Why You Should Use Earbuds To Get Great At Keeping Time With Music

It can be an awful experience to play with a drummer who speeds up and slows down during a song. It's actually one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to playing with a band.

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If you're a drummer, you do not want to be that person! If you dare justify to yourself, "I can do a lot of really cool stuff though, so it's not that important for me to be quite as on-time", then it's time to get some manners and start learning how to keep time.

You can do the most incredible fills in the world, and be as fancy as you like, but if you can't keep time, your music will sound like crap, and no one will want to play with you.

If you aren't sure whether or not you are good at keeping time, why not ask the people you play with? If you find out you could use some improvement, then read on.

How Do I Learn To Keep Tempo?

There are a few options. Some people really like playing along with a metronome, and if that works for you I would highly recommend it.

Personally, I find the metronome incredibly boring. I would much rather play along with songs that I find interesting. Plus, if I can listen to another drummer playing some really advanced stuff, then I get to learn some more techniques while I'm at it.

That's why I highly recommend you play along to music that really inspires you. Just plug your headphones into your iPod/mp3 player, and have at her!

The 1st benefit is that it's ridiculously fun if you are playing music you already love listening to. It's inspiring, and it drives you forward.

The 2nd is that your keeping-time will be dramatically improved. The recorded music is a consistent tempo, and you become the only variable in the equation.

You will be forced to adjust your tempo to match the recording, the recording won't change to match you. Of course, you might not be used to this, because in a band setting, the band often has to change it's tempo to match your inconsistent beats.

Playing along with a recording curbs this bad habit.

The 3rd benefit is that you'll learn from each drummer that you listen to. Each of them has a different drumming style, and you'll slowly pick up different fills and beats that you had never considered before.

I see the recordings really as a teacher within themselves. Some of the best drummers I know never took a single drum lesson, but learned from recordings.

Dealing With Noisy Acoustic Drums

I really struggled with hearing my music over the sound of my loud acoustic drums when I first started doing this.

For the cheapest solution, I recommend buying cheap, over-the-ear construction ear muffs, and then wear them overtop of your earbuds. This will enable even the stock iPod headphones to easily overpower the sound of the drums.

You can pick up ear muffs for probably only $10-15. Heck, you might just have some laying around in the garden shed anyways.

For a medium-priced option (but much higher quality), you can get some Vic Firth Drummer's Headphones. I personally have used these for hours of drumming, and I think they're fantastic. They run for around $30-40.

The most expensive, but absolutely superb option, is Vic Firth's SIH1 Isolation Headphones. These are headphones that plug directly into your iPod (no earbuds necessary).

The speakers inside them I've found to be pretty excellent, although I don't recommend over-driving them too much. I ended up blowing one of the speakers in mine from running them really, really loud, so be careful!

They run for about $60. As the most expensive option, I think they're still a relatively cheap option.

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About The Writer

My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.

If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.

Among my friends, it's a "Muller Classic Move" to eat Mcdonald's at 2am because it's cheap and open 24/7. The joke here is that I'm an idiot. 

I play drums, guitar, piano, and I write & perform music for My Goal Is Telepathy. Take a listen to the latest sound here.