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

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

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

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

Push it!

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

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

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

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Crash Practice Patterns

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where do we go now?

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

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

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

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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!