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The Drum Kit & Percussion

drum lessonsWhy you should learn to play both.

It seems like most drumset players are not interested in learning to play percussion. I can understand this attitude because I used to be one of those drummers. Now I play percussion and drums and it really opened up some new ideas, some cool tracks, and some double hits on sessions. (So I made twice the money I normally would).

Now that I have your attention lets discuss this a bit further. I didn’t want to get into percussion years ago; because I had the attitude that I still had a ton of work to on the drumset and didn’t want to give up practice time to other instruments. What I didn’t realize is that percussion can open you up to some great new rhythms on drums. For instance–Songo and Guaguanco just to name a few.

If you are a decent drummer you can grasp the first patterns on congas fairly easily. You have to learn how to slap. (that was the hard part for me). Now don’t get me wrong, you will not be the best conga player on the planet. You have to work at it, but right off the bat you will hear some cool stuff between your drums and congas. It’s really nice to play a groove and then lay congas and other percussion over it. You played drums so there is no guessing involved.

Another thing I have found is that what I call “Toys” are much in demand in recording sessions these days. Such as:

Goats Teeth, Wooden Shakers, Eggs, Wind and water noises, Birds, Thunder, you name it. I did a session a month ago and used an “Elephant Bell”. They use them in the jungle, and tie them around Elephants necks so the villagers can hear them coming. I used one as a wood block. It kicked my ass. The best wood block sound I ever heard. So having different sounds available in your gear and having good ears will also help you.

Another thing that you will find is how to apply the new cowbell patterns you will use to the drumset. Very Cool, I really have milked this one. These patterns that would usually be used by the Timbale player can be applied to the kit in many ways.

Funk, Latin, Salsa, and even just a Funky 4-4 with your right hand playing a straight rock groove while your left hand plays a different groove on a cowbell. Really nice stuff comes out of this.

Left foot clave with another pattern on a cowbell is just killer.

A book that helped me a lot with applying some funkier Latin rhythms to the drumset is “Funkifying the Clave” by Robbie Amen and Lincoln Goines. Killer stuff. It does not show you how to play percussion but it does tell you how to apply some of these rhythms to the kit. I found it to be very helpful and Robbie Amen you should check out anyway. He just kicks ass. Great player. It’s worth it just to hear him play. The book does come with a tape and tracks to play to if you don’t read that great. Check it out.

So don’t cheat yourself. Learn how to play some percussion and understand and apply these new rhythms to your bag. My bag to me is what I carry around with me from gigs and sessions. The more things I have available to me in my bag, the more I can make myself, the producers, and the clients happy. And keep the music feeling good.

Check out some percussion. The only thing it can hurt is your hands!!!! And once that’s done, head over to DrumsPlayerWorld.com for free drumming instructions!

Upcoming Features

  • Submit your own ‘Online Lessons’ and ‘Side Stroke’ articles for publication at the Submission Center.
  • Look forward to several changes within the Cyber-Drum Network, which will include new forums, a new look, and chatrooms!
  • An extensive interview in Chautauqua, NY (August 1999) with the one and only Evelyn Glennie.
  • Artist interviews with Mark Shulman, Chad Smith and Jeff Burrows!