Why Great Drumming Doesn’t Need To Be Complex

Great drumming not complex

Great drumming … Look at her!

She’s such an awesome drummer.

Wow, I bet she must have the best drumming technique on earth.

Said no one ever.

Ok, some actually do.

And hey, I don’t blame them.

But does great drumming REALLY equal complex beats, fills and time signatures?

For me? Nope. Not at all.

Here’s why.

Great Drumming For Me Is …

Mostly, I’m no fan of overly complex drumming.

Instead, I prefer the more “easy” stuff.

However, it has to be right in my face:

Great drumming for me is something you feel.

Of course, some of my favorite bands happen to have really complex drumming in them.

I need to name

  • Dream Theater or
  • Rush

for example.

They are certainly one of my all-time bands.

I also love the way Thomas Lang plays the drums.

He’s not known for keeping things easy-peasy.

However, I really don’t think great drumming equals complexity.

In fact, the contrary is the case for many songs.

And I’ve got good reasons to think so.

Let’s start off by jumping back in time to take a look at them.

Great Drumming? Keep It Simple

When I was younger, I really wanted to go for the complex drumming.

You know, play the impressive stuff.

All the time.

I wasn’t too interested in “the easy drumming”.

Beginner beats or drum fills without the wow-factor didn’t really do the trick for me.

Thing is:

I did compare myself to other drummers a lot.

So I really was eager to take my drumming to the next level anytime I had the chance to do so.

  • Crazy drum fills that – not only – sounded tricky? Yeah!
  • Complex beats I could hardly count? Perfect!
  • A drumming tempo I could not follow without getting my muscles tense as a rope? Bring it on!

Of course, there was a problem with that.

A biggie:

Learning a music instrument is no competition. It should be fun above all else.

Sure, it was and still is.

If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post right now.

However, comparing yourself to others is not a healthy or rewarding behavior.

Instead, it feels like a constant pain in the butt.

And if not, it certainly brings other negative aspects to your life as a musician.

Because remember: Not only when you want to be a professional drummer, relationships to others are crucial!

Also, drumming or making music in general should relieve stress.

Not add more to beating you up moments to your daily life.

And for me, it kinda did both.

However, I also learned a lot by going through this phase.

And someday I realized:

Drumming does not have to be complex to be great. No, really not.

Instead, it is so much more than a “difficult” beat or time signature.

It should flow – and that’s one of the damn best things you can experience as a drummer and beyond.

When The Drums Hit, You Feel The Emotion

Why do you love drumming?

Whenever somebody asks me this question, I dig a little deeper.

Soon, however, I find the answer.

It’s always the same: The way it makes me feel.

This answer is the same with listening to music as well.

I don’t make a difference here.

When I listen to great music, I get this certain feeling.

You know it?

  • Being peaceful.
  • Joyful.
  • Thankful.
  • Motivated.

Just like Leo stated on the ship:

I’m the king of the world.

Or in my case: the queen.

Of my world.

It’s the same with playing the drums.

I also get this feeling.

It’s very often the Flow State I learned about when I got recommended the work by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Does the music or drumming has to be great to get me into the flow?

Actually, I don’t know.

I think it has to come up to my taste, after all.

But is there complexity involved ?

You know what they say:

Everybody has a different taste.

Also in terms of music.

Complex drumming great

Great Drumming Equals Great Musicianship

To this day, I’ve been drumming around 14 or 15 years.

So I guess it’s quite safe to say: I’ve learned my lessons.

And yes, I still practice on a regular basis.

This won’t stop, and there’s always something new to learn.

However, I don’t practice to be better than anybody or anything.

I do it for myself.

For the fun of playing the drum set and of course learning.

(And yes, I also practice stuff for my drum lessons. But that’s obvious.)

The only “competitor” now is myself from yesterday. So this woman’s a pretty chill one now.

I’m all about a.) building relationships with and b.) playing the music.

Or at least I try.

Sure, I tend to play overly complex things still.

It gets more down to earth, though.

And for this reason, I think of my drumming like this:

  • How do I support the song in the best way possible?
  • What can I do to bring up emotion in the audience?
  • That’s a match!

And that’s all.

I don’t think of easy vs. complex drumming anymore.

It’s all about playing the music.

And yes, this could mean bringing on more advanced drumming technique, too.

But that’s not the goal:

If the song calls for more down to earth beats, I’m happy to serve them.

And if not, that’s perfectly fine with me as well.

Your Takeaways From My Past

This blog is here to help you become the best drummer you can become.

I’m certainly not the girl telling you what you have to do.

Or what you definitely shouldn’t do.

Like playing the drums barefoot, maybe?

No, definitely feel free to do so.

On the other hand, I want you to be able to learn from my mistakes.

So you can avoid them and get much quicker results in terms of learning to play the drum set.

Trust me when I say: I made a lot of mistakes in the past.

And still do.

Learning and mistakes can not be separated.

So if you take away one single learning from this blog post, let it be this:

Great drumming is not defined by its grade of complexity. It’s an act of serving the music. Listen closely to find out what does suit it best. If it has to be more complex: great. Down to earth drumming fits perfectly? Great as well.

However, don’t settle for less you can be.

That’s the hard part: To learn more complex stuff, but to forget everything about it when simplicity is needed.

That’s a lesson I really learned over some years time.

It’s a highly precious one, but also wasn’t too easy to swallow.

But I did, after all.

And now you can use my knowledge too.

Think about it.

And adjust the wisdom when needed.

And if you don’t like to keep things easy-peasy?

I don’t blame you.

Nobody should.

Great drumming is about having fun after all – whether it’s complex or simple.


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Author: Manu Holmer

Hi, I'm Manu Holmer, nice to meet you! As a professional drummer and drum teacher, my vision is to help others transform their lives with the power of music. Let's not only play the drums. Feel the rhythm & and walk to our own beats!

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