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How to learn Drums by playing along to popular songs?

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  • How to learn Drums by playing along to popular songs?

    I purchased a set of entry level Roland electronic drums (TD1 DMK) to practice for classes.

    I am looking for an application like Melodics, but that let's you practice playing along to popular Rock songs (like AC/DC, KISS, etc..) and with actual notes. Melodics is pretty good, but the songs are mostly unknown and the screen looks like RockBand game instead of actual sheet music.

    Yamaha has a nice app called "Song Beats", which is similar to what I am looking for, but looking at reviews it seems like it is not supported any more and I doubt they would provide support for Roland drums:

    What other apps can you recommend?

    It can be for Windows or IOS/Android.

  • #2
    Not an app and not popular rock songs, but still the best "play along" approach I know of for gaining a drumming vocabulary:

    Tommy Igoe Groove Essentials 1.0 (Book and DVD.)
    Tommy Igoe Groove Essentials 2.0 (Book and DVD.)
    Tommy Igoe Groove Essentials Complete (1.0 and 2.0 together: both books and both DVDs included.)

    I highly recommend the third option: Tommy Igoe Groove Essentials Complete.

    You'll have a lot of fun with this material. Groove Essentials is not about technique. It won't help you with grips, seating, foot technique, balance, and other technique-oriented aspects of drumming. It focuses on learning patterns (typically two bar grooves), coordinated independence, dynamics, and dynamic independence. It's a very musical approach to gaining a drumming vocabulary.

    The starting grooves in Groove Essentials 1.0 are all rock patterns. Most of these are easy to learn, but the patterns get more difficult as you go along. It proceeds to R&B, funk, country, Afro-Cuban, Celtic, reggae, and various world music patterns. These get progressively more challenging, some of which you will not be able to perfect in a single day. All the grooves are taught and demonstrated at slow and faster tempos, the grooves are notated so you can read them as you play along, and there are play-along tracks for you to practice with. Groove Essentials Complete is the gold standard if you want to increase your drumming vocabulary by learning in a "play along" fashion.
    Last edited by TangTheHump; 08-02-19, 06:07 PM.


    • #3
      Agree that Tommy Igoe’s books are awesome.

      So, this is also not an app, but a book (or digital download). There are tons of great play along songs in Jim Riley’s book, “Survival Guide for the Modern Drummer”. He enlisted top-notch Nashville musicians known for the style of music on the track on which they played.

      Survival Guide for the Modern Drummer: A Crash Course in All Musical Styles for Drumset, Book & Online Audio/Software
      Last edited by Bahstan; 08-02-19, 06:27 PM.


      • #4
        i agree with both things mentioned .. and you like to use an 'app' to tell you if your playing is good or not ?
        i'm kindof old fashioned .. i would record grooves and listen back if timing is solid or not, or if you are rushing fills or stay 'in pocket' ..
        because you have to learn to judge this anyway .. and not an app.. but if you want to use an app .. check for example roland dt-1
        it has notation 'view' ... you can also learn notation by using this prg called 'aered'
        imo .. the more angles you use to learn an instrument the better it is .. for example also transcribe songs yourself .. (on paper)
        or check the '(best) drum books' thread..
        Audio | Video | Roland/Yamaha e-kit | Sonor/Gretsch a-kit | Zildjian/Sabian/Ufip cymbals


        • #5
          You could try Roland Drum Tutor. You can take songs from Guitar Pro and convert them to midi. There might be other sources of songs that can be converted to midi as well. You can view the song with notation or tab and it will keep score. It’s been a while since I used it but I think you can also slow it down as well.
          Good luck and have fun!
          Equipment: TD-30KV, DW9000 hardware, ROC-N-SOC Throne, Behringer ULTRATONE K3000FX Amp, JBL EON 615 Powered Speaker, Yamaha MG06X. 1965 Ludwig Super Classic. Black diamond pearl. Zildjian K Custom Dark cymbals, DW 7000 hardware, DW 9000 kick pedal.


          • #6
            Thanks for these suggestions


            • #7
              Like Tang says, Tommy Igoe is the way to go mate.


              • #8
                Can anyone comment on the DVD versus the book? How do they work together? Do they cover the same material?


                • #9
                  I also have looked for something on that direction and I got no much success in the way I was expecting.

                  I use the Crammit, which came from jammit:
                  I like it. You can mute the drums, you can literally play along. However, it has some limited amount of songs. There is a list available, if you want to check.

                  Other than that, I normally use youtube channels with some sheet on the bottom (not exactly play along, as they are playing drums too).
                  One that I like but it is not the actual score representation is the Cifra Club channel. Look for "cifra club bateria". Bateria means drums in portuguese.

                  There is another one that you can play along, but this is midi and the drums sheet actually shows letters to represent notes. So, it is some sort of play along, however, it has some value depending on what you are expecting:
                  I used the for practicing a song for playing a real play along on a later stage.

                  Example of song:

                  I used to use a really buggy app called TabTrax (Windows and Android). This would be one of the best apps from my perspective if it had a continuous support and more users.
                  I think that the owner is no longer developing it and there are several bugs.
                  The good thing about this app is that it can import any drums sheet from a text file and convert to a drums sheet. Then, any loaded drums sheet is kept in the tabtrax server (still active per what I can see). This is a community based. The users can then synchronize the MP3 song with the drums tab, create your own drums sheet (excercises, etc) and make it public. I created a sync for a Metallica song (not too precise, but ok). Then, you can simply apply a Drumless MP3 song derived from the one that was synchrozined.
                  Let´s say that this is a far and poor relative of Crammit. If we all used it, it would probably be one of the top drums app, supporting the developer for fixing bugs and the community making the songs available.

                  the website has gone, but the videos are still there:

                  Check these examples:
                  Youtube channel:


                  I still have his contact. I will probably send him an e-mail. Depending on the interests from here, we could have a group of people to help improving and developing this.

                  Another thing that I started to do for practicing, is to listen to the songs with he drums sheet in front of me, but without playing. I just try to follow it. Then, I watch someone playing it too.
                  Finally, I go to my drums and try to play.

                  Ronaldo B.


                  • #10
                    Needless to say, but saying... none of my suggestions actually check your performance.

                    Since you are playing on a electronic kit, you can take advantage of it and maybe use the training/practicing modes for practicing timing and playing right and left evenly.
                    Ronaldo B.


                    • #11
                      Interesting thread.. if ya asked me back in the late 80s 90s I'd say MTV's Headbangers Ball! Haha

                      That's how I learned how to play on my cardboard drum set and sleeping with headphones every night with my favs playing!
                      Last edited by eclypse; 12-11-19, 03:52 PM.


                      • #12
                        I just discovered the Tomplay app.

                        I got an Ad on the YouTube. Have you guys heard about this app?

                        According to I see, it is similar to Crammit, in which songs are synchronized with the drums sheet. You have access to a mixer in which you can make it drumless, click, etc...
                        Loop options, speed, annotations, etc.
                        According to I got, there is a subscription per month or you can buy songs individually.
                        They probably make the songs themselves, so they are not the original ones (to avoid copyright, I guess).

                        Going through it, it seems that there are no many songs available for drums, but worth checking. Mainly if you like a specific song.
                        Last edited by ronaldobf; 02-16-20, 12:08 PM.
                        Ronaldo B.


                        • #13
                          I think that playing along to stuff you know and like is about the easiest way to get into drumming. Get some basic drum lessons so you know your kit is set up right and that your sticking is right, then get the CD you like, (better than YouTube cause you can set the volume balance which then stays constant), and just play along. If you play along to stuff you like, you will already know the number, and have a good idea of how the tempo goes. Then later you can experiment with different tempos, to the same tracks.
                          I don't know about the notation side of things. I use to use scat if I needed to remember a tempo which meant just writing down the snare and kick combination in a bar and then maybe how many bars etc. but then, that's what worked for me back in the day.


                          • #14
                            This guy has a lot of material and walks you through the song. I bought his DVDs years ago. He has since gone to an annual subscription or per song fee.