Drum Machines

We have talked about the importance of using a metronome when practicing to improve your timing and I’m going to assume if you’re reading this then you know what rhythm is about.

Timing is one of the most important things in music, I am telling you this as a drummer.

The advantage for pianists is that they can play unaccompanied and therefore can keep their own timing, keep their own tempo and do whatever they like with a musical piece… but, have you had a jam with a drummer?

Piano and drums are two very different instruments, but in some ways they are very similar – the piano can be very percussive. A piano and drums combo can be a very interesting source of music composition.

You might have a friend who has a drumkit or who is keen to get into playing drums, if you don’t, you can buy a friend who is a drum kit itself, that’s right, just buy a drum machine! Who needs friends anyway? Just kidding…

Or, if you own a keyboard or a workstation, it should definitely come with some drum beats or even better, a drum machine to create your own.

What about a metronome?

A metronome gives you rhythm and timing but it can be a little monotonous. To spice things up a bit pianists can replace a metronome with a drum machine.

A drum machine of course has perfect timing but it will also give you a clearer notion of rhythm. You will find that playing with a drumbeat or drum machine will make you discover the magic of the beat itself – silences, notes, gaps, spaces; play behind the beat, ahead, on the beat, etc.

If you are interested… what beat machine to buy?

There are as many options in the beat machine world as there are in the piano and keyboard world. If you’re on a tight budget, you can get one of those cheap, plastic keyboards from a department store which have a built-in drum machine, yes, those keyboards that look more like toys – they will have a crappy drum machine sound but they will do the trick.

If you do have some money to spend, well, let me tell you that a good drum machine can really be a good investment. BOSS and Alesis have some really good options at affordable prices, Kawai is another brand that has some affordable options too.

Having a good drum machine will also help you to get into creating beats and understanding them, in other words, music composition. This is an ideal thing to have as a pianist and it can open your playing up to more a percussive style.

I hope you get the idea of what I mean… If you are keen on a drum machine and have some questions about a particular model or brand, comment it out and we will try to help.

Cheers to all!

Luis Tovar

Posted by Luis Tovar

Playing with a band

I started to play drums because I always wanted to be in a band. When I was a kid and was listening to my older brothers albums I was always wondering how they do it… How could they all play different things on different instruments and deliver to me only one sound, a song! It was like magic, since that moment I decided I was going to make music for the rest of my life and so far I have been lucky enough to live my dream.

Playing music with other people is probably the most rewarding and magical moment of music. But how can this happen? How does it happen? First, You need different instruments of course, all tuned up and played well and in time to get a good sound.

Playing in a band at first could be hard, especially if you don’t have any or much experience playing with other musicians. But don’t worry, this is totally normal. How can you improve? Keeping in time is a must, remember our post about “getting rhythm”? – Rhythm and timing is a huge part of music and then there’s playing techniques and skills, which will come along, little by little and often develop more rapidly when playing with others.

Because the piano is an instrument which can be used to play melody, harmony and the rhythm of a song it can be played solo. When playing solo piano it’s very easy to lose track of the timing and the beat of the song. So it is also important to learn how to play in time when playing solo. This isn’t always a very fun part of playing, but it is important if you want to sound good. Get a metronome and practice with it – a bonus if you own a keyboard that comes with the metronome function.

What can you do if you want to start a band?
The first thing to do would be to find people who play and listen to the same kind of music you like and want to play. As a beginner it’s always good to start playing covers, so pick a few songs that you all like. Listen to them and study them at home individually and then come together and practice them. It’s a good idea to start with simple songs, then search for the sheet music and get to work on it!

Though it depends on what kind of band you are looking to play in or create, generally you’ll have a drummer and a bass player which will form the rhythm section. From there you can get a guitarist or two but having a good drummer is probably the most important thing. There are many trios out there playing amazing music with only drums, bass and keyboard.

If you can’t find any musicians who are into the same style you are, pushing a friend into learning an instrument is always a good idea, many bands have started that way.