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Michael Jackson – Billie Jean – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 1

Here’s the Trinity Rock & Pop version of this classic track from the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson – Billie Jean – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 1 Drums

This is one of the those songs that really shows that it’s not what you play, but the way that you play it. On the original track Ndugu Chancler plays a drum beat which is probably the first beat almost every drummer learns. It may be simple, but you can’t help but dance when you hear it coming out the speakers. That is down to how it was played. Listen to the original track & record yourself playing this groove until you can make it sound as good as Ndugu Chancler does (it may take a while!).

As with other songs on the Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 1 syllabus, we get a shortened version of the song here & they have crammed in as many drum fills as possible. Most of the drum fills are straight forward, but there is one fill (at 53 seconds in the video) that just doesn’t feel natural. If you’re working on this song for the exam, I would suggest listening to the demo version a lot to allow this fill to seep into your brain and make it feel more natural. Counting bars during the chorus will also help (it’s on the 8th bar of the chorus).

This is a fun song to play, and nailing the groove on this song will greatly benefit your drumming.

The 2018 version of the Trinity Grade 1 Rock & Pop book is great to work through if you’re still in the early stages of 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!

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

Queen – Another One Bites The Dust – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 1

Here’s another track from the Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 1 Syllabus and one of my favourite songs: Another One Bites The Dust by Queen.

Queen – Another One Bites The Dust – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 1 Drums

As with all the songs on the Trinity Rock & Pop grade 1 syllabus, this is a shortened version of the song. We get the intro, a verse, a chorus and then the outro. However in this short space of time we get more drum fills than there are in the original version of the song!

If you listen to Queen playing this song live, you will hear drummer Roger Taylor adding more drum fills to bring the track to life a little more on stage. In the studio, songwriter & bassist, John Deacon, wanted the song to be focused more on the groove & had Roger Taylor just play a bar of the groove and then looped it around to achieve drum machine like precision. The one machine gun like drum fill was then added later.

This version of the song requires a mix of both the studio and live performance. You want to focus on getting a very consistent groove during the intro and verse and then the fills in the chorus help to bring the song to life a little more.

The main problem with this song is the first drum fill at the end of the verse. In the original song, this fill starts on the ‘ah’ of 2 – after the singing has stopped. In this version, the fill starts on beat 1. If you are used to the original song, this feels very strange. Counting bars during the verse, ignoring your instincts and just starting the fill on beat 1 of the 8th bar will help to get this fill in the right place. It takes a few run-throughs for this to start to feel normal.

The 2018 version of the Trinity Grade 1 Rock & Pop book is great to work through if you’re still in the early stages of 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!

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

INXS – New Sensation

In 1987 Australian band INXS rocked the world with their 6th studio album that eventually sold over 20 Million copies. New Sensation was one of 4 songs to reach the US Billboard Charts top 10. Here’s my attempt at playing this song:

Inxs – New Sensation – Drum Cover

Drummer Jon Farris lays down a straight forward groove on the verses of this song and then a driving snare groove on the chorus of the song. Playing quarter notes on the snare is a great way to change the feel of a song, drive it more, and make it more aggressive.

What I’ve always enjoyed about Jon Farris’ playing is his drum fills and his drum fill placement. He creates memorable moments in songs with his choice & placement of fills. The fill on the 8th bar of the first verse is easy to play but fits the song perfectly. Check the fill at the start of the 5th verse, it really punctuates the lyrics and creates a memorable moment.  At a couple of points in the song he uses a ghost note to give the groove a little push. Some drummers would have been tempted to add more, but he showed great restraint and as a result the ghost notes are very effective.

Here’s a copy of the score courtesy of our friends at DrumLessonResources.com. Have a go at playing it yourself!

Things to focus on when learning this song:

  1. Playing a consistent groove during the verses. The verse groove may be simple, but playing it accurately and with conviction takes practice. Record yourself playing the groove & nail it with a metronome first.
  2. For the chorus, the focus has to be on not flamming the snare and bass drum. Play the beat slowly at first and really concentrate on getting hi-hat, snare and bass hitting at exactly the same time. Slow and careful practice will reap rewards that you’ll be able to take forward with you onto to other songs.
  3. Getting the fills and crashes in the correct spots… they aren’t always where you’d expect them. Concentrate & listen to the song 1000 times! (Check out the whole Kick album, it’s a classic!)

If you’re in Singapore and  haven’t had  a free trial drum lesson with us yet, sign up for one here.

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

Mark Ronson Feat. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 1

Uptown Funk was a huge hit for Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars, now it’s part of the Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 1 exam. Here’s David’s attempt at the Trinity Rock & Pop version of the song:

Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 1 Drums

Here’s a few things to focus on when trying this song:

  1. The opening snare hits on the 4th bar need to perfectly in sync with the horns.
  2. The main groove of the song features the bass drum playing a strong quarter note pulse. This is very common in dance music. Be careful not to flam the snare and bass on beats  2 & 4 as this will kill the groove and no one will want to dance to your version.  Take time to practice the groove slowly and record yourself playing the groove – be honest with yourself, did you flam? Keep working on it until you don’t!
  3. Speaking of flams; we also don’t want any flams during the 3 bar build up fill after the breakdown. Work on getting your snare, tom and bass perfectly together while building the crescendo – and don’t speed up as you get louder!
  4. During the end of the song there is one drum fill on the snare repeated multiple times. Practice this fill with a metronome until you can do it with out any variance in tempo. This fill, like the earlier snare hits, needs to line up perfectly with the other instruments that are playing the same rhythm. Make it tight!
  5. The final drum fill is an over the bar line fill, meaning it starts in one bar and carries on throughout the next one. This can feel strange if you are not used to going over the bar line with your fills. Use a metronome and slow it down to 50-60 bpm. Count. Repeat until perfect. Slowly speed it up. Don’t panic!

This is a fun song to play and offers the chance to work on some skills that will help you play many other songs in the funk/dance style.

The 2018 version of the Trinity Grade 1 Rock & Pop book is great to work through if you’re still in the early stages of 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!

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

Best Metronome Apps

Playing in time is a fundamental skill for any musician. Finding a metronome that you enjoy working with will help you to nail this important skill. Here are the metronome apps that I enjoy working with the most.

1. TempoPerfect by NCH Software – free app that you can get on all platforms (Search for TempoPerfect – don’t insert a space.)

This app allows you to play in a number of time signatures and will mark the subdivisions for you using different sounds. A lot of free metronomes will use the same beep sound for all subdivisions making it hard to truly know which beat you are on; TempoPerfect uses different sounds for beat 1, the other main beats and the subdivisions. You’ll always know where you are in the bar & it’s great for working on your rhythmic accuracy.

This is my go to metronome app for almost everything. The other apps on this list offer specific features that TempoPerfect doesn’t have, but if I’m not in need of those features, then this is the app I’ll use. A great general purpose metronome app.

2. Time Guru by Decibel Consulting/Avi Bortnick – not free.

Time Guru really helps you to work on your timing by missing out random beats in the bar or by allowing you to program a series of bars that are either sounded out or silent. I’m not a big fan of the random beats missing function, I find it rather distracting – but I am a big fan of being able to set up a series of bars with some sounded out and some silent.

I often use this metronome to play 4 bar loops – 3 bars loud & 1 bar silent, or 2 bars loud &  2 bars silent. I use  both these loops for testing my timing when playing grooves – can I keep time when the metronome drops out? I use the 3 bars loud & 1 bar silent loop for practicing drum fills;  Play the fill during the silent bar – are you rushing or dragging? Do I need to throw something at you? (If you haven’t seen Whiplash, go watch it, great movie!)

Once you can keep your groove consistent with one or two bars of silence, maybe add some more silent bars? I normally have at least 2 or 4 loud bars to help me settle into the groove before the silence starts. Extend the silence as far as you like, challenge yourself – 4 bars loud & 4 bars silent, 4 bars loud & 8 bars silent? I’ve always treated this as a game. Start with a simple groove and see how far you can push the silence.

The other great thing about this app is it gives you plenty of choices on the sound – including voices counting out loud. For students who are new to using metronomes a loud voice counting 1, 2, 3, 4 (in one of 5 languages!) is sometimes just what they need to really know where they are in the bar.

drum lessons singaporeThe only downside to this app is it doesn’t mark subdivisions very well. To get 8th notes in 4/4 time you need to select 8 as the meter and then change the note value to 8th notes – the 8th notes will all sound exactly the same – not easy to differentiate between the downbeats and the upbeats. The human voice option will also count all the way up to 8.

 

 

3. Metronome: Tempo Lite by Frozen Ape Pte Ltd – free

There is a paid version of this app, but I haven’t needed the extended features yet, I’m happy with the free version.

The main attraction of this app is that it can automatically increase or drum lessons singaporedecrease the tempo for you every X number of bars or after a certain period of time. So if you’re practicing your paradiddles, you can set the metronome to speed up by 3 bpm every 16 bars or every 2 minutes. Start it off at 120bpm and keep paradiddling until you can keep up any more. It saves you having to keep stopping to alter the tempo and losing the flow. Use it to find out how fast  or slow you can play your favourite grooves before they fall apart. The latest version also features the ability to mute bars after every few loud bars – maybe you don’t need time guru after all.

You can select from a few time signatures and the ability to accent or mute certain beats in the bar is a nice addition – you may just want to accent beat one to start with! It will also play different subdivisions but doesn’t quite execute it as well as TempoPerfect.

Conclusion

It’s worth spending the time to find a metronome app that you enjoy working with. Time spent practicing with a metronome is time well spent and will only help you to improve as a drummer – your main job in a band is to keep time! The more you practice it, the better you’ll get, the stronger your time feel will be.