(Photo: Vincent Barker)
I’ve decided to write my first blog entry on drumming and singing, because I feel it’s helped my playing in many ways:
Singing while playing will make you more steady as you will have to learn not to focus on your playing so much. This means that you won’t need as much “brain-power” for your playing as before, so you have more process capacity to react to your surroundings (like ducking to avoid the flying beer bottle without missing a beat or shouting at the monitor guy to please, PLEASE turn down the guitars in your in-ears while playing that big drum fill into the last chorus).
Singers love a singing drummer (and they usually are the ones who employ new band members… hint!). Practicing singing will give you a more natural feel for songs/melodies and where to support it or get out of the way.
Imagine you are a band leader and you are looking for a drummer and one backing singer. You are willing to pay $100 per gig. You find two drummers and 75 backing vocalists who are all very good and super nice. One of the drummers is also a good singer. Are you going to employ the non-singing drummer and a singer ($200/gig) or the singing drummer ($100/gig)… hmmm
How to practise singing and drumming: Basically, open your mouth and start singing while playing… 😉
A few exercises:
Play your favourite beats while counting out loud. Start with 8th notes (1+2+3+4+), then try quarter notes (1234).
Sing different rhythmic phrases, like a clave https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clave_(rhythm) while playing different beats/exercises.
Play your, or any band’s songs while singing the lead vocal part. You will be amazed how different your playing will feel and you might make quite a few changes to the way you play a song to help the melody.
All in all, you’ve got nothing to lose and loads to win…!
Levon Helm (RIP) on singing and drumming. AMAZING performance on “The Battle Is Over But The War Goes On” – I mean, HOLY HI-HAT!!! I could watch this video all day long.
Two songs from our show in Montreux July 8, 2016:
For those about to sing – I salute you!!!