How To Master Any Drum Groove

Learning the Essentials


Once you get your drum game together and start networking you’ll soon come face to face with one of the most challenging aspects of all – the audition. No matter if you’re trying to get onto a music course, a local show or a big tour you’ll have to pass that initial test before you can go any further. Here are some things to consider and to help you prepare:

Be Your Absolute Best

This might seem obvious but it really does bear repeating. You need to make sure that you can play at or preferably above the level that you are auditioning for. Your playing is your product. As Russ Miller said, ‘Even if you know somebody, that might open the door the first time, but if you can’t play, you’re not gonna stay inside for very long.’

Do Your Homework

What is the audition for? What exactly is expected of you? Who are you auditioning for? What are you likely to be asked to do? What gear will you need to bring? Are you the right person for the gig? Find out the requirements, think about all the possible outcomes and then prepare accordingly.

Learn The Material

If there is a set piece that you need to learn, then learn it. Inside out! You should be 100% confident that you can go in and play it with great feel and expression. How you play the notes is just as important as the notes you play. In a recent interview, Rich Redmond said, ‘Every time an opportunity is presented to you, you have to be overly prepared. If an audition comes along and they tell you to learn five songs, learn the whole catalogue. Really focus on those five songs and if they say, ‘Hey, do you know such and such from my first album in 1976?’ you can say ‘Yeah, no problem!’ You’ve got your little recipe cards and it’s all there. They’ll be thinking, ‘No one else took the time to dig that deep into my catalogue, I really like that you’re this passionate and prepared.’

Dress The Part

Auditions are not like job interviews but you’ll find there’s still a dress code for a lot of gigs you go for. If you’re auditioning for a rock band you’ll get some funny looks if you turn up in a suit. If you’re auditioning for a corporate/wedding band then putting on a shirt and demonstrating that you can present yourself well goes a long way. Your playing should obviously do the talking but that doesn’t mean your appearance isn’t important. Make it easy for someone to visualize you playing alongside them on stage.

Be Ready For Anything

A few years back when I was doing the rounds and applying to different music schools each audition was different. When I went down to Drumtech in London there was a very structured audition schedule covering many different sides of your playing. I quite liked the format and did well. Then, when I did the Berklee audition, their CD player was broken, which meant I couldn’t play my prepared pieces and I was also asked to sing. As bad as my singing was, I still did well with everything else and received a good scholarship. Moral of the story, you never know what will come up, so be ready for anything.

Be Cool

Your personality and the way you interact with people can often mean more to people than your actual playing. Remember, says Rich that ‘Bandleaders will always choose the guy who plays well, gets along with people and is fun to be around over the monster drummer who has no social skills.’

Don’t Take It Personal

If you don’t get the gig, so what! There’s another right round the corner that might be a better fit for you anyway. There are so many factors that people base their decisions on in this business that you would be foolish to beat yourself about it. Be tough, take it on the chin and move onto the next one. Try to get some feedback from the people who auditioned you and make sure to improve in those areas. Your time will come.

Now Kill It! DN

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