Author Archives: Sheboygan Drums

About Sheboygan Drums

Jamison Stokdyk is a drum teacher in Sheboygan WI

Develop Counting Awareness: Learn to Feel the Music

Learn to Feel the Music – Counting Awareness

Develop Music Awareness - Sheboygan DrumsLearn how to know your place in a song. Drummers can developed an awareness of where they are in the section of a song. It can become nearly sub-conscious. A great way to begin is by understanding four-bar divisions. It allows a drummer to know when they’re four bars in, halfway through, or at the end of a section. Mastering this enables a drummer to feel the music without having to think about it.

4-Bar Divisions
In popular (i.e. non-classical) music, most songs are constructed of phrases and sections of bars divisible by four: 4, 8, 12, 16, and 32 bars. This comes in handy when developing the predictive ability of counting-awareness.

Because of this, it’s possible to know your way through a song without having to count. Instead, you are able to feel when four, eight, or sixteen bars have passed. I’ll suggest studies and exercises to improve this awareness.

Develop Counting Awareness
Counting awareness can be developed through practice. One way is by playing along with songs, and actually listening to the music you’re playing with, instead of focusing intently on counting bars. When I say listening to the music, I don’t mean the lyrics, I mean the chord progressions, which give you cues about when the song is about to reach a new section. Even without the four-bar divisions, it’s often possible, by listening to a song, to tell when one phrase or section is ending and the next is going to begin.

Another part of listening to the song entails listening to yourself–or actually not listening to yourself. Learning to ignore yourself is a skill that will help you learn certain other skills, not just counting awareness. If you play along with a song and focus on listening to the song, you may suddenly become aware that you weren’t listening to yourself. That’s good because you’re not letting the sound of your own drums distract you from where you are in the song. This ability to ignore yourself is also beneficial when learning to play with a click.

The real magic happens when you begin to feel a 4-bar division as a single unit, and are then able to sense that unit as part of a 4-unit division (16-bars). In the same way that feeling four measures becomes second-nature, feeling how many 4-bar divisions you’ve played can become second nature.


In addition to playing along with music, exercises can help develop four-bar-division awareness. You can soon have the ability to feel 4, 8, 12 and 16 bars without having to count, even when playing alone with no music. Two exercises follow. Choose a simple beat. A suggested beat and fill is shown in the exercises. As your 4-bar comfort increases, increase complexity and variety of the beats and fills to further develop your counting awareness.

3+1-bar Fill

Play three bars of time followed by a one-bar fill. Repeat non-stop. Keep the beat simple–this is essential. Start with a simple fill, like solid 8ths, 8th triplets, or 16ths on the snare. Once that’s mastered, get more complicated with the beat and fill, even starting the fill earlier or later. But always play a total of four bars. The exercise is designed to develop counting awareness. Since that’s the goal, don’t undermine it by also trying to learn new beats, fills, or techniques. Spend plenty of time on this one, so that knowing when you reach bar four is second nature.

Counting Awareness 3+1 Bar

7+1-bar Fill

Play seven bars of time followed by a one-bar fill. Same as above.

Counting Awareness 7+1Bar

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Benefits of Playing in a Band

  Drummer in BandDrummers Benefit from Playing in a Band

One of the best ways to improve as a drum set player is to play drums in a band. Most large cities have websites for bands seeking musicians. To find bands seeking drummers in Sheboygan, try Bandmix.

Creating Your Own Drum Parts

Developing the ability to create your own style of drum parts on-the-fly is essential for a modern drummer. Continue reading

Basic Dynamics -

Dynamics and Dynamic Markings

Understanding Dynamics

dy•nam•ics |dīˈnamiks| The levels of volume in music.

What are Dynamics?

Dynamics are the levels of volume in music, an important aspect of music. Drums are especially good at playing dynamics. Since drums are inherently loud, it reveals skill when a drummer plays quietly. Nonetheless, it is often the loud parts that are the most exciting. Playing a contrast between soft and loud can make music more interesting.

As a drum teacher, I’ve found useful ways to help drummers understand dynamics. Continue reading

Summer Drum Lessons

Summer Drum Lessons

Want to Learn Drums This Summer?

Summer drum lessons are available for beginner, intermediate, and advanced drummers. There is no contract or commitment when taking drum lessons at Sheboygan Drums in Sheboygan. Drum lessons continue year round and are available on most popular drum and percussion instruments.
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Sheboygan Drums Recommends

Sheboygan Drums Recommends

Having the right equipment and materials is essential for becoming a drummer. Part of learning to play drums is knowing where to begin. There is a vast assortment of drum learning materials and drum equipment. Learning what to use is a daunting task. Having a drum teacher solves the problem of not knowing where to start. Continue reading

Which Drums to Learn

Which Drums to Learn

New drummers are excited to learn drums, but don’t always know which drums they want to learn. Drums are percussion instruments. There are many percussion instruments. Drummers can be attracted to a musical setting such as a rock band or drumline, or to an instrument such as drum set or marimba. Some percussion instruments are used in multiple musical settings while others have specific applications. This page lists percussion instruments that are common for drummers in the USA and shows the musical settings in which the instruments are played.
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School Band Might Not Challenge Ambitious Drummers

School Band Might Not Challenge Ambitious Drummers

Don’t Like School Band?

Ambitious drummers can find an alternative to quitting.

I had a disappointing spell about a year into drum lessons where I almost quit. Lucky for me, beginning the drum set was right around the corner, and playing drum set was the main reason I wanted to play drums. Once that happened, I was unstoppable.
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