Playing Boring Songs Well

SKF NOTE: You’re a drummer working steady with a piano trio six nights a week in a club. The piano player is the leader, the main attraction. The trio has a steady repertoire the pianist updates sometimes.

You like playing the trio’s songs. They’re all either fun, challenging, or simply enjoyable to play as support for the pianist or bassist.

But there’s always one song you hate. It’s boring. You’ve played it so often you have nothing creative to give it anymore. (Drummer Ben Riley, who spent three years with Thelonious Monk, told one interview he hates playing, I think, “Blue Monk.”)

You have nights on the bandstand praying the bandleader won’t call the hated song. When a night ends without the hated song, a weight rises off your shoulders.

The real professional drummers suck it up; they block their reservations and “go on with the show.”

There’s no faking it, no phoning it in. Audiences can tell when musicians onstage are unfocused. Certainly fellow musicians can tell.

Playing boring songs well is one part of being a pro drummer.

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