Ok, so drummers close your eyes & picture this…
You’re in your mom’s car and your favorite song comes on.
And you are JAMMING. Like air drumming, middle seat whaling, back-of-the-seat jamming.
And you’re not only jamming, but you’re also playing in great time with the song!
The crowd cheers…
Your mother is laughing…
All is wonderful!
Now open your eyes.
Man, those were the days weren’t they?
Full transparency, I still do this haha.
It’s actually one of the primary ways I learn songs and get them in my veins.
I got the green light to play a full-on full band for KING & COUNTRY show. My first really big show.
I had a lot of songs to learn too! At the time, I had already committed to play with some friends at a conference.
So I decided that on the 10hr drive, both ways, I’d learn every song.
For 10hrs there & 10hrs back, I learned every stop, start, build, groove, arrangement, etc. for that show on my 2010 Honda Civic steering wheel.
By the time I returned home, and got to play the songs on my actual kit, I had most of the songs ready! I just had to iron them out and work to make them sound better.
But it started with a steering wheel.
Sometimes, you can’t get behind a kit and practice multiple hours a day. It’s just not always possible!
But we’re always in our cars. Herein lies a great opportunity for creativity and growth.
Here are 6 easy ways you can use the time you have in your car to become an even better drummer.
1) TIGHTEN UP YOUR GROOVE
I’ve been told this 1,000 times: the best way to work on your grooves and timing is to play to the track EXACTLY.
Beat for beat.
Note for note.
And since a steering wheel sounds nothing like a drum kit, you’ll be able to tell if you’re in the flow or not!
It’s honestly a great exercise.
2) PLAY TO EVERY SONG YOU HEAR
For like a week, play to every song you hear in your car! You may not even know the song, but play to it. Make up your own grooves.
This is the time to work on your creativity.
At church, we are typically playing the parts exactly how they are written (and there’s a purpose for that!), but the point here is creativity. So create.
Play outside the box! Change the time signatures, put kicks patterns in different places, snare hits in different spots, add percussion parts on top of the song…Get weird!!
I’m constantly incorporating the crazy little things I did on top of a song in my car into what I’m playing in a worship set.
It starts on the steering wheel and comes alive on the kit!
3) LEARN THE PARTS EXACTLY
On the opposite end, spend some time sharpening your ear.
Grow your ability to listen to a song, pick out the part, and play along with it!
Especially for the songs that you’re playing on Sunday!
A friend & I almost got a gig (that we later turned down…longgggggg story) touring with an artist simply because we were really good at picking up new songs super quickly. Where did we learn that skill? The stereo & the steering wheel.
We didn’t set out to hone this skill. We were just so busy and didn’t have time to sit down and learn songs the old fashion way.
Listen, life is busy, right? It’s hard to get a full practice in.
We want to serve at our churches, but we have other things going on in our lives too! I’m not saying don’t sit down and practice, but things like this cut out a ton of time it takes to prepare.
Another thing I do…
Sometimes before I start driving is open up the worship online app, add all the songs that we are playing on Sunday into the setlist tab, listen to the lesson while I drive, and then listen to the playthrough right after it.
Next time you’re in a jam, give these ideas a shot!
4) THE MUTE GAME
I’m a huge Dave Grohl fan. Like, massive fan.
He tells a story of how when he was a kid, he would air drum to the radio in his mom’s car. Beat for beat. Fill for fill! (same. sorry Mom)
As we all know, there are times when the radio signal gets a little spotty and starts to get scratchy. In some cases, cuts out completely.
He went on to say that when they would drive through the tunnels in his small town the radio signal would completely cut out while they were underground. So he would try his hardest to keep playing to the song, even though he couldn’t hear it! Then when they emerged from the tunnel and the radio kicked back in, he would check to see if he was still in time. (cue the Tik-Tok trend)
What a great exercise!
Even though the age of radio isn’t as big as it was in the late 70s, we can still do this exercise with our music devices in our cars!
Quickly turn down the volume fader.
Hit the mute button.
Anything to work on your internal clock!
Give it go!
5) RUDIMENTS RUDIMENTS RUDIMENTS
Every song has a different BPM. That means multiple opportunities to play rudiments at differing tempos. Sounds very elementary, but it works!
Single strokes, double strokes, paradiddles; the whole song.
Start to finish until it feels in time and the rudiments are clean.
From one song to the next. Give it a try! You’ll be surprised how much smoother your rudiments become.
6) LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN
The joy of listening to music is enough.
Make sure that when you’re in the midst of practicing, learning, and growing, you’re taking time to sit and enjoy the gift of music.
Listen to how the drums FEEL.
Listen to the choices he or she makes. Listen to how the drums compliment the vocals and the other instruments. There’s a lot of power in listening. Make sure you’re making space for it!
I hope these are helpful and even fun! Again, it’s all about using the time we have to focus on the different areas we can improve.
So BE SAFE & happy car playing!!!
You may also be interested in these related posts!
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- Top 5 Worship Drumming Tips with Brendan Tan (Hillsong Y&F)
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- Drum Tuning 101 with Austin Davis (Kari Jobe Drummer)
- 5 Drum Rudiments to Increase Your Chops with Brendan Tan (Hillsong Y&F) [VIDEO]
- Brendan Tan (Hillsong Young & Free) Drum Rundown [VIDEO]