From Drums to Dedication, What Makes a Great Drummer?

With all of the different styles of drumming and drums available, the world of rhythm is open to anyone who has the desire to be the “heartbeat” of a song or a part of a community drumming event or drum circle. Drumming is one of the most natural, creative vehicles of expression, and once the fire takes hold of a person and his or her drum (or drum set), the groove can be unstoppable. So, what takes a drummer from rocking out into drumming stardom (even among friends and family)? What makes a great drummer?


Dedication: For any artist or “creative” out there, the dedication to a craft or art can be the definitive measure of that person’s greatness. In terms of rhythm, the amount of time spent practicing drums, learning new styles and techniques and embracing the full, personal definition of what makes a great drummer.

The Beat: A drummer must understand rhythm and tempo, regardless of the venue, style of music or drums being played. No matter what, the rhythm depends on a person who can create a “click” – the basic measurement of the beat or time in a song or jam. Without this ability, a drummer is just hitting a drum without purpose, denying any sense of decency to those playing along or listening.

Phrasing: Drumming may appear to be merely the act of hitting drums and percussion instruments in a rhythmic pattern, but, all great drummers understand that the beat is as much an emotional connection to the music as it is a time-keeping device. Within each song or drum circle, the rhythm plays a strong role in the phrasing of the song, creating excitement, maintaining the motivation and then minimizing the climax of the song toward its end. Much like a lyrical phrase, a drum phrase is a powerful connection to the song.

While there are countless theories about what makes a great drummer, there are some similar thoughts about what brings these women and men into rhythmic stardom on stage, in a studio or even at a local drum jam. However, we all have different, personal definitions of what makes a great drummer beyond the beat; the “drummer” mystique and reputation, the number of drums in the circle or in the drum set, the unheard of solo or the groove that gets us dancing.Maybe it is the collective creativity that is empowered through drumming. Whatever makes a great drummer, for anyone attempting to obtain such a title, we know the experience itself is just as rewarding as being named one of the greats.

Tell us, what do YOU think makes a great drummer? The style, talent or overall presence of the drummer, or something else all together?

28th Oct 2014

Recent Posts