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What is the one thing that helped make you a better drummer?

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  • What is the one thing that helped make you a better drummer?

    "There are no limits. There are only plateaus,
    and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them
    ."
    —Bruce Lee


    I wanted to start a thread wherein those who are interested could share tips on how to improve their drumming skills by sharing what has been most impactful that resulted in breaking through walls, rising above plateaus, getting unstuck, moving forward when it seemed impossible, getting re-motivated, getting back on the drums after a stay-off, or just in general what was the one particular thing that made your drumming get better.

    I understand that this section of the forum is generally set up for the purpose stated above. However, in this thread it is an offer for anyone concerned to more specifically positively nicely share with others directly what is been the most, or amongst the best, methods, or anything else, that is had dramatic improvement upon their drumming.

    I think the above quote by Bruce Lee kind of says it all. There is no "done." That's my opinion. In the opinion of some others. It would be related to that opinion, as an opinion, the buddy rich and is and was still improving, and could still improve. I assume if somebody lived to be 1 million years old, which I can reasonably say: trust me that's I can happen; that person would still have something to learn. So I don't think there is a "there," (i.e. I am there), to reach, as there is always another 'there' an inch away.

    If anyone wants to input into this constructive thread, please graciously do so.

    Either way, I will post periodic tips that I picked up, that have shifted my drumming, in major ways, not so much the incremental things. (Not that incremental things don't count; of course they do).

    I make no claim to be any sort of master drummer. Like everybody else, I'm doing the best I can, and wherever I am I am. I do not compare myself to others, I simply strive to do the best I can, and drumming, and all else that I do.

    I do teach drums. That does not make me cool or special. Great drumming skills, and a really cool suit, will get you right on an airplane, with a ticket. Otherwise, expressing the aforementioned, is probably not going to cut it, at least for most of us, normally.

    I've been playing a long time, and I very humbly share what I know with others, with no pretension of any sort of superiority whatsoever. Master the drums; die anyway. I have a sort of philosophy: don't take anything, or anyone, that's going to die, too seriously. It really kind of makes sense, if, you think about it.

    And since I'm not too technically oriented in so far as intricate electronic drum issues, and am frustrated insofar that I cannot contribute too much to the technical stuff on this webpage, which seems to predominate, this is one way at least I can contribute. And that makes me happy.

    There were some major things given to me by some much wiser and more knowledgeable than me.

    Starting with the rudiments, many of us have found these crucial to being better drums, and have been for a long time, for us, and those who came before us.

    Playing rudiments as written, by some masters, naturally is a good thing. I was guided by some higher minded people to tweak the rudiments and play each one differently in some way. Just for instance, adding an accent on the second quarter notes, or whatever pace you may be playing in a, of a paradiddle, accent, or cheese-add a single stroke roll, on the second third or fourth note, or even the first note.

    Modifying the rudiments can be done with that same format above generally by adding an accent, a single hand roll, double handrails, double hand actions, triple hand, or four notes, etc., or, doing the same with flams, or drags.

    As well, try playing all the rudiments with your feet. Then, break up the rudiments between your hands and feet. Come up with combinations with all four limbs eventually. If you take time and do it right, it will greatly increase your four-way limb independence, and ability to express yourself more dynamically and fluidly.

    If you do not understand what I'm saying, now, or in the future, feel free to PM me and I will gladly explain. Or you can post a question here.

    Please do contribute.

    Thank you!
    TD-9 Module Gen 2; TMC-6 Slave Module; PD-105BK; PD-85BK x 3; CY-13R x 1; CY-12C x 3; Kit Toy China 15" x 1; Kit Toy Splash 10" x 2; KD-9; CY-5 x 2; FD-7-; Pintech Dinbat used as Cowbell; TDA-700 & Roland KCW-1 Sub Woofer; Pearl 902 Double Pedal; ROC-N-SOC V- Stool with Back Rest

  • #2
    Nice GuruMyStick!
    For me, the first thing that gets in my mind that did make a difference was to learn how to read music (for drums). With that I could dive in many books and develop not only technique but also rhythm vocabulary... It opened many avenues. And is fun!

    Great thread!
    Gretsch USA 1983 with Roland RT-30 triggers and ATV AD5, Korg Wavedrum Global, Sonor Perfect Balance Pedal, Roland KT-10 pedal (left). Zildjian, Paiste Superior Drummer 2, Studio Drummer, Steven Slate Drums

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    • #3
      I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter what particular exercise or technique that was at the forefront of my regiment...nothing helped me more than continuous consistent purposeful practice starting slow and working my way into a comfortable pace....and then pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone while still focusing on the correctly performing whatever exercise I was working on at the moment....and then doing it backwards....and /or starting each stroke on the next count in line. If fatigue starts to set in...I slow down to a pace where I can perform the exercise correctly....and keep pushing until I'm so exhausted that sleep is the only alternative....which, BTW, they say that practice right before your nights sleep improves muscle memory.
      8 piece DIY Acrylic, 2x2Box DrumIt5, Gen16 4xDCP, DIY Acrylic&Gen16 Conversions, Sleishman Twin-QuadSteele hybrid, Gibraltar&DrumFrame rack, DW9502LB, Midi Knights Pro Lighting
      http://www.airbrushartists.org/DreamscapeAirbrushRealm

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      • #4
        Playing with a metronome by myself and with a band. It is very revealing with a band as well. There are some good videos on studio drumming with Russ Miller. He shows how he plays behind the beat in a way that fattens the groove. I really admire drummers than can not only play perfectly with a metronome,but also put single parts of the drumset ahead or behind the beat.
        Peter

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        • #5
          I wanted to reply to this, with no tips at all because I am definitely still learning (and not in the same way that everyone keeps learning, but in a "having lessons and learning to play" way), but I think this will be a massive benefit to me and other people learning to play, so thanks for starting it, and to everyone who contributes!
          Kaiju
          Roland TD-15KV module and cymbals, Gen 16 AE rack, Gen 16 AE cymbals, Diamond Electronic Drums, Tama HP300 single pedal, Lectric Moo, Carmichael throne

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          • #6
            Locking the girlfriend out of the house. It has helped my drumming immensely...



            Okay, seriously now: Practicing rudiments with my feet was a revelation for me.
            Just take a 'stick control' type exercise, play it feet-to-feet, and try to keep an ostinato going with the hands e.g. quarters (eighths, sixteenths...) on the hihat, 2 and 4 on the snare.

            Then, as I get fancy, I change from hihat to the ride, and adding in my left foot on the hihat, playing on 2 and 4 (all four beats, offbeats...)

            Helps with my 4-way coordination!
            Last edited by hairmetal-81; 09-14-13, 07:51 AM.
            .
            .
            Greetings from Switzerland,
            - Dänoh


            "My best friends' name is . They used to call him '' He has an ''..!"

            http://www.vdrums.com/forum/core/cus...ar33631_4.jpeg

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            • #7
              The most important thing you can learn is that there is a difference between being a technically competent drummer (or bassist or guitarist or whatever-ist) and being a good musician.

              I am reminded of a Bill Bruford quote that there is "life beyond the cymbals" and how his contribution to a particular King Crimson tune was that it didn't need a drum part. And for that he got a co-writing credit. In his autobiography he also talks about playing with Tony Levin. He noticed that the more he (BB) played, the less Levin played, and when Bruford sat back, Levin began filling in more of the space. There's an important lesson there: Don't be greedy.

              I think you need technical proficiency to be a good drummer and ultimately a good musician but it is not the end of the effort, it is the beginning. Sometimes you have to put that skill away and do just what the music demands. That can be difficult because it requires that you put your ego in check. Unfortunately, I've seen/heard many technically skilled drummers who play nothing that I consider interesting or even particularly musical.

              Of course, the converse is no better: Someone with great musical sensibilities but without the chops to pull off what is needed.

              Comment


              • #8
                great thread, two way street
                we get to share our tips and tricks and pick some up too, perfect

                my best tips for progressing and also doing well in the moment are repeating key phrases i've memorized from my teachers and other trusted resources
                rudiments really, simple good practices repeated as rotating mantras

                i had a great teacher and most come from him, the one i keep in mind most is this:

                he uses the term "time keeper", i repeat it while i play
                human nature is to speed up when you feel good about your playing, i tell myself not to speed up when i'm enjoying myself
                so my number one trick for being a better drummer is to be a "time keeper"

                i love bill bruford like i loved my Dad, great to see his name in here, thanks Jim


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                • #9
                  Well besides being a musician for ~35 yrs before I took up drums, with the ability to read music,
                  I think the main things were to find a good teacher, and to get a decent instrument
                  to learn on, which this forum helped with.

                  Early on, Roland DT-1 helped a lot too.

                  Still waiting for someone to say Mapex Saturns... (wait wrong forum).

                  I think a love of practicing helps, and having a gig.
                  Mini-kit: TD-9 + Alesis Control Pad + Alesis Sample Pad + PDX-6 snare
                  Micro-kit: Handsonic HPD-20 + an old pair of hands.
                  Speakers: QSC-K10 "thumper", DBR-10 "little thumper"

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                  • #10
                    Hi!

                    I am 47 and it feels impossible to get up to the same level as for when I started to play 35 years ago. The drummerbrain has gone...however Roland friends jam and a metronome from Peterson which has booth viberator and sound have started to improve things.

                    Also the tip to read drum notes...must try that! I was fluent on this 30 years ago. Finally we have all nice drumlession videos on youtube!

                    Best Regards

                    Angr77
                    Sonor Force Stage 2007 and Sonor Safari, Roland CY-14,13R,15R,12CR,RT-10S&K,2xBT-1,VH-11,-12,-13 & KD-10, Quartz Triggers, Pintech Dingbat, Triggera 2x D14,D11,120MHz MegaDRUM with PS board, 2box 1.30.3, Addictive Drums 2.1.7. All ADpaks, Win10 on Microsoft Surface PRO, Macbook, Pearl Throne Thumper, Zourman HH & Ride Conv Kit www.zourman.com

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by fulrmr(Daniel) View Post
                      I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter what particular exercise or technique that was at the forefront of my regiment...nothing helped me more than continuous consistent purposeful practice starting slow and working my way into a comfortable pace....and then pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone while still focusing on the correctly performing whatever exercise I was working on at the moment....and then doing it backwards....and /or starting each stroke on the next count in line. If fatigue starts to set in...I slow down to a pace where I can perform the exercise correctly....and keep pushing until I'm so exhausted that sleep is the only alternative....which, BTW, they say that practice right before your nights sleep improves muscle memory.

                      [I"]...practice right before your nights sleep improves muscle memory..."[/I]

                      I believe that's true.

                      I found that applying principles of neurolinguistic programming: NLP, can be invaluable, at least to me. There's lots of free stuff about it on YouTube.

                      For instance, regarding NLP, the theory is that we all process information in three ways: kinesthetic, visual, and auditory. Many of us musicians process through auditory channels.

                      If you want to try to figure out which of the three you are, try to "hear" the words that you use a lot in relation to situations, for example: I "feel" what you are saying, (kinesthetic); I "hear" what you are saying, (auditory); I "see" what you are saying, (visual).

                      So, to take that more forward, what you do is actually practice while not practicing. For instance, if you are a visual person, you would visualize rudiments, patterns, etc. The same would apply for seeing movements if you're mostly visual, or feeling different drum aspects if you're kinesthetic. Naturally, you may do any of the free, or all three, and they are free
                      Last edited by GuruMyStick; 09-15-13, 04:12 PM.
                      TD-9 Module Gen 2; TMC-6 Slave Module; PD-105BK; PD-85BK x 3; CY-13R x 1; CY-12C x 3; Kit Toy China 15" x 1; Kit Toy Splash 10" x 2; KD-9; CY-5 x 2; FD-7-; Pintech Dinbat used as Cowbell; TDA-700 & Roland KCW-1 Sub Woofer; Pearl 902 Double Pedal; ROC-N-SOC V- Stool with Back Rest

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by rrpf View Post
                        Nice GuruMyStick!
                        For me, the first thing that gets in my mind that did make a difference was to learn how to read music (for drums). With that I could dive in many books and develop not only technique but also rhythm vocabulary... It opened many avenues. And is fun!

                        Great thread!
                        Ding Ding - My thought is if you can't read music you are not a musician. For the people who say I can't read, or I don't need to read because I can play by ear is just an excuse for being scared or too lazy to take the time to read. I have seen amazing "play by ear" drummers but I have little to no respect for them because they can't read sheet music. To me, it's like driving a car without a license and vehicle registration.

                        For those that struggle reading, I would highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend this video.

                        http://www.amazon.com/Petrillos-Lear...o+read+rhythms

                        Comment


                        • snick59
                          snick59 commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Oh yeah, tell that to Dennis Chambers he doesn't read. I agree reading is very important but many drummers or musicians in pop music don't read. A lot of guys take a few lessons and that's it, or guitar players learn a few chords and they're ready. I haven't seen too many Rock guys reading music, when you start getting into Jazz chart reading or auditioning for a Broadway play, it's essential you read, if not you don't get the job. Let's not compare playing music to driving a car, having a license doesn't make you a driver. And just because you read music doesn't make a great player. There are a lot of guys who can read but that's all they do... and it sounds like it, very robotic and no feel, you can't read feel. Music comes from within, I think it comes from the inside and then put on paper, which then makes it easier for others to play and interpret in their own style and FEEL.

                      • #13
                        Originally posted by csnow View Post
                        Ding Ding - My thought is if you can't read music you are not a musician.
                        Any thoughts on Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles? Honestly most of the music on this planet is and has been made by people who don't read our Western, or any, notation system. I read music, but it is simply a way of communicating ideas. Nothing more. Tabs are actually way more efficient for guitarists. Trust me when I tell you that reading drum charts does you absolutely no good if you commit yourself to studying Indian drumming. You simply have to learn their vocal system of counting patterns and meters.

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                        • #14
                          Having a regular practice time really helps me. As it approaches 8pm I start to feel itchy and want to play. It's never a chore. However, for the summer months where I just practiced at random times I got a lot less done. Making a regular slot in your schedule and sticking to it is Win for me!

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                          • #15
                            The things that made the absolute most difference to me were learning to apply exercises from the Stick Control book to drumset and learning the Gladstone or various push/pull hand techniques.

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