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Speeding up during songs

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  • Speeding up during songs

    Hi Forum.

    I'm a fairly new drummer and I have been playing E-drums for about 18 months. A few months ago, I started playing live on A-drums for Church sunday service. I have a monitor besides me to hear the other musicians play and a couple of times I have been told I was speeding up during some of the songs. I try to follow the lead vocals and try to keep the timing right but it's sometimes very loud and difficult to hear thru the monitor.

    Just wondering if this is a common problem among drummers with speeding up (especially the faster beat songs) and what can I do to fix the problem? I know that counting in my head could be 1 of the solutions.


  • #2
    I think that's one of the most common problems drummers have...and it's not just beginners.

    I think the best thing you can do is practice to a metronome. In my opinion, it's something that simply takes time...developing your internal clock. For some people it comes easy and is more natural. Others might need to work a little harder A lot of pro drummers say the hardest beat to do is a mid/slow tempo basic beat and, I'm assuming, it's because you really have to exercise good solid timing (without fancy drumming to hide the bad timing).

    In addition to practicing on the drums, you can develop your inner timing elsewhere. When you're listening to music in your car you can tap a finger or your left foot to the beat of songs. Maybe at a red light, turn the song down for a few seconds and see if you're still in time when you turn the song back up.

    I definitely have that problem at times but it's gotten much better over time.

    Easy Cheapo gig set:
    Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz, Mahogany; ultra portable 4 piece in custom DIY flame sparkle wrap.


    • #3
      It is common for any musician to speed up, especially if they are a little nervous. Unfortunately, the drummer is often made the scapegoat when someone else in the band is pushing the beat. In order for the drummer to be expected to take responsibility for the tempo speeding up, the rest of the band has to be able to hear the drums well enough and actually respond to what the drummer is doing. Tempers often flare over the issue of who is rushing, as no one wants to admit it's them. It's a problem that has to be addressed with tact and humility.

      The first step is to be as sure as possible that it is not you that is doing the speeding up. I know that if I speed up, it is usually when I am doing a fill, so be especially careful at those times. You must practice with a metronome, learning how to slowly pull back into the groove if you rush. Test yourself against the metronome by getting your tempo, then turning it off and playing for a while. After a minute or two of playing, turn the metronome back on and see if you have sped up appreciably. Keep doing this until you are confident you can keep an even beat.

      It is very important to relax. Unfortunately, having a beer before worship service is typically frowned upon, so that's not really an option. Try not to get too worked up, and just play within the immediate time frame. If you let your mind wander to the next verse, you are likely to start speeding up.

      If the problem continues and you are getting the blame, set up a metronome. If the other band members are OK with this, pipe it through the monitor system. If not, just feed it to yourself. Get with the group leader and find out what the various BPMs of the songs for the rehearsal set are, and dial them up. Let them have you count them in, and doggedly stay on the beat. I expect what you will find is that there is someone else pushing the beat (usually the lead singer/guitarist), and that the rest of the band will follow them and pull away from you, making it sound like you are dragging the beat. WARNING - using this approach can make you unpopular, as it is a very direct way of showing the other band members that someone other than you is the cause of the problem. Unfortunately, a lot of people expect the drummer to magically keep everyone in line, whether or not they actually pay attention to what the drummer is doing.

      So, step by step:
      1. Make sure you are not the cause of the problem.
      2. Make sure that if you are expected to control the beat that you can be heard.
      3. Make sure that if you are expected to control the beat that the other musicians will react when you are trying to rein things in. This last part is the most difficult, as most amateur musicians (which most P&W bands tend to be) are not as disciplined in respect to rhythm as perhaps they should be, but don't like anyone telling them so.

      Again, be careful not to step on people's toes. We church people are supposed to be kind and charitable, not egocentric or vindictive, but that is, sadly, not always the case. You have to be deferential to the other members, especially the senior members, and you may end up as bit of a scapegoat. Try to be humble and smile. Try to avoid going nose to nose with anyone if you can avoid it. And, oh yeah, PRAY about it!


      • #4
        Thanks all for your feedback.

        I think part of my problem is that I'm very anxious and self-conscious about a few hundred people hearing me play....After all, I've only been playing for 18 months and I've had about 6 live peformances so far. The rest of the musicians are seasoned veterans and they have been performing for a while.....I guess the lead singer expects me to be in the same lead as themselves.

        During practices, I am able to relax and actually enjoy playing so my timing is good there.

        I guess during live performances, with everyone getting into the songs combined that with my nervousness, I can see why I would tend to speed up.

        At home, when I practice the exercises, I do practice with a metronome but when actually practising along the mp3 songs that we have to play, I do not use a metronome.

        The first incident where I sped up - it was the 3rd song out of the 5 songs that we had to perform....I guess the lead singer couldn't wait to tell me until the Sunday service was over to tell me that I was rushing. She told me right there on stage (during our break) that I rushed thru that song and didn't see very happy about it. I thank God that I was able to focus and concentrate on the remaining 2 songs and it went without any incidents.

        I guess being a drummer and being the main instrument that is driving the rhythm, it's very unforgiving from others....I mean if you are playing keyboards or something and you make a mistake, no big deal and no one notices, right?

        Our last performance, I was slighly off on 1 of the songs and the same lead singer's comments were: "the song felt a bit rushed but at least it was singable".


        • #5
          Originally posted by stickinthemud View Post
          Unfortunately, the drummer is often made the scapegoat when someone else in the band is pushing the beat.
          Also when someone else is dragging, I've found!

          "Tired of being blamed for tempo problems? Show them you're not the one.": Tempo REF or Beat Bug 3.



          • #6
            Im not much of a drummer, but Id say your first problem is syncing with the vocals. IMO youd be much better off following the bassist and creating a groove with them, and let the singer match up to you two.


            • #7
              If you can't use a metronome though headphones etc so you can hear it, then get one with a big visual display or lights on it and so at least you can see the beats to help you keep in time.


              • #8
                That's not very cool or charitable for the lead singer to have a go at you during the performance.

                I would be very tempted to ask the spruiker to give a speech on "egocentrism, vanity and being considerate of others feelings" and direct it to the vain singer. Sounds like she's guilty of indulging in a number of the 7 deadly sins!!

                My nasty self thinks of playing a big fill in the middle of her showpiece part of the performance.....or putting a big crash accent on her favourite notes......

                In the end I'm sure you'll be professional and just work on perfecting your playing - but I believe you have the empathy of the forum.


                • #9
                  Normally I would agree...

                  Originally posted by Supernaught View Post
                  Im not much of a drummer, but Id say your first problem is syncing with the vocals. IMO youd be much better off following the bassist and creating a groove with them, and let the singer match up to you two.
                  ...but church singing is different. The most important part of the performance at church (and in other venues, actually) is that of the lead vocalist. It is that person that everyone in the congregation is keying on. Also, the singer is often in a bit of a "praise trance" (for lack of a better expression). Singing P&W in a worship setting is literally a spiritual experience, and if it's done right, the lead singer is not thinking so much about rhythm as they are about the God they are praising. This bugs a lot of professional musicians to death, because the technical aspect takes a back seat to the spiritual aspect. The singer may speed up, slow down, go to a whisper, rise to a shout, and none of this may have been what was done in rehearsal.

                  I think it is very sad that you have a member of the team that thinks it's appropriate to critique you in the middle of a performance, and with so little grace. It points up the fact that church people are flawed individuals, just like the rest of us. I blush to think about the times that I complained about how low the drums were in the mix and how petty I must have seemed.

                  When it comes to other's perceptions of your shortcomings as a drummer, I would recommend a preemptive apology. Our rehearsals start with a time of prayer and sharing. If yours does as well, wait until it's time to start in on the actual rehearsal and say something like this:

                  "Hey everyone, I just want you to know what a blessing it has been for me to be a part of the praise and worship team here. I mean, you guys have really been great, and I really appreciate all the helpful guidance you have given me lately. I feel awful because I know I have been rushing the beat a bit, being as nervous as I am and all. If you could just continue to be patient with me, I'm sure I'll get all this evened out. I guess that's it. I just wanted to say "thanks"!

                  I will say this. Being a drummer in a praise and worship band has been an exercise in humility for me. I have to remind myself several times each Sunday morning how small my role really is. There's this great song called "The Heart of Worship", part of which goes like this "I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it, when it's all about you". Keep that in mind. Be more gracious than others, rise above their pettiness, and you will be a better drummer and a better person for it.


                  • #10
                    Drummers speeding up is a common problem hence the joke:

                    How do you know when there's a drummer outside your door?........the knocking speeds up!

                    (How do you know when there's a vocalist outside?.......... they knock on the window cos they never know where to come in.)

                    I would suggest programming in a click that drops out for a number of bars and see if you're still in time when it comes back, and practice this at lots of different tempos.

                    As a former bass player I used to "lay back" on some grooves or "push" others, but the drummer has to stay locked in their own groove or it doesn't work. Maybe if you can talk to your bass player and get the rhythm section really tight the rest of the band will follow.




                    • #11
                      I'm all with the drum / bass combo forming the solid core of the band, but I recognise the points made about the singer being the focal point of the band. I've always hooked in with the bass player, the guitars generally tend to follow a solid core unit if it's given to them, the vocalist really doesn't have much room for improvisation thereafter.

                      As already mentioned, the click track or metronome is the only way to definitively tell who's in / out of time but that might just highlight someone else's deficiencies which might not make you very popular. Just let them have their rant, do some practising in your own time (no pun intended) and enjoy your playing.

                      One thing I concentrate on (when I remember) is my breathing. I'm quite interested in my own natural changes when I'm playing and I try to keep myself as stable and constant as possible, even when my playing goes mental and speeds up or slows down from song to song. If you remain focused and try to relax into the song you might keep it all together a bit more - though to be honest there's no real evidence it's you that's the problem in the first place.




                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BarT View Post
                        Also when someone else is dragging, I've found!

                        "Tired of being blamed for tempo problems? Show them you're not the one.": Tempo REF or Beat Bug 3.


                        That's funny. I was listening to an old rehearsal tape of my band back in the early 80s and I (the bass player) was complaining that we were speeding up...the drummer said, "Nah, you're slowing down."
                        Hawk snare, toms, and bass; Hart ECII crashes & ride; VH-10 Hihat; Iron Cobra double-bass.
                        "I never play the same thing twice...sometimes because I simply can't remember it." - John Paul Jones


                        • #13

                          It takes a long time for any drummer to keep steady time during a live performance. And it may not even be you who is speeding up!

                          I played in a band for years with a bass player who would speed up. I didn't realize it was him until I played in another band where everyone had good time and realized that there weren't any more speed-up problems.

                          I then subsequently played again in the band with the bass player, and it was obvious what was going on. I threw drumsticks into his butt to illustrate the problem - very satisfying!

                          Anyway - here are some ideas besides the excellent ones already mentioned:

                          A really useful habit to develop which is musical and really helps steady time is to learn to keep constant time with your left foot on high hat.

                          The left foot is usually the last limb that drummers get around to, if at all, but it is a magic device in the right hands, er, feet.

                          When I do fills, I time them to my left and /or right foot - either of which I keep going steady during the fill. That means four on the floor for the kick, unless I decide to use the right foot in a different place during the fill.

                          But the left foot is going on all the time anyway, unless I am playing with my right hand on closed high hat.

                          It really is not that hard to develop an independent left foot, you will be pleasantly surprised if you do not already use it. You pretty much have to get your left foot going steady if you want play a true jazz beat, anyway.

                          You can make a lot of musical interest by using that left foot to complement ride patterns, and it can also serve as your own personal metronome.

                          If you don't have the left foot thing down yet, play a simple steady ride or high hat pattern - say, half or whole notes with your right hand to help anchor yourself during speed -up sections - works pretty good for me.

                          Good luck!
                          Immensely powerful yet with a liquid cat-quick elegance


                          • #14
                            I think that "stickinthemud" comments nailed it on the head. Thanks my Brother!

                            The Sunday worship service is very uplifting and very different than playing other type of music. It's more about feeling and adoring the presence of God thru music.

                            I truly believed that God has called me to serve through the music ministry and is not concerned if you make mistakes or not.....What counts the most is the condition of the heart.

                            "stickinthemud" is absolutely right in saying that the lead vocals is the one that the congregation is most focused on and we are just musicians playing in the background.

                            Truthfully - I don't hold 1 ounce of grudge against our lead singer....after all, our Lord Jesus taught us forgiveness while He came on this earth and this is how I have to look at the situation.

                            Just to give you an update - the music director in charge has switched the music teams around as he wanted everyone to get to know different people and grow together as one. So I have been assigned a new lead singer.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by VDrummerBoy View Post
                              .....So I have been assigned a new lead singer.
                              Or you could say... the lead singer has been assigned a new drummer