29th July 2016 Roman Roth

Singing While Drumming – why you too should practise it

(Photo: Vincent Barker)

I’ve decided to write my first blog entry on drumming and singing, because I feel it’s helped my playing in many ways: 

  • Singing while playing will make you more steady as you will have to learn not to focus on your playing so much. This means that you won’t need as much “brain-power” for your playing as before, so you have more process capacity to react to your surroundings (like ducking to avoid the flying beer bottle without missing a beat or shouting at the monitor guy to please, PLEASE turn down the guitars in your in-ears while playing that big drum fill into the last chorus).
  • Singers love a singing drummer (and they usually are the ones who employ new band members… hint!). Practicing singing will give you a more natural feel for songs/melodies and where to support it or get out of the way.
  • Imagine you are a band leader and you are looking for a drummer and one backing singer. You are willing to pay $100 per gig. You find two drummers and 75 backing vocalists who are all very good and super nice. One of the drummers is also a good singer. Are you going to employ the non-singing drummer and a singer ($200/gig) or the singing drummer ($100/gig)… hmmm

How to practise singing and drumming:
Basically, open your mouth and start singing while playing… 😉

A few exercises:

  • Play your favorite beats while counting out loud. Start with 8th notes (1+2+3+4+), then try quarter notes (1234).
  • Sing different rhythmic phrases, like a clave https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clave_(rhythm) while playing different beats/exercises.
  • Play your, or any band’s songs while singing the lead vocal part. You will be amazed how different your playing will feel and you might make quite a few changes to the way you play a song to help the melody.

All in all, you’ve got nothing to lose and loads to win…!

Two videos:

For those about to sing – I salute you!!!


For questions, comments or anything else: tweet to @rothdrums

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About the Author

Roman Roth Roman was born in Rheinfelden, Switzerland in 1975. He started playing drums when he was nine. From 1993-1998, he studied music at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Zurich. After a few years of teaching at public schools, Roman founded his own music school where he was teaching from 2001-2012. In 2010, he met producer Andy Wright. Andy encouraged him to move to London, which he did in February 2011. He started recording and touring with (singer) Peter Grant and by the end of 2011/early 2012 he recorded the "American Soul" album with Mick Hucknall, which they toured in 2013. In 2014, Roman was invited to record drums and percussion for the new Simply Red album "Big Love". Roman is currently on a world tour with Simply Red. Set-up for Simply Red: 20” Ride Session, 20” Ride Traditional Sizzle, 14” Hi-Hat Traditional, 16”, 17" and 18" Crash Session, 8" Splash Sultan. Roman also plays Radiants, Vezir and more! He proudly endorses Istanbul Mehmet cymbals, Remo drum heads, Agner sticks and Porter&Davies tactile monitors. Roman feels very strongly about his endorsements and would never endorse a company he's not madly in love with.

Istanbul Mehmet Cymbals

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