I have had I have had many discussions and opinions about drummers that read music vs the drummers that play by ear. I played “by ear” for years with minimal reading skills. I know of many great drummers in which have never learned to read music.
Learning By Ear is as Important as Learning Music
Some would say that learning to play by EAR has its advantages as drummers flow naturally and can feel the flow of music better. By ear drummers can sense where the song is going and adapt very quickly. They aren’t depending on a chart, and they are able to fill in where necessary as well as be creative with drumming techniques.
While in school….I learned very little about reading, and because of my natural ability, I never saw the benefit in reading music. While in NY, I was being offered chances to play for school productions/plays, churches, local events and this was very exciting starting out. I attended many jam sessions after moving to Virginia in my junior year. This also helped in developing my skills and getting noticed while creating a buzz around town.
I stay busy in the music industry, and I found that there were a few jobs that I didn’t qualify for, because I didn’t know how to read sheet music. I understood my counts, but did not understand sheet music. I knew that I needed to be able to sight read, or understand sheet music if someone handed it to me.
So…..in a nutsell… DO I think you should learn to read music ???? Definitely YES. It will be an asset in your drumming career. Don’t worry if you can’t read it fluently. I’m not a fluent reader, but I have an understanding of what I’m looking at NOW. I can at least follow along, although I may be slow.
Perfection comes with PRACTICE…. and it takes PRACTICE to read and PLAY fluently. If you are like myself, it will be a little harder to learn to read if you have been playing for a while. Only because your natural abilities may kick in, but with PRACTICE you will do fine.
Now understanding on a different note……some site readers are very mechanical. They are sometimes unable to naturally sense or feel the other musicians around them. After all….good drummers know how to feed off of their band members. Connecting while playing with others will advance your career. There is nothing like having a drummer that can feel and sense the music, while adding dynamics and controlling the flow of a song. I believe that BOTH approaches combined are effective drumming. I hope you find your balance…
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Denise believes that musicians create sounds that go deeper than the eye can see. Music reaches the soul. Every aspect of life is centered around rhythm. When you think about it.... Everything that has life.... has Rhythm..