Whether we like it or not, certain misconceptions run rampant in the drumming community. They cause arguments in online forums, complicate recording sessions, and create animosity within bands.
Some discussions are worth having. We can’t always agree on everything, and not every question has a right or wrong answer. But there are some things that should be addressed, and here are a few topics that many drummers argue about:
Why should a drummer need a metronome if the drummer is the metronome? Because humans aren’t robots, and we aren’t perfect. Some people may naturally have a better sense of time than others, but others think their sense of time is better than it actually is. Practicing with a metronome not only helps you prepare for studio sessions, but it makes you a better metronome for a tight live show. This doesn’t mean can’t be an excellent drummer without one, but if there’s an opportunity to improve your playing, why not take it?
For the devil’s advocates: here’s why you should be able to play with a click, but why you don’t need to lock into it entirely:
While better gear can make a great player’s hits sound more clear and precise, it won’t compensate for poor time or bad technique. You can’t hide your weaknesses behind an expensive kit, no matter how you slice it. Invest in good gear because you want to, not because you think you need to.
This idea still prevails amongst many novice drummers. Some even say if you aren’t raising your arms high enough, you aren’t doing it right. While this might make your performance look more entertaining, your ability as a drummer isn’t associated with how hard you hit. In fact, some of the world’s most technical drummers focus on efficiency rather than showmanship, which often means keeping your sticks closer to the surface in order to use less energy. You can be both an exceptional drummer and a heavy hitter, but heavy does not automatically mean good.
And then there’s the myth that “faster is better”, but many of the world’s most legendary drummers played slow and simple, becoming known for perfectly serving the music. Take a note from Todd Sucherman: “You don’t need to beat the heck out of the drums to get an aggressive or good sound.”
It might sound counterintuitive at first: many drummers think that the more years you’ve been playing, the more experienced you are. Well, lay down the pitchforks for a minute and let me explain. If you put two drummers in a room – one who’s been playing for 3 years and one who’s been playing for 30 years – you might expect the longtime drummer to know more and be a better player. But like most things in life, it’s about quality, not quantity. Someone can have 30 years under their belt but stay at a beginner level, while another drummer can practice every day, constantly working at their craft and advancing quickly. The most important thing to take from this? No matter how long you’ve been playing, try to respect and support each other.
“Why practice rudiments when I’ll never use them?” If you’ve ever seen David Garibaldi play, you’ll know that rudiments – or rudiment-style patterns – can be applied to the kit to make your drumming more interesting. You can bring flam taps and seven stroke rolls to snare solos and fills. You can break up paradiddles around the drum set. Learning rudiments can improve your technique and add to your creative vocabulary. While you don’t “need” rudiments to play drums well, learning at least a few of them can open up a ton of possibilities.
Do you argue about these things with other drummers? Do you think these are misbeliefs that should die out, or do you support them?
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