Role of a Drummer in a Rehearsal


The Role of the Drummer in a Rehearsal


51 comments on “Role of a Drummer in a Rehearsal

  1. Jon Pryor says:

    This is great.

  2. Edwin Mendez says:

    As always Steve , what a GREAT LESSON !! Not only the role of the drummer, but the TIME keeper !! This is one of my biggest nightmares is keeping good solid time. I think I can figure it out now . Thanks again Teacher !!

  3. Jack Burton says:

    I learned a lot of this from playing in worship bands. Was a great learning group on so many levels both internally and externally. I know in my early years I was shown nothing but grace on the kit. lol. My understand back then was no where near where it is now. haha Thanks Stephen for what you do and your heart & soul! Your blessed brother, but I have a feeling you already know that!

  4. Jerry says:

    Good stuff. I think I listened to this once before but this is than worth reviewing!

  5. Igor Stankovic says:

    In the pop,rock,jazz,etc.the drumer is a conduktor.thats the tru that meny musicians want acept.

  6. Zabdiel Hernández says:

    Hi, Stephen!

    I have a question for you: In Pro Metronome, can I save a song with changes of tempo? I tried to do it but I couldn’t.
    Beside that, I realized I have to do a more pre-work (learning the tempo correctly, learning all the parts separatedly, etc.). Thank you very much!

    • Stephen says:

      Hey Z…yea, you can. You have to use the set list function and go in to the set list itself to edit the songs. I prefer Tempo by Frozen Ape for setlists these days.

  7. Sandra Corbett says:

    Awesome tips Stephen! thanks for this. I have had the issue of the singer counting in and it ends up being super slow and feels awful. Now I can take charge and say that you told me I could ;)

  8. Damian says:

    Hi Steve. I really like the new intro with the drum sticks. Class act brother. Thank you.

  9. Rich says:

    Great information Stephen! I could talk about this subject all day. It’s been my experience that a lead singer/guitar player that is used to running the show doesn’t want to relinquish setting the tempo to the newest member of the band which happens to be the drummer. However, the drummer is the one who gets blamed when it’s too fast or slow. Tempo is such an important issue that the drummers role needs to be well defined and understood by all. It’s a balancing act; establish your role but don’t step on ego’s.

  10. Owen Brown says:

    Hi Stephen, Owen from Oz here.

    Great information – I do need to stop occasionally moving off set/count in time myself (maybe one number in 4 rehearsals) (any advice there).
    Most of what you said was generally common sense.
    Like the other guy says – lots of musicians don’t/won’t credit the drummer with the time keeping role but are keen to have a scape goat if time/tempo shifts. I have all the tempos of all the songs our band plays written down on cheat/chart sheets (& do generally check with other members re what tempo I have the song) but after 5 years every so often some one will still say that a number is too fast or too slow or too busy *even when I have the click going in my ear). I have someone who was adamant that Cocaine Bill was not a shuffle, then changed back a year later to saying it was a shuffle. I think sticking to your guns has much merit.
    I do my stick count off to the click I have either in my ear or out to all – then turn my click off.

    • Stephen says:

      Hey Owen…so getting off of the click happens occasionally…especially if the band is fighting with you while playing. I usually make a point to discuss this with them (kindly obviously) “Hey, on that song it’s really trying to pull away from the tempo. Is there any way you can help me hold it back?” Sometimes phrasing it as them “helping” makes them more receptive (rather than “hey, could you stop rushing please?”).

      And yea, sticking to your guns is crucial when you know you’re right about the tempo. Just blame the machine ;^)

  11. Ludovic Leflon says:

    Hey Stephen,
    Great content as always.
    I like the subtle approach you have on this subject, “no stepping on anyone’s toes but still be there” attitude is key.
    Setting the tempo is truly something I’d love to do in the band I happen to play with but easier said than done.
    We have basically have 2 lead singers (playing uke and acoustic guitar respectively) that takes turns on the gig and they always pick songs on the fly and even with the most diplomatic communication with them between gig, it’s always an challenge to make them do a setlist or at least make them call the song before actually starting it.
    Then the bassist, guitarist and myself always “discover” which song it’s about when these two already set their own tempo with the “today’s feel” fluctuation, not really accurate nor repetitive. Ok this doesn’t happen all the time but fairly (too) often).
    I tried to explain them few times that we will always sound like a “jam band” if we don’t get a little more into detail and precision about tempo setting and proper song start.
    If you have experienced that already, i’d be glad to hear any piece of advice.
    Warm thanks in advance.

    • Stephen says:

      The only way to fix this is through communication. I would record a couple of gigs and let them hear what it sounds like with the tempo fluctuations. When you talk to them, be really humble and just let them know you’re trying to make the group sound better. Don’t blame them for the bad tempos (even if it is their fault), simply let them know that you believe this would take the music to that next level (it will). Developing a set list (a show…and it can change night to night, but always have a plan), establishing tempos, establishing song forms…these are all things that will set you apart as a group. I get it though, it can be a challenge when working with musicians like you’re dealing with. Use lots of patience, lots of communication, and tons of perseverence.

  12. Rob Boughton says:

    Thank you. As a weekend warrior the valuable take home message is BE PREPARED. That also means committing to the project even if it is not your main gig. I will definitely take your lesson to the practice room.

  13. Chris Burrett says:

    Great video and fantastic learning experience! Really very valuable information coming from an expert and someone who is so knowledgeable about drumming. I really appreciated your approach to communication between the music director and also, other drummers. As a beginner, I’m not up to that stage yet, but will certainly remember these great tips for future reference! :). A very valued learning experience.

  14. Rich Spicer says:

    Hi Stephen, I heard you mention we can request other lesson topics. If so, I would love to learn to be a better Up Tempo Jazz Player with good Comping. Thanks, Rich

  15. ken schwartz says:

    Hi Stephen,
    Great Lesson…
    Do you always have to use a click before you count off a song? Does the click have to be in your ear or can you just have a mobile device set up on a stand next to you. If you don’t like to play with anything in your ear you have to depend upon your “inner” time keeping ability. The latter is what I was taught… You have to feel the tempo and know when it is dragging or rushing.

    If you don’t have a click how would it be possible to tell what tempo to start?

    • Stephen says:

      No, I don’t always have to have one. Sometimes I just use it as a reference at the top and sometimes I run it the whole song. Just depends on the situation. I have found that making a list of songs at common bpm’s helps me remember tempos and pull them up in my memory. For instance, Superstition is around 101 bpm. So if the song is 100 bpm, I sing that song and I have that tempo.

  16. Ken schwartz says:

    Thank you Steve but I have a follow up on your answer
    Let’s say Superstition is 100 but you do not have a click with you. How can you count this off. Would you use your “internal “ metronome
    It would seem that you always have to at least start with a click. Is this correct

    • Stephen says:

      You don’t always have to start with a click. By learning a line or two of the song (the lyrics) I can sing those to myself and know pretty close where that tempo is. The more you do it, the better your internal timing is and you’ll be able to click off a tempo with greater accuracy. It just takes spending a lot of time with a metronome. But, in a perfect world, you would be able to start with a click to get a reference tempo.

  17. Josip Burjan says:

    Hello Stephen…i soon have audition for a band…iam afraid that i go to much because i lot study T.Lang and M.Minneman and i use left leg all time in my playing…my biggest weakness are linear basic fills…i hope that i will not overplay on audition…You very good drummer and teacher and i like Your psilosophy…Greetings from Croatia!

  18. Dave says:

    With tempo, that’s a drummers first, primary responsibility. If you don’t take care of that, you’re no drummer. You control the tempo. If you don’t believe me, just ignore the conductor sometime, and keep putting out the beat, and see who the band/orchestra follows. He can wave his arms around as much as he likes, it’ll make no difference.

    • Stephen says:

      I totally agree with you…we control tempo. But…the time is EVERYONE’S responsibility. So if they’re rushing, dragging, pulling against me…well, that’s no a “me” issue. That’s an issue we need to talk about because it’s affecting my job ;^)

  19. Albert Ring says:

    Really enjoying the lessons, great content that I normally do not think about. Thanks and keep up the awesome teachings !

  20. Jeffery Stein says:

    Absolutely loved this lesson. Would love to hear you talk a little about counting off in the show situation as opposed to rehearsal.
    My band leader hit me with wanting a silent count on the quieter tunes. Do you always do a audible count before any song where the band starts together?

    • Stephen says:

      No, I don’t always do an audible count. If I have everyone’s attention (i.e. they know they’re supposed to be looking at me or they’ll miss the count off) then I can fake click my sticks and mouth the count off. Or just do 4 stick clicks. The key is talking about HOW it’s going to be done and making sure everyone knows how it’s going to be done.

  21. Don says:

    Awesome comment about conductors brother. I have experienced it many times. They are right even when they are wrong in order to keep the gig. BIG egos!!

    • Stephen says:

      I’ve found that their egos can only be matched by drummers…

      Lol, j/k…and I totally agree with you. They just realize we can take their job anytime we want with one well placed backbeat. I’ve spoken with countless other pro’s who have agreed on the same thing…you really do have to accept the role of voluntary submission to their position and tempo. All about that humility

  22. Greg Ryan says:

    Hi Stephen, This is invaluable! I went through this lesson a month or so ago and you have given me license to be a little more assertive in herding the cats to get ready for the next song, and having a consistent way to start and count in songs.

    Along these lines, I’d sure love your thoughts on 1) my role and how to better cue transitions, and 2) how to come up with creative (not just trashcan) endings for covers that do the “70’s fade out”.

  23. Drew says:

    This is very helpful. I play at church and every Sunday one of the singers will say a song is too slow. And it will be song we play a lot and I’m like it’s the same tempo as always well last Sunday we figured out it’s because the pastor wants a faster song or slower song to start out and instead of changing the song she wants to change the tempo. So I now have some great insight on things I can do different to fix issues like that without causing a bigger one! Thanks Stephen your amazing at what you do!

  24. jerry ranney says:

    Can you recommend a metronome to us on a live show.

  25. Roger West says:

    ROLE OF A DRUMMER IN REHEARSAL…..a solid lesson with lots of clarity on our role/s in rehearsal. Every drummer to take note.

  26. Roger West says:

    Hi there, I’m 71 years of age and didn’t start drumming until I was 59 years of age so I’ll take tuition and advice from wherever. if it’s good. Gigging was never my priority but I’ve jammed and played with many many musicians over those 12 years and still enjoy it. However, COVID-19 has curtailed our sessions these last few months. I’ve tried all kinds of music over those years but I’m a serious bluesman at heart……Keep up the good work and thanks again. Roger W Nottingham UK

  27. Joe says:

    I know this is not really relevant to the lesson but what do you think is better, using the middle finger as your fulcrum when drumming or using your index finger? also great video Stephen!

    • Joe – this is an awesome question. Stephen uses quite a bit of middle finger fulcrum and I use it from time to time. If you haven’t, check out the hand technique course 101 and the hand technique 102 course that is going to release soon. Stephen dives DEEP on all of that stuff and breaks down why/when to do certain things.

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