A technique to help develop great timing at the drum kit

This is a concept taken from my book titled Drum Kit Secrets: 52 Performance Strategies for the Advanced Drummer which aims to help you develop great timing when playing the drum kit. Hopefully as drummers we can all playing very naturally with a metronome, and increasingly metronomes are present at drum performances in the studio and live setting.

But it is also easy to get so used to relying on the metronome that it becomes a crux and we feel unconfident when playing without one. It is still a crucial skill for a musician to have great timing when playing in a group without a click and, although every member of the group has the same responsibility for their own good timing, some people still view the drummer as responsible for keeping the whole band in time. Therefore you might find even more pressure on you as the drummer to have that rock solid timing.

This in-built sense of time is sometimes described as our internal metronome and it is something we can train to be great just like every other aspect of our playing.

A really effective exercise for developing your internal metronome is the ‘Four bar challenge’. This little exercise uses the track below by giving you a two bar count in and then playing only the first note of every fourth bar.

This means that you have to keep consistently good timing for four whole bars before the sequence comes back around to play beat one again. And it is only at that point that you will find out if you stayed in time. If you were slightly out you might be able to adjust and get back on track but if you have changed speed drastically you ill have to go back to the count in at the beginning.

At first it is wise to play straight quarter notes on the hi-hat or practice pad. As you feel more confident with your internal metronome you might be want develop up to a full drum beat, and then to push it even further you can add fills or even start soloing.

If you use exercises like this in your drum practice routine you should feel that internal metronome really develop which will benefit your playing and confidence dramatically.