About Sound Advice for Drummers

From the Introduction:

This book is born of my experience as a drummer, and tells you about things I’ve learned, noticed, relied on, questioned, come to care about, and been asked to write about by magazine editors during my life as a drummer. It is designed to give fellow drummers a “heads-up” with regard to playing drums. It doesn’t contain all the tips you’ll need, and it’s certainly advisable (actually, essential!) to take on a range of other people’s advice too as you embark or continue on your journey as a drummer. The chapters of the book can be read individually, or the book could be read section-by-section, or even cover-to-cover.

It feels important to point out what this book is not, lest you get a few pages in only to find that you’ve been expecting something I haven’t delivered. This book is not an inspirational text about how the universe will ultimately bend to serve your individual needs and desires if you will it enough to be so (see Billy Ward’s Inside Out: Exploring the Mental Aspects of Drumming); nor is it a near-exhaustive list of sticking patterns to warm you up and give you fluency around the kit (see e.g. Master Studies and Master Studies II by Joe Morello, or Stick Control by George Lawrence Stone); it does not attempt to provide a how-to guide for getting by in a range of recent and contemporary musical styles (see Tommy Igoe’s Groove Essentials or Dave Hassel’s Graded Course for Drum Kit); it’s not part of  progressive system to take you from naught to 60 in eight increasingly difficult grades (see Rock School, Trinity, , London College of Music); it doesn’t focus on a particular musical genre (see, for example, Jim Chapin’s Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer and John Riley’s Art of Bop Drumming for jazz, or Horacio “el negro” Hernandez’s Conversations in Clave for Latin); and it doesn’t teach you how to read or develop athletic chops.

In this book I don’t really aim to teach you much at all, and there aren’t any play-along tracks or accompanying videos of me shredding like a madman, grooving like a beast, or smiling and talking encouragingly about what I assume to be your progress. This book tries quite hard to avoid doing things that other books already do. Joel Rothman, who was kind enough to provide the foreword to this book, has to be the most prolific writer of high quality drum books ever – almost 100 unique books is a phenomenal achievement, so I am by no means attempting here to replicate or replace any of Joel’s work, or that of other great drummer-educators including Pete Fairclough, Bill Bruford, Peter Erskine, Marco Minnemann, Mike Johnstone, Colin Woolway, and the eminent writers listed above, or the host of other marvellous drummers and tutors on whose broad, hard-swinging, deep-funking shoulders I and my thoughts humbly stand.

This book is my attempt, after more than a few years of procrastination, to share with peers in the drumming community some things that I hope pique your interest, ignite a spark, give you pause for thought, and inspire you to keep playing the drums. Thank you sincerely for reading.


What other drummer-educators say about Sound Advice for Drummers:

“Smart advice from a smart drummer. Gareth Dylan Smith provides essential advice that will help beginning drummers discover the possibilities of the drum kit and more experienced players refine their sound”.
Joseph M. Pignato, Professor of Music, State University of New York at Oneonta, USA.

“With characteristic wit and insight, Gareth has produced a much-needed drumming guide that is truly unique to the industry. Offering practical, analytical, and ‘playful’ advice, Playing Drums is a testament to Smith’s deep interest in popular music education that draws from his many years of professional drumming experience, making him the rockingest drummer/scholar out there today”.
Daniel Akira Stadnicki, PhD Music Candidate (University of Alberta, Canada) and award-winning drummer/percussionist, Canada.

“This book encompasses so many of the ideas that drummers really sit around in green rooms and closed bars and talk about. I found myself laughing out loud and talking back to the book in the coffee shop like a crazy person. This would be a great book for a teacher who’s not sure what to do with an excelling student, for a young drummer wondering what life as a professional could be or for anyone wondering what makes their drummer tick”.
Mary Claxton, drummer, educator (and aspiring astronaut), Greeley, Colorado, USA.

“Gareth’s honest advice and personal reflections provide the kind of wisdom that one would not find in a regular drum book. The concepts explored here will turn drummers who are ‘just’ drummers into true musicians”.
Jaca Freer, drummer, tutor, founder of Freer Ideas, UK.



(Cover image © James Cumpsty 2014)