We all get stuck in ruts. As humans, it is so easy for us to get comfortable performing a certain way and then lose sight of creativity. Playing it safe has its advantages of course, but it also has its disadvantages, just like everything else.
As a heavy metal musician, I know how easy it is to hop on the proverbial bandwagon and, because it’s nice and cozy and warm, stay there. No experimentation, no risks, right?
Well, maybe. But maybe after a while you start to notice that all bands sound the same. Maybe you start to hear patterns in other musicians that you come to loathe. Maybe you start to lose interest in music.
This doesn’t have to be the case.
With a few drum fill ideas and tips, you can break out of your comfort zone and explore the drums in a more leisurely, yet effective fashion.
The first and foremost important way to implement new ideas is not to limit yourself. Sure, you can play only jazz, but if you only listen to jazz, your fills will become repetitive and unimaginative.
Listen to other styles of music. Whether those styles be country, bluegrass, hard rock, flamenco or even death metal, they can open your eyes to entire different ways of playing. I personally have learned many subtle, yet bizarre and unique approaches to drumming simply by listening to bluegrass. And this is coming from a heavy metal musician, too.
Another way to add some zest to your playing is to alter your favorite fills. Instead of using only snare, try implementing toms or even bass drum. A little kick can go a long way to changing the altogether feel of your fill.
Try adding voices that you don’t normally use. If you always revert to toms, force yourself to either a crash or ride. Try striking the bell of your ride or crash, adding different tones.
If you find yourself defaulting to eighth notes, take note of it. Using a small tape recorded or even an audio recorder on your phone or digital camera, record yourself playing for a session.
Place the device in a closet or other enclosed area close to your kit, as it will muffle out the brunt of the sound, allowing the recorder to do its job. Try different note patterns, or for more advanced players, consider incorporating syncopation into your fills. It will make for an impressive quality that other musicians will take note of fairly quickly.
If you find that you are always striking the snare and toms fully, try adding rim shots.
An important part of learning new techniques and patterns is to study other drummers. When you watch drumming videos, make it a job. Take a pad and pen and jot down notes on techniques you yourself found interesting.
When you get back to you kit, try those techniques out for yourself and add your own style to them. Many of the greatest players do the very same thing. You wouldn’t believe how many popular drummers have studied Neil Peart and taken his fills and drumming techniques, adding their own flavors and voices, and created something new.
As always, your imagination is your greatest tools. Your hands and feet can only do what they are told by your brain. Impressive and unique fills start in your mind.
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