Arts & Entertainment, Music

Playing With Feel

Ringo Starr

Lesson time 04:04 min

Ringo talks about the elusive quality of “feel” in drumming—the sense of personal rhythm and style that comes from absorbing the music as you play. To achieve it, he advises members to let the body lead, hit rhythms on the backbeat, and more.

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Topics include: Let the Rhythm In · Listen, React


[MUSIC PLAYING] RINGO STARR: Feel comes with the body. You know, I didn't train to have feel. Just let the music move through you. [MUSIC - RINGO STARR, "COOCHY COOCHY"] (SINGING) Waiting for you to come and see me. I think any time I hit on it, it has a big swing going down because my stepdad, he had all these big band records. (SINGING) Oh, let me hear it! Straight rock and roll, which came after the big bands, and Little Richard, all playing swing, they sort of straightened everything out to be-- [DRUMS PLAYING] It's all straight, so but then I go-- [DRUMS PLAYING] Now you may have to be a drummer to know the difference because I'm doing it so it's like straight. [DRUMS PLAYING] Ringo. [DRUMS PLAYING] It all has a bit of that in it when I play, you know. It's just how it is. [MUSIC - RINGO STARR, "IT DON'T COME EASY"] (SINGING) It don't come easy. You know it don't come easy. - You know, I have great feel because it just came with me. I have great time. And in all honesty, when I was just out there skiffling with the Eddie Clayton group, I didn't have any sense of time, and neither did they. And we play weddings and things, but you know we go-- [MUSIC - BEATLES, "MAGGIE MAE"] (SINGING) Oh, Maggie, Maggie Mae, hey, hey, hey-- [DRUMS PLAYING FAST] [SINGING QUICKLY] And people who were trying to dance would say, could you slow down? Could you slow down? Because we just were an express train on every track. So now we don't have to do that. We can keep it straight. [DRUM STICKS CLATTER] But at the beginning, you may get a little speedy. Just listen to yourself and see how you feel about that. [MUSIC PLAYING] If you're sitting around with a guitar, and there's the bass player-- I'm talking about my band, the band I was in, and most bands now. I played with a lot of different people, and when it's brand new, I just keep it easy. You know, whatever the song is, I keep it ea-- then you get to feel all of it. You get to feel it, and then you can put something in it. [DRUMS PLAYING] Yeah, let's go. You've got to just melt into what's around you. [MUSIC - RINGO STARR, "IT DON'T COME EASY"] (SINGING) I don't ask for much. I only-- Do your best just to keep it sharp and in the groove. Less is always more, especially when you're first working it out. I like to try to give the band space to come up with new ideas, new parts. You've got to be the one holding it all together. And then once you find your groove, you can add things to it then. When I'm doing fills, I can never repeat the fill because it's sort of the emotion of that moment on the track where the singer is, or if there's a bass note, or there's a guitar thing, all of that helps me go where I go. But sometimes I go, and I'm in a fill, in like a blackout. But I always come out on time, you ...

About the Instructor

Music legend Ringo Starr helped create rock ’n’ roll drumming as we know it today. Now the 9-time Grammy Award winner wants to inspire new and seasoned drummers alike. Through demonstrations behind the kit and personal stories from his time in The Beatles, Ringo shares his principles for creative collaboration, finding your unique playing style, and embracing your musical journey with joy.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Ringo Starr

Legendary drummer Ringo Starr walks you through his approach to creative collaboration, playing with heart, and embracing your musical journey.

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