1. Give every note and rest it’s full value. Don’t rush through choruses or drag out a rest.
2. Pick an appropriate tempo for the song that best conveys the feeling or tone that the song is trying to set. If it’s a punk-y anthem, play an energetic tempo. Sad ballad? Maybe it should be slow and/or sparse.
3. Pick drum parts that suit the song. Don’t play busy drum parts for the sake of showing off. Always play a part that fits the
song, and makes the song, and your band mates, sound best.
4. Be ready and able to incorporate different dynamics, and accents to support the other instruments/flow of the song.
5. Listen carefully to what the other instruments are playing. Find a drum groove that compliments the other instruments. PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO THE BASS PLAYER! You can create a good kick drum pattern by following the bass line. Don’t forget the bass player is the other half of the rhythm section. Together you will “steer the ship”. Always set your drums up so that you can best hear, make eye contact, and communicate with the bass player.
Once you’ve come up with the right groove for the song, you have to inject some emotion and personality into it. If you play your part with finesse, emotion, and stay in the pocket, you’ve most likely created a great drum part. Even if the song calls for the most simple, basic beat, you can do so while incorporating all of the above ideas. Just crank up some AC/DC to prove my point!
Rachel Fuhrer is ahighly active musician, educator, and writer. She has played drums for artists such as Ume, Peter Stopschinski, Corey Glover (Living Colour), Brad Houser (Edie Brickel), and Eric McFadden (P-Funk Allstars) among many others. Over the years, Rachel has shared the stage with hundreds of notable artists including Jane’s Addiction, Blondie, The Toadies, and Franz Ferdinand. Last year, Fuhrer was featured in the book Woman Drummers, A History by Angela Smith (Rowman & Littlefield).
Illustration by Kelly Abeln