To Fill-In Or Not To Fill-In??

I wanted to write this short post to address the above question that plagues the minds of many beginner drummers.

The only advice I’ll offer is this:

STEAL ideas from other drummers. Yes. STEAL. Then, over time and experience, make those ideas your own.

I am assuming you already understand the function of the fill-in and its musical purpose. Fill-Ins have to be CLEAR, IN TIME, CONFIDENT, and APPROPRIATE to the music you are playing.

Your teacher can only show you the mechanics of how to execute a fill-in. In lessons introducing fill-ins you’d go through 4 bar, 8 bar, and 16-bar exercises for this, meaning that you fill-in on the last bar of each sequence whilst you play time for the rest of the preceding bars. To play fill-ins with taste and musical purpose however is something you need to develop largely on your own over time.

The only ways to develop confidence and tastefulness in your fill-ins are by:

1) Listening to tons and tons of records and getting ideas from the drummers who played on those records. This way, you’ll gain rhythmic vocabulary, phrasing, as well as learn how different drummers approach fill-ins by way of where they put their fill-ins within the song.

As you analyse the above things, ask yourself why did these drummers phrase and put the fill-ins in places where they did. Discuss these with your teacher and your drummer friends as well. I do alot of these type of discussions with my students, and these are some of the most fun parts of teaching for me.

2) Experimenting with those fill-in ideas on the drumkit once you’ve got them transcribed (either by writing it down or by ear)

3) Over time and experience, finding variations on those fill-in ideas to make these your own ideas.

There is no other way about these above 3 steps.  Use this guideline for the rest of your entire playing career and you will reap amazing results.

If you feel you need a couple of lessons to help you get started on fill-ins, you can contact me at 98291901 or email: jason@pulseofmusic.com for more information.

Cheers and Keep Drumming!

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