I remember how I started out with drumming. I have been playing the piano for like six years and since I felt like I got bored of it but still did not want to end my “music career” I headed up to the local music school and wandered for a while, looking for an instrument.
Just before I almost left, I heard something amazing – the man who almost immediately became my master was playing a solo in his free time and I could not help but stand there for minutes with my jaw dropped on the floor. After he noticed me and finished playing, I walked closer to his drum set and started touching the different parts.
I remember that I asked him: “So you have these four cymbals – by using different techniques you can create any sound using these, right?” He thought for a while, then replied: “Yes, you only have to be a little creative”. So let us take a look at that – what being creative on the drum set means, and how playing unexpected things can do wonders to your skills.
You are taught how to execute a stroke perfectly: how to move your hands, where to lay your drum stick between your fingers and which area of the drums you should hit. While learning these basics is more than important, there are times when you should simply forget those stubborn rules!
Flip your drum stick: hit the drums with the butt of the stick – pay attention to how the brightness and tightness of the sound disappears and power takes their place. Hit the rim of the drums and the cymbals – observe how the sound of the rims is totally different from the main sounds. Also, the differences between the several sounds of rims are interesting.
Lay one of your sticks on a drum head and start hitting it with your other drumstick – the combination of the sound your first stick creates in the drum and the sound of the two sticks hitting each other will probably be something you have not heard before. These are very interesting stuff – start looking at your drum sticks as if they were rather plastic and shape them to your ideas.
Hitting the drum with a cigarette will create sounds – I actually tried that, it is rather interesting. However, you do not need to go that far to experience new things. When you are visiting your drum store for the next time, ask for a mallet or a brush. The standard, wooden drum stick is not the only instrument that can be used to play the drums.
Even though some of these alternative tools might have a rather steep learning curve (it is not easy to play with brushes), the results are worth it: you will soon be inducing sounds that you would not even have imagined beforehand.
Drummers usually have the tendency to believe that when we play the drum set we should use sticks and when we play percussion it is time to use the hands. These things can be mixed up. Why not start playing your congas with softer drum sticks?
They will certainly sound differently. And why on Earth would you miss the joys of playing your drum set with your bare hands? No stick can ever have the potential that you ten very original sticks – your fingers – already have.
Since your hands probably sweat and become dirty during a gig, make it sure that you will clean both your drum heads and your cymbals after playing with your bare hands. Grease and dirt can cause damage to almost any part of your drum set, especially your cymbals.
The same thing goes with using drum sticks on percussion instruments: the sounds born that way will be amazing, but these instruments are not always engineered for that level of pressure, so make sure you are not destroying your instrument. But most important of all: make sure that you have fun!
Would you like to learn drums while having fun with play-along songs at the same time? At Drumeo, you can access a massive library of lessons and get 2 brand new songs to jam along every month. This will help you apply your new found skills in practical scenarios!