Initial Assessment


For my initial assessment, I performed a drum cover of ‘Little Monster’ by Royal Blood. I chose this song as at the time of thinking of what to perform, I was listening to this band and other rock groups such as Nothing But Thieves, Sam Fender, Nirvana, Joy Division etc, so I was definitely inspired by these. This is one of the more complex drum pieces in Royal Blood’s discography so I chose this to really show my talent and challenge myself. As well as this, I wanted to show my drumming in a different light to my previous initial assessment as these two performances are very different to each other in terms of genre and playing style. Rock is an interesting genre for drums as it can use simple drum beats but in a fascinating way by using dynamics, timbre and sometimes the odd syncopation to keep things engaging. In rock, the texture is quite thick most of the time and this is thanks to the drum kit keeping the energy and presence throughout the song.

Overall, I think this performance went very well. I learnt the song fully by ear, using no sheet music or other cover videos to aid myself. Learning songs by ear for many different instruments comes naturally to me now, which is a great skill to have. I recorded (both camera and sound), mixed and edited the performance myself in one day. I used a Canon DSLR to record the footage and a single Eagle G158J Electret cardioid drum microphone in the centre of my kit running through a Focusrite audio interface. I used Ableton to record and mix the drum track, in which I added an EQ, reverb and compressor. After working a lot on production in college last year, I can now get a much better sound from my drum kit even if I am only able to use one microphone as I know a lot more about effects and mixing techniques. I then used Adobe Premiere Pro CC to sync the video and sounds together, create the fade transitions and add the title still at the start.

What Was Successful?

As I have played a genre and song I was very comfortable with, my general confidence saw a huge improvement and I feel this shone through in the video. Being confident during performances is important as it shows that you believe in yourself as a musician and you know your piece well. Because of my experience of playing live in bands, I know the best way to entertain the crowd other than playing music is to look and sound assured so both you and them will enjoy the performance more. The fills in the performance were almost seamless and flush with the backing track, with a lot of them using 16th note triplets and offbeat accents to add complexity to the record. As I was getting further on in the track, I started to move around more drastically and my facial expressions really showed how much I was enjoying playing and how trusting I was in myself.

Something I mentioned in my last initial assessment was that my hand and foot coordination was good, but it could have been better. So, over the last year, I have worked on this to make sure I feel more confident using my left and right foot together whilst making use of my hands as well. To ensure this improvement, I bought a double bass pedal through lockdown to and I have really enjoyed learning how to use it and create more composite bass patterns. This increased the number of times I was using my hi-hat pedal and kick at the same time, as you can see in the video. This skill has come on leaps and bounds to the point where I could hardly tell I started using my hi-hat pedal when it came to the final chorus!

As well as my improvement in hand and foot coordination, I have also seen an improvement in my timing and ability to lead with both my left and right hand. In my first initial assessment, I only played with a right-hand lead, but here I used both, with my right hand becoming the lead when I moved over to my ride cymbal. However, I kept a left-hand lead on fills and on the hi-hat which is something I would like to work on in the future as being able to lead more with both hands anywhere on the kit would increase my creativity and fluency a lot more. As for my timing, I can only notice a couple of times in the video where I was rushing or dragging, one being at the very start; the reason being was that I couldn’t tell when the song started so I just had to hope for the best! However, I do think my timing has seen a big improvement compared to my last initial assessment.

What Wasn’t As Successful?

For this initial assessment, I decided to play a song I was fairly comfortable with playing. Even though this song is not the most challenging I could have learnt, and therefore doesn’t represent my skills to the best of my ablilties, playing a song I felt happy with, for me, was more important. This means my timing was better, I knew the song precisely, and I was more physically and mentally confident as you can see in the video. If I played a song that I didn’t know as well and was more confusing, I would have made more mistakes and I feel like the cover wouldn’t have looked so accomplished.

Compared to my last initial assessment, I feel like I hardly improvised in the song. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as sometimes songs require you to play exactly how it is heard, however, I think improvising would have helped show my skills a lot more as it proves I can keep time and make creative decisions in the heat of the moment. Even just making up some of my own fills or changing the groove slightly in some areas could have made a huge difference rhythmically, dynamically and texturally to build an overall more impressive drum cover.

What Could I Improve Next Time And How?

-Improve the frequency of improvisation for fills and grooves by practicing improvation skills regularly with different genres and drumming styles.

-Play a more challenging song that is more suited to my experience in drumming. I can do this by expanding my music taste, discovering challenging drum pieces to learn and stepping out of my comfort zone more.

-I could improve the general sound of the drum kit but for this I would need better equipment as my audio interface only has one XLR input so I can only use some drum microphone. I also could learn more about mixing live drums as I have not really done much work n this yet.

Self Assessment

Practical Skills- Excellent

The final product of my initial assessment shows my drumming skills very well and is of high sound and video quality. I learnt the song by ear, which shows my refined listening and rhythm skills. Generally, I looked very confident in the video.

Evaluation And Reflection- Excellent

The video, combined with my evaluation suggests that I am confident in myself and my own abilities. My evaluation is ongoing and I mention a lot of ways that I can and will improve my practical skills this year, as well as things I think I have improved on during the past year compared to my last initial assessment.

Targets For This Year

-Complete the grade five theory exam to improve my musical awareness. This will also help when I go into higher education.

-Complete grade five in electric guitar. This will make me more confident in my guitar skills and secure my talent as a multi-instrumentalist.

-Make sure I keep up to date and not slack on written work, as last year this happened a few times and I got a little behind on my work as a consequence.