There's Gold in Them Thar' Rhythms

The drummers who are most in demand - and making the most money - have one thing in common: Mastery of dance rhythms. They can sit behind the drums in any band playing any style of music and sound like they belong there. Dance rhythms vary drastically between cultures and in different parts of the world, but I must say I never met one I didn't like! How many dance rhythms can you play? Rock, jazz, and maybe some Latin stuff? But how about a Joropo, Guaracha, or Merengue? If you're not familiar with at least three dozen, you're missing out on a whole lot of fun and profit!

When I first started drumming lessons, I was lucky to have a drum instructor who felt the same way. I learned every weird dance rhythm on the planet but over the years, I've used nearly every one of them. To make the most money from your musical investment, you need to develop the same skill.

Here are some basic dance rhythms that you should be able to play:

You'll find some of these dance rhythms in the links under my Lessons For Free link, to the left of this column. For more, visit my site at Tension Free Drumming.

Once you've practiced these basic rhythms, the next step is to learn some authentic drum fills. The best way to do this is to go to clubs, listen to the radio, and borrow or buy some CDs. Then cop some fills to add to your repertoire.

On a gig, the closer you can emulate the authentic feel for each rhythm, the better your chance of having the leader call you again. Whatever you do, it don't mean a thing if your phone doesn't ring! So make sure it does. And by the way, check your answering machine regularly to be sure it's working properly. Better yet, try a voice mail system, available through most local phone companies. They're inexpensive and more reliable than answering machines.

Practice your rhythms well. Once you get a rep for being a versatile drummer, you won't have enough room on your calendar for all the gigs you'll get. Then you'll be well on your way to buying that really expensive set of new drums you've always wanted! And eventually you'll reach the day when the band leader calls a Tango and you get to say: Will that be Spanish or Argentine?

Stay loose.

Tiger Bill Meligari


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