Rhythm Workshop for Group

Rhythm Workshop

Recent “Basic Rhythm Workshop” I had the pleasure (and fun!) of performing, along with several members from SING CITY ROCK CHOIR of Vancouver.

Check out the Instagram Video clip (duration: 17 seconds)

This video clip is demonstrating a “push” (accent on the 4+).

Oh, ya.. fun session!







Learn How to Play Eighth Notes Drum Music

Okay, we introduced How to Play Quarter Notes on the drums in the last lesson, so let’s move on to… wait for it…


First, recall that  a Quarter Note, or “the beat”, is simply counted as “1,2,3,4” (in our example) and it repeats, 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4 etc. The Eighth Note is a subdivision of the Quarter Note and it divides it into 2 equal parts. Here’s the logic: To fit twice as many notes (eighth notes) into the same space as Quarter Notes, you’d need to play them (tap the drum) twice as fast. Yep, Eighth Notes are played Twice as fast as Quarter Notes (who knew!?!?) 

Here’s a single Eighth Note:

Eighth Note

And, here’s a series of Eight Notes (they are simply tied together across the top to clarify reading the notation)

Eighth Notes


Just like Quarter Notes are counted, “1,2,3,4” — Eighth Notes (twice as many in the same time) are counted,

“1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and” = 8 eight notes.


And, just like the Quarter Note REST is the same duration and value as the Quarter Note — the only difference is you DON’T hit the drum on the rest. Similarly the Eight Note Rest is the same duration as the Eight Note, except, again, you DON’T hit the drum on this note. You count it the same, it moves along at the same pace, except you just take a “REST” on this note and DON’T hit the drum on this note. Easy.

Here’s the written notation for an Eighth Note Rest:

Eighth Note Rest

Happy Drumming.



Learn How to Read Drum Set Music: Introduction

As a drum teacher, I emphasis the benefits of students learning to read drum music. It’s not difficult to pick up the basics and it can cut years off the learning curve (like being able to read books, right?). Just like any other musical instrument, drum music consists of rhythm, notation, musical staff, and in a sense, melody. For drummers, orchestration is the term used to represent playing different drums to create a melodic pattern.

Let’s start with the most primal of elements: The Beat

The Beat

The “beat” is something the drummer is supposed “to keep”, but while it’s difficult to define, it’s relatively easy to feel. It’s that pulse, that musical emphasis that you tap your toe to when you you’re enjoying a song. The “beat” is not to be confused with drum rhythms, as those are the patterns a drummer play over the beat.

The beat is consistent, evenly spaced pulses of the music. For clarity, we’ll use 4/4 Time Signature (no worries, we’ll get into this later), and when a song is playing, its your even toe-tapping or clapping in time to the music that represents “the beat”. When a drummer counts in a song and shouts, “1,2,3,4!!!!”, that’s the beat that the bandmembers join.  In this example, the “beat” is exactly the same rhythm, speed, and spacing as “1,2,3,4”.

Quick exercise: Turn on the favourite music source (Spotify, radio, whatever) and tap or clap along to the “beat”. Those, are “quarter notes” –those are the “1,2,3,4” pulse that most modern songs are based upon.

Quarter notes (the “1,2,3,4” pulse), when written, look like this:

Quarter Notes

The Rest

Just like those quarter notes above represent tapping a drum “to the beat”, the same can be said about NOT tapping the drum, or leaving a “Rest”. It’s the same pattern, the same duration, the same value, except you DON’T hit the drum on this beat.

So, in the example below, you would tap the drum on “1,2” then leave an evenly spaced rest for “3”, then hit for “4”.

Quarter Note Rest

Got it? Good.

More later. Happy Drumming.








Virtual Drummer for Non-Drummers

Product: Toontrack EZdrummer 2

Operating System: Windows / Mac OSX



EZDrummer 2 Virtual Drum Program


If you need a drum track for your latest tune, and drumming is not in your skillset, then a virtual drum program like Toontrack EZdrummer 2 could be the quickest, easiest, and possibly the best solution.

The marketplace is starting to see many virtual drum programs for Mac and PC operating systems, but few rival the simplicity, and acoustic accuracy of Toontrack EZdrummer 2.

The suite includes 5 NEW drumsets since EZdrummer 1, and switching drum kits on the fly is effortless.

The ease of use makes it a perfect tool for songwriters. You can use the software as standalone, but it is also available to use with your favorite sequencer.

Click track recording, quantization, and numerous preset features are a fingertip away.

Drum kits with numerous voicings are available to cover most genres, and it you need even more flexibility, the drum kits are interchangeable.


EZdrummer 2 Virtual Drum Program

EZdrummer 2 Virtual Drum Program

Play Drums by Ear, or Learn to Read Music?

Well, that’s the question, and a point could be made for both. However, as a lifelong musician, I’ve witnessed both and seen a pattern emerge.

If you’ve spent years hunched over a music-stand learning the craft of reading music, you will be biased to what many consider a more classical approach. But it’s a misconception that reading music is relegated to classical music, as the industry is full of jazz players, studios musicians, and mainstream working players that have chart-reading in their skillset.

And Play-By-Ear guys? It’s a great skill, and can be developed with experience.

While you don’t want to be the one band-member at rehearsal who can’t play the tune without a chart, there is a middle ground that answers the question, and has worked well for my professional drumming career.

Too many drummers fail to learn the art & science, of reading music. As a working drummer myself, I’ve found it invaluable. As a drum teacher, I feel I can cut years off the learning curve when I spend time teaching chart-reading.

It’s like general literacy. Yes, you can get through life without knowing how to read books, but your world would be a lot smaller, and progress would be slow.

There are different types of drum charts, and each has it place in the industry. For classical music, scores are to be played note-by-note without improvisation. For modern gigs & session drumming, there is a short-hand “cheat sheet” that many of us have developed. It’s a quick and dirty way to pull off a tune quickly without having to memorize every note.

Here’s an example of a quick, “Cheat Sheet”. It’s pretty nasty looking scrawls, but gets the job done when the goal is to learn a song quickly.

drum chart cheat sheet

And here’s an example of more traditional, details, drum chart.




There’s a time and place for each of these notation types, but without having reading chops, your drumming career will be limited. And, it’s a great tool for learning rudiments, grooves, and fills.

So, if you want to Play on… Read on!

Happy drumming,