AC/DC – Riff Raff – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5

It’s noise making time! Here’s AC/DC’s Riff Raff from the Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 exam syllabus.

AC/DC – Riff Raff – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 Drums

Time To Crash!

The first challenge this song presents is crashes during the introduction. The crashes are on the & of 2, & of 3 and the & of 4. Getting these tight with guitars is essential. At 182 BPM that’s no easy task though. Work with a metronome that counts 8th notes and start slow.

All Tied Up

The crashes continue throughout the main guitar riff and are played in sync with the guitar. Be careful with the tied notes during this section; It looks as though the crash and and bass drum are playing the same rhythm but sometimes both the crash and bass drum are tied over the bar line, other times it’s just the crash that is tied, so you’ll have to play the bass drum without a crash.

You Will Be Syncopated

In addition to all the syncopated crashes with the main riff, the verse also features a 2 bar syncopated groove. The unusual part of this groove is that hi-hat and snare drum play the syncopated hits together on the & of 3 and & of 4 every two bars and then there is no hi-hat on the following beat 1. It’s not so hard to execute but if you’re used to keeping a steady quarter note pulse on your hi-hats while playing this kind of groove, it may throw you off a little.

Let’s Go Solo

At the end of the guitar solo we get the chance to throw in a short drum solo. However, we’re not free to play exactly as we want, we need to hit some crashes every 2 bars. If you haven’t attempted this kind of solo before, I suggest starting with some simple 8th note rhythms & getting used to hitting the crashes in time with the band. Then orchestrate those simple rhythms around the kit. Once comfortable with the simple rhythms then try it with more complex rhythms.

Riff Raff Solo Ideas
Create your solo here!

Finally try stringing your ideas together. Here’s some examples, start slow, work with a metronome until you can hit the target tempo of 182 (or even a little faster).

As directed in the score, don’t make your solo too busy, make sure to leave some space – you don’t need to play anything faster than 8th notes really, but a few 16th notes sprinkled here and there can add a bit more excitement. Also, note that on last bar of the solo there is a rest on beat 3 & no crash on the & of 3.

Rock till you drop!

The rest of the song is just a repeat of things you’ve already played and shouldn’t present any problems. Just make sure you can keep your energy up throughout the whole song.

This song is very satisfying to play & offers a chance to really rock out whilst working on your syncopation. Learning how to solo while hitting crashes with the rest of the band is a really valuable skill that you can develop while playing this track.

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!

 

 

 

The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 2 Drums

She Sells Sanctuary by the Cult is now part of the Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 2 Drums syllabus. Here’s my attempt at it:

The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 2 drums

Let’s Rock!

This is a fairly straight ahead rock song, the key thing in performing this song is to get the feel correct. It’s time to hit hard. The bass and snare want to provide a solid, steady, unrelenting groove throughout the song. The dynamic for this song only slips below forte (loud) for the breakdown section of the song.

This is a good song to practice playing heel up on the bass drum; it’ll help to get more weight into your groove. Switch to heel down during the quieter breakdown section to help control your dynamics.

Hopefully you’ve been playing your basic rock beats with a metronome and can absolutely nail this song. There isn’t too much about this song that is  challenging, but you need to really commit to the beat & make it rock.

Hard Hitting Hats

To help drive a song forward & make the groove feel heavier and rock solid, rock drummers often accent the quarter note pulse on the hi-hat whilst playing eighth notes. This is achieved by using a whipping motion to generate the strokes that play the downbeats (1,2,3,4) and then hitting the upbeat strokes (the “&s”) as you reset the motion for the next downbeat.

Watch powerful rock drummers such as Phil Rudd (AC/DC), Matt Sorum (Guns n’ Roses, The Cult, Velvet Revolver), Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters) or Tico Torres (Bon Jovi) and observe the motion of their arms; you’ll see all of them accenting the quarter note down beat in this manner. Try and copy their arm motion and you should hear more dynamics in your hi-hat playing that’ll help to solidify the pulse of the song and power it forward.

Flams & Fills

The song, like many a great rock song, starts with a flam. It’s a strong statement to make at the start of a song and tells the listener it’s time to rock. Make sure you really nail the timing and get it perfectly on beat four to give a secure & powerful start to the song.

All the fills in the song are performed solely on  the snare drum. As a rock drummer I’ve always loved snare drum fills, they have an aggression to them that you can’t get through hitting tom toms. They may be simple to play and don’t look so flashy, but musically they really make an impact.

The big fill at bar 48 – the end of the breakdown section – is a classic rock fill that you want to have in your vocabulary. It’s been featured in songs by AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Meatloaf, Queen, Poison, Guns n’Roses and countless others. Flams are used again to make it more powerful and to make more of a statement, focus on getting all 3 flams sounding the same.

Did You Find Sanctuary?

Hopefully you enjoy yourself rocking out to this track, it’s one of the simpler songs to play on the grade 2 syllabus, but it’s needs commitment to making the beat feel as good as possible & providing a solid back bone for the rest of the band to sit on.

The 2018 version of the Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 2 Drums book is great to work through if you’re around 6 months to a year 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!

Check out other Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 2 songs such as:

Under The Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Knock On Wood – Eddie Floyd

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

If you’re in Singapore &  haven’t had a free trial drum lesson with us, contact us & we’ll arrange one for you.

Pearl Jam – Alive – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5

Oh I, oh, I’m still alive… and playing drums…. let’s play Alive by Pearl Jam from the Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 Syllabus.

Pearl Jam – Alive – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 drums

Full disclosure is necessary here… I love this song! The first Pearl Jam Album, Ten, totally blew my mind & I spent many hours, days, weeks, years doing my best impersonation of original Pearl Jam drummer Dave Krushen. If I ever want to remind myself of why I love playing drums, I just put this song on and jam along… nothing beats drumming along to your favourite songs!

Is Your Bass Drum Alive?

One of the main areas under examination with this song is the bass drum. Specifically playing the bass drum cleanly and consistently on the 16th notes in between the 8th note hi-hat. Hopefully you’ve been working on this in the lead up to grade 5 & should be comfortable with it before approaching this song. There was a little bit of 16th note bass drum at grade 4, but this is the first time where it’s happening all the way through a song. As always, if you’re in any doubt, slow down the tempo to around 50bpm and work on the grooves slowly until you find them easy to play & then bring them up to speed & beyond.

It’s always good to learn to play things  faster than you actually need to play them so that you are relaxed when you playing them at the necessary speed… playing at your top speed all the time is really taxing!

Are Complex Fills Keeping You Awake At Night?

A number of more complex fills are featured throughout the song. These fills include items such as the drag rudiment, the bass drum,  8th & 16th note rests & 32nd notes. Let’s not panic….

The drags… you’ve been playing drags in songs since grade 3, back then they were mostly stand alone, now we’re just putting them on the front of 16th note fills. All of these can be played using your preferred sticking; for right handed drummers, that probably means your left hand will play the 2 grace notes and your right hand will land the main note on the beat. Make sure that your timing of the 16th notes is accurate, the first note after the 2 grace notes must be smack on time, don’t delay it to make room for the grace notes.

The 32nd notes… there is only one fill with 32nd notes – unless you decide to add an extra one as I did. Moving up & down the subdivisions from 8ths to 32nd notes & from 16th notes to 32nd notes takes a bit of getting used to. Here’s three exercises, to be performed with a metronome, to help out with your timing. Count the 16th note throughout & try with both stickings (left handed drummers can reverse the sticking… and right handed drummers should try that too… work that weaker hand!)

pearl jam - alive - trinity rock & pop
Oh I, Oh, I love playing 32nd notes

Note that I prefer to count 16th notes when I’m playing 32nd notes… you can count all the 32nd notes if you want, but at higher speeds it’s not practical.  I prefer to count the 16th note & feel the 32nd notes between them… if it’s a more complicated 32nd note pattern then I may count all the 32nd notes while learning it & I’d be going really slowly.

The Complexity… When I’m learning a complex fill the first thing I learn to do is play the rhythm of the fill on one surface, normally the snare drum. When I can count it & play it accurately then I’ll start worrying about any sticking patterns or flams & drags or bass drums that need to be applied & then moving it around the kit.

If we break down the big 32nd note fill from the end of the 2nd verse in this manner, then it looks like this:

pearl jam - alive - trinity rock & pop grade 5
Oh I, Oh, I can play this fill!

Step 1:  Just play the rhythm of the fill on the snare and count it out. I don’t tend to count beat 2 when I play this fill, which is why I indicated it in parentheses. You may want to count it. Don’t move on until you’ve nailed this step!

Step 2: Add in the drag at the start. Make sure beat one stays on beat one.

Step 3: Substitute the snare drum on the e of 2 for a bass drum and add the crash to the snare on the & of 2.

Step 4: Add in the Tom-Toms to beats 3 & 4.

Wasn’t so bad was it?

Is It 7/8 O’Clock Yet?

The instrumental portion of the song features 3 bars in 7/8 interspersed with bars of 4/4. You can choose to count these bars either in 7/8 or continute your regular 4/4 counting as follows.

Pearl Jam = Alive - Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5
Oh I, Oh, I can play 7/8!

If you decide to keep counting in 4/4, don’t venture past the e of 4! If I am going to count this in 7/8, then I will usually count the 4/4 bars surrounding the measure as bars of 8/8. I find this helps smooth the transition to the 7/8 bars. Rather than counting:

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 2 3 4 5 6 sev

I count:

1 2 3 4 5 6 sev 8 1 2 3 4 5 6 sev

You might find it helps you to make that move smoother too.

When I was practicing this song, I noticed that I was rushing on the last 2 notes of this figure. I think it was because we play a similar figure just before hand as a bar of 4/4. The rest between the last 2 groups of notes is only a 16th note in that figure and not an 8th note.

To remedy this problem of rushing, I start bouncing the heel of my left foot up and down on the hi-hat stand in time with the 8th notes on the bar before the 7/8 figure starts. I then used the physical feedback from my foot to help me keep my timing while playing this figure; hitting the first of the last 2 sixteenth notes at the same time as my left foot heel hits the floor on beat 7 (or 4, if you’re counting that way). It actually helps with the spacing of all 3 groups of 16th notes as you’ll have 1 heel hit between each group & the next group starts on the next heel hit. Try it, you may find it a useful time keeping tool.

A Bridge Too Far?

Now to the part of the song I don’t like… but only for the Trinity version.

The suggested groove for the bridge just feels wrong to me and clashes with what the rest of the band are playing. Now in my video. I played it as suggested and how it’s played in the demo version of the song that trinity supply. I struggled with it though, it just didn’t feel right to me, my body just wanted to play something different.

What should it be?

Alive - Pearl Jam - Trinity
Oh I, Oh, think this groove is better for the bridge!

This is similar to the groove that Dave Krushen played on the original & it meshes much better with the backing track. I don’t know how strict Trinity are when marking the exams. Will you lose points if you ignore their grooves and play something more suitable? During the bridge section you are told to continue in a similar fashion, hopefully this is similar enough that you don’t lose marks for it… if in doubt, force yourself to play the wrong sounding groove they suggested.

Are You Still Alive?

Hopefully you’ll enjoy playing this song as much as I do. For the guitar solo at the end of this song I decided to let go and enjoy myself. Lots of bass drum, crashes, & that extra 32nd note fill – yours  big fill doesn’t have to be 32nd notes. I was just feeding off the energy of the song and I know the original version gets real noisy at the end with lots of crashes, snare drums on all four beats and bass drums on all the 16ths in between… I didn’t go that far… if I record it again I might!

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!

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!

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!

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

Bob Marley – Three Little Birds – Trinity Rock & Pop Initial Grade

Don’t worry ’bout a thing; Cause every little thing gonna be alright… once you watch this video:

Bob Marley – Three Little Birds – Trinity Rock & Pop Initial Grade Drums

Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds is now part of the Trinity Rock & Pop Initial Grade syllabus. This version of the song offers a nice introduction to playing reggae.

One of main styles of reggae is  referred to as One-Drop or Three-Drop. I’ve heard both names to refer to the same style. The main feature of this style is playing the bass drum only on beat 3 of the bar, often together with a cross-stick or snare hit. The hi-hat can be played in quarters, eighths, or a swung eighth note style. The snare drum / cross stick will also play notes in addition to the main note on beat 3 to create variety in the pattern. The hi-hat pattern will often feature accents to bring it to life.

In this song we’re playing a very simple reggae groove which allows us to get used to the feel of the one-drop reggae style. Listening to the demo version of this song provided by Trinity; I could hear a clear accent on the hi-hat on beat one of the bar so I’ve tried to emulate that in my version. It’s not notated, but accented hi-hats are a common feature of reggae. You may also want to try accenting on beats 2 & 4 in time with the rhythm guitar. Here’s the two accented grooves you could try:

drum lessons singapore
Accented Reggae Grooves

The drum fills in this song shouldn’t present much of a problem; your main focus should be on getting the groove feeling right and making sure you don’t flam between bass, snare.

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!

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

Gary Moore – Still Got The Blues (For You)

Got the blues? You’re not alone, Gary Moore has them too… and just for you!

Gary Moore – Still Got The Blues (For You) – Drum Cover

Still got the blues (for you) is one of legendary guitarist Gary Moore’s most popular songs. The version in the video is the shorter version, the original is over 6 minutes long, this version is missing the last 2 minutes of guitar solo. If you only have the longer version, just continue jamming along at the end!

The tempo of this song is really slow – it’s at 55bpm. The song has an eighth note triplet feel and you can count time either as eighth note triplets (1 puh let, 2 puh let etc.) or as 12/8 (1 2 3 4 5 6 etc.). This tempo makes it a great song for you to try figuring out the drum part for yourself; that’s a skill you should work on developing.

Being able to listen to a song and figure out – at least roughly – what the drummer is doing is a skill that will really help you to learn songs quickly. These days it’s very tempting to just google for a drum score or a drum tab or find a youtube lesson on how to play the song, but by doing that you miss out on developing your listening skills. I would encourage you to at least have a go a trying to work it out first before turning to other sources.

I started learning drums before the internet was really a thing and if I wanted to learn a song, I had to listen to it (a lot), try and play it (a lot), make mistakes (a lot), make note of mistakes and try to correct them and then ask other drummers or my teacher for help on the bits I wasn’t sure of. The more I tried to do it, the better I got, the more my listening developed, the faster I could pick up songs & play the songs I wanted to play. Try it!

This song presents a few challenges:

1) The speed… it’s S L O W! Playing slow is hard! Luckily we’re playing triplet 8th notes here and not just regular 8th notes, that means there’s less space between the notes we’re playing and that helps with the time-keeping. Where the slow speed is really felt is during the breaks, the moments when we’re not playing. There’s one 2 bar break toward the end of the song (3:29 in the video); make sure you keep counting during this break; to begin with you may want to keep tapping the triplet hi-hat pattern on your leg to help you keep time. Also listen for help from the other instruments – take note of the bass note on beat 1 of the 2nd bar.

2) Unison figures…. at 4 points in the song you need to play triplet 8th notes with your right hand, left hand & bass drum simultaneously… practice this carefully and don’t flam!

3) The crashes…. there are a number of crashes in this song, during the guitar solo there are 3 in a row (2:45). If you have 2 crashes practice playing the 3 crashes L R L and R L R, see which feels best to you.  Don’t just use one hand, practice crashing with your weaker hand. Listen to make sure your crash and bass drum are really together.

4) The fill at 2:05…

drum lessons singapore
Drum Fill @ 2:05

This fill features a 16th note triplet between the Puh & Let of 4. If you play the fill as notated above your right hand will play a nice smooth 8th note triplet – 4 puh let – and your left will play beat 4 and then the 16th note triplet between puh & let. You don’t need to count every note in the fill, you can just feel it. Listen to the fill and try to imitate it. If you still can’t get the rhythm, try saying 4-patti-cakes:

drum lessons
4-Patti-cakes

After you have tried to play the song on your own you can click here to check out this score courtesy of our friends at www.DrumLessonResources.com. Enjoy!

If you’re in Singapore and haven’t had a free trial drum lesson with us yet, click here to arrange one!