Five Things You Need To Know About Playing Drums On A Broadway Show

If you are at all interested in finding work as a musician playing drums on a Broadway musical, I can certainly give a few tips. I’ve been fortunate to have played in several over the past 17 years and I’ve learned a  little from each one I’ve been in.

Each of the shows I’ve done have been different, but there are a few things that are similar with all of them. Here are a few things I’ve learned and would love to share:

1) Keep Your Eyes On The Conductor

It might be tough to have to read music, play the drums as well as watch the conductor, but it can be done. In fact, it must be done if you want to get a job and keep one in this business.

Whether you are subbing or if the gig is yours, you want to make the conductor happy. If you are a sub, the conductor wants to feel like not much has changed between you coming in and the regular drummer being out. No two drummers sound the same but if you do your homework, you will sound as close to the regular drummer as possible. On top of that, if you are constantly watching the conductor, they know that you are paying attention to them and in tune with every move they make. It makes them feel more at ease and will make the show better for everyone involved.

2) Be AbleTo Play With A Click Track

Almost every show today has a click track. Not only does it help to keep the choreographer happy by maintaining consistent tempos, it keeps the pace and timing of the show precise. It also eliminates the questioning of the music department when people feel things are too slow or too fast. The click never lies.

With that in mind you must not make the click a liar. You have to be in tune with the steady tempo and, as people say, bury it. Basically, you have to make sure no one hears the click because your playing right in alignment with it. It takes a while to get used to, but after you play with clicks, it can be great for your internal clock as years pass.

3) You Are The Driving Force In The Show

The drummer is the heartbeat of any musical. You are the engine. You are truly in the driver’s seat. Whoever is sitting on that throne must take command…but take all direction from the conductor.

While the drummer may be driving the train, the conductor is giving the directions. Remember, follow the conductor.

The dancers also rely on your drumming for the accents they need for dance moves, and certain cues for beginnings and endings of songs. The drums make a huge impact.

It can be a high pressure position to be the drummer on a Broadway show because there is little room for error. If you don’t play a certain drum fill correctly, it could cause dancers to not enter properly, light cues to not be triggered at the right time, and the main characters could be thrown off. You matter.

4) Be Consistent

Everyone involved in the business of musicals wants one thing; consistency. People travel from all over the world to see Broadway shows and they expect a certain product once they have shelled out their hard earned money. When you sit behind that drum kit, everyone around you expects high quality musicianship. When you play the first note, it should be the same first note that was played the previous night. It should remain consistent for the rest of the run as well. All of the notes must be played the same way every night because it is an entirely new set of audience members seeing the show.

What does that mean to you? Even though it is the same music you played yesterday and the day before or even the same music for the past three years, you have to give it your all and stay focused. It’s not easy to do because over time, people can get bored or burned out. The challenge of playing shows is to know how to channel your focused energy into that three hours you are at the theater.

5) It Is One Of The Best Gigs To Have In New York

The music business has changed over the years and is constantly in flux. Gigs seem to be paying the same as they did 25 years ago, there are fewer places to perform and certain opportunities for drummers no longer exist, or at least, there are fewer of them. The one thing I’ve noticed during my tenure in this business is that more and more musicians are doing whatever it takes to get a long running broadway show.

There are, on average, about 20-25 musicals running at any point on Broadway. If you are the drummer in one of these shows, that means out of the thousands of musicians who come to New York every year to be in the music business, you are one of about 20 drummers to be fortunate enough to have a steady gig. This is a gig that pays pretty well, but also provides health insurance and a pension on top. Plus, if you want to take off to play other gigs, you can take off up to 50% of the shows.

You can be in New York and not have to drag drums around to your gigs. The shows start on time every day and end on time as well. All you have to do is show up….and do 1-4 above…as well as many other things. It ain’t easy. It’s even harder to land one of these gigs.

When you do get the call to play a show, and if you follow these rules, you are on a track to be working pretty steadily.

If you have any other questions, shoot me an email: Clayton@claytoncraddock.com or send me a tweet @claytoncraddock

Clayton Craddock is a stay-at-home father of two children in New York City. He has a B.B.A from Howard University’s School of Business and is also a 25 year veteran of the fast paced New York City music scene. He has played drums in a number of hit Broadway musicals including “tick…tick…BOOM, Memphis the Musical and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill with Audra McDonald. He has worked on other musicals; Footloose, Motown, The Color Purple, Bare, Rent, Little Shop of Horrors, Evita, Cats, and Avenue Q and is currently the drummer in a new Broadway bound musical titled Ain’t Too Proud.
Clayton has written for A Voice For Men, The Good Men Project and is writing a memoir about fatherhood.

 

I Miss My Kids

 

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One thing I learned from being away from my kids since July 9th is that I’ll NEVER AGAIN take chances on future success.

Never again. NE-VER!

My days of “hoping things will work out” ended as of right now. I won’t do anything with the hope that things will get better in some unspecified time and place. No more investment now for the unknown future.

The “spec” days are for young folk, not for me.

It’s time for some stability, big payouts and living the next 49 years in the least stressful way as humanly possible.

I love my family more than anything and will be making every move, from now on, with them in mind. My mental and long-term physical health will also be front and center.

Maybe it’s just me, but as cool as things may seem on the surface, some things are just not worth it in the long term. With each passing day, I’m figuring out what really matters to me.

These two matter.

Fatherhood matters.

Raising two people who are going to be the next generation of citizens matters.

It’s time to get back to NYC and be the father I want to be…and have always been.

Nov 7th…I’ll see them again and I’m never leaving them.

 

Clayton Craddock is a stay-at-home father of two children in New York City. He has a B.B.A from Howard University’s School of Business and is also a 17 year veteran of the fast paced New York City music scene. He has played drums in a number of hit Broadway musicals including “tick…tick…BOOM, Memphis the Musical and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill with Audra McDonald.

He has worked on other musicals; Footloose, Motown, The Color Purple, Bare, Rent, Little Shop of Horrors, Evita, Cats, and Avenue Q and is currently the drummer in a new Broadway bound musical titled Ain’t Too Proud.

Clayton has written for A Voice For Men, The Good Men Project and is writing a memoir about fatherhood.

Sold Out!!


SOLD OUT!!

This show is something else.

It is the highest grossing production in the Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s nearly 50 year history. Box office recipts already exceeding $3.1 million and counting!

It’s so good.

Hopwfully, you all can see it when it transfers to Broadway in the future. I’ve had such s great time working on this show.

 

 

Clayton Craddock is a stay-at-home father of two children in New York City. He has a B.B.A from Howard University’s School of Business and is also a 17 year veteran of the fast paced New York City music scene. He has played drums in a number of hit Broadway musicals including “tick…tick…BOOM, Memphis the Musical and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill with Audra McDonald.

He has worked on other musicals; Footloose, Motown, The Color Purple, Bare, Rent, Little Shop of Horrors, Evita, Cats, and Avenue Q and is currently the drummer in a new Broadway bound musical titled Ain’t Too Proud.

Clayton has written for A Voice For Men, The Good Men Project and is writing a memoir about fatherhood.

How do you spell dad? It goes L-O-V-E

Waking up at the crack of dawn sucks. It just does. Well, it does for me.

I’ve never been a morning person. I never will be. I like to get up at about 9 or 10AM. Well, that’s just not the life I’ve chosen to live.

You see, I get up so early for a reason.

I usually arrive home from work at 11PM. I’m totally wired and wide awake. I eventually wind down so I can get to sleep at around 1AM. My alarm goes off in the morning, but I snooze for a few more minutes before I jump out of bed. I try to shake the cobwebs out of my brain and think of where I parked my car so I can go pick up my kids.

I drive over to my ex-wife’s house and get my kids at 7:15AM. We spend about 45 minutes to an hour getting to school. There are mornings where we just listen to the radio. We sometimes laugh about stories from the previous day or if we see something silly on the way. When a serious event happens in our country, we might have a brief thought provoking discussion. When I see the opportunity, I let my kids know about some cold hard truths about growing up in America. They soak it all up like sponges. In the end, I have that special time with just me and my kids. It’s time well spent.

I get the balance of my sleep some time during the day by taking naps if I’m not working. I ain’t afraid to admit, I LOVE naps. Later in the day, I pick them up from school and we spend the afternoon together at my place until I bring them to their mom’s house after I cook them dinner.

It’s exhausting, but totally worth every hour I miss of sleep during the night.

Why do I do this to myself? Well, I asked this question every morning when I got out of bed to get my kids. As soon as I think of why I do what I do, I think of how much I love my kids.

I love them. I really do.

After 15 years of fatherhood, nothing has changed. I’ve been there since the beginning. I’m glad I saw every little step my kids have taken over the years and witnessed every little development along the way. Our time is very limited on this planet and I am making sure I spend as much of it as I possibly can with my kids before they are adults and off on their own.

I wasn’t going to allow any silly “family court” system to keep me away from this. I’ll lose all kinds of sleep but I won’t lose out on being a father. That’s just not going to happen. I made sure of that.

Fathers….

We love our kids as much as mothers. We care too. We want to be there as much as we can even though we may be tired, working long hours, traveling, busting our ass to get a promotion or more money or any other thing that might keep us temporarily separate.

Dads…

We are not the babysitter. We are the guidance the protection, the focus, the spiritual uplift, the support system, the provider, the backbone, the rock, the stability, the L-O-V-E.

I heard about this artist and song a while ago after chatting with a colleague of mine named Felton Offard on Facebook. (he’s an amazing guitarists by the way). He hipped me to this guy Sho Baraka. Sho has a great new album out called ” The Narrative.”

I think this is right on point:

I learned that love ain’t based on performance
Make a mistake and I will love you in the morning
I see life in my children’s eyes
And when I’m wrong I’ll be the first to apologize
Peace to all my fathers who are working through their flaws
Fulfilling their duties and they don’t do it for applause
It’s true, any fool with a tool can reproduce
But a father is that dude that’ll see it through
Forget the stereotypes lets be clear
There are good men out there we are here

……………..

How do you spell dad?
It goes L-O-V-E
How do you spell dad?
It goes L-O-V-E
How do you spell dad?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TZxuDQZyOQ