A couple weeks ago I put this video on my Facebook page with the following caption:
I pray that this is what colleagues who have worked with me would say about my playing and professionalism.
Listen to the comments made about Nate and his drumming, 4 things jumped out at me as the things Nate does to be a great drummer. Here’s my list:
Be a Quick Study
There’s another way to think about this one: Be prepared! There’s no such thing as a quick study that hasn’t practiced or perfected their craft. Easily picking up new songs or ideas with a band is the byproduct of paying your dues in the practice room. Being able to play in multiple styles and sound authentic is essential to a mainstream gig like the Voice or to make yourself as employable as possible in all sorts of bands.
Also, you notice that the musical director mentioned that Nate makes his own charts for each song. Perfectly notating a complete drum chart on the fly isn’t reasonable or efficient. Instead, do your homework ahead of time, know the tunes you’re playing, and make quick notes/charts that tell you all the important information. For some easy chart writing ideas, check out Liz Ficalora’s site and book.
What’s a mistake? A misplaced stroke? Hitting the wrong drum/cymbal? Probably not. No one else on the stage or in the audience is going to notice those kinds of things. The things that will get noticed are missing a transition in a song, getting the tempo wrong, or missing a major cue in the song. Those are the kinds of things that can get a drummer fired.
To minimize those types of mistakes (1) always play with your charts (or practice with them enough that you KNOW you have them memorized), (2) stay focused while you play (ADD is so frustrating!), and (3) communicate with the band. Be very very weary of just putting your head down and drifting into your own little world.
Play with an Edge and Joy
“If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong!” ScoJo nailed it with that statement. Bring your joy and passion with you every time you sit down to play (even when you practice). Take chances! Play without fear! And don’t forget, that people are paying to see you. So don’t forget to bring your showmanship with you (so long as it doesn’t get too over the top and distract from what the band is doing).
People will hire/fire you based on your attitude and how easy you are to work with as much as how well you play. Be someone that the band wants to hang out with. Your positive vibe will be infectious to the people around you.
And don’t forget to keep studying and keep getting better. As your skills grow, you’ll naturally inspire the rest of the band to get better too.
Here’s another video of Nate playing on the show. Watch what he brings to the band and see what you can take away.