Drumming and Singing

Isn’t Easy at First, But It’s Worth Working On Although I take it for granted now, I sing both lead and backing vocals regularly while playing the drum kit.  I have a tenor range that enables me to sing many types of harmonies. This takes the strain off of the other singers in the band, and is appreciated. It also gives you a chance to shine, by occasionally lead singing original or cover tunes. There are a variety of methods that I have seen drummers use to become proficient at backing and/or lead vocals. But no matter what, you must have been endowed with the ability to, at least, hold a tune.  If you do, then you CAN learn to sing and play drums - even while playing odd times and polyrhythms (I really hate that word “odd” for 5, 7, 9 beat per measure music - but that’s common western terminology).

My approach to develop my lead singing and playing ability:
  1.  I went to a classical vocal instructor and had her evaluate my voice. 
  2. I took classical vocal lessons to learn proper posture, breathing, etc. This helped me learn proper sitting posture, while improving my vocal range and projection (I actually brought my drum throne to each lesson).
  3. After absorbing a good deal of vocal training, I began to applying my voice in real situations. In doing this, I found out right away that it was best to get the drum part down first so you don’t have to “think” too much when you begin layering the vocal part.
  4. After learning both parts separately, I began to practice both the drumming and singing parts together. I started by concentrating on backing vocals first, and I also worked on a song in sections. I repeated a section until I felt comfortable. Then I would move on to the next section... and so on.

Eventually, I found that my mind became more and more used to doing these two things at once. As the years went by, I also found that it got easier and easier to pick up harmony parts and sing them “on the fly”.  It was much like the process of developing your chops on the kit. Putting it simply; if you have a decent voice, and you haven’t bothered to learn to play and sing, then you’re really limiting your playing opportunities, and wasting some of your talent. Singing drummers are NOT the norm. And having this skill could the difference between landing a gig and not!  I strongly recommend that you take some time to try and learn this skill, so you can use it to your advantage (and for the fun of it). You CAN do it!

Steve Dow