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8/13/09 9:23 PM
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chef kwon do
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Edited: 08/13/09 9:23 PM
Member Since: 11/26/07
Posts: 769
i've been playing drums in bands for over ten years, mostly straight-forward rock (punk, indie, garage). i don't know how to read music. i only played what was called for in songs. but i'm thinking of learning more to try to become a session or touring drummer. which steps should i take? or am i already an old dog?

[edited for grammar]
8/14/09 1:18 AM
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Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 625
No way man, you are never too old. Reading music for drums is not too bad really. You just need a way to connect the things you see to the things you already know. After that it is a piece of cake.
8/16/09 6:26 AM
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Edited: 08/16/09 6:31 AM
Member Since: 1/25/07
Posts: 566
I'll try and lay this out for you as best I can.

Drum transcription is useful for practise and learning grooves quickly, but sight reading four way coordination at fast tempo's isn't realistic, so it doesn't really exist in playing situations. It's unique to the drums and you need a key to read it, so you aren't going to ever have a piano player hand you your drum parts.

Learning to read rhythmic notation, even just clapping it, is useful and REALLY easy to learn. If you want to brush up, buy Gary Chester's "New Breed" and just read the notation alternating left and right hands. It's VERY simple and will open up a billion new idea's.

At an open audition for a touring band, you shouldn't need to read music at all. If you are not a dick and have good feel you are golden. You might need to play a solid shuffle.

To work for a touring band through a productions company, cruise ship, etc, you don't really need to read because of the repetitive sets, but you will probably be asked to in the audition. You will also be asked to demonstrate a lot of styles, so reading drum transcription, even poorly, will teach them to you faster than your ear.

To be a good session player you need to able to read a chart like a motherfucker. Often rock charts will contain none or very few notation phrases, so they are also very easy to learn, but it takes some practise to streamline how you read them. You only glance at the chart periodically to warn you of upcoming sections, so you have to feel exactly where you are at all times. They are used often in studio's and allow you to arrive, rehearse once, and play live tight. Less work for money.
8/17/09 9:29 AM
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Member Since: 10/11/05
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If you've been playing forever I can't imagine it taking more than a day or two to figure out how to sight read percussion, unless you're talking about pitched notation for a xylophone or other pitched instruments.

& like thelonious already said, your need to do it in real time is pretty much nonexistent, so once you're done with that, you can move on to exercises & techniques to compensate for your weaknesses, like Stick Control or learning new formats.

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