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How to Write a Quick Chart

You get the call for a gig, it starts in two hours and you will be playing two sets of original material……
What do you do?

I was the one who got the call and I was the one who had to figure out this material before we jumped on the stage.
Some artist do not give you time to learn their material. Mainly because they get the call and any artist that gets a chance to play their songs in front of a large crowd, possibly profitable gig or the “someone could be out there” audience, will take the gig and just get the musicians who are available.
In my case, their drummer could not make the gig, so I got the call.

In order to make the gig go as smoothly as possible, I used my REALLY SKETCH A QUICK DRUM CHART FOR 12 SONGS METHOD.

If this happens to you, here is what you do:

1.      Go into a room with the artist to listen to the songs one by one.
(I was luck, the artist played the guitar and we could go over everything quickly. If they don’t play in instrument, find the guitarist or keyboard player and work together in a back room.)

2.      Bring a percussion instrument in with you such as a Djembe, bongo’s, shaker or just a pair of sticks, a piece of paper and pencil.

3.      Write the names of each song on the paper and write them down in the order they will be played in.

4.      Have the artist play all the songs in that order. It is easier to remember songs in specific order.

5.       Now have the artist play the first song

6.      Play your percussion instrument along with artist. (I use a Djembe)

7.      Listen to how you played the song with the artist

8.      Make a quick note on the paper next to the name of the song whether it was a straight beat or a shuffle. (As you know, if you start a song with a shuffle beat and the song is straight, it will be noticed and you will be in trouble.

9.  Take notice of the pattern you played on the percussion instrument

10.  Notate that pattern. Make it a one bar pattern and make it as simple as possible so you can read and play it fast when that song is called.

11.  Write the patterns next to the type of feel (straight or shuffle) that you wrote down.

12.  Do this with each song, right down the page, in order.

By this time you have 15 minutes before the gig starts and the songs are fresh in your mind.
Don’t wait, get the band on stage, don’t talk to anyone and focus on the list.

The gig will go great, you will stay focused and the artist will ask you back or even better, they will fire their drummer and you will get the gig.
Writing and using any kind of chart whether it is simple or detailed will make you look good and sound good because:

1.      You will look like you know what you are doing.
2.      You will begin the song right and end it right
3.      Most important, you will make THE ARTIST LOOK GREAT!

Which in turn, gets you more gigs, gives you credibility, gets you references and gets YOU more work.
And That Is the Best Ending To any Story


To Your Continued Success!

Liz Ficalora
Author of:  “How To Write A Fast and Easy Drum Chart”

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