The Drumming System (affiliate link) has an entire section dedicated to reading drum charts. Your ability to read drum charts is so important. You will become a better musician, get better work, and play better performances if you can read drum charts, you will lay an excellent foundation for becoming a great live musician and great studio musician.
Here are some tips:
- Before you can read a drum chart, you have to understand basic drumming notation. The Reading Drummer (affiliate link) by Dave Vose is a great book to help you master drumming notation.
- Reading drum music can be challenging and frustrating. The more you do read drum charts, the better you get. (The unwritten rule for anything in life).
- Transcribing drum parts will help you read better. Write out drum parts from music that you like, note for note. Not only will this help your reading, but you will get into the mind of great drummers.
- Understand that some auditions REQUIRE that you know how to read.
- A chart doesn’t always tell you everything that you have to play. It might just indicate a tempo, style, and some dynamic markings.
- When you read a drum chart, the first thing you have to do is figure out the roadmap. Where do you start? Where do you end? Is there a coda? Having the ability to understand all of this will improve your reading.
- Shows on Broadway and in Las Vegas require reading. If you look in a Broadway pit, you will see music stands in front of every musicians.
- Practice with materials such as the Drumming System (affiliate link). The Drumming System (affiliate link) has over 100 songs in a variety of styles. Each one can be played with or without drums on the track. This allows you to be the drummer in the band and practice reading drum charts.