Drumming Keys for Success

Newsflash for me! Drums have keys! I never knew this before the “engagement drums” as I like to affectionately call them, made their way into the house. That’s a funny story I’ll share later! Remember it’s my job to entertain you folks! Anyway, a drum key is a specialized little T-shaped wrench, I guess you could call it, with a square hole on the end like a small socket that fits over the square end of the tension rod. Turning the end of the tension rod which screws into the lug allows one to adjust the tension around the hoop that holds the head in place and in turn, tunes the drums. Whew! Did ya get all that? And yes even drums can be tuned! Who knew!

There are fancy ones like this cross-shaped one we bought for the boy recently:


{Note to those of you in the market for this one– objects in the picture appear smaller than they are in real life! It was a little too big to be worn as a necklace on the lanyard…a little too much bling for his taste! But still cool! And another sidenote- it broke just the other day! Come on Vic where’s the quality??}

And they can be simple like this good old stand by:


Prior to my introduction to drum keys, the only other experiences I had with keys involved me as a single chic locked out of my own house or car on multiple occasions.

Like the time I locked myself out of the rental house on my way to the gym. Thankfully upon casing the joint, I found the back door unlocked but chained. Pass! followed by a definite Fail! But I had a sweet older neighbor couple who lent me a short-handled screwdriver that I could get through the crack in the door and unscrew said chain from the trim to break into my own house.

Or the time I locked myself out of the new house in my pj’s and flip-flops on a 50 degree Saturday morning. I guess hearing too many times as a kid, “Shut that door! You don’t live in a barn” ingrained itself in my psyche so deep that I don’t always think it through when I walk out of one sometimes. This time though all the new sweet old neighbors were gone so I had to resort to vandalism, i.e. breaking out the bottom window of the back door to get back in. Soon after I had lots of extra keys made…

And who can forget the trip to Lowes when I got out of the car, purse in hand locking and shutting the door behind me only then to notice laying on the seat on the other side of the glass were my car keys. My saving grace here was a cracked window and a store full of spools of wire and other implements to use in fishing out those pesky keys.

But enough about breaking and entering! Here are some keys to becoming a successful percussionist we’ve been hearing from other drummers and trying to put into practice around here.

1. Master the basics. Learn and practice all the elementary rudiments like rhythms and paradiddles and how to read music. (More on those para-thingys on a later post!) I can’t tell you how many rockin’ heavy metal drummers we’ve seen who have started out in high school band. Joey Jordison just to name one! No matter how much style and flair and flutters and fills those guys have mastered now, they have so much more to draw upon because they have that technical foundation under them. And don’t be afraid to take lessons either-no matter how old you are!

2. Listen, appreciate and try playing with all different kinds of music. {Thanks to Shinedown for this piece of advice!} Jazz, rock, country, big band, they all have something to teach about style and technique. Besides, it never hurts to be versatile when you’re trying to find your place in the drumming world.

 3. Take every opportunity to play out that you can reasonably manage. Granted the boy isn’t at rock star level yet- heck he’s still in high school, but every time he gets a chance to perform- whether it’s in talent shows, marching band, friends houses, church events, or playing with the symphony on their community day, he’s there.

4. And to build on #3, it’s not who you know but who knows you. If you’re really serious about getting out there and playing you gotta get your name out there. Be friendly. Be confident but modest. Pride goes before the fall ya know and you do catch more flies with honey! So get to know those people you play with. Introduce yourself to other drummers and bands you meet along the way or make videos of yourself playing and post them up on your favorite social media site. If someone needs a drummer but doesn’t know your name, how are they gonna find you?

And note to self, that thing under the vanity sink that looks like a drum key isn’t a drum key. It’s a valve key — there is a difference! You get very strange looks from your family when you inquire as to why they store a drum key in the bathroom drawer! In my defense though when you live with drummers, you never know when and where you’re gonna find those things!


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