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The Specials – Ghost Town – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 6

What’s so special about this song? Well… it’s about my home town: Coventry, England. Not the most positive song ever written about Coventry I must admit; inspired by rising unemployment, bars and clubs closing down, times of economic hardship… it’s not exactly uplifting! It is however part of the Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 6 syllabus, so lets take a look at it.

The Specials – Ghost Town – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 6 Drums

Make That Groove Smooth

The main focus of this song is the groove. It features one handed 16th notes played at 74bpm with some 16th note bass drums thrown in to make it sound funky. The tips given in the book for this song indicate that the 16th notes on the hi-hat should be played evenly yet with a bouncy feel. Normally when I think bouncy I think of a shuffle, but this song is not a shuffle. So how do we play evenly yet bouncy?

I believe that evenly refers to the spacing of the 16th notes – they need to be a perfectly spaced  1 e & ah 2 e & ah 3 e & ah 4 e & ah – all notes equidistant apart. To add the bouncy element, I decided to accent the &s on the hi-hat. If you watch my right hand on the hi-hat, you’ll notice that I allow my right hand to drop down a little bit on the &s so the shoulder of the stick catches the edge of the hi-hat a little more and produces a slightly louder, thicker sound than the other three 16th notes. You can experiment with this, you might want to accent all of the 8th notes which another common way of adding movement to a 16th note hi-hat pattern. Whatever you do, just make sure it doesn’t interfere with the even spacing of the notes.

By accenting the offbeat in this manner you also tie in rhythmically with the guitar for most of the song. You may want to experiment with just accenting the offbeats when the guitar is playing the same rhythm.

Woof Woof – Is That A Barking Hi-Hat?

Most of the fills in this song feature hi-hat barks. It’s something you often hear funk drummers doing & we previously encountered in grade 5 with Prince’s Musicology. Working on speed exercises with your feet will help with the execution of this fill. Practice playing 16th notes between your feet until you can get them clean & even.

hi-hat barks - drum lessons in singapore - rhythm house
Prepare to bark

Once you can play clean 16ths between your feet, then you can introduce your right hand hitting the hi-hat hi-hat together with the bass drum.

Hi-hat barks exercise 2
Bark!

If you have been playing clean 16 notes between your feet, then you should now get consistent sounding open hi-hats barking on the es & ahs. Try altering how much you open the hi-hat by controlling it with your foot. Opening it different amounts will give very different results. Normally you don’t want to open it very much at all as you want the hi-hats to sizzle together. The less you open the hi-hats, the easier it will be to do it at faster tempos as your foot doesn’t have to go up  down so far.

Keep working on this until you can get a consistent sound for all the open hi-hats. You can cheat on this by setting your hi-hats to be open just a little bit when your foot isn’t on the pedal. However, I recommend learning to control your left foot though & being able to choose how open the hi-hat is so you have full control of the sound you get.

32nd Note Fills

Unlike most other Trinity rock & pop songs, all the fills for this song are spelt out for us. Most of the fills occur after the hi-hat barks on the & of four and are played as 32nd notes on the snare. The song is at 74bpm, so playing 32nd notes is the same as playing 16th notes at 148bpm. Hopefully you’ve been working on your single stroke roll speed! We only need short bursts of speed for these fills so they should be achievable. Work with a metronome to lock in your timing.

Did You Get Spooked?

This is probably one of the easier grade 6 songs to play as the groove stays consistent throughout the song and the fills are quite repetitive. However, you need to commit to making that groove sound good and to keep it sounding the same throughout the song. Work on playing the hi-hat in a relaxed manner so you’re hand doesn’t get fatigued playing all those 16th notes. Make those hi-hat barks as consistent as possible too.

The 2018 version of the Trinity Grade 6 Rock & Pop book is great to work through if you’re around 3.5 – 4 years into your drumming career. You don’t have to take the exam to benefit from the book. The songs are great to work on & fun to play and will help to improve your drumming. In Singapore you can find the book at Robert Piano – Paragon Shopping Centre (and probably their other outlets). It’s also available from Amazon if you’re happy to pay the shipping!

Don’t forget to check out our youtube channel & subscribe for more videos!

If you’re in Singapore &  haven’t had a free trial lesson with us, sign up for one here!

The Alabama Shakes – Hold On – Trinity Rock & Pop Initial Grade

Have you got the shakes? The Alabama Shakes? Just Hold On for a minute, this video will cure them!

The Alabama Shakes – Hold On – Trinity Rock & Pop Initial Grade Drums

Feeling better now?

Lock It In

This song appears simple on paper, there are no drum fills, no tricky grooves, no open hi-hats… only 2 crashes… just a simple 2-bar pattern… easy. The test here is in locking in with the band.

At the start of the song the acoustic guitar and  the bass guitar are playing the same pattern as our bass drum. We need to try and make it sound like it’s all being played by one person at exactly the same time.

When the verse starts, the acoustic guitar drops out and we’re left to lock in with just the bass guitar. In the middle of the verse the electric guitar starts playing on beats 2 and 4. Your snare drum should be locking in with the rhythm guitar part while your bass drum is still following the bass line.

Are you recording  yourself? Are you listening to yourself? Are you really locked in? Could you get a bit tighter? Try!

Ignorance Is Bliss

Sometimes in songs, some of the instruments play rhythms that may be a counter to ours – slotting in between our main beats on our bass drum or snare. Or they may just give more or less energy to a song. It’s easy to get distracted by these parts, lose our focus, and speed up or slow down with this new energy the part is bringing to the song. You need to learn to ignore these distractions and focus on locking in with the band members that are playing the main rhythm with you.

A good example of where you need to ignore another player is the busy electric guitar part in the chorus of this song. The electric guitar is now playing a busier 8th note pattern over the top of the bass guitar and acoustic guitar. The bass guitar and acoustic guitar are still playing the same pattern as your bass drum as they did in the beginning. However, the busier, louder, more energetic electric guitar gives a new energy to the song and you may find yourself wanting to speed up here. DON’T! Try actively listening to the acoustic guitar and bass guitar rhythm instead and focus on keeping your bass drum together with them.

Take It To The Stage

In live shows, drummers often use monitor speakers, or in ear monitors to hear what the rest of the band (and sometimes themselves) are playing. Often when setting up the monitors, the drummer will have the rest of the rhythm section mixed in louder than the lead instruments to help them focus on locking in with the band. It varies from drummer to drummer and on the playing situation.

To start with you may not have that luxury playing live & I’ve been in situations where the sound engineers have forgotten to turn on my monitors at the start of the show or have forgotten my monitor mix totally & given me a mix where all I can hear is my kick drum or the lead singer… not very helpful when you’re trying to hold down a busy groove with your bassist!

Learning how to listen through the noise to hear the players you need to lock in with is an essential skill to develop. Being able to play one handed and make gestures with the other hand, rude or otherwise, at sound engineers is a skill you’ll also want to develop.

The 2018 version of the Trinity Rock & Pop Initial Grade book is great to work through if you’re just starting your drumming journey. You don’t have to take the exam to benefit from the book. The songs are great to work on & fun to play and will help to improve your drumming. In Singapore you can find the book at Robert Piano – Paragon Shopping Centre (and probably their other outlets). It’s also available from Amazon if you’re happy to pay the shipping!

Don’t forget to check out our youtube channel & subscribe for more videos! We’re adding more videos all the time so don’t forget to check back regularly.

Have you seen our demonstration of all of the songs at the initial grade in our Trinty Rock & Pop Drums Initial Grade Youtube Playlist?

If you’re in Singapore &  haven’t had a free trial lesson with us, sign up for one here!

The Beatles – Come Together – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 4

Come Togetherrrrrrrrr Right Now… and watch this video:

The Beatles – Come together – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 4 Drums

What Time Is It? It’s Tom-Tom Time!

The tom-toms play a big roll in this song. From the main riff to the driving verse groove to adding colour during the solo section. Toms are everywhere.

The main riff of the song features 16th note triplets played on the toms. As soon you play this riff everyone should know what song you’re playing, so you’d better get it right! Work on making your 16th note triplets on the toms as smooth as possible – no accents.

Some students get intimidated when they see the 16th note triplets as they are faster than regular 16th notes. But playing 16th note triplets at 82 bpm is the same as playing 16th notes at 110bpm, you should be capable of that by grade 4. Make sure you count to start with & listen to the song and count along with that to get a feel for the speed.

drum lessons singapore
Get your counting together & play this iconic drum lick

DUM dum DUM dum DUM dum DUM dum

It’s indicated on the verse to play with a strong 4 feel. It’s your job to make the 1, 2, 3, 4 really felt throughout the verses of the song. We’re only playing simple 8th notes on the floor tom and quarters on the bass drum. By accenting the quarter note on the floor tom you bring the groove that much more to life.

The song sounds much better with a DUM dum DUM dum DUM dum DUM dum floor tom pattern than with a flat lifeless dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum. Also, make sure you don’t flam between the bass and floor tom  & keep your bass drum nice & strong too.

Fill In The Blanks

During the instrumental section and the outro of the song you’re given space to choose your own drum fills. They should fit the feel and style of the song. I’d suggest listening to the original and trying to copy Ringo’s style.

He uses a lot of broken 16th note ideas around the toms, and the occasional 16th note triplet fill. For my version I went with a 16th note triplet fill at the very end as an echo of the main riff of the song.

Did It All Come Together?

Hopefully you managed to pull all the pieces together and get this song sounding good. It’s probably the easiest of the technical focus songs at grade 4 – make sure you spend time to make it sound good though!

The 2018 version of the Trinity Grade 4 Rock & Pop book is great to work through if you’re around 2.5 to 3 years into your drumming career. You don’t have to take the exam to benefit from the book. The songs are great to work on & fun to play and will help to improve your drumming. In Singapore you can find the book at Robert Piano – Paragon Shopping Centre (and probably their other outlets). It’s also available from Amazon if you’re happy to pay the shipping!

Don’t forget to check out our youtube channel & subscribe for more videos!

If you’re in Singapore &  haven’t had a free trial lesson with us, sign up for one here!

James Brown – Hot Pants – Trinity Rock & Pop Initial

It’s time to bring the funk! Here’s the Godfather of funk & soul, James Brown:

James Brown – Hot Pants – Trinity Rock & Pop Initial Grade Drums

Nothing To See Here!

So… not a lot happened on the drums in that song….  no fills, no change of groove, no tempo changes, no big ending… nada, nothing, zip…. and that’s the point. Sometimes playing drums is all about establishing a beat and just keeping it grooving so people can dance.

James Brown was known for fining & even firing drummers for playing drum fills when he didn’t want them. All he wanted was for drummers to play consistent, almost hypnotic, grooves for his band to play with and his audience to dance to. While it’s fun to play fills, sometimes they just get in the way & interrupt the flow of the music. Just gimme the groove.

Is It REALLY That Simple?

No, it’s not. The concentration required to stay focused on the beat, not add in fills and to keep the groove consistent, is quite substantial. It’s easy to zone out and lose focus when playing the same beat over and over again.

Trying to make just a simple beat sound consistent for a whole 3 minute song is quite a challenge. Record yourself just playing a simple beat with a metronome for 1 minute, then listen back and listen for variations in speed, kick & bass drum placement & volume. You’ll know when you’ve got it right.

Practicing working on your groove consistency and feel with this song will make big improvements to your overall playing.

Did You Funk Or Flunk?

Hopefully you brought the groove and made it funky… if you didn’t, keep trying! Careful practice and listening to yourself are essential. To help bring the groove to life, try singing the bass drum and snare drum parts to yourself while you are playing it:

Boom    Gak    Boom-Boom Gak

Or add in the hi-hats in the gaps as well

Boom Chick Gak Chick Boom Boom Gak Chick

You might find it improves your feel and helps your concentration. Most drummers can sing their drum parts and often it’s a helpful tool when learning a beat – especially more complex beats. Feel free to substitute in your own sounds for bass, snare and hi-hat.

The 2018 version of the Trinity Rock & Pop Initial Grade book is great to work through if you’re just starting your drumming journey. You don’t have to take the exam to benefit from the book. The songs are great to work on & fun to play and will help to improve your drumming. In Singapore you can find the book at Robert Piano – Paragon Shopping Centre (and probably their other outlets). It’s also available from Amazon if you’re happy to pay the shipping!

Don’t forget to check out our youtube channel & subscribe for more videos! Here’s a playlist of demonstrations of all the songs from the Trinity Rock & Pop Inital Grade

If you’re in Singapore &  haven’t had a free trial lesson with us, sign up for one here!

Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 3

Guns N’ Roses’ most famous song is now part of the Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 3 syllabus. So if, like Axl & the gang, you’re wondering “where do we go now?” It’s quite simple… you go to watch the video of me playing the song:

Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 3 Drums

This version of the song is about two and half minutes shorter than the original. Part of the introduction has been sacrificed along with large chunks of the guitar solos (sorry Slash!) and at least one chorus. However it does feature almost all the main drum parts of the song and will certainly help you if you want to attempt to play the whole song at a later date. Let’s look at some of the trickier parts.

Push it!

During the chorus of the song you’re required to play crash cymbals on Beat 1 and the And of two. This second crash provides a lot of forward momentum for the groove and seems to “push” the song forward. The same effect is also often achieved by playing a crash on the And of 4 – Metallica’s Enter Sandman uses that push during the pre-chorus.

You may find it unusual hitting a crash on the And of Two at first; often students are comfortable playing a crash on beat 1 and also beats 2 & 4, but playing on the Ands can feel a bit strange. Hitting two crashes in quick succession can also cause problems. Taking your time to master this & being able to play the crashes with either hand and in any combination will help you to avoid panicking when it comes to playing the crash.

Try playing the crashes using the patterns in the exercise below. If you have 2 crashes, one on the  right & one on the left, have your right hand play either cymbal for extra practice (assuming your kit is set up right handed.)

drum lessons singapore
Crash Practice Patterns

For a bonus practice pattern, if you have 2 crashes, hit both simultaneously to get that true rock star look & feel! In the video I opted to mostly use my left hand & left crash as I find this most efficient and easiest with my setup. Due to space constraints my right crash is right over top of my ride cymbal & makes it tricky to move between the two quickly. Luckily I’m comfortable crashing with my left so I can adapt quite easily. If I was playing the song live, and had space to move my right crash away from the ride, then I would probably play pattern # 3 or #4 as they look good visually.

No, No, No, No, No, No Bad Triplets Please!

The climax of the song features Flams played around the kit using the Quarter Note Triplet Subdivision. Triplets are defined as 3 notes in the space of 2. If we play a whole bar of quarter note triplets, we get 6  quarter notes where previously we had only 4. A lot of drummers learn to play quarter note triplets by feel; I certainly did, by playing along to the original version of the song a lot.

Whilst you can learn it that way, it’s good to be able to practice it away from the song & to know how to develop it. The easy way to get used to this rhythm is to play 8th note triplets using the single stroke roll (starting with the right) and then take away the left hand – then you’ll be left with quarter note triplets – like so:

Quarter Note Triplets - Drum Lessons Singapore
Sweet Triplets O’ Mine

To start with you may just want to move to the left hand away to another surface – the hi-hat, rim of the snare, your leg – so you can hear the sound of the quarter note triplets on the snare. As always, work with a metronome & count – you’ll soon get the feel of it. For bonus points, add the bass drum on quarter notes & you’ll be playing a 6 over 4 polyrhythm!

Where do we go now?

Sweet Child O’ Mine is a classic rock song that every rock drummer has to learn to play at some point. It’s a very commonly requested song for cover bands even some 30 years after it’s release. The Trinity Rock & Pop version provides a good starting point for anyone wanting to learn the song.

Apart from getting good at playing pushes and quarter note triplets, you’ll also benefit from learning the classic fill that appears during the verses. This fill has been used in countless rock songs and essential for the rock drummer to have in their fill vocabulary. You can see it at the 50 second mark in the video.

The 2018 version of the Trinity Grade 3 Rock & Pop book is great to work through if you’re around 18 months to 2 years into your drumming career. You don’t have to take the exam to benefit from the book. The songs are great to work on & fun to play and will help to improve your drumming. In Singapore you can find the book at Robert Piano – Paragon Shopping Centre (and probably their other outlets). It’s also available from Amazon if you’re happy to pay the shipping!

Don’t forget to check out our youtube channel & subscribe for more videos!

If you’re in Singapore &  haven’t had a free trial lesson with us, sign up for one here!

The Beatles – Here Comes The Sun – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5

Here comes a video of me playing Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles from the Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 Syllabus.

The Beatles – Here comes the sun – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 Drums

This is one of the Beatles most well known songs & is surprisingly complex. On the surface it sounds like a nice simple tune but underneath that simple sounding melody there are some tricky figures and some odd time signatures to contend with.

Let’s Figure It Out

The main figure you’ll have to get comfortable with hits us right as the drums are introduced into the fray & occurs every time the singer sings “it’s alright.” The idea behind the figure is to make it sound like we’ve briefly dropped into 3/8 time by accenting every third eighth note on the snare.

This was not the first song to use this idea, and it certainly wasn’t the last. It’s a very common figure that you should become familiar with. Here it is with 2 forms of counting included.

Here Comes The Sun - Trinty Rock & Pop Grade 5 - Rhythm House Music
Here comes a tricky figure!

Try counting it both ways and see what works for you. Practice with a variety of drum fills at the end of the bar & not just the ones written in the book to help build you’re facility with this figure. Be sure to work with a metronome & make sure you’re ending on beat 1 of the next bar.

What Time Is It? It’s Odd Time!

The bridge of the song features a sequence of bars all in different time signatures. The sequence is 6/8, 5/8, 4/4 and finally 7/8. You get to repeat this phrase 5 times followed by a bar each of 6/8, 5/8 and then back to 4/4.

To help get used to this phrase I suggest listening to the song and counting through this section. It starts at 01:30 in the video. I count the bar of 4/4 as a bar of 8/8 as I find this makes the counting smoother. So rather than counting this:

1 2 3 4 5 6, 1 2 3 4 5, 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I count this:

1 2 3 4 5 6, 1 2 3 4 5, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I also always count “7” as “sev” as the extra syllable can cause trouble.

The last two bars of the chorus before the bridge are in 4/4 and 7/8. You may want to count that last bar of 4/4 before the bridge as a bar of 8/8 also.

When you can count along with the song and clap the snare hits then you are ready to try playing it with the song. Listening to the song a lot will help you play this passage more naturally.

Any Clouds On The Horizon?

The rest of the song is fairly simple but the 3/8 figure and the odd time  sequence should give you enough to get your teeth into. Getting this song correct is very rewarding and will give you confidence to tackle more songs featuring odd time signatures in the future – they aren’t so scary once you can count them!

The 2018 version of the Trinity Grade 5 Rock & Pop book is great to work through if you’re around 3 years into your drumming career. You don’t have to take the exam to benefit from the book. The songs are great to work on & fun to play and will help to improve your drumming. In Singapore you can find the book at Robert Piano – Paragon Shopping Centre (and probably their other outlets). It’s also available from Amazon if you’re happy to pay the shipping!

Don’t forget to check out our youtube channel & subscribe for more videos!

If you’re in Singapore &  haven’t had a free trial lesson with us, sign up for one here!

Amy Winehouse – You Know I’m No Good – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5

“I ain’t scared of no ghosts!” Oops!.. wrong song… but this song does feature a lot of ghosts – ghost notes that is. By the time you master this song you’ll be a true ghost (note) buster! See how many ghosts you can spot in the Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 version of Amy Winehouse’s “You know I’m no good.”

Amy Winehouse – You Know I'm No Good – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 Drums

SPOOKY!

Did you spot all the ghost notes? Not sure what a ghost note is? As far as drumming goes, it’s simply a note that is played softly. They are often added to a groove, normally on the snare, to add texture and give a certain feel to the beat. Generally you want to them to blend in to the background of the song & are normally played around the same volume as the hi-hat.

PAradiddle, paRAdiddle, paraDIDdle, paradidDLE

A great way to work on getting the control need to play ghost notes is by working on the following accented paradiddle exercise slowly and carefully. How slowly? I’d suggest starting at 30 or 40bpm. How carefully? You want two distinct sound levels; a loud level for the accented notes and a  very soft level for the ghost notes. Nothing in between. Really exaggerate the difference in the sound levels; it’ll will help you to reproduce it in action.

Accented Paradiddles - Drum Lessons Singapore
Accented Paradiddles

You’ll have noticed that the 3rd and 4th bars are particularly tricky. You won’t need that level of control for grade 5; but for later grades you’ll need to be able to play an accented note immediately followed by a ghost note on the same hand & vice-versa. It’s good to start work on it now. Whilst we mainly play ghost notes with the left hand it won’t harm you to develop the necessary control with your right hand too. The more control we have over the sticks, the more control we have over the whole instrument, the better we sound.

Groovin’ Ghosts

Once you start to gain control over the above exercise, you can practice applying ghost notes to grooves. Pick a groove with some 16th notes on the snare and try different permutations of accented and ghost notes, as in the following exercise (The ghosted notes are the ones with the smaller note head.) :

Ghost Notes - Drum Lessons Singapore
Get Control Of Your Ghosts!

Are YOU any good?

The main focus of this song is on the ghost notes, the rest of the song is fairly straight forward. Time spent developing your ghost notes is always time well spent. Record yourself playing ghost note  grooves and see if you can get the hi-hat and snare drum to really blend together. Check out ghost note masters such as:

  • Bernard Purdie – Steely Dan, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, B.B King, Joe Cocker and many more.
  • Chad Smith – Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chicken Foot & Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats.
  • Steve Gadd – Steely Dan, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Chick Corea, Kate Bush, Paul McCartney and many more.
  • Jeff Pocaro – Toto, Cher, Steely Dan, 10cc, America, Michael Jackson, Joe Cocker, Aretha Franklin & many more.

The 2018 version of the Trinity Grade 5 Rock & Pop book is great to work through if you’re around 3 years into your drumming career. You don’t have to take the exam to benefit from the book. The songs are great to work on & fun to play and will help to improve your drumming. In Singapore you can find the book at Robert Piano – Paragon Shopping Centre (and probably their other outlets). It’s also available from Amazon if you’re happy to pay the shipping!

Don’t forget to check out our youtube channel & subscribe for more videos!

If you’re in Singapore &  haven’t had a free trial lesson with us, sign up for one here!

Stop & Stare – One Republic

Stop what you’re doing and Stare at this video!

One Republic – Stop & Stare – Drum Cover

Stop, Drop and Drum!

Stop & Stare is one of One Republics most popular songs and commonly requested to learn by students.

In terms of groove, this song is actually fairy basic. The beats used are 8th note rock beats that most students learn within their first 2 or 3 weeks of lessons. There are a few open hi-hats scattered through out the song, they can be omitted for beginners.

Stare at my Fills!

The toughest part of this song is the fills, but they are great to learn as you will find them very transferable to other songs. It should be noted though that some of these fills start left handed. The original drummer seems to be comfortable playing the regular fashion and also open-handed. You can see him in the band’s original video for this song playing both ways. Check this live video to see the drummer playing open handed.

Here’s the fills from the song with my suggested stickings:

Drum Lessons Singapore Stop & Stare Fills
Stop & Stare Fills

Note that on the 2nd fill I switch hands on the hi-hat on the & of 3 to give my right hand enough time to get over to the floor tom on the ah of 3. You could just play the whole bar with the left hand on the hi-hat. It would be a good idea to learn to play the whole song open handed, it’ll work wonders for your co-ordination!

If you are struggling with the 2nd fill you can just replace it with the first fill as it’s the same rhythm.

The 4th fill is much easier to play if you start it left handed. The 5th fill looks the same as the 4th but it uses the bass drum on the e of four which allows us to play it starting with the right hand. These two fills are also interchangeable so you can play whichever is easier for you – just keep the snare & bass drum patterns of the 2 beats proceeding the fills same.

The 6th fill is easily the most challenging to play. Work on it slowly with a metronome & make sure you count. I’d also recommend listening to it a lot & try to copy the sound & feel.

Stop & Stare at this Score!

This song marries fairly simple rock beats with fills that are very musical and are great to have in your vocabulary. Have a go at playing it yourself with this score courtesy of DrumLessonResources.com.

If you’re in Singapore & would like a free trial drum lesson you can arrange one here.

Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel for more drum videos.

You can stop staring now 😉

Musicology – Prince – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5

It’s time to get schooled! Prince is here to educate you about Musicology.

Prince – Musicology – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 Drums

Get Funky

This track is in the James Brown style of funk. It features a syncopated funk groove with a fairly busy snare drum part. The chart provided for the song provides no real indication of dynamics for the snare part. I elected to accent beat two and then play the other notes softer, but not really ghosting them. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the buzzed snare notes, they are easy to miss while you’re grooving along.

Shuffle Along

The feel of this song has a 16th note shuffle feel. To get a feel of the snare drum note placements you may want to try playing the groove slowly like this to get used to the swung 16th note feel:

Drum Lessons Singapore
Practice Groove For Musicology

Keep the tempo slow, around 50-60bpm to start, as playing this  groove at the speed of the song is not easy, we’re just doing this to get a feel of the swung triplets. You may be able to reach speeds of around 80bpm playing the groove this way. Try playing the groove as written above for 8 bars & then switch to a straight 8th note hi-hat pattern without stopping for another 8 bars; keep the snare drum hitting on the 16th note triplets. Record yourself playing it and compare the snare drum feel between the 2 versions. Did you keep the swung 16th note snare feel?

Another idea is to play the song’s actual groove and try playing 8 bars with a straight feel and 8 bars with a swung feel. Record it. Can you hear a difference in the snare placements?

Woof Woof Woof – Barking Hi-Hats

The song also features a classic funk fill with the Bernard Purdie style hi-hat barks. Having a fast left foot is essential here as you need to close it in between each opening. Practicing the following exercise slowly and cleanly will help you to play this fill.

Drum Lessons Singapore Rhythm House Music
Open Hat Bark Practice

Going Solo

The solo section of the song shouldn’t cause too much trouble as it’s just the one bar played 3 times. However, if you are having trouble with it, try playing it with additional ghost notes on the snare with the left hand to get a feel for the timing of the tom tom part in the right hand like so:

Drum Lessons Singapore
16th Note Timing Exercise

Once you can play it accurately that way, then you can try recording yourself playing it with & with out the ghost notes – do the tom toms fall in the same place?

Did you get your diploma?

In conclusion, this is a funky song to play that gets you working on essential elements of funk such as synocopated snare parts, the swung 16th note feel and hi-hat barks. Mastering all the above will improve your funk playing no end. Have fun getting schooled in funk with Prince & Musicology!

The 2018 version of the Trinity Grade 5 Rock & Pop book is great to work through if you’re around 3 years into your drumming career. You don’t have to take the exam to benefit from the book. The songs are great to work on & fun to play and will help to improve your drumming. In Singapore you can find the book at Robert Piano – Paragon Shopping Centre (and probably their other outlets). It’s also available from Amazon if you’re happy to pay the shipping!

Don’t forget to check out our youtube channel & subscribe for more videos!

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Drum Solo: How to create your own. Example 1.

The thought of having to play a drum solo creates panic in many drummers. We’re quite happy playing along with songs, learning grooves and fills and practicing our rudiments; but solos are a different beast entirely. A solo challenges us to create something.

It needn’t be such a stressful task though. Drum solos can be thought of and prepared ahead of time, and most drummers have a library of ideas in their head that they choose from when putting a solo together.

I fully encourage you to spend some time at your kit just banging around looking for ideas that could go into a drum solo; put the books / youtube videos away, stop playing to songs & just try to create a drum solo and see what comes out. You’ll find over time you’ll create your own library of ideas that you can use.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams

Drum great, Gavin Harrison records all of his practice sessions and listens back for anything he played that he thinks may be useful in the future. He’ll then make a note of anything he likes and files it away for use and further development at a later time. He’s easily one of the most creative drummers out there (I’ll wait while you go look him up on youtube – don’t forget to come back!)

Look For Inspiration

To get started though, you may need some inspiration. The solo in the video below was inspired by 1 drummer and 2 drum duets. The first duet was this one  by Godsmack. The second duet was this one by Phil Collins and Chester Thompson. Both of these duets have a very tribal feel to them, and that’s what I was going for in this solo. You can even hear the tom tom rhythm of my solo in the Godsmack one, or something very similar to it, from around the 15 second mark. All drummers steal from each other and it’s ok as long as you make it your own & give credit where credit is due.

The drummer that inspires my approach to drum solos is the jazz legend Max Roach. If you listen to solos by Max Roach you’ll hear a very song oriented approach to soloing. Like a song has sections such as Verse, Chorus & Bridge, Max Roach’s solos also have definite sections and themes that you hear repeated throughout his solos. Check out his Drums Unlimited album or try to find his “Big Sid” or “Five for Paul” solos for an example.

My Drum Solo

Here’s my short drum solo that was used in the promotional video on the home page of this website – minus the promotional material – just the drums.

Rhythm House Drum Solo For Promo Film June 2018

Putting Together A Drum Solo

This a very simply constructed solo. The form of the solo is ABAA. Each section is a four bar phrase except for the last A which has an extra bar for the finale. You can download the transcription here: Rhythm House Drum Solo Example June 2018

The A section of the solo is variations on this theme:

All of the variations come after beat 3 of the bar. So, to make this your own, I suggest you practice playing the first 2 beats and then thinking of something else to do for the second 2 beats. Here’s some suggestions:

Drum Lessons Singapore Drum Solo Examples
Examples for variations on drum solo theme A

I suggest practicing by playing one bar of the main theme and then one bar with your variation and repeating the 2 bar pattern over and over again.

The B Section of the solo is a more energetic 16th note phrase as I wanted to increase the energy of the piece at that point and it also introduces 16th note triplets into the solo for the first time. I don’t vary this theme very much as it’s only in the solo for a short time & I want it to be memorable. The sixteenth note triplet fill on the 4th bar helps to increase the energy again.

On returning to the A section I now hit a crash on every beat 1, again with the intention of increasing the energy – more noise and more energy. I also bring the 16th note triplet into the main theme to add yet more energy. The last 2 bars see me playing a 16th note triplet fill followed by 8th note triplets. The 8th note triplets just slow things down and put a definite end to the piece.

If you’re struggling with the 8th note foot pattern on this solo, try playing just quarter notes on either the bass drum or the hi-hat. Having some kind of foot pattern running underneath the drum solo anchors it and gives it a sense of forward motion.

Taking It Further

The next step, try adding a C section to the piece and play it in the form ABAC or ABCA or maybe AABACAB. Here’s an idea for an 8 bar C section I was contemplating putting into this solo. I left it out as it slowed the feel down too much for what I wanted for this solo. But I might use it in another solo or if I was playing an extended version of this solo.

drum lesson singapore drum solo ideas
Idea for a C-section

Again, you can take the basic theme from this idea and create your own variations.

What’s next? Try adding a D Section too – make it four or 8 bars long and then slot it into the solo… you can go ABACAD ABCD  or AABA BBCB CCDC DDAD… The combinations are endless… Experiment and have fun!

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