I often assume that speed is by far the most common desired skill for drummers. But then again, rudimental applications around the drum set seem to also be up there.

For this reason, I'd like to see if we can narrow it down to the top 3 most desired skills.

Also, I think it's fine to be specific too. "Technique" is maybe a bit vague. I'm looking for something like "Fluidity in changing from various grips and techniques so as to play what is needed, whenever it is needed."

closed as primarily opinion-based by Carl Witthoft, Richard, Matthew Read May 9 '17 at 14:04

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    A big part of this is what your ultimate goals are as a drummer. A classical percussionist may say that rudiments are one of the top 3 skills. Meanwhile, an old friend that played for a famous country singer couldn't hardly remember any of the rudiments, saying he just got the gig because he could play "loud as f***." – Richard May 9 '17 at 10:45
  • 2
    If speed is the most common desired skill for drummers, then drummers are not musicians, but athletes. Luckily, this is not true of most drummers. – Scott Wallace May 9 '17 at 11:57
  • I think what drummers desire most of all is a job. – Neil Meyer May 9 '17 at 13:38
  • Could the people who vote to close please explain their votes with a comment? – Neil Meyer May 9 '17 at 13:40
  • The on hold reason has an explanation, as does Richard's comment. You'll notice the answers cover 7 different reasons so far. – Matthew Read May 9 '17 at 14:04

Top three?

  1. Good timing - ability to keep a desired tempo without fluctuation, but to go with the flow when necessary - not just because someone else speeds up.

  2. Listening ability - being aware of what others are playing, and gelling with them and complementing their phrasing when necessary.And including playing at an appropriate volume all the time!

  3. Ability to be part of a team. Played with too many drummers who isolated themselves from the rest of the band whilst playing.

Not a 'technical' bit in sight - for me that should be a given - rather like my top 3, but it's too rare, sadly. And no, I'm not bitter or twisted!

  • +1 - I'd say these three apply to all instruments that are not to be played exclusively solo. – Todd Wilcox May 9 '17 at 13:08
  • @ToddWilcox - true more or less. Although I feel that the primary job of a drummer is to keep good time. Anyone else on a different instrument can usually be brought back in line - by the drummer - and one other. I guess none of these answers is going to be 'right', judging by the usual phantom downvoter, who can't string a sentence together to give reasons... – Tim May 9 '17 at 15:40

It's easier than you're making it I think:

  • Keeping the beat. Don't speed up or slow down unless it's specifically intended for the song.
  • Playing with the right feel. Knowing what to play to fit the song or the rest of the band and whether to push or pull the beat, etc. A good drummer can improve even the simplest of beats by applying the right feel.
  • Managing your volume. The drums are usually the loudest instrument acoustically and there's no volume knob but you. The rest of the band has to match their volume to you usually through boosting their amps. But there are a lot of styles and venues where loud simply isn't appropriate. Being able to play quietly when needed and without sacrificing anything is very underrated skill.

Kind of opinion based question.

I'd say:

a) the ability to properly tune the drums (good pitch)

b) to have a great sense of micro-timing

c) to know how to properly hit any percussive instrument, and apply that to the set that is in front of you

  • 1
    +1 Definitely important skills, all of them, and more specific to drumming. A drummer who hits the drums just right is so much easier to record and mix, also. – Todd Wilcox May 9 '17 at 18:14

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