Playing to a click is an essential skill for a drummer. From backing tracks, to recording, to just consistent tempos for dancers and music-goers, we are asked to play to a click. Most of today’s music production is about bringing the best to the performance, and this includes backing tracks.
But when it comes to a click, especially once we know HOW to play to a click, our click perspective should become a guiding principle when we approach playing and performing.
Here it is:
When you ARE playing to a click,
make it sound like you ARE NOT.
— – — – — – —
When you ARE NOT playing to a click,
make it sound like you ARE.
This was some advice given to me on my 12th birthday from the drummer of my dad’s band, Rusty Knorr. At the time it didn’t seem all that useful to me, I just wanted to PLAY, but as I have continued in this journey, I have come to live most moments in this idea.
Without a Click:
To play solid and consistent has won me favor with many pro musicians—to speak clearly on the drums, as if to program a drum machine. This creates a confidence in the music and with the other musicians that leads everyone through the song with comfort and drive. To be so reliable in “time” that you can be counted on like a fine watch is a great compliment, and will get you hired.
With a Click:
Don’t give it away. If you’re playing to a click, don’t be so wrapped up in locking up with the click that you forget to lock up with the musicians. Let it breathe and feel like you’re just “jamming”. A click is a great tool, but if your sound and feel suffers from a stiff hyper-focus on playing to the click, it will rob the music of energy and flow.
Such a small perceptive shift can change your playing in such an immense way. Another tool to help you perform your best in each situation.