Being a musician that’s part of a band, I can’t tell you how much of a difference it makes when you have a solid drummer behind you. If you don’t have steady rhythm, that stays in time and is alive with soul, then the entire music just won’t “pop” the way you want it to.
Whilst I can appreciate that there are many different types of drumming styles, genres and rhythmic based instruments out there, each “drummer” that I’ve come across that has an amazing ability, shares the same qualities.
So what are those qualities? There are many, but the main categories that they fall into are the following:
- Song-writing understanding
- Present moment awareness
If your drummer has all of the above to a high standard, then you have yourself a great drummer. If not, don’t fear as not all drummers are born with these qualities or amazing abilities. Let me tell you why, and it’s actually the first bullet…
Every amazing drummer I know used to practice for a silly amount of hours per day, until rhythm is all they know and think about. When they’re on the bus, train, taxi, eating dinner, sitting watching TV, it’s always present within them. Me and my old band’s drummer used to use Dartford Cabs to travel to our rehearsal space, he used to tap constantly on his knees the entire journey there and back! To truly master a craft, you have to live and breathe it.
I think most drummers out there have the potential to be fantastic, but in order to do so you have to put the TIME & EFFORT into becoming fantastic or it just won’t happen for you. Nobody became the best at something through laziness or doing something half-assed.
The second point, PASSION! If you don’t play with your heart and soul whilst drumming you won’t create a decent groove. You need to feel that rhythm with every cell of your body, as you will seduce the rest of the musicians playing with you and ultimately the music. Once you lull in your fellow musicians they will create even better music with you, and thus a phenomenal piece of music is written or performed.
This leads me into point number three, “Song-writing understanding”. Every great drummer I’ve worked with has the ability to chime in with song-writing. They have vision, and know what part should come next or “how it should go”. Having this ability helps guitarists, bassists vocalists and whoever else is in your band move on, instead of getting stuck in mood points.
CHEMISTRY! If your drummer isn’t locked in with your playing and style then it will be evident in your performance or music. You must learn to gel as musicians, the best way to do this is to play together as much as possible and spend some social time together often. Then you will feel like musical family, and from this comes much better song-writing and musical performance.
Present Moment Awareness: ALL great drummers have the ability to live in the moment whilst playing drums. This is a vital skill, as it means that the music stays *alive* with life and soul. It keeps the other musicians on their toes as it draws them in to. A feeling of “anything could happen” is always present. Drummers should always give you eye contact and be looking around for cue’s from fellow musicians. This is also a part of the chemistry bond between you. If your drummer is always staring at his kit and never looks at you, the communication and relationship between you isn’t forming well and that needs to change.
SO whilst there will be people that disagree with my findings they are just that. This is what I’VE personally come across when working with amazing quality drummers. They all share the above traits. And I’m certain that if you’re a drummer or looking to become one, you need to master these traits as they will help transform you from a regular/average beat keeper, to an insane beat bonanza!