Will learning jazz make me a better rock drummer?


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I am attempting to become a rock drummer. Problem: my teacher makes all his students learn jazz, which I really don't like. Will learning jazz make me a better rock drummer? Or will it be a waste of time?

Any opinions?


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Yes, it will. I studied jazz extensively, and now all I play is rock. The independence exercises are very useful! To me, not doing what your teacher asks is like going to the doctor and telling him how to fix you. What's the point? You don't have to listen to a lot of jazz to study it's techniques, although I strongly suggest you do, just to open your perspective a little. There are some badass drummers in jazz, like Tony Williams, Art Blakey, and Max Roach. Some great newer jazz drummers to check out are Tain Watts, Steve Gadd, Billy Cobham, and Smitty Smith. I hasten to add that the latter are great all-around drummers who can play jazz well.

Case in point: Vinnie Colaiuta, one of the best jazz players (or any other style) out there is on the new Megadeth record. Check him out in some videos on the web, he will blow your mind.
Learning jazz will definatly make you a better rock drummer or anyother drummer and, for that matter it will make you or anyone elese that considers themselves to be a musician a more accomplished musician, regardless of your chosen style or instrument.

Ever drummer owes their career to jazz to one extent or another. Music is an art of self expression, jazz, punk, blues what-ever are all global languages with-in styles with their own interpratations of punctuation.

Jazz is vital regardless because it opens you to endless possibilities. Once you have learned to read music and you know the signifcance of 1 number on top of the other in a time signature, you've won half the battle. Jazz is perfect for improvisation and being that extra bit daring every time.


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Jazz music in my opinion is one of the hardest styles to play and play well. History shows that alot of the rock and other styles of music these days evolved from Jazz and Rhythm and Blues. If you think it's easy, you are wrong. To learn how to play Jazz will greately improve your skills in any style of music. I say pay attention and practice alot. You will not be disappointed.


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Yes. I play all styles (therefore rock + jazz) and it really does. Your aim should be to be a drummer not a rock drummer or funk drummer etc. Because if one day, a job comes along, you may get there and then if they say play jazz time in 7/8 or something, you wanna be able to do it! I even incorporate jazz licks and fill ideas in my rock playing. Just get into it and enjoy it.


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If you want to be a better rock drummer you should try and learn as many styles of music as you can.


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hey shouldnt learning all types of drumming help us become a better drummer? today i was in a music performance wrkshop in uni and the teacher taking the class is a local pro drummer and the first thing he did was ask ppl to clap out the rhythm on the board. it was surprising to see grade 8 players in piano and violin and other classical instruments couldnt clap a simple rhythm pattern! anyways back to question at hand yeah learning jazz, latin, celtic rhythms etc will make you a better drummer.


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Yes! learn as much about every kind of music you can.
It will make you a better player and it will also help you come up with new creative beats.


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Yes playing Jazz will make you a better drummer. check out Keith Carlock. He is amazing. Started out playing rock and went to school for music/drumming. While there the drum teacher instructed him in jazz. he hated it but learned alot and he attributes jazz to his playing style now.


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Learning different styles will open your mind. Jazz is not all about the "ding dinga ding" thing...that's just the venacular that it is most expressed within. Jazz is more of an attitude..a freedom of sorts. Jazz will give you independence between limbs that can be comported to the rock world, and make you more creative and sound much better.

By having a few different "languages" to draw from within your vocabulary, you'll become a better communicator. After all, playing drums is like speaking a language of sorts. The more knowledge you have within speaking, the easier it is to communicate with others.


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totoole26":36hmkjss said:
check out Keith Carlock. He is amazing. Started out playing rock and went to school for music/drumming. While there the drum teacher instructed him in jazz.
I grew up with Keith Carlock in Jackson, Mississippi. We had the same teacher. I have watched KC play since he was 13 years old. I even have a video of him on a huge Slingerland kit playing stuff that was years beyond his age. I'll try and get that digitized someday and post it up on YouTube or something like that.
If you wanna be just the usual average "rock drummer"...stick to rock. If you want to be a great rock drummer...learn jazz technique.
Learning jazz, you will get some crazy chops happening. U wont be just another 4/4 boring rock drummer. My saying is "if you can play jazz, you can play anything man!"
Whether u like him or not, a good example of a great rock drummer who studied jazz is Jimmy Chamberlin of The Smashing Pumpkins. Now he has some crazy chops goin on. His solo album is really awesome.
It really is worth the time practicing it dude. Think of it as investing in your future as a player.
Good luck man!


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so, everybody advocates the benefits of studying jazz... and with good reason.
one thing to consider though -
when i got out of high school i studied jazz performance drumming at a tertiary institution. i found playing jazz very difficult and did not enjoy it much. however, as soon as i graduated, and people stopped forcing jazz down my throat, i started enjoying listening to it, and then started enjoying playing it. i realsied what my teachers had been telling me all along: jazz is about listening. listen to as much as you can as intensely as you can and your touch and feel will improve.


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jw11":2t9py3ld said:
I am attempting to become a rock drummer. Problem: my teacher makes all his students learn jazz, which I really don't like. Will learning jazz make me a better rock drummer? Or will it be a waste of time?

Any opinions?
My answer would be yes, no doubt!

I "hate" jazz myself, but in terms of technique, skills, rythm-patterns, "groove" and "feel", I've come to respect the basic concept of jazz, even though I am MOST DEFINATELY a loud (hard) rock drummer, always was, always will be! 8)

I'll give a few references of a couple of great rock drummers that has more of "a tad" of jazz feel incorporated in their playing:

Ian Paice (Deep Purple)
Brian Downey (Thin Lizzy)


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Yes. In fact, jazz is probably the best style you can learn in terms of musicality, and overall sound of the instrument. When I first started out all I wanted to play was rock, but then my mind opened to different types of music. Now I love jazz, and still have a fondness for Planet X.


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Hmmm. It's hard to answer this in a purely philosophical way.

However I will be up front with you. Learning Jazz will help you play pretty much every style (or it at least should help you).

Jazz is great because it challenges the drummer to keep a swinging time, while listening at the same time.

I tell my students that it is one of the best ways to develop your "Four Eyes."

Now we all know that chops are developed playing jazz, but let's take it to the plane of the metaphysical.

When I say "Four Eyes" (and yes I coined the phrase myself - not tht that matters), I believe that musicians all have four eyes. It really connects with drummers though.

"but John, what the hell are you talking about?"

Well, this is what I mean. You have your actual ears, there' on the side of your head. With these you take in sound from the other players (in stereo no less). They are super important for communicating the language of music with the people with whom you play. They take in ideas from your environment.

And then you have your "Third Eye" which is in your mind. This is where your imagination comes from. Like when you here a guitar lick and think "I know a groove that would be SICK when played with that groove." Your Third Eye finds these beats. You feed them to your fellow musicians. You can feed them to your buds as surprises, to push them or even to make them laugh. Use your Third Eye-Ear as a way of carrying a musical conversation.

And then we come to the mega important ear. It doesn't rely on what happens much OUTSIDE the body. It is the ear that listens to your own confidence level inside. IT'S YOUR HEART.

You see, your heart knows the beat better than anyone can tell you. It is your own metronome. It is your confidence. Like when you step up to a kit, and know you have to lay down a killer groove. Your heart sets the pace. It is your confidence in a muscular organ. You can lay it down without even using the other 3 ears, as long as your heart is true.

Two actuall ears, your Third Eye and your Heart. Each on its own can get the job done, but when used all together, it is what makes for a killer drummer.

Chops sold separately...


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I was in the same position when I was about 16. I had always had a thing for rock, but jazz never really interested me. Not the difficulty....I just didn't like the music.

My instructor's program included a lot of jazz in the later phases of it that I saw. He broke me in subtly, though.

First off was a tune by Jean Luc Ponty. Next up was Tower of Power. Then we got into "Jammin' E. Cricket" by Chick Corea's Elektric Band, some Jeff Porcaro tunes, and then on to Count Basie swing stuff.

If you look at the trend there, he was smart and guided me more towards the funk / fusion genre first. Once I had figured out that this stuff is pretty cool, the swing hit and it was on.

Now, all I play is rock, but it's this jazz/fusion/funk influence that separates my playing. With the experience that you will gain from playing jazz, you will learn new fills, new ways of looking at music in general, and you will DEFINITELY learn some new patterns.

There's nothing better than taking a simple 4/4 song and tastefully spicing it up with little things you've carried from your jazz experiences into rock.

Embrace it, and you'll see what everyone here is talking about.