Yes. Of course drummers are musicians!
Drummers have such a massive role in music, and it is straight up wrong to not consider them on the same level as the rest of the band. Do they have a rather specialized role? Yes. Does it take a massive amount of skill, creativity, and musicianship to pull it all off? Yes.
Drums can be an incredibly expressive instrument. From a slight tweak in tone, to a subtle emphasis on one beat over another. It changes the entire sound of a band. That influence over your audience is the essence of being a musician. Controlling the emotion and conversation of a piece of music.
“I enjoy playing the band as the band. I ‘be’ the whole band and I’m playing the drums, I’m playing the guitar, I’m playing the saxophone. To me, the most wonderful thing about playing music is that.” – Chick Corea
It is true, not all drummers are as well versed in harmony, melody, and music theory… but the good ones sure are. Harrison from Hillsong gives some pointers to drummers looking to up their game in overall musicianship. He explains the importance of being able to think like every other instrument in the band at any given point. You need to be aware of everything going on around you to be able to play your instrument best.
Obviously listening is an important factor. Two things on listening – 1. I need to listen to what our Musical Director is telling us and 2. what the other musicians are playing. Breaking this down, the Musical Director prepares me for the ebbs and flows in structure, so I will make my choice as to how I build into whatever that next moment is.
Listening to the other musicians, I hear melodies and rhythms in the chord progressions, so I will make my choice as to how I will compliment that with a homo-rhythmic (same rhythm) pattern on the kit. This helps create unity with the other players and makes for a great musical journey. I love seeing the other’s faces when they hear me imitate their line with the same rhythm. It makes things refreshing and fun. Via hillsong.com
Listening is so important! Unless you are playing a solo, you should never really be the center of attention. I was at a gig a week ago where an inexperienced drummer has decided this was the best time to show off his newfound ability of triplet paradiddle fills. Fantastic. You have great chops! But now is NOT THE TIME!
Being able to be a part of the fabric and support the rest of the music happening around you is what will get you called back to play the next gig. Knowing when to shine, and when to support is so important, and listening is one of the biggest factors in knowing how you should be playing.
Watching is obviously another key factor. At any given moment, things might have to abruptly shift depending on what has been called by whoever is on stage directing the service, and it’s up to you to help make this the smoothest transition as possible. Every now and again I’ll hear “heads up!” from the MD, which says to me, “be ready to go back into this”, so I gather my musical thoughts, coming up with a way to comfortably go back into a section of a song like it was always meant to happen. Via hillsong.com
Ever try to end a tune, and you can’t quite get the drummer’s attention? It’s darn near impossible! Drummers actually have a massive amount of influence visually over the rest of the band, so if you can’t feed the drummer important cues, no one else can read the drummer on the cues either!
3. Musical Theory
Having a background in composition and musical study has also helped me make an assessment of my surroundings when I’m playing with other musicians. Sometimes the MD will go “on the four!” or “hold the G!” Or similar.
Being able to know what chord IV is, or that G is chord 1, or that chord VI is minor, etc… it all supports my musical choices during a song. It lets me help create a musical journey with the rest of the crew.
Every instrumentalist has the opportunity to be musical. It’s just up to them how they harness that opportunity to create unity. Via hillsong.com
Music Education Drastically Boosts Academic Success
It has been proven by countless studies that playing an instrument does wonders for developing brains. We know that it giveschildrens minds the ability to think in ways that significantly improve literacy leading to better academic success in many other areas. This is called neurophysiological distinction, and the fastest way to develop it, is by learning an instrument. Via merriammusic.com
Scientists Discovered Something Amazing About Musicians Brains
The list of benefits from learning a musical instrument is constantly growing. A recent study conducted at the University of Texas showed that musicians may have far more well-developed long-term memories compared to non-musicians. Weve known that learning a musical instrument has a significant positive impact on short term memory, linguistic abilities, and spatiotemporal faculties, but this study has found the first strong evidence in regards to long-term memory. Via merriammusic.com