Almost immediately after I published Need new beats? Buy new sheets! I received an email from an irate drummer who (while typing in all caps) told me that I hadn't a clue where to find sheet music. This drummer was just that, a drummer. He stated he had only ever focused on the drum set and there would be no need to look at any of the sites that I mentioned in that article. In that article I briefly mentioned that playing anything, anything drum and percussion related, can improve your sight reading ability and overall chops. All aspects of percussion are interrelated and exploring many styles and genres or even one area with which you are not familiar can benefit the technique and quality you use in your familiar element.
While the article focused on marching, rudimental, and concert percussion, any drummer not specifically mentioned, such as one who focuses on hand-drumming or only the set, can benefit from reading and drumming through any arrangement or exercise available on the sheet music stores I mentioned.
The concern shared by the author speaks to a greater issue within the world of percussion - the inability to read sheet music. Many self-taught drummers may never learn to read sheet music and may learn, at first, by imitating what they hear, playing by ear. This is an excellent skill and so is the ability to read sheet music. Both skills useful and augment the other. While each can be used independently of the other you are limiting yourself to what you are able to understand with your current skill set.
So, sheet music gives you the ability to learn from others, to grow, and to share with other musicians and drummers. While the majority of pop culture thinks of the drum set in pop music when they think of drumming, and there are endless magazines and educational resources for the drum set (relative to other aspects of percussion), here are the top three websites to pick up some sheet music or drum set wisdom:
- Vic Firth - Featuring articles, sheets, videos, tips, and other resources for the drum set. All drum lessons and other features are from professional drummers such as Stanton Moore, Vinnie Paul, Steve Gadd, Dave Weckl, and others.
- Drum Set Connect - Full of lessons, drum equipment reviews, and an active discussion forum to exchange ideas, ask questions, and learn from the experience of others. The lessons section contains articles discussing setup, tuning, recording the drums, and specific drumming styles and techniques specific to each musical genre.
- Steve Weiss Music - Steve Weiss has several dozen titles available covering drum solo material, duets, trios, and drum solos with accompaniment. Unfortunately there are no media files for the vast majority of arrangements available.
- OnlineDrummer.com - Every Wednesday new beat sheet is added to the enormous collection of free drum sheets. Online Drummer also features an impressive lessons section including video lessons with sheet music and related documents for each lesson.
Any of these websites and any major drum magazine include basic lessons for sight reading. Be sure to check any website or publication for a key to ensure that each drum or cymbal is written in the same place on the stave.
Watch the video above, check out Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta, and Steve Gadd, then go download some music and drum it with a metronome.