Drum Soloists vs Service Drummers

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SKF NOTE: Drum soloists vs service drummers. That’s a distinction I don’t hear much about anymore. Growing up the two were discussed almost as separate career paths.

Q. What do you want to do with your life?

A. I want to be a professional drummer.

Q. Okay, do you want to be a drum soloist or a service drummer?

In general, drum soloists had more technique, more chops. They spent more time practicing rudiments and playing in school band, marching band — musical situations requiring solid reading and chops.

Service drummers – again, in general – had less technique, less chops. They gravitated toward garage bands, pickup groups — environments where good ears, sufficient technique, and an ability to make the other band members feel and sound good were requisite.

The best drummers from both camps knew about song structures, even song lyrics. And, of course, there were all sorts of exceptions to the rule. Drummers with oodles of chops might find themselves chronically out-of-work if they couldn’t also slip into service drummer mode.

Service drummers were rarely out-of-work, unless the only gig available was playing mega-chops music.

To be continued….

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