Recommended Reading for Jazz Drummers

Twelve Classic Books for Every Jazz Drummer’s Library

It is my great pleasure to share these books with you. I reference them daily as have my teachers and those before them. If you’re discovering them for the first time, you’re in for a real treat. Each will present a quest and an adventure that, as worked through, will build skills you will own for a lifetime.

If you’ve ever wondered “What are those crazy things that jazz drummer is doing?” the secrets will be revealed by your hard work with these classic study guides. The reward is impossible to express in words. If you love what you hear and it sounds like pure magic when Max Roach or Tony Williams takes a drum solo, developing these skills will be a feeling I can only relate to being granted the ability to fly. Part of the human soul is set free when you have the tools to express your passion.


Continue reading Recommended Reading for Jazz Drummers

Song List

7 Basic Building Blocks for Rock and Pop Beats – Song List

A short list of songs you can play with these beats:

  • Aretha Franklin – Chain of Fools: Beat B/A+C+B+C
  • ACDC – Back in Black: Beat A
  • ACDC – Hell’s Bells: Beat A (verse)  B (chorus)
  • ACDC – Highway To Hell: Beat A+D
  • ACDC – Thunderstruck: Beat A
  • The Beatles – If I Needed Someone: Beat A+C
  • The Beatles – The Word: Beat A+C
  • The Beatles – Nowhere Man: Beat D+A
  • The Beatles – Drive My Car: Beat A+G/D+G
  • The Beatles – Eight Days A Week: Beat A
  • The Beatles – Dizzy Miss Lizzy: Beat A
  • The Beatles – Tell Me What You See: Beat D+A
  • The Beatles – I Saw Her Standing There: Beat A
  • The Beatles – You’re Going To Lose That Girl: Beat D+A
  • The Beatles – The Night Before: Beat D+A
  • The Beatles – Here Comes the Sun: Beat D+E
  • The Black Eyed Peas – Where Is The Love: Beat D+A
  • The Black Eyed Peas – The Apl Song: Beat A
  • The Black Eyed Peas – Latin Girls: Beat A+G
  • The Black Eyed Peas – Labor Day: Beat B+G+G+G
  • Blue Swede – Hooked on a Feelin’: Beat B+E
  • Bon Jovi – It’s My Life: Beat A+B/D
  • Bon Jovi – Living On A Prayer: Beat A+D+A+A
  • Bon Jovi – We Got It Goin’ On: Beat A (add bass drum on beats 2 and 4 with snare)
  • Calvin Harris – Feels: Beat A
  • Calvin Harris – Slide: Beat A
  • The Cars – Let’s Go: Beat A+B+A+C/B+B+C+G
  • Chainsmokers – Closer: Beat A+G
  • Cold Play – Yellow: Beat A+B(intro) B(verse) Beat D+G(chorus)
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival – Have You Ever Seen The Rain: Beat D+A
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival – Fortunate Son: Beat A+B
  • Eagles – Take It Easy: Beat D+A
  • Foo Fighters – These Days: Beat B+C+G+B (open hihat on & of 4)
  • Foster The People: Don’t Stop: Beat D+A
  • Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams: Beat A+B (verse)
  • Green Day – Welcome To Paradise: Beat D+D+E+E(intro) A+C+E+E+D+D+E+A(verse) A+C+E+E (chorus)
  • Green Day – Whatsername: Beat A+B+B+B
  • Green Day – Geek Stink Breath: Beat C (verse) C+E (chorus)
  • Green Day – 21 Guns: Beat A+B
  • Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine: Beat D (verse) D+G (chorus and guitar solo) A+D (bridge)
  • Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – I Love Rock N Roll: Beat B
  • Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – I Hate Myself For Loving You: Beat B
  • Joan Jett (The Runaways) – Cherry Bomb: Beat B
  • Kool & the Gang – Celebration: Beat A
  • Kool & the Gang – Jungle Boogie: Beat A (theme)
  • Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Beat A+C
  • Martin Garrrix – There for You: Beat D+G
  • Martin Garrix – In the Name of Love: Beat D+G
  • Maggie Lindemann – Pretty Girl: Beat A
  • Michael Jackson – Billie Jean: Beat A
  • Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal: Beat A
  • Michael Jackson – Beat It: Beat A+A+A+G
  • MC Hammer – Can’t Touch This: Beat D
  • Prince – Kiss: Beat D+H
  • John Lennon – Imagine: Beat A+B
  • Led Zeppelin – Misty Mountain Hop: Beat A+C+G+C
  • Maroon 5 – Moves Like Jagger: Beat A (add bass drum on beats 2 and 4 with snare, open hihat on &’s)
  • Maroon 5 – She Will Be Loved: Beat D+E
  • Nirvana – Come As You Are: Beat A+C+C+E
  • The Police – Every Breath You Take: Beat D+A
  • Pixies – Where Is My Mind: Beat B (theme)
  • Pixies – Velouria: Beat D+A (theme)
  • Pixies – Allison: Beat A
  • Pixies – The Happening: Beat D+D+A+C
  • Jimi Hendrix – Born Under a Bad Sign: Beat A+C (verse) B (bridge)
  • The Rolling Stones – Start Me Up: Beat A
  • The Rolling Stones – Anybody Seen My Baby?: Beat D+E
  • The Rolling Stones – Jumpin’ Jack Flash: Beat D
  • Blue Oyster Cult – Burnin’ For You: Beat A+C+G+B
  • Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild: Beat D+D+E+A (1/4 notes on hihat)
  • Downtown Fiction – I Just Wanna Run: Beat B+G(verse) Beat A+B(chorus)
  • Muse – Time Is Running Out: Beat A(verse1) Beat C(chorus)
  • Queen – Another One Bites The Dust: Beat A (add bass drum on beats 2 and 4 with snare)
  • Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now: Beat C (verse theme) B (chorus theme)
  • Queen – We Will Rock You: Beat B
  • The Quik – Bert’s Apple Crumble: Beat C+E
  • The Ramones – I Wanna Be Sedated: Beat A+B
  • The Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop: Beat C
  • The Ramones – Sheena Is A Punk Rocker: Beat D+B
  • Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger: Beat A (add bass drum on beats 2 and 4 with snare)
  • Selene Gomez – We Own The Night: Beat D+A
  • Talking Heads – Psycho Killer: Beat A (add bass drum on beats 2 and 4 with snare)
  • The Ventures – Hawaii Five-O: Beat D+A
  • Weezer – Troublemaker: Beat D+E

Britt’s List:

  • Lady Gaga – Poker Face: Beat A
  • Lady Gaga – Just Dance: Beat A
  • Lady Gaga – Bad Romance: B+A
  • Florida – Low: D+G
  • Rihanna – Disturbia – Beat A
  • Katy Perry – Hot N Cold: Beat A
  • Taylor Swift – Begin Again: Beat A+G
  • Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together: Beat A
  • One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful: Beat B+A+C+H
  • One Direction – One Thing: Beat C+H
  • Fun – We Are Young: Beat D+G
  • Maroon 5 – Moves Like Jagger: Beat B+A
  • Maroon 5 – She Will Be Loved: Beat D+E
  • Train – Drive By: Beat A
  • Tegan And Sara: Closer – Beat A+B
  • The Clash – Should I Stay Or Should I Go: Beat D+A (verse)
  • The Clash – Train In Vain: Beat A+B
  • The Velvet Underground – Sweet Jane: Beat D+E
  • David Bowie – Let’s Dance: Beat D+A
  • David Bowie – Changes: Beat B+C
  • Weezer – Island In The Sun: Beat A+A+A+B
  • Weezer – Say It Ain’t So: Beat D+G
  • Weezer – Buddy Holly: Beat A
  • Weezer – Undone (The Sweater Song): Beat A
  • Weezer – Beverly Hills: Beat B
  • Weezer – Pork And Beans: Beat A
  • Weezer – Perfect Situation: Beat B
  • Wilco – You And I: Beat D+E
  • Wilco – You Never Know: Beat A+C

Cole’s List:

  • The Beatles – Hey Jude: Beat A
  • Bob Dylan – Like A Rolling Stone: Beat D+A
  • Bob Dylan – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door: Beat A
  • Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb: Beat A
  • Pink Floyd – Another Brick In The Wall: Beat A
  • Michael Jackson – Beat It: Beat A
  • Michael Jackson – Thriller: Beat A
  • Led Zeppelin – Kashmir: Beat A
  • Guns n’ Roses – November Rain: Beat A+B
  • The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter: Beat A+B
  • The Doors – Light My Fire: Beat A
  • R.E.M. – Losing My Religion: Beat D+A
  • U2 – One: Beat B
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama: Beat B

These beats represent the framework of the original drum parts. They are not meant to be exact and complete transcriptions. They are designed to give beginning drummers a starting point for playing along with the songs or playing with a band.

Where “H” is listed as a component of the beat, omit all bass drum hits.

Many of the pop/dance songs listed as Beat A have the bass drum added to the snare drum hits and/or variations in the hihat pattern.

Five Ways to Get Kids Excited About Music

We’ve heard the many benefits of music education. We know that the human mind is an instrument and music is a highly effective tool to train and maintain it but no matter how hard we try, kids dig in their heels and refuse to practice. Why is this such a common problem? Consider a fresh mindset.

1. Keep It Together

Music is a group activity. For at least 42,000 years humans have been playing music together. It’s in our DNA—at the roots of our culture and civilization. Music developed along with language and art. These all have meaning in social context. Keep music in the family, with friends, take lessons together, play together, practice together. Enjoy it. Make it a part of family life.

“…music may have been one of a suite of behaviors displayed by our species which helped give them an edge over the Neanderthals – who went extinct in most parts of Europe 30,000 years ago.

…played a role in the maintenance of larger social networks, which may have helped our species expand their territory at the expense of the more conservative Neanderthals.” –BBC Science and Environment

There’s a good reason kids don’t want to be sent to their room to practice alone. They know better!

2. Have Fun


Continue reading Five Ways to Get Kids Excited About Music

Interview With Jazz Drummer Alan Hall

Alan Hall, Photo by Gerhard Richter
Alan Hall, Photo by Gerhard Richter

On June 27th, 2016 I had the honor of interviewing my own teacher—jazz drummer and educator Alan Hall. The interview is filled with deep insights and practical advice for any musician, artist or aspiring professional. Alan is an amazing drummer, masterful educator and quality human being. The years I spent studying with him changed my life. I know you will enjoy hearing what he has to say.

We discuss his experience studying with Alan Dawson, teaching at Berklee College of Music, performing in New York at Madison Square Garden with Cirque Du Soleil, Percussive Arts Society competitions, the connection between music and visual art and advice on maintaining integrity, developing your own voice and dealing with competitive pressures. Continue reading Interview With Jazz Drummer Alan Hall

Electric vs. Acoustic Drums

I use Roland V-Drums, specifically a Roland V-Tour Series TD-9KX2 electric drum set*, adapted for my teaching studio. For years I had a strong bias against electric drums. That changed recently when one of my students graduated from high school and began attending University of Southern California to study jazz drumming with Peter Erskine. When I heard USC had a drum lab equipped with these sets I decided to check them out and see how the technology has evolved. It has come a long way!

nkm set snapshot

For practice and teaching, electric drums are amazing tools. For performance, playing brushes, material requiring subtle dynamic shading and a variety of textures, they fall short of acoustic sets. Continue reading Electric vs. Acoustic Drums

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