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How To Chart A Song Quickly

Randy Cooke  /  UPDATED Apr 12, 2023

Throughout his years of gigging and performing, Randy Cooke constantly gets asked how on earth he remembers all the songs he needs to play – especially when there’s little to no rehearsal time. His solution? Song charts.

Think of these as “cheat sheets” for songs. This alleviates the need to memorize every single individual part of each song and provides you with an easy way to learn a large quantity of music in a short amount of time. The main goal is to write the least amount of notes as possible, but enough so you can find your way around the song. Make your own abbreviations, symbols, or notes!

For each section of the song, write down:

  • Whether it’s the verse, chorus, or bridge
  • The time signature
  • The subdivision (quarter, eighth, sixteenth notes)
  • What cymbal you should be using (hi hats or ride cymbal)
  • The basic kick and snare pattern

Past these notes, you can pick and choose the things you need help remembering. Randy will walk you through a full song he was the recording drummer for and show exactly what he writes down! He’ll break down the most important things you should be noting, as well as the parts you can generally leave out. The more often you chart a song, the less you’ll find you need to write to understand what’s going on. You can see Randy’s notes here.

You gotta check out Randy’s Drumeo lesson on Rock Drumming 101.

Drumeo Team - We're professional, award-winning drummers and drum teachers, coaches, recording artists, and content specialists who are passionate about drums and helping drummers around the world. This post was written and/or edited by Sam Landa, Brandon Toews, Jared Falk, Dave Atkinson, or another pro on our team (which has a combined 1000+ years of drumming experience). Are you looking for inspiration, education, and support to take your playing to the next level? Join the Drumeo community today!

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