New e-book by Dawn Richardson Teaches Decades of Drum Fills

Chart Topping Drum Fills


Dawn Richardson, well known for her work with 4 Non Blondes and more recently with musicians like Tracy Chapman and Joe Gore, is also a published author of several drumming books. Her new book “Chart Topping Drum Fills” presents transcriptions of fills that are heard in popular songs, accompanied by additional fill exercises. You will see examples of fills in the book in a lesson that Dawn wrote below specially for Tom Tom readers! Naturally, I was thrilled to ask her all about this book and more, and I spoke with her on the phone. I found her to be a gracious individual whose passion towards drumming is contagious even over the phone.

Tom Tom Magazine: How did this book come about?

Dawn Richardson: It came about through conversations with Nate Brown (of about materials that would be of use to people in trying to connect things together. When you teach people concepts and there is no context, it’s hard for them to understand why. And I feel that with this sort of a book you can see the context right away. “Here is where these fills come from, and this is a type of fill, and you can hear them in this song.” And you can see the concept a lot easier and why it might be useful for you to learn that kind of stuff. The songs examples are often, not all, but lot of the songs I teach to students when I am giving private lessons. It’s great to be teaching at the same time because I could also try things out. I’m hoping that this book would help people hear the different types of fills that there are, and be able to as drummers have a little easier time putting some of these concepts together for themselves. It will give you a bigger vocabulary to choose from, and maybe give you a little better idea of what might work, instead of “I don’t know, I’m just playing the same things.”

What was most challenging in creating this book?

It’s always a challenge to keep updating yourself and reorganizing constantly…and the balance between trying to be thorough enough and making it interesting enough. Also, the video portion of the book is available for those that might want to see everything demonstrated. And I do mean EVERYTHING, the whole book. That portion of this project was perhaps the most difficult and time consuming as I recorded and edited all of the video myself.

What would your next book be?

I just did another short e-book called Rhythm Reader, which is about working on ostinatos and then going over different hand rhythms. When I teach I run into a lot of people who have never read music. So this e-book is starting way back with whole notes, half notes, and getting into all the notation. Nate is already bothering me about writing another one of drum fills, so, we’ll see if that happens.

You are busy with performing, teaching, and publishing. Could you share with us what you’ve been up to in your practice room?

It depends on what I am doing musically, but right now I am sort of trying to play around with new ideas. [Interviewer’s note: I have to omit things that she listed up for the interest of space. But I can say that she is an individual who never ceases to want to learn new things despite the successes that she achieved.] And, playing. The thing is, though, playing is playing. When you play stuff you know, that’s different than pushing yourself to learn something new. It’s good to torment yourself with new things.

When can we catch your performance in the upcoming months?

With Mental 99 at Leo’s Music Club in Oakland (9/21/14), with Shana Morrison at Powerhouse Pub in Folsom (9/28/14) and at Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival (10/18/14).

Purchase Dawn Richardson’s e-book “Chart Topping Drum Fills” online.

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