Top Tips for Gigging Drummers

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Drum Kit By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: Drum Kit
Last updated: 13/03/2018
Tags: advice, drumming, drums, tips, work

For some of you out there, drumming has become more than just a hobby. You are in a band and are serious about showing off your music to the world and hope to be noticed by all the hippest kids and important record label executives. Drumming has become a serious passion and you are considering a musical profession playing in bars, on festival stages, in recording studios and on TV. All of this is possible with patience, hard work and experience and below I have outlined some key tips to start you in the right direction towards your lifestyle as a working drummer.

Ensure you have your own equipment: There is nothing more irritating to drummers than another drummer frantically running up to them before a show to deliver a panic-stricken request to borrow their snare. You will learn very quickly in the live music industry that this just isn’t okay. You will encounter drummer solidarity in many scenarios, but rarely in this one. Very few drummers will be sympathetic to the fact that you either do not own, have forgotten, or couldn’t be bothered to bring you own gear. The majority of music venues will have a house drum kit, and it will suffice to bring what we refer to as “breakables” (that is your cymbals, snare and sticks). It may also be worth bringing a hi-hat clutch and kick pedal along with you too. However, do not take this for granted either. Check with the venue for backline specifications.

Know your value: As a drummer in a band, one of the things you will need to understand most is your value. We are not just talking about financial value here – this is obviously important too, but money should never be your sole motivation for being a touring musician – we are also talking about creative value. Whether you have started your own band or you are working for another artist, everybody in the room is equal. Although you are not invincible, you should appreciate why you have been chosen to be the drummer in the first place. Your playing, ideas and contributions all have merit, and acknowledging this as well as everybody else’s equal significance will do a lot to establish diplomacy and a pleasant atmosphere in which to create.

Learn to drive: This, of course, only applies to drummers of a legal driving age. If you are underage but are still gigging, you could ask very kindly for a parent/guardian with transport to assist you to the venue. The main reason for this tip is fairly obvious – your drum kit is too large and heavy to carry on foot! As your career progresses on the live circuit, you will sometimes encounter situations (especially if you are the headline act) where you will be expected to provide the whole kit for all of the bands to share (excluding breakables). Having a car, whether owned or hired, will give you the freedom to play shows further afield, and will increase the potential amount of gigs that are available to you. This is particularly an advantage if you get into functions and session work. It is not the best feeling to have to turn down incredible gig opportunities because you cannot transport your drums.

Learn a second instrument: Learning a second instrument will help you immensely in your career as a working drummer. Understanding another instrument and melodic element in your band will make you a much more sensitive and collaborative player. Your ideas in the rehearsal room or studio will be far easier to communicate if you understand rhythm as well as melody. Nowadays, production skills are also a highly sought after commodity and will come in very useful in live and recording situations. Not to mention that if things are quiet on the drumming front, you could always respectably perform for other gigs playing your second instrument.

Have a good attitude: This may seem like a strange tip as it doesn’t necessarily relate to drumming, but being the best drummer in the world will only get you so far. Having the right attitude towards your music and the people around you is what will get you the most work. Think about it this way: in an audition, the first thing you do is greet everybody in the room and introduce yourself. Then you might be interviewed briefly, before you are instructed as to what will be expected from you for during your performance – all of this before you’ve even played a single note. Walking in there with a frosty glare and know-it-all posturing, or shuffling in aimlessly with downcast eyes and delivering monotonous "yes/no" responses will lose you the gig before you have even started playing. So be kind, be friendly, be confident and enjoy yourself!


Dean Valentine Drum Kit Teacher (South East London)

About The Author

Hi there! My name is Dean Valentine and I am a drums teacher and professional session musician. I teach students of all ages and all levels, so whether you are starting from scratch or just ironing out certain areas of technique, I am here to help.

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