RULE 13: Keep It Funky




The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing.
— James Brown


Due to social media and YouTube, we've created a culture with shorter and shorter attention spans. Nowadays, we're pressured to WOW people within 15 seconds due to things like Instagram. How do you compete with all the non-stop media being pumped into our news feed? By displaying your amazing chops and playing something absolutely crazy.

And this strategy totally works if you want to build internet followers... but it doesn't work if you want to actually get HIRED in the real world.

The problem though is that we've trained ourselves to get "bored" watching the greats who do one thing... KEEP IT FUNKY!

But we have to remember that in "real-life", the drummers who WORK the most are the ones who keep it funky. This means that they AREN'T showing off their chops, they aren't overplaying, and they aren't trying to get attention. They're simply playing the groove and trying to make it feel as good as possible.


Here's an exercise I learned from the great Ed Gaus:

LEVEL ONE: The Groove Timer

Play a basic 4/4 rock groove. No ghost notes at all, and no CRASHES. Just focus on the groove, and focus on keeping it funky. 

DURATION - 5 Minutes (Beginner), 10 Minutes (Intermediate), 15 Minutes (Advanced)

LEVEL TWO: The Groove Timer (Advanced)

Repeat the same exercise as above, but choose a different groove, something more complicated (add ghost notes, or maybe a more busy hi-hat pattern). Once you decide what groove to play, keep it there and don't change it up! Again, no crashes, no fills, just groove.

LEVEL THREE: Groove Addition

Similar to the first two levels, but this time you're gradually going to go from Level One to Level Two. Every 4,8, or 16 bars, just add ONE new ghost note, rhythm, texture, etc. Again, don't play any crashes or fills.

These three exercises will help to develop your groove. When doing these exercises, the number one goal here should be to make the groove feel as GOOD as possible. Keep it greasy... keep it funky!


It's easy to read this exercise and think to yourself: "This is totally easy, I can do that! 5 minutes? That's nothing". My only response is this: TRY IT. You'll be totally surprised to find this may be one of the most difficult exercises you've ever tried in your life!

We've become so used to changing it up, playing drum fills, reacting to bandmates, and crashing all the time that playing the same thing for even 5 minutes will feel like an eternity. 

The truth is that the funkiest records you've ever heard are the ones where the drummer is like an unstoppable train. If you need some inspiration, check out any James Brown record.

Treat this exercise as a form of meditation, just focus on the groove as you would focus on your breathing during meditation.



Thanks to Curt Bisquera for offering this week's tips for drummers: KEEP IT FUNKY.

Curt Has Recorded and/or Toured With:
Mick Jagger, Sir Elton John, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Adele, Seal, John Fogerty, Sarah McLachlan, John Legend, Morris Day and the Time, Hans Zimmer, Mel C, Josh Groban, Lana Del Rey, Celine Dion , Belinda Carlisle (of The Go-Go's), Bonnie Raitt, Nelly Furtado, Tina Turner, Johnny Cash, Chris Isaak, Dave Stewart, Ricky Martin , Laura Pausini, Eros Ramazotti, Johnny Hallyday, Veronique Sanson ...and many more!

Steve SuchComment