of the band. Generally speaking, a good indication is clapping. If you are a good clapper (you clap on “2 and 4″ instead of “1 and 3″) then chances are you have some good foundation of rhythm.
2. You Have Good (Bodily) Coordination
We’ve all seen the guy in gym class who is 13 years old and 6 feet tall. Yeah, he falls awkwardly, but it’s because he hasn’t fully developed his coordination skills. A good drummer should have good coordination. If you think driving a car with an automatic transmission is hard, you might want to stay away from drumming. It’s not to say that you can’t develop your coordination, but you need to have the confidence and the ability to start developing the coordination – and do it now! As a drummer, you need to use your individual hands, feet, arms, legs, and yes, even your brain. There are methods and books designed to help you in this but it also shouldn’t be too hard to learn to use these limbs independently after spending some time developing them.
3. You are a disciplined student
Simply put, a good drummer is a practicing drummer. If you are not willing to put time and effort into learning and practicing, you are not going to succeed. By practicing, I’m not talking about playing with your tech-setup and creating a new drum loop. I’m referring to old-school sweat and callouses. It’s a very common thing for a developing pro drummer to practice anywhere from 4-8 hours a day. The minimum time I’d recommend is 30 minutes a day. But from my experience, in order to stop or break the “plateauing”, you have to break the 1 hour mark in your practice time. I would also add that you need to be a student of music in general. You need to understand the different dynamics that make up a band, a song, and a worship service. Go to concerts, buy and analyze new music and then put it all into practice.
4. You Can Handle the Pressure
As a drummer, you are the backbone of your band. Your band will rely on you to keep a steady rhythm and tempo. They will expect you to always keep them in line when they might get lost in the music. Ultimately, you are the timekeeper and the buck stops with you! If you’re thinking “this is scary”, it is because in a live setting, you have to be able to carry that pressure on your shoulders. Don’t let it scare you away, but you’ll need to have a good handle on what it means to be well prepared and have the ability to relax and fill your role with confidence.
5. You play (beats) on anything you can get your hands on
This one is a little humorous, but I believe it to be vital for any passionate drummer. Even after years of playing, this one area has never changed for me. In grade 5 the girl that I like was finally sitting in the desk next to me on the first day of school. I was excited, but after 5 minutes, she asked to change desks because I was beat boxing under my breath. As I continued to “grow up”, my sisters used to yell at me for playing drums with my fingers on the kitchen table. Then, when I got my first real job at a car rental company, my boss said, “why are you throwing your arms like that in the air? You need to stop that!” You know it, AIR-DRUMS! And then, there’s the amazing tree air freshener in the car that makes for the perfect cymbal while you air-drum and and tap your fingers on the steering wheel while you beatbox to the song on the radio. As you can see, this never should stop, no matter what your wife says!
When you were starting out as a drummer, how did you measure up to this list? Is there anything that you’d like to add?