Rest Up

Lane Armey

This month I didn’t want to stress the great rudiments you play, but rather the things you don’t play … the rests.

Most drummers do not spend enough time thinking about how to properly NOT play.

We are in such a hurry to play the next phrase of music that we don’t pay attention to the notes where we rest and lose a really valuable performance opportunity.

Patience, Please. For starters, every time you rest for a few counts, you are setting yourself up for another musical attack. The beginnings of phrases are crucial to playing well together, and attacks are something many drumlines struggle with due to poor counting and not enough patience. Give every count its full value, and do not lose track of where you are. That is the first step to making consistent attacks.

Along with the beginnings of phrases, the ends of phrases are also often our Achilles heel. Ripping out of rolls or not giving enough space to large open rhythms routinely leads to rushing to downbeats—not only destroying the effect of the passage you just played, but also rushing into the rest counts and impacting your next attack.

Body and Mind. Counts of rests are an opportunity to prepare your body for the next phrase.

That means breathing and keeping your feet in time. Think ahead and prepare for what happens next.

It should never be an opportunity to let your mind wander or think about what you just played. Always look ahead, never backwards. Did something not go well in the previous passage? This is your opportunity to refocus and make the next passage great.

Emotional Performance. There is also a built-in performance opportunity when you are not playing. Keep your chin up and your vibe going. Even if you are not playing, you are constantly portraying an emotion and a performance quality to your audience.

There is never a time when you are not performing. Keep focusing on everything you play, but don’t lose track of the notes you don’t play!

About author

Lane Armey

Lane Armey is the battery percussion coordinator for Homestead High School in Cupertino, Calif. In the past, he has worked with various groups including Northwestern University and the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps.

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