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Do Drummers Count?


Do Drummers Count?

This is a question that can be answered in many different ways. As a middle band director, I have had several drummers or more, specifically percussionists, fill my band rooms year after year. I say, percussionist because a drummer implies that we are teaching students who only play drums. It is my responsibility to educate the whole child and thus teach all of the appropriate percussion instruments. Many of these instruments are much more than just drums such as keyboards, electrophones, and a variety of “world instruments.”

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Regardless if you are a percussionist in a school or are a middle-aged man playing the drum set, you matter. Musicians far and wide have made jokes about drummers throughout the ages. The truth is without drummers or percussionists music would be empty.

Do Drummers Count?

Since the time of early man, the tribal drums of old filled our souls with a sense of purpose and expression. Beated out rhythmic figures communicated a variety of messages including calls to war, rain, celebration, and dance.

From a formally trained educational perspective rhythm reading, listening and feeling music is at the core of a successful performance. There is no reason for anyone to reinforce rhythm illiteracy. Rhythmic note durations are but simple math. These rhythms must be practiced over and over again so that the brain is free to keep fire synaptic connections from various extremities of the body.

Generally, the average set player doesn’t need to practice overly complicated rhythms since most performances include primarily eighth notes, quarter notes, sixteenth notes, and triplets.  By practicing every day at varied speeds, these basic note values will provide the foundation of proficiency.


If you find you are reading a mess of rests within a measure, scan to the end of the measure. Read the measure backward. This may seem confusing but it will provide you a bit of clarity and understanding of how the measure adds up. As a result, you won’t have to guess what the value of all the rests adds up to. For additional, tricks and skill development information for percussionists check-out www.vicfirth.com.


Counting and rhythm reading is at the core of being able to successfully interact with a performing family of musicians. The homogenous blending and creative interplay of a music ensemble, with a percussionist (or drummer), will delight the audience and exactitude of your craft.

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