Life's Little Drumming Lessons

This is an article from Not So Modern Drummer magazine.

Life's Little Drumming Lessons by George Lawrence

Pearls of drumming wisdom from that rascal sage….me! Some random thoughts that are slowly coagulating into a book I hope to publish one day.

It’s your job to inspire everyone else on stage to play their best. Be a happy camper, smile and laugh a lot, play your best, play to support everyone else in the band, and never forget how fortunate you are to have been born in the first century of the invention of the drum set. If you had been born earlier, your gig would probably have been playing a snare drum on a battlefield somewhere while getting shot at and sleeping in a tent in the mud!

About drum fills: Make sure there is a hole in the music before you try to fill it. Most fills happen in between vocal and instrumental lines and are usually cliché fills. Play the cliché fill and own it. Practice cliché fills until they don’t feel cliché. Play the fills you know. Don’t try anything unknown or go out on a limb if you don’t know how it will end up. Don’t paint yourself into a corner if you don’t have an exit plan.

One of the most powerful rock grooves ever played on drums was Charlie Watt's driving snare drum on Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones.....and it was all non stop quarter notes and no fills.

Individual style
The great drummers all have a unique and identifiable style/sound which does not sound like anyone else. Their style doesn't copy other drummers. They are playing “themselves”. If you want to develop your own style you have to go through a process of editing everything that you have copied from the great drummers – feel, licks, grooves, stickings, tunings, composition, etc. - not eliminating everything, but saving what you have “made your own”. Then you have to decide what is uniquely "you", play those things, and not have any other drummers on your mind when you play. You might play the same rhythms or licks as that great drummer you copied it from, but play it with your body and your soul, and don’t try to "be" or "be like" that famous drummer. It’s ok to steal from the best. We all learn from those who have gone before us. It's ok to learn by emulating at first but that is only a learning process. Developing your own style is not necessary, but if you want to take that route and go beyond, you have to do some musical and drumming "soul searching".

Why is this not a rudiment? RLL and LRR (and all permutations thereof). I call it the three stroke roll whether played in duple or triple meter. Or PaDiddle if it must have an onomotapeiac name. How did that one get left out of the list??(And all of its other permutations LRL, LLR, RLR, RRL). The rudiment system is incomplete.
- from my book “Sticking Theory - the Prime Rudiments”.

Duct tape? NO. Gaffer’s tape? YES.
There is a huge difference. Duct tape or Duck tape (brand) is cheaper but will melt, leave sticky residue, it’s made of plastic, blah, blah, blah. Buy a roll of gaffer’s tape which is made of fabric with a much higher grade of adhesive and much sturdier. It’s what is used on major pro tours. Buy it online, Home Depot (if you can find it there), some music and drum stores have it.

Don’t ever work again for someone who has not paid you or paid you less than promised. They will do it again.

-George Lawrence

Listing created Sep 15, 2019

Public discussion (2)

david mattacks

10 months ago

everything on the money there , george - well put !

Removed user

7 months ago

I love this article, the only thing is now I pretty much just play at home with songs and by myself and the kit so I absolutely refuse to put any muffling whatsoever on any drum, especially tape. No pillow in my bass drum either, I hate that, without it my bass sounds like a musical note. About fills, I agree, especially Charlie Watts on Satisfaction. I also wonder if Phil Rudd of AC-DC even owned a tom, I never heard him do a roll in my life, just a power rock solid beat to support the killer tunes.

You must log in to send a new comment.