Bill Powelson's School of Drums

Drumming Aptitude / Lesson #1

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spacerx img Drummer's Aptitude Testing
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Do you possess a 'hidden' talent for playing drums? Would you like to discover if you do? Take this quick and easy drum-lesson/aptitude-test. It 'may' lead you into an unexpected future career or hobby, as a drummer.

I truly believe and I'm totally convinced that 70% to 90% of all MUSIC-LOVERS could become drummers, if only they're taught the RIGHT things at the right time. I've fairly well proven this (to my own satisfaction) during my 50+ year career as a working, gigging drummer and professional drum instructor. Now, I'm begging for the chance to prove to you, that you are probably WELL within that 70% to 90%. Follow along (20 minutes), the odds are in your favor that you WILL probably become one of the 70% to 90%, by the time you finish this 20-minute lesson.

spacerx img You can do this without spending a dime.


Just tap on the computer desk, and pat your foot on the floor as you study this very basic drum lesson (coming-up, below).

Incidentally . . .
Most working drummers practice and learn this same way, MOST of the time. If it weren't for this ONE LITTLE TRICK (coming up), most of us would never find a chance to practice. We all lead busy lives, but there are usually a LOT of idle moments in every day. Those idle moments become our practice time. Learn it! This is one of the big secrets all pro-drummers discover early-on, or they most likely never go pro.

What's this BIG secret?
We make it a habit to IMAGINE a drum set in front of us, where ever we are (24/7/365). We constantly practice and repeat the particular 'moves' we are wanting to perfect.

We tend to practice on 'whatever', is handy at the time, (ie; the computer desk; the arms of the chair; or our thighs). We simply pat the foot (or feet) on the floor as we repeat the necessary 'moves' over and over until they are deeply engrained as HABITS. (No drums or sticks necessary!)

Developing this practice habit means that we can always practice anywhere and anytime by simply making sure that as we practice, the hands and feet are moving as they should be, for each new technique we are wanting to master.

It's all about repeating the 'moves' (hands and feet), over and over until those 'moves' become ingrained into the memory (as natural habits.) Once we have the 'moves' down pat . . . it's extremely easily to transfer those moves onto a REAL drum set, and play song after song . . . by 'heart', by 'feel' or by 'ear'.

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The objective in the lesson below is to learn to play the most common, and the simplest, beat pattern in pop music history, then connect that beat 'in-time', with the many various songs you'll hear playing around you every day.

If you can master the very simple lesson below, it means you should take your potential drumming talent and ability, more seriously. It may help you launch a potential hobby or career, as a drummer, in an 'almost' automatic way.

The truth is . . . This lesson MAY set the unstoppable wheels in motion that could MAKE it happen. It's all about learning to listen to music a little differently. It's about learning to think LIKE a drummer. The rest may follow easily, in a totally natural way.

You're about to learn how to do that, right here, right now.

The objective is to repeat this beat pattern (below), enough times, so that it becomes a natural habit. Then, make it fit with MOST of the songs you'll hear on the radio, or your CDs.

Hopefully, if you can develop the 'knack' for doing this, you'll gain the ability to play over 50 million songs, at a full drum set, with just this one lesson.

Yes! You read that correctly.

spacerx imgON ANY DRUM SET

You'll quickly discover that if you can connect this beat 'in-time' with just one song, you'll also gain the ability to play virtually ANY of the other 50,000,000 songs that use (some form of) this same beat pattern.

This may lead you to very big things.

BECAUSE . . . If you can learn to 'instinctively' play along in-time with half the songs on the radio . . . it means one very important thing.

It means you are . . . potentially, a VERY good drummer.

My aim here is to help you very quickly, (in only a few minutes to one-hour), discover the indescribable thrills of jamming along with almost every song you'll hear, for the rest of your life.

It's terrific fun to do that. No! It should become absolutely addictive.
It's the reason that working-drummers become working-drummers. It's FUN! It isn't work, at all.

There's a 'feeling' that goes along with all this that is absolutely absorbing, and addictive. Once you 'feel' it . . . you won't want to stop.

It means that you'll probably begin enjoying the rapping and banging on the furniture so much, that you will eventually be inclined to pursue this 'drumming thing' much more seriously. (You'll probably be needing new furniture by then as well. We'll make a bonfire of the old and broken stuff!)

This is the seed from which your career (or hobby) as a drummer will grow. Take a few minutes here . . . to plant the seed . . . and you may become an unstoppable (NATURAL) drummer . . . almost over-night.

The rest will happen naturally. Especially, if you'll return to this web site later, and take ALL the other free lessons that follow this one.

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As drummers, we do two things when playing in a band. We repeat-beat patterns over and over 'IN-TIME' with the music, and we inject occasional rolls and fancier licks, (as we learn to do them). It all begins with this first, most important, most common, beat . . . (in the lesson below.)

Here, you will learn how easy it is to completely master the MOST COMMON BEAT in pop music history. It should become the catalyst (spring-board) that will lead you into a fascinating, fun career, or hobby, as a drummer.

By learning this pattern, you will find it easy to make the transition over to a real drum set, very easily. It's actually easier to do this on a real drum set, rather than on the furniture, but this is the way to learn quickly and easily, without spending a penny.

This lesson is just the beginning of my complete, 125-lesson 'online' course in drum set techniques. The lesson below is lesson #1, for the curious beginners.

NOTE: Nearly all the lessons within this course are no more difficult than this lesson. If you can do this . . . the rest of the lessons will be just as easy.

Within the first 10-lessons of this course, it's possible to get with an amateur-band first, then launch a career, as a pro-drummer from there. It's the way I, and thousands of other working drummers have done it. There's no reason why you shouldn't follow our same path. Believe it! This works where most other methods will fail.

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spacerx img Here is Your First
spacerx imgand Most Important Lesson.

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Do this now! With your RIGHT HAND, tap FOUR times on the desk in front of you, or the arm of your chair. . . .

spacerx img ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR.

Now we will do it again, but this time . . .

Pat your RIGHT FOOT along with the count of ONE and tap your LEFT HAND along with the count of THREE (as you repeat those four notes with the right hand).

Think of it this way:

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Work very slowly at first until you get the hang of it. Keep it steady! Repeat, repeat, repeat!

Repeat this pattern, over and over, without stopping, until you can play it steadily, comfortably, and rapidly from memory.

It might take five or ten minutes of intense concentration before it becomes easy to do. Within 10 minutes, you should notice that with each repetition, it will gradually become much easier.

Each time you repeat the pattern, the more ingrained it will become. At some point, (usually after 10 or 15 minutes), it will become engrained as a habit. You'll discover that you can repeat it quickly, over and over, without thinking about it. As it becomes easier and easier, you'll also discover that you can play it faster and faster.

Keep repeating it until you can play it pretty fast without becoming confused.

The Video (below) should loop or repeat automatically.
If it doesn't the effect may be lost. Try to set your media player to loop or repeat (if the videos do not loop automatically.

Meanwhile, if the vids don't work and can't help you; listen to the sound (audio) files. They will help clarify the lesson.

The videos below should work with most browsers. It's becoming near impossible to get videos to work for all the (hundreds? thousands?) of devices that are out there. The W3c can't decide on a video format standard.

Meanwhile, we are forced to create vids in a half dozen formats and we still fall short on some of the new digital devices that are appearing on the scene.

This first video is a .wmv file. It will work best with Windows Media Player. In most cases, the Internet Explorer browser will choose that application automatically if it is installed on your system. I think Microsoft makes a version of 'IE' and 'Windows Media Player' for nearly all devices. So, for best results with the videos, use Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player, when playing the .wmv video below:

VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the .wmv (Internet/Explorer-Windows Media Player) 8th-note Rock Beat, video.

I hope this next set of vids will work in IE, Firefox, iPods, iPhones, iPads, Chrome, Safari, etc., etc, ad-infinitum. If you see an idiotic popup that scares the bejeebas out of you, (referring to Active X, scripts or whatever), you'll need to 'click' to ' Allow'. Otherwise, the videos won't play.

Without the scripts, these videos won't work with any of the other 9,000 browsers and media player apps. I'm trying to make these vids work for everyone.

So, don't panic! No one is invading the sanctity and security of your computer. I KNOW I'm innocent, at least. The only way to get the Flash vids to work, is with a short and very innocent javascript. (Someone needs to send Microsoft a box of Valiums and tell them to cool it with the paranoid and frightening popups! Jeez!)

NOTE: If the videos in this lesson will not play, please go to the following, "Video Troubleshooter" web page. It may offer helpful solutions.

The sound files often help more than the (sometimes unpredictable) videos.

Hear it faster.

THIS IS AN AUDIO (MIDI) FILE ONLY: It should auto-play on any audio player you have configured for your browser, (we hope). To achieve the full effect, set your player to loop or repeat the pattern endlessly.

Basic Rock Beat (.mid AUDIO file only)

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Now for the fun part . . .

Pop on some music, any music . . . It doesn't matter what kind, just get a song playing. There is a forty-five percent chance that nearly half the songs you love most, will be in this beat category. It is called, 8th-note 'Rock' 4/4 .

Listen deep within the music . . . for the drums specifically. Hear and recognize the various drums in the kit, by their individual sounds.

Can you hear the drums? Are you hearing the beat you just learned within the song that's playing? If you can, then jump in playing ALONG WITH the drummer on the various recordings you'll hear as you go through your day.

(If you aren't hearing this beat pattern within the music, keep changing to different recordings until you do hear it.)

Listen for the consistent, repeating boom sounds of the bass drum and the pop sound of the snare drum repeating over and over.

Many, many songs will use this same beat pattern, but very few will be at the same speeds (tempos). Various song tempos will be all over the map from very, very slow to very, very fast.

As drummers, we listen, then find (feel) the needed tempo for each specific song we're playing. The objective is to hold the repeating beat steady, all the way through the song.

Our main job (with any band) is to set and hold the tempo steady. The whole band depends on us (and the bass-player) to maintain near-perfect tempos at all times. It's the reason they actually may throw us a doggie-biscuit now and then. (Sometimes they even pat us on the head if we're really, really solid!) So, hold the tempo Swiss-Watch-Steady and solid, if you want your doggie-biscuit. It's one of the few rules of drumming.

Choose ANY slow to medium tempo 8th rock tune. Focus on the bass drum. within the music:

  1. Get your right foot going in-time with the bass drum in the music.
  2. Next, listen for the consistently repeating 'snap' sounds of the snare drum within the same song. It will be falling opposite the bass and will be more of a repetitious snap sound. Get your left-hand repeating in-time with the snare. Don't worry about the right-hand (hi hat) just yet. Just feel the beat flow of the bass (right foot) and snare drum (left-hand). Stay with it, throughout the song as you listen deep and feel the beatflow within the music!

    If you are following along 'IN-TIME' with the music, you are now playing drums. Congratulations! You've just passed this 'Drumming Aptitude Test' with flying colors.

  3. Next, add the right hand (cymbal) like you practiced it in the above lesson. If you miss a few cymbal notes . . . don't sweat it! It isn't a big worry! Staying in-time with the music is the important thing. Coordination WILL develop as you continue playing along with song after song.

That's all there is to it! If you are doing all this in-time with the music, it means you are potentially an excellent (natural) drummer.

You have passed the 'Aptitude Test' completely. Go buy yourself (or your kid) a $5, 000.00 drumset! (I'm kidding of course.) See the Buyer's Guide and SAVE a bundle!

Get into the habit of trying to play along with every song you hear. Playing along and analyzing EVERY song, needs to become a life-long habit. It's the 'Natural drummer habit' that will put you into a band before you can dream it!

Like magic, you WILL become a drummer. The shocking news is that it is easy to play about five of every ten songs, using just this one, easy, beat pattern! That's HALF of all the music ever recorded. (There are many, many ways to vary and alter this beat. It will gradually become much more complex as we study the deeper lessons and as you jam with more and more songs.)

More than 50 million songs will be using some form of this beat pattern. If you can play along IN-TIME, with just one or two of those 50 MILLION songs, you'll soon realize that you can play along with ANY of them. The more you do it . . . the better drummer you will become. The ad-lib (improvised or made-up) fills and fancier beats tend to occur almost automatically as you consistently 'FEEL' the beat-flow of the songs you jam with. A lot of the more complex variations will come to you naturally as you play along with song after song.

Soon, you'll begin to 'instinctively' feel the little rolls the drummers may play on the recordings, and the fancier (more complex) forms of the beat, too. It's all about listening and imitating what you are hearing the recorded drummers do. It will come to you naturally as it does with all "natural drummers". This is the way THEY became "natural" drummers.

IF you become addicted to doing this . . . it means you probably will enjoy a GREAT future as a drummer. Your entire drumming career will depend on how much you ENJOY jamming with recordings.

If you do not connect with the music, it may mean that your inner-drummer isn't awake, yet. Keep trying! Re-read and re-plant The Seeds of Rhythm!

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OK, there is a little more to learn, but it is ALL this easy, if only you will stay with me another 5-minutes, and . . .

Learn to READ DRUM NOTATION. This is the next lesson you should take.

The remainder of the 125-lessons in this complete course are designed to help you become the very best pro-drummer , in the business! Most of the lessons that follow are just as easy as this one was. Take baby-steps.

Try to set your pace at 2 to 3 days per lesson, with about 1 to 2 hours of jam time for every 15-minutes of reading and studying. Never forget! It's all about jamming with music. If you miss that part, you've missed the point entirely. We learn at a rate that's approximately 10-TIMES FASTER, as we are playing along with the music.

It's possible to become a working-pro in under 6 months, if you'll apply yourself in the above way.

Make bookmarks and return often. Just click this link to TAKE THE NEXT LESSON. You are NOW a drummer for life. Let me help you get to the top of the profession. Study every lesson at this web site (over the next few months).

NOTE: Please feel free to LINK to this page, or send it to your friends. (Just don't change anything.) Thanks.

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spacerx img Copyright Bill Powelson 1965-1994-2006-2014. All rights reserved.