Music, Arts & Entertainment

Solos and Fills

Sheila E.

Lesson time 11:27 min

Your drum solo can say a lot about you as a drummer. Sheila explains when to take a solo, how to improvise, and when to show restraint.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: When to Take a Solo • When to Play a Fill • When Not to Play • Improvising a Solo


[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC PLAYING] [00:00:13.23] - When it's time for you to take a solo, it's because that section of the song allows you to do so, or it was arranged or set up for you to take a solo. Improv, you're kind of playing and creating. It's not really a solo. You're adding different elements here and there, a tom here, a fill here, you know, playing a different beat. That's creating improvising. [00:00:36.51] But a solo is a section that is set up. Everyone's going to know, here comes the drum solo. Then it's all about you. [00:00:43.62] There are a lot of drummers that are fantastic, fantastic soloists, amazing soloists. They can't play a beat in time to save them. Soloing is a gift. It really is a gift. Not everyone can do it. [00:00:57.90] And it's OK that you can't. Not everyone can solo. But I'm telling you, if you want to learn how to solo, it's a gradual thing. It's you finding your voice. And that's the fun part about it is just going for it, not to be afraid, not to live in, ah, I'm not really sure, and be timid about it. [00:01:17.77] If you're going to make a mistake, make a mistake big and loud. And then do it again, because then it's not a mistake. Sometimes we all tend to solo and give you everything we have in two seconds. It's like-- and then there's still time for you to play, but you've burned yourself out at the beginning of the solo. [00:01:38.54] A good solo is supposed to gradually happen and build. So you start slow in your solo, and you build. You get more complicated, nicer, cooler stuff to play. And by the end, it should just be big. [00:01:58.56] [00:02:06.99] A fill is a set up to the transition. It's like 1, 2, 3, the verse, uh. Instead of saying 1, 2, 3, I would play-- [00:02:18.42] You kind of always do something that everyone knows, hey, something's getting ready to happen. Here's the verse. Here's the chorus. Here's a bridge. So the intro of "Love Bizarre," if I play it, we play it together, I didn't do a lot of fills in that song, but this is one in the intro. [00:02:54.37] So it's like counting something out to let people know something is getting ready to happen. If you want to practice fills at home, do it slow. Start slow. And a fill, you can practice like what I did on "Love Bizarre," the intro. [00:03:10.78] You can do that. But every time you do something, make sure it's in time. Like if you do something-- if this is the time, do a fill. [00:03:33.32] Just make sure in time with the click. And just experiment on different feelings and how you feel to set up the next section. When you set up your fills in practicing, take like-- sometimes you don't know what four bars might be, but it's 1, 2, 3, 4. Wait four bars before you do the next fill. Don't just rush in to fill, fill, fill, because then it's going to start sounding like a solo. So you really want to think about, you know-- [00:04:21.20] You can do it like that, or you can make more space. Fills are complementing what is ...

About the Instructor

Raised in a family of musicians, Sheila E. has collaborated with icons like Marvin Gaye and Ringo Starr and was named one of the all-time greatest drummers by Rolling Stone. Now she teaches you how to find your rhythm. Learn the principles of percussion—with or without a drum set—and discover techniques for dynamic solos and fills. Jam with the Escovedo family and find your own groove, as a beginner or as a bandleader.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Sheila E.

Legendary drummer Sheila E. welcomes you to the world of percussion and teaches you how to express yourself through rhythm.

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