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How do you choose cover songs – adapted to your level ?

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  • How do you choose cover songs – adapted to your level ?

    Just to de-hibernate everyone, now Spring is on the way (well, at least where I am), I have a bouquet of first-bud questions.

    For starters, here’s one (or a few).
    First (age context) I have several kids who have now, more or less, left the house.
    But.. I have just started drumming. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why they left? - Still, I like it.
    Now kicking off my second year - jeez, remember that time? something we all went through, like how many centuries ago?
    I’ve taken the luxury of finding a young “teacher” (my kid’s age), so I learn by deciphering sheet music that he gives me - stuff from his generation – Bruno Mars (who?), Katy Perry.. - you get the picture.
    ‘Course I wanna play stuff from my generation, which, you-guessed, he doesn’t have, at least not the sheet music.
    (To give an idea it took me a year to find “Angie”, Rolling Stones, from another source.)
    Where was I..?
    Yeah, so what criteria does one use to select songs to learn? What determined your first cover songs ?
    Criteria :
    - Songs your teacher (if you had one) gave you
    - Songs you liked, regardless of difficulty
    - Difficulty based on bpm (easy to establish)
    - Difficulty based on complexity (not always evident in a music score, if you can find one)
    - Difficulty based on both complexity & bpm
    - Other criteria
    - Or, at what stage do you get to the point, that you don’t even consider such details.

    I’ll add that in my case, choosing my own stuff probably means buying the sheet music from somewhere like :
    - onlinedrummer.com - sheet-music
    - drumscore.com - sheet-music
    So far I have used freebie sheets from these sites – but if I buy, are the scores reliable?

    Finally..
    By Ear? I guess most drummers should be able to learn songs/drum stuff by ear. And maybe that’s how many of you started and do things now? But if, as is my case, you started with score music, when does the transition happen? To me right now, trying to figure things out by ear alone sounds kind of scary. Like a higher level that I haven’t got to yet. But should I be trying?
    Right now, I'm tackling basic pop-rock stuff but tend to like pop-rock-blues classics from 70s, 80s and on. Anything with a good rhythm and melody. Latest song I did was Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" - just to show I'm not totally disconnected from the 21st century.

    What’s your advice? Your experiences?
    e-drums : Roland TD11KV
    a-drums : Yamaha Stage Custom

  • #2
    I learned to play by ear so that's what I'd suggest. Lose the teacher, chuck the books, plug in some music you'd like to play, listen to the kick/snare pattern and become a part of the music.

    If you were younger and aiming for a career, knowledge is earning power and a musician who reads would obviously be far more employable.

    My Dad sat me down and showed me to play 12345678 on the closed HH, 1 3 5 7 on the kick and 2 4 6 8 on the snare and walked away. That's all I needed to get started and play along with 95% of pop music at the time (it's now up to 98% )

    I learned some very basic reading in elementary school but I was completely lost when I tried HS band.

    Comment


    • #3
      I learned to play completely by ear. I wish I had a formal education in music but I have a family to take care of now. I choose songs based on what I'm feeling at the time. Sometimes I'll just listen to music and say..hey..id like to cover that..and then go at it.. The way to get better(at least by playing by ear IMO is to master one set of playing skills at a time..work with different beats and grooves and fills and play them over and over and OVER and OVER again until YOU think they sound good..then you're getting somewhere.) Once you can just play the music and transcendentally let if flow through you...yea...that's when its reallllyyy fun..

      Comment


      • #4
        I do both from sheet music and by ear, since both skills are useful.
        Drum sheet music is really hard to find for me, so I tend to go with what I can find.

        Drum transcriptions vary, I have bought sheet music that was licensed by the performers,
        and the drum part was only vaguely like what was on the album. And others transcribed
        by 3rd parties were dead on. You never know until you get the part and play it
        along with the recording.

        I pick songs if they have something I want to play, and my teacher picks some songs too,
        he is really good at finding stuff that is at my level, or that has something I need to learn.

        Mini-kit: TD-9 + Alesis Control Pad + Alesis Sample Pad + PDX-6 snare
        Micro-kit: Handsonic HPD-20 + an old pair of hands.
        Speakers: QSC-K10 "thumper", DBR-10 "little thumper"

        Comment


        • #5
          Me too.."by ear". I basically learned in a "trial by fire" situation as the drummer for the worship team quit. I never played before, so I just jumped in head first and attacked the playlist one song at a time...over...and over...and over...and over..... Most of the time there were different songs each week. That meant I had to learn 4-5 different song in a few days...every week. Repetition and tenacity is the key. Even if you don't nail the exact fill or replicate the whole song perfectly....the timing and spirit of the song is the most important when learning and then having to play immediately. Most listeners in the audience have no idea how the beat actually goes...but they'll know if you screw up the timing or miss a change.
          8 piece DIY Acrylic, 2x2Box DrumIt5, Gen16 4xDCP, DIY Acrylic&Gen16 Conversions, Sleishman Twin-QuadSteele hybrid, Gibraltar&DrumFrame rack, DW9502LB, Midi Knights Pro Lighting
          http://www.airbrushartists.org/DreamscapeAirbrushRealm

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          • #6
            I'm most like the OP (at least compared to the other posters in the thread so far). Late to the game, only playing for a few years, and almost entirely doing it through sheet music (not by ear). Fortunately, my teacher is the same age as me (though he is a pro who has been doing it forever) so he can easily offer me whatever songs I want to learn (though he just transcribes what he hears by ear and teaches me that.)

            Mostly, I find the sheet music myself. The best I have found is onlinedrummer.com, which lets you choose sheet music BY LEVEL. This is really important. Look through them, and figure out what level you are comfortable with. Learn a few, and then push through some at the next higher level. It's a great way to make progress.

            Sometimes, the songs that I need to play with a band aren't available for free...in that case, I pay the $5 or so that they cost from drumscore.com. They are the same high quality you will find on onlinedrummer (many are transcribed by the same person). You can see the "difficulty" of these tunes before deciding to purchase them.

            -Kevin
            eKit (TD-30KV): http://www.vdrums.com/forum/performa...y-s-drums-td39
            aKit: (Tama Starclassic): http://www.vdrums.com/forum/acoustic...ma-starclassic
            TD30Browser: http://www.vdrums.com/forum/general/...4-td30-browser

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            • #7
              I self taught myself about 45 years ago then stopped playing after high school. I wish I had taken lessons from the start and never quit. I started up again in 2009. I played by ear and watched a lot of videos and I could do basic rock and blues from the mid 60's to the 70's, Stones, Cream, Who, Hendrix, etc but I didn't feel that I was making much real progress. Late last year I found a drum teacher who would come to my house and he is really helping with my technic and now my timing is starting to get better and so is my speed and my enjoyment of playing. You can find most sheet music on line, guitar pro, drum tabs, etc, I can play them through the Roland drum tutor as well.
              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.

              Comment


              • mrfrench
                mrfrench commented
                Editing a comment
                Wow Jim, amazing story. Thanks for sharing.
                As an aside, you should pop over to :
                "Is drumming forever - or can you lose it?" (in the Foyer)
                ..and add your bit. I figure your story would be a really useful contribution.

            • #8
              3 options:
              - RockBand/GuitarHero songs (they are sorted by difficulty)
              - Jammit songs (also have a difficulty rating)
              - Roland Tutor (also has difficulty rating) <- these aren't covers, but let you learn reading

              The cheapest drumless track per song for me ends up being the RockBand/GuitarHero series, especially now that you can pick up copies of the games for very little (they are "out of fashion").

              -- Greg

              Comment


              • #9
                Thank you people for the tips. Really appreciated !

                [Kgoroway].. Same boat..? though I’m probably a few years – and a band - behind.
                It brings up an interesting question, like how best to invest your time (when you’re reaching the wrong end of life!). More below.. but maybe also a subject for another post?

                I’d like (someday) to play with people not just a machine - but somehow not sure I’m really there yet. Guess playing by ear (which shamefully, I haven’t really tried yet) and the confidence that must come with it, might have something to do with that. (And where the heck do you find groups for old newbies, anyway!?) If I may ask Kg, what’s your band deal? That next step sounds interesting.

                Teacher : Yup, I guess the age of the teacher could be important, if for nothing else, a more mature teacher should have the music I like. I may look around, though changing might be diplomatically delicate as mine’s from the local music school - and the late Friday lessons suit my timetable.

                [New Tricks] : Going alone…? well, for the moment the music school is +/- my only contact with anyone else, so that seems important. But I do a lot on my own already.

                [KG] : Score sheets by LEVEL: Yup, saw that. Shame they don’t do it by ARTIST and by level. Scrolling through the LEVEL, takes ages to find what you want. Most artists I’ve never heard of!

                [Zgeggy] : Don’t really know Guitar Hero & or even the Roland Tutor yet (something about “Old people & machines” ? – see thread). But I’ll check ‘em out. Could be useful. Thanks.

                Investing time wisely
                I’m figuring (at my age) I shouldn’t waste time learning just “challenging” exercises but concentrate on what gives real pleasure (hopefully challenging too), which means being pretty selective.
                Hence my question about trying to establish level.
                Like, what does “level” mean? -> speed? complexity? length? It’s often pretty subjective and by the time you’ve figured it out, you’ve spent precious time either learning stuff which doesn’t really turn you on (some of my young teacher’s choices), or trying to learn stuff I like, but which may turn out to be over my head.

                By Ear : ‘Course the solution, as most posters here advise, is doing stuff by ear, presumably also allowing you to make better own judgements about difficulty. Right now that sounds like a whole new ball game – but I guess I have to take the plunge soon.

                Merci, fellas. Keep the comments coming…
                e-drums : Roland TD11KV
                a-drums : Yamaha Stage Custom

                Comment


                • #10
                  I agree with the others.....there's also one other aspect I do for me. More on that in a minute. I too learned by ear and continue to do so to this day. When learning a new song, I usually also am either doing lead or backup vocal so I always print the lyrics, then using Word I add in all my drum notations as far as beats, fills, changes, timing, etc and try to get it all on one sheet and then go over the song about a million times, breaking down each verse and chorus and playing until I get it down. I find most of my song learning now does not involve as much stick time as it does pure memorization of the song, and then when I sit down behind the kit I actually have already visualized in my head what I have to play and how.

                  The other thing I didn't see mentioned by anyone else, and the aspect I do for me, is just that. FOR ME. What works best for me and my needs. I have learned and noodled all sorts of songs and parts over the years because the song interested me. Over the last decade or so, I have not done as much as that as I have tried to pick up songs that I know I will end up playing live at some point. This is the same advice I give to folks when they ask, "what drum kit should I get?". It's like when you buy a boat, get your SECOND boat, first, meaning, get the best you can afford. As far as what cover songs, go with ones that not only fit your need NOW, but think in the future what your goals might be. Noodling with friends? Actually gigging? Recording? If you have an idea of what you might end up doing, you can tailor your song choices to that now. Most folks already have an idea what songs to play if doing a cover band thing.

                  K ;-)
                  Last edited by Kenster; 04-30-14, 03:16 PM.
                  My bands: Alter Ego, Arcanum
                  E Kit = Roland TDW-20s kit // Roland SPD-S// Pearl Demon Drives//
                  A Kit = Tama Swingstar 5 pc (1981) w/roto toms (orig owner!) //Zildjians
                  A Kit = Natal 6 pc with Paiste 2000 & Zildjian/MidiKNights/DrumSplitters

                  Comment


                  • mrfrench
                    mrfrench commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Yes - that kind of makes sense Ken - a question of anticipation - knowing what you want to play and will be comfortable playing regularly, also makes it worth investing in. I can't see myself ever being the mainstain of anything very serious and obviously not pro so I guess its mainly about fun. My cultural repertoire is mainly English music and here I am living in France. So playing with other people means adapting to the local culture too. But that's a whole new issue.
                    As for learning new stuff, you rather confirm what I'm already discovering that you have to play the song like over and over again untill it just becomes natural, which is like you say - a million times. And a maxim comes to mind : The amateur practices until he (or she) gets it right. The pro plays until he never gets it wrong. But it's early days for me - I still have a ways to go. I'm also impatient to add new songs to my tiny song list so I end up making compromises, practising things I like regularly but also attempting new stuff. At my age.. it takes quite a lot of time, even if I am enthusiastic. For it to be fast, it's better to be young and enthusiastic !

                • #11
                  Originally posted by mrfrench View Post
                  Thank you people for the tips. Really appreciated !

                  [Kgoroway].. Same boat..? though I’m probably a few years – and a band - behind.
                  It brings up an interesting question, like how best to invest your time (when you’re reaching the wrong end of life!). More below.. but maybe also a subject for another post?

                  I’d like (someday) to play with people not just a machine - but somehow not sure I’m really there yet. Guess playing by ear (which shamefully, I haven’t really tried yet) and the confidence that must come with it, might have something to do with that. (And where the heck do you find groups for old newbies, anyway!?) If I may ask Kg, what’s your band deal? That next step sounds interesting.
                  Well, I just turned 44. I've been playing drums for 2.5 years. How close am I to your exact situation? Probably somewhat younger since my kids aren't out of the house yet.

                  It's an interesting question about how best to spend your time. It's pretty easy for me. Starting so late in life, and not being one of those whom seem to be able to pick it up and be amazing instantly (it's real work), it's easy to recognize that I'm not going to be Neil Peart anytime soon. (or ever) So, just have fun. I play the music that I want to play, I learn the songs that I wont to learn. (the band changes some of that, but I'll get to that in a moment). But it isn't hard to recognize that a good teacher that is forcing you to use the right technique, and to learn the rudiments, and to practice certain things is just going to make learning other (more difficult?) songs easier in the future. I try to divide my time in thrids. 1st third: work on songs for the next gig (teacher insists on this, since it's the most time constrained item, and the most fun) 2nd third: Weekly assignments (generally, nowadays, these boil down to finding certain coordination issues, and designing beats which force me into doing these so that my brain can learn them), and the last third: Just plain banging away and having fun.

                  For me, the band deal fell into my lap. The company that I work for has about 1000 people on-site. Enough of those people play instruments that someone decided it would be cool to have a "music night." One thing led to another, and people formed groups (with a number of the more experienced players adding talent to multiple bands (so, a guitar player may play for 3 different bands for example). I didn't know about this until around the 3rd or 4th "music night" (they happen about once every 3 months). I attended the first one I heard about, and casually mentioned to one of the players after their set that I thought it would be a blast to play in one. They didn't know that I had started playing drums a mere year earlier. As it turns out, of all of the musicians, the thing they are collectively missing the most is drummers. So, they pretty much insisted. In order to cater to my newbness, and general absolute fear of playing in front of anyone, they allowed me to construct a playlist. That helped tremendously. The gig went off without a hitch, and I was absolutely hooked on performing. (it also led to me having to buy a junkie acoustic kit to get used to, and then, recently, an excellent acoustic set, but that's another story). Now I lend my "skills" to two different "music night" bands. I still keep veto power over any songs chosen since some are just beyond my reach right now...but I keep on practicing so that one day I won't have to veto so many. :-)

                  I do suggest that you find some way to play with other people. It is a completely different experience, and worth seeking out. Even if you don't perform anywhere.
                  Last edited by kgoroway; 04-30-14, 03:12 PM.
                  eKit (TD-30KV): http://www.vdrums.com/forum/performa...y-s-drums-td39
                  aKit: (Tama Starclassic): http://www.vdrums.com/forum/acoustic...ma-starclassic
                  TD30Browser: http://www.vdrums.com/forum/general/...4-td30-browser

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                  • #12
                    Originally posted by kgoroway View Post

                    Well, I just turned 44. I've been playing drums for 2.5 years. How close am I to your exact situation? .... Starting so late in life....

                    44 - late? That's early ! I hate to admit this but I started out last year at 60 ! A whole new experience! I had a lot of doubts when I first started, half expecting to give it up sooner or later. But somehow it feels right. I even find myself kicking myself, saying why the heck didn't I do this like 40 years ago ! Better late than never I guess. And I'm rather surprising myself at what I can learn mainly through - like you say - a lot of practice and "hard work", though to be honest I don't really find it hard as I enjoy it. But it is long. And maybe if you have the "pressure" of backing gigs then it might feel like "work" too.

                    Band : They didn't know that I had started playing drums a mere year earlier. As it turns out, of all of the musicians, the thing they are collectively missing the most is drummers. So, they pretty much insisted. .... The gig went off without a hitch, and I was absolutely hooked on performing. .... Now I lend my "skills" to two different "music night" bands.

                    I do suggest that you find some way to play with other people. It is a completely different experience, and worth seeking out. Even if you don't perform anywhere.
                    [see also my comment inside the quote above..]
                    The band experience sounds a really inspiring deal. Lucky you! I've gotta try and find someting like that and yeah everyone tells me playing in a group of some kind teaches you a whole new set of skills. I'll get there one day. It feels right too. Thanks for sharing. Fascinating story !
                    e-drums : Roland TD11KV
                    a-drums : Yamaha Stage Custom

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      I took lessons for a year then stopped. Continued playong for a couple more years then gave up when I went to University. Started playing again when I was in my early thirties. No lessons though, just playing by ear. Try to play along to songs you love. Start with easier ones, then progress to harder ones. If you are just playing for fun why bother with sheet music? If you are playing in a pub touring band, again why bother learning sheet music? I think whatever your level is, have fun and if you feel like challenging yourself in another direction related to your drums, try learning sheet music.

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        i agree with kenny, why bother with sheet music at this point? please dont get me wrong as i am not discounting learning and being able to read as i think its great to know both playing by ear and reading but... this all depends on your goals and situation. to me developing a strong ear and heart is most important. i say this as music is in the soul and is heart felt.
                        i am a ear player and have been sence i was 4, of course i had to develop my skills as a player to catch up to my ear, and still am. lol as the skills develop, you can just listen to a song that is at your skill level a couple time and nail it. i never spent a lot of time learning songs 100% exact but close to what the song calls for (80-90% and improvise the rest sorta like making it my own.
                        while growing up and learning my craft i played along with records ( yes im that old lol!) matching what i heard. to me reading is great if you want to be a session or studio drummer. it really depends on what your goals are.
                        i at times like Kenster tend to practice a song mentally and execute it when i get behind the kit. you tube is filled with great drum lessons such as sticking and rudiments, fills and more, of course its also great to have a good instructor. also a great idea to practice with a metronome.
                        you can take this with a grain of salt, playing by ear is great! reading music is the icing of the cake,
                        Last edited by jammin777; 05-03-14, 07:42 PM.
                        Pearl Mimic pro, A to E 7 piece Pearl Decade maple, ddrum Deccabons, Ddrum DDTi, UFO X-bar triggers, Real feel heads, Gibraltar rack, VH13, PD105 side snare, Roc-N-Soc,Tama Iron Cobra, Iron cobra high hat stand, Cobra clutch, Pearl throne thumper, Roland and Kit Toys cymbals, Roland KC 500, Promark

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          In my case, I didn't have to "learn to read sheet music." I already knew how to read sheet music from playing piano as a kid. So, there was no hurdle there at all. And transitioning from having the sheet music while learning to NOT having the sheet music while performing is an important step. Sometimes I'll chart the tune even though I have the sheet music, just to break it down, and other times I just plain memorize that overall shape of the tune. But, yes, there are plenty of tunes which I can play straight off the sheet music perfectly, but wouldn't be able to play without it...Because I've never spent the time to commit it to memory.

                          I think people just learn things differently. I know that I absolutely can not (yet?) learn by ear. Maybe that will come from experience.
                          eKit (TD-30KV): http://www.vdrums.com/forum/performa...y-s-drums-td39
                          aKit: (Tama Starclassic): http://www.vdrums.com/forum/acoustic...ma-starclassic
                          TD30Browser: http://www.vdrums.com/forum/general/...4-td30-browser

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