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Learn How To Play Jazz Drums

Jul 9, 2008
So you have decided that you want to be a drummer but is at a loss as to which genre of playing style you want to master. Have you considered learning how to be a jazz drummer?

As you probably know, jazz is one of the most artistic and intriguing genre of music and especially so for the jazz drummer. Playing jazz music gives the drummer the opportunity to exhibit his amazing technical drumming skills and capabilities. However, most drummers choose not to take the time to learn how to play jazz drums properly which is partly due to its wide range of technicalities unlike most other forms of music.

Although jazz drumming seem to look very complicated, in reality, it is not that difficult to learn. The main difference is that most drummers are used to the 4/4 tempo of drumming where jazz is played with plenty of triplets and has a different feel from most other types of music. So the drummer may have to relearn some drumming techniques. Furthermore, most jazz pieces are relatively fast in tempo and thus most drummers also need to make improvements on their stick speed.

The first thing a new drummer needs to learn when playing jazz pieces is the basic jazz swing tempo or sometimes called the "swing groove". A jazz drummer's main role is to keep time for the rest of the band just like in any genre of music. The drummer should never overpower the rest of the band unlike when playing rock songs. To do this, simply use your hi hat and ride cymbal.

Ok. Let's start with your hi-hat stepping on the 2 and 4 count to a piece of swing music. It is critical to keep this count over top of everything else that you play. Next, add ride the cymbal with a triplet tempo and feel. Practice these moves to perfection before going further with your drum lessons.

Now that you have mastered how to keep the swing tempo with the hi-hat and ride cymbal, let's move on to the bass drum or sometimes called the kick-drum. Jazz drumming techniques are sometimes very subtle and because of this, the bass drum should not be too dominant. So do make sure that you do not play the bass drum too loudly. This again is unlike most other form of drumming. A good technique for this is keep your heel down when playing the bass drum. In this way, you are more in position control the strength of the kick more easily. A technique jazz drummers often use is the feathering the bass drum. This is done by lightly tapping the bass drum on the quarter or eighth notes.

You will probably know that is highly common for the bass drum to follow the bass guitar player. So you may need to know what kind of rhythm progression the bass player is playing and try to follow him. The bass drum should be played with more of a feel rather than powerful thumping like those in rock music.

The snare drum can be used to help as an accent for the band or can be used to play straight quarter notes.

Another common rhythm in jazz music is the shuffle and every jazz drummer must also master this form of drumming. Furthermore, since jazz music usually have musicians doing solo runs, the jazz drummer must also learn how to play drum solos. By developing these common jazz drumming styles, you will be playing jazz drums like a pro pretty soon!
About the Author
Chris Chew has a music education website at Learn How To Play Piano Jazz Style and
Learn How To Play Drums Lessons
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