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4 Tips To Learn Hard Songs Quickly

Alex Rudinger  /  UPDATED Nov 8, 2022

Alex Rudinger (Intronaut, Whitechapel) is known for playing difficult, proggy metal. A lot of the material is intricate and comes with a lot of time signature changes and tempo changes.

How does a drummer learn these kinds of songs? Here’s Alex’s process for learning technical music efficiently:

1. Learn software that will help your playing

Drummers can incorporate technology into their workflow to make their lives easier. You should get familiar with a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) like ProTools, Logic, or Ableton, as well as transcribing software like Guitar Pro, Finale or Sibelius. Alex uses ProTools to listen to tracks with or without drums, and Guitar Pro to transcribe and analyze. You can use programs like these to choose a spot you’re working on and loop that section over and over.

Tools like these are great for learning new songs and coming up with ideas away from the kit, especially if you’re dealing with odd time signatures or tempo changes.

2. Start transcribing

Using a program like Guitar Pro, Finale, or Sibelius to transcribe drum parts – even if you aren’t composing something from scratch – can help you better internalize the song when you get on the kit. Alex will transcribe a part note-for-note to help him understand when and where every note falls on the grid. If you’re learning a cover or a song someone else wrote, spending the time breaking it down and writing it out will make it much easier to play it.

For more details on how transcribing drums can help you learn, check out this short article about Guitar Pro.

3. Make your own click track

Using a click is one thing, but did you know you can customize your own? Alex gives himself a ton of different cues and emphasizes accents. You can even record your own voice to remind you about a part coming up. You could change the permutation of the click to help you lock in better; for example, if a fill changes from straight 16ths or 8th notes to triplets, try changing that section of your click to triplets.

4. Drill it!

Here it is, the moment you’ve been waiting for: practice. Sit there and play the entire song over and over. Alex first sets a goal to play a new song well five out of ten times. Maybe you can play most of the song, but you keep hitting a part that’s giving you a hard time. Go back to your software and loop that section. Keep working on it and give yourself time (don’t expect to get it right away) until you have the whole song down.

While it may seem counterintuitive, starting at a computer makes the process of learning/internalizing music way faster. Technology is your friend. Practice hard and have fun!

Alex Rudinger has led a busy musical life both live and in the studio, working with groups such as Good Tiger, The Faceless, The HAARP Machine, Conquering Dystopia, Intronaut, Revocation, and Monuments. He also runs a successful YouTube channel with over 100K subscribers.

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