Music Blog

How to Play Drums With Feel

Hi Fellow Musicheads! Today’s blog is about feel. This is the key that makes music special. I once worked with a bass player who said ” I care more about feel than chops” (chops meaning technique). Then a drummer friend of mine said ” First I learn a beat, then I have to make it feel good.” So began the journey. The next day I was trying to breakdown how I could put as much feel into the music as possible. I started to realize that you can only make the music feel as good as you feel at that particular time! The biggest problem for drummers is being relaxed. If you’re tense the music feels tense and nervous. If you feel like you just stepped out of a hot bath so will the music.

Step 1: Take inventory of your body while playing. Feel your arms, hands, legs, stomach for any tension. Sometimes playing softer helps you to relax. Find any tension and let it go!

Step 2: Less thinking and more feeling. Feel the sticks in your hand, feel your leg rise and fall as you play the bass drum, feel the stick rebound up from the ride cymbal, feel gravity pull you down into the drum throne.

Step 3: Find the passion in the music. Whether it’s a searing guitar solo or you and the bass player laying down a mean groove, look for the passion. I’ve noticed that I seem to hum from my chest when I’m in the zone. Maybe that’s your soul coming out to play!

Step 4: Listen to everybody else. I have played with musicians that practiced a lot by themselves then came to band rehearsal and just listened to themselves. They should have stayed home! When you listen to everybody else you form a band that is greater than it’s parts. Feed off their feel and passion and magnify it. Then go beyond that and feed off the audience too!

Final thought: It’s not how many notes you play but how much feel you put into the ones you do play! Do you feel me?

Bill Hartel (Drum Instructor AB Music Studios)

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