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!

 

 

 

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!

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!

If you’re in Singapore and would like a free trial drum lesson, you can arrange it 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!

The Band – The Weight – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 1

Ladies & Gentlemen, The Band:

The Band – The Weight – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 1 Drums

The Band were an extremely talented group of musicians who played with Bob Dylan amongst others. Bob Dylan, and other musicians they played with, always introduced them simply as “The Band” so when they decided to strike out on their own they took “The Band” as their name.

The Weight is probably the most well known of their songs and is ranked as #41 in Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 songs.

This song is fairly straight forward to play & if you are doing the exam you’re given a lot of freedom to choose what to play. The initial pick-up fill is defined for you, but the rest of the fills are up to you. The groove for the most of the verse is also up to you.

The tempo of this song is fairly slow at 74 bpm. You should practice playing the groove with a metronome at that speed and even slower to work on playing confidently at that speed. Slow speeds are tough to play at securely as there is a lot of space for you to place your notes. I would suggest counting all the eighth notes as you practice. Generally the slower the tempo, the more you count; The faster the tempo, the less you count. If I’m playing at 40bpm, I’ll be counting 16th notes; at 150 bpm I’ll be counting quarters & at 300 I’m just counting beat 1 of each bar.

For the first verse I chose to repeat the 2 bar pattern from the first  2 bars of the verse for the duration of the verse. This seems to fit quite nicely, but it’s not the only option, you may want to experiment with other simple rock beats to see if you can find something that sounds good to you.

For the fill at the end of the first verse, you want to start it on beat 3 so it doesn’t overshadow the vocals. If you’re struggling for ideas, here’s a few for you. The first one is the fill I play in the video:

drum lessons singapore
Verse Fill Examples

The chorus groove sees us playing the snare on all 4 beats with a bass drum happening on the & of 3. It’s a simple groove to play, but really helps to drive the chorus and adds a nice dynamic to the song and contrasts nicely with more laid back feel of the verse. Don’t forget to hit your snare a little harder here to get up to the forte dynamic. The chorus sees us stopping on the and of 1 of the 4th bar and letting the vocalists shine. This is where you need to count as the bar of 3/4 can make coming back in tricky. I suggest listening to the song a load of times and just counting & clapping along with it to get familiar with how it sounds in relation to the time.

The final bars see us playing a figure that’s very common… crashing on the & of  2 and then filling out the rest of the bar. I recorded myself playing this song 6 times and every time I did different fills. I would encourage you to practice it the same way. Don’t get stuck on just playing the same fill every time. Practicing with a variety of fills will help your flow on the kit and make you more responsive in real life playing situations. Here’s some fills you could try (create some of your own too!) The first two are the ones I played in the video.

Drum Lessons Singapore
Chorus Fill Examples

This is good song to learn for practicing playing slower tempos and working on your fills. Levon Helm, the drummer and one of the singers, is considered one of the best song drummers and has a great feel, you can learn a lot from trying to emulate him so be sure to check out the original.

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!

Eddie Floyd – Knock On Wood – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 2

Knock on wood was a hit for Eddie Floyd in 1966 & has been covered many times since. It’s a soul classic written on a stormy night by guitar great Steve Cropper & singer Eddie Floyd. The challenge on this song is locking in fully with the band; the horns, the rhythm guitar & the singer all play unison figures with the band. Here’s my attempt:

Eddie Floyd – Knock On Wood – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 2 Drums

This song features a number of off-beat figures that need to be played perfectly in sync with the band; the introduction ends with the bass drum & crashes being hit with the horns on the & of 4 and the & of 1; the chorus ends with snare hits on the off-beats with the guitar & singer; the song ends with same figure as the chorus but played with the bass drum & crashes. If you are not confident playing on the off beats then these figures will cause trouble.

My favourite exercise for building confidence with off-beats is this one:

drum lessons singapore
Off-Beat Builder

To start with use a metronome that has an 8th note setting. (I recommend TempoPerfect on your computer or on your phone – search for “tempoperfect” by NCH software). Start slowly at 60 bpm, your aim is to play right on top of the metronome; you shouldn’t be able to hear the metronome when you strike the drum. You may want to dampen your snare drum so you get a dry sound so you can really hear if you are on top of the beat.

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Tempoperfect playing 8th notes @ 60bpm

Record yourself playing the exercise and listen back to see if you are really on top of the beat. Then,  if you are really on top of the beat consistently, set your your metronome to just play quarter notes, repeat the exercise & see if you can make it sound the same as it did when you had the metronome playing 8ths. Gradually increase the speed, see how fast you can go while keeping the accuracy. If you work on this regularly you will be able to play off beat figures confidently at speed.

The verse of this song should provide little trouble, however listen to the rhythm guitar and make sure you are locking in with it. I enjoy nothing more than locking in with a good rhythm guitarist. A good rhythm guitarist can really help to make your time keeping duties easier and aid in creating the right feel for the song; a bad one is a nightmare and all you can do is try to ignore them!

The pre-chorus (bars 17-21 – about 0:41 in the video) provides a nice change of groove with its syncopated bass drum pattern, but do note it is 5 bars in length which can feel a little weird and may catch you out. Try and get all the snare accents on the 5th bar the same volume; on the video I played them LRLR but you may try playing them all with one hand, this will give you a chance to throw in some showmanship with your free hand… a twirl perhaps?

The chorus features the same funky syncopated groove as the introduction with the tricky off-beat figure at the end. After playing the chorus the first time we get to play the turnaround; this features the snare on all four beats with the bass joining it on beat one. This section needs a fair bit of attention as you need to get the snare & bass perfectly in sync on beat one and crescendo over the three bars. You may want to practice this section on it’s own for a while. It looks easy but there is a lot to get right.

After repeating the verse, pre-chorus & chorus we move on to the outro; this is just a continuation of the chorus using the ride cymbal instead of the hi-hat and has the off-beat bass & crash figure discussed earlier. The final bar has hits on beats 1 and 4. Don’t rush the last hit on beat 4, practice it with a metronome to get it accurate, and count during the last bar. Too early or too late and it’ll sound wrong and will leave a bad last impression on your audience.

In 2014 I saw The Rolling Stones performing live and Charlie Watts was totally off on the hits at the end of one song; it was very obviously wrong. It was a great show, but I still remember that bad ending. When I miss something on stage (which doesn’t happen very often – honest!) I remind myself that even a legend like Charlie Watts gets it wrong sometimes & then laugh off my mistake and get on with the rest of my life & enjoy the rest of the show – and concentrate a little more!

Knock On Wood is a great song to work on and provides some great opportunities for working on your timing and dynamics and locking in with a band.

The 2018 version of the Trinity Grade 2 Rock & Pop 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!

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

 

 

Toploader – Dancing in the Moonlight – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 3

Dancing in the moonlight was originally written & recorded by French-American rock group King Harvest in 1972. In 1999 Toploader recorded a cover version on their Onka’s Big Moka album and then released it as a single in 2000. The version presented in the Trinity Rock & Pop syllabus is closer in feel & groove to the Toploader version. Here’s my attempt:

Toploader – Dancing in the Moonlight – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 3 Drums

This is a fairly straightforward song to play. The focus for this song is on the grooves and making people want to dance. There are only 2 drum fills in the song & it’s the same fill both times; I did add another one at the end of the solo section – there’s nothing to say you can’t in the score.

The chorus groove with its 16th note snare drum can prove tricky for some. There is no real direction on how to play this groove dynamically in the score. I elected to play the snare on beats 2 & 4 louder than the other snare drum notes. I’m not really ghosting these notes, but I’m certainly not putting as much emphasis on them as I am the 2 & 4 backbeat. This helps to create a bit more movement in the groove and it doesn’t feel as stiff or aggressive as it would if I had played them all the same volume. When practicing this groove, record yourself and try to get 2 consistent volume levels for your snare drum.

One of the things I enjoy about the Trinity Rock & Pop syllabus is that at the higher grades they allow you to make your own choices on what to play. There are large sections of this song where you are told to “continue in a similar manner”; I ran through this song a few times and every time I played these sections slightly differently. If you are taking the exam,  I would encourage you to just play what you feel at the time during these sections. Don’t try to nail down exactly what you want to play as trying to remember it note for note in the exam will just add to your stress. Just let the beat flow out of you & stay in time. Listen to my version, the original version and other versions out there on youtube to get some ideas. Don’t be afraid to change it up a little bit, sticking to just the basic groove is a bit boring and I think the examiner would rather hear you do something a little different – as long it’s within the style of the song.

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!

 

 

 

Aerosmith – Sweet Emotion – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 3

Want to learn how to play rock drums? Listen to Aerosmith with Joey Kramer on drums, it’s that simple! Joey always provides the perfect driving rock feel for every Aerosmith song. His feel is so integral to the band that when he left the band, they found they couldn’t continue without him; no other drummer felt right, they had to beg him to come back! Here’s my attempt at emulating Joey on Trinity Rock & Pop’s version of Sweet Emotion.

Sweet Emotion – Aerosmith – Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 3 Drums

Two drummers really influenced my use of the open hi-hat; one was Tico Torres from Bon Jovi and the other was Joey Kramer from Aerosmith. The groove on the verses of this song (0:25), with the open hi-hat on the “&” of 3 and then “&” of 4 is one of my favourite grooves to play. The challenge is trying to get a consistent open hi-hat sound and closing it perfectly on beats 4 & 1 every time. You may want to just practice that hi-hat part on its own for while before adding in the other limbs.

The guitar riff after every verse (0:43) with the driving snare on beats 2, 3 & 4 is a little unusual & will require practice. The use of the bell of the ride cymbal for this groove provides a great colour and really helps to distinguish this section. I elected to hit the crash on beat 1 with my left hand to allow my right hand to stay on the bell of the cymbal; the bell isn’t a huge target and is easy to miss so I find it’s easier just to leave my hand in place once it’s there. Make sure your crashes at the end of this section line up with the guitar.

The guitar solo features a 2 handed 16th note groove with 4 e & ah being played on the snare every bar. The 16th notes on the hi-hat & snare must be evenly played with an aggressive driving feel.

The ending of this song (2:42) is similar to how the band end it in live performances. Playing live, Joey accents the same rhythm as the guitar before playing his big ending licks. To accent with the guitar you could play something like this.

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Sweet Emotion Live Ending

On my video I decided to keep it simple and just play the basic groove with crashes on beats 1, 3, and 1 of the two bar pattern. If I was performing with a band, I would accent it the same way as Joey before going on to my big ending show off lick.

With this song you are asked to fill around the kit for the big ending. On the Trinity rock & pop  version of the song with the metronome on it, the metronome drops out at this point. However if you continue counting you’ll notice you actually have 9 1/4 note beats to play with here (two 4/4 bars + 1 beat). For this big ending I elected to crash on beat 1 and then start a 16th note triplet lick on beat 2. Here’s what it looks like:

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Big Ending Lick

I use “ti-ta” for counting 16th note triplets, so the counting for this lick is:

1          2 ti-ta & ti-ta 3 ti-ta & ti-ta 4 ti-ta & ti-ta 1 ti-ta & ti-ta 2 ti-ta & ti-ta 3 ti-ta & ti-ta 4   &    1.

Note that this lick is performed more by feel; I notice in my execution of it in the video that I’m a little late starting the 16th note triplets on beat 2 and I tend to ritard over the last three notes (4 & 1) and hit the last crash as the guitar dies out.

I used 16th note triplets between the hands and bass drum for this ending as it’s a fairly standard song ending lick & you should learn how to do it at some point. However, if you’re taking the exam & don’t have time to master it, you can try some 16th note alternatives like these:

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Alternate Endings

This is great song to learn to play; it’s a lot of fun and really allows you to rock out & it’s always good to practice those big endings. In addition, the timing challenges presented by the song in the unison figures and also the big space between the last verse and the guitar solo will help to solidify your time feel if you work on them. Your open hi-hats will also benefit greatly from working on the verse groove.

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!