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  1. Registered User

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    Post Learning to play drums by ear. What's your process?

    I actually started my drumming journey on my own, without any guidance. I started playing along to songs on my own... I learned by listening to music, and watching people play on TV or live, and just experimenting. Lessons and structured learning, oddly enough, came much later. That said, my first instrument isn't even the drums; it's the guitar, and I taught myself how to play too, never having any lessons. I guess, what it boils down to is that I have an ear for this type of thing, as I can pick up instruments fairly quickly. Not a brag (or humble brag), but it is what it is.

    So, some years ago I wrote an article for Drummer Magazine (a UK publication that folded some years ago) trying to distill my mental process of learning by ear for people (and drummers) who were curious about it.

    Now, the article was a feature piece in the magazine, which is cool, but because it was printed, there was no two-way conversation about it. So I'm curious as to what your process is in learning by ear. I'd love to hear people's experience with this.

    If you're curious / interested in reading the article, I published it on my blog here some years ago. Check it out here:
    https://nickschlesinger.com/playing-drums-by-ear

  2. PEARL EXX

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    Have you every played with professional drummers and they was impressed with how you performed?

  3. Registered User

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    Quote Originally Posted by NO DRUMS View Post
    Have you every played with professional drummers and they was impressed with how you performed?
    First off, you have to remember that professional means getting paid to play drums. I, for instance, am a professional drummer; it's my job. Similarly, just because you're a professional, doesn't mean that you have to be Dave Weckl or Eloy Casagrande. I'm most certainly not, but I do aspire and practice to be the best I can be.

    So, with that said, the answer to your question is: I don't know. I've been to jam nights and sat in on jamming through songs, but don't remember anyone coming up to me and saying "OMG, that was incredible". To be honest, I don't necessarily care either! I care more about what other musicians think, as it's more important to make a good impression with them as this means potential job opportunities. Remember, be friendly, play well (inc. don't overplay) and show up on time.

    Maybe have a read of this too, which kinda touches on your question: https://nickschlesinger.com/how-to-play-drums

  4. Registered User

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    I think drums have got to be the easiest instrument to learn by ear. A crash, bass drum, hi hat and snare all sound very different and that'll get you through 90% of songs. Trying to identify notes on a piano or a guitar is pretty damn hard to do.

  5. Registered User

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    Quote Originally Posted by keaton_86 View Post
    I think drums have got to be the easiest instrument to learn by ear. A crash, bass drum, hi hat and snare all sound very different and that'll get you through 90% of songs. Trying to identify notes on a piano or a guitar is pretty damn hard to do.
    I disagree. You're thinking AC/DC... However there's this type of thing which, trust me, isn't easy to figure out by ear.

  6. Miles Gibbons

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    Hey Nick, thanks. for posting interesting threads! I'll try not to rant too much in this one...

    In my opinion, you need to develop your ears before you get too deep into counting and reading. Building up some "instinct" not only makes the theory easier (in my opinion), but it also helps to have context for why it makes sense to read or count.

    In my opinion, you should start learning by ear - play along to music, watch videos of other drummers, or even just learn from a drum teacher using your ears. After you start to grasp some fundamentals, counting should come next, followed by reading if you're interested in that.

    I usually try to identify what's happening with the kick drum first; it's usually the most important figure, in terms of how the drums relate to the song, and knowing what it's doing can make it easier to decipher the other stuff. If I'm having a hard time hearing everything "as one," I'll concentrate on the kick, and get to the point where I can sing the pattern. I'll follow that by doing the same thing with the snare, then the hats\ride, than the other stuff. Sometimes I cheat by throwing the audio file into Ableton and slowing it down or looping it.
    "I'm gonna sleep outside... it's like Earth here, except less pollution, and more moons"

  7. Registered User

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    Hey Nick,

    Ever had a listen to Benny "Papa zita" Benjamin and Richard "pistol" Allen on the Standing in the shadows of Motown DVD Documentary on The Funk Brothers.

    Nice page

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5Ju...cctiuO&index=2

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOYedlKLFH0

    enjoy
    Last edited by Del; 04-14-2021 at 07:22 PM.

  8. PEARL EXX

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    Quote Originally Posted by NickSchles View Post
    First off, you have to remember that professional means getting paid to play drums. I, for instance, am a professional drummer; it's my job. Similarly, just because you're a professional, doesn't mean that you have to be Dave Weckl or Eloy Casagrande. I'm most certainly not, but I do aspire and practice to be the best I can be.

    So, with that said, the answer to your question is: I don't know. I've been to jam nights and sat in on jamming through songs, but don't remember anyone coming up to me and saying "OMG, that was incredible". To be honest, I don't necessarily care either! I care more about what other musicians think, as it's more important to make a good impression with them as this means potential job opportunities. Remember, be friendly, play well (inc. don't overplay) and show up on time.

    .......Maybe have a read of this too, which kinda touches on your question: https://nickschlesinger.com/how-to-play-drums
    Actually I just read your post and I find it interesting and with great information. Also some people are just gifted to be a great drummers (performer or just the stay at home player) who can learn without any lessons and be great at it.

  9. Registered User

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    Quote Originally Posted by NickSchles View Post
    I disagree. You're thinking AC/DC... However there's this type of thing which, trust me, isn't easy to figure out by ear.
    Uhh, I heard it once and I'm pretty sure I could play it right away, maybe not note for note perfect but well enough to make 99% of people happy. You should look into the Pareto principle. It applies to everything, especially drumming.

  10. Registered User

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    Quote Originally Posted by NickSchles View Post
    I disagree. You're thinking AC/DC... However there's this type of thing which, trust me, isn't easy to figure out by ear.
    You're oversimplifying the issue by comparing it to AC/DC.

    Sure, it might be hard to play something like this note for note, but the average drummer could getting pretty damn close if their ears are decent, and pretty damn close is probably good enough for most audiences.

    Developing your ears is a vital skill. Reading charts and notations is certainly important and useful, but I don't think anything can replace the ability to listen to the music and dissect what's happening, at least in a generalized sense.
    Last edited by HPD260; 04-15-2021 at 07:37 AM.

  11. Registered User

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    I oversimplified because, don't know if you read the comment I was replying to, they were saying that the drums is the easiest instrument to learn by ear. My point is: not necessarily.

    Agreed, developing your ears is a vital skill. The article I wrote, which I linked to on my original post is exactly about this. Check it out!

  12. Registered User

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    Hey! Thanks for your suggestions! I checked out the links, and they're great. I hadn't heard Joan Osbourne in ages. Great vibes all 'round. On the second video, when that tambourine comes in, it drowns everything out to begin with!

    Glad you liked the website!

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