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3 Steps To Learn Any Song By Ear

Rashid Williams  /  UPDATED Apr 12, 2023

Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to sit down behind the kit and play along to any song?

Watch this video to see how Rashid Williams was able to learn a new song and write the drum part in just 15 minutes!

Listen carefully

Rashid listens to the song section by section, mapping out the structure in his head (you can write it down if it helps). The intro is sparse, so he decides to have no drums in this part. The vocals come in in the next section, which isn’t too built up yet, so he labels it the verse. Then the horns and backing vocals build up the chorus. After another verse and chorus, the song ends with an outro. Listen carefully for repeating sections where you can use the same beat or feel.

Interpret the style

Since this song has a ‘trap vibe’, Rashid busts out some of the trap beats he already knows. He plays by the ‘rules’ of the style, like matching the kick with the bass. He also writes a ‘bigger’ sounding drum part in the chorus and outro to match how those parts are built up in the rest of the composition.

Go back for details

After getting the general feel and structure, he went back to fine-tune the parts (“going back to get the minor details that make a major difference”). Rashid noticed something unique near the end of the second verse – a slight ‘push’ he wants to accent on the drums. He skipped to that part and practiced the section to make sure he could nail it, then ran through the entire song again.

Bonus: Learn the vocabulary

Rashid was able to write quickly because he already has the vocabulary for this style of music: he can pull out trap beats and hip-hop beats he already knows. The more you’re familiar with the ‘rules’ of a style, the more quickly you’ll be able to write drum parts in that style.

Check out some of the genre guides available on the Drumeo Beat:

A Drummer’s Guide To Funk
A Drummer’s Guide To Rock
A Drummer’s Guide To Prog
A Drummer’s Guide To Metal

If you’re looking for more awesome tips for learning or writing drum parts, check out how to chart a song on drums and an even longer lesson on how to learn songs quickly.

Are you a Drumeo Edge member? Want to try this song yourself? “My Guy” by Bernhard Lackner is available as a playalong track in the Members area.

Rashid plays:
Mapex Drums
Zildjian Drumsticks
Evans Drumheads
Vic Firth Drumsticks

Follow Rashid:

Rashid Williams is known for his impeccable groove, chops, and timing. As a self-taught drummer with an incredible toolbox of drumming and musical facility, Rashid has been the drummer and musical director for some of the biggest acts of our time, including John Legend, Jill Scott, Alicia Keys, N.E.R.D, Diddy’s Dirty Money, Eric Roberson, Goapele, and J. Cole.

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