Advanced level

People I teach want to know where they stand. They want to know if they would be considered beginners, intermediate, advanced players. That’s for the easy ones to classify. A lot of them have a foot in one area while being more proficient in others. It is usually a mixed bag, specially when you study with a teacher like me who does tailored lessons. Some will be doing some good stuff in rock, but not really pushing the jazz technique. And vice versa.

What they don’t know is that advanced is not the ultimate level. Not by far. After advanced come the “Professional” level, and, after that, comes the “Expert” level.

I’ll do the last 2 in other posts. Right now, I’m talking about being advanced.

What does it mean to be an advanced drummer?

It means that you know the 26 rudiments and that you can read snare drum chart in 4/4 fairly easily. While I’m at it, it also means that you can read on sight almost anything in 4/4, be it straight eighth notes or triplets.

Being advanced entails that you are familiar and fluent in all the common styles of music, namely Rock, Jazz, Latin, Shuffle, Reggae and that you have developed not only a solid understanding of independence and coordination in every style, but that you also are able to play those styles “in tempo”. A Samba Loca, for example, should be around 144 on the half notes and played with ease.

An advance player should know some commonly used musical concepts like 4 bars phrases, orchestration, dynamics and she would have developed some tricks and automatism in every concept.

She should also have a diverse, if not yet extensive, experience playing with others. Versatility would be key here, because being able to cater to the needs of a jazz trio is not equivalent to playing in a funk big band.

That describes an advance player to me. The kind of person who knows what they are doing and are prepared to make some money in the music business.