Playing drum is easy! It’s just holding a wood stick and hit something!
But if you don’t hit on the right time, right place, and with right effort, you are not playing music, you are making NOISE!
So is LIFE!
You don’t have to try everything hard. Waiting for a right pitch as a baseball hitter, and swing at it without hesitation. If everything goes perfect, you hit a home run. If not, don’t be sad. You can still goal with several singles.
Life is full of frustrations, especially in learning new things. We feel frustrated because we care. We care because we want to be better.
SET your pace
When I teach myself, even my students, I like to focus on whether I’m moving forward today, no matter how big the step I made. We have a job for living, but having a hobby is for relaxing. Set your own pace, no rush!
Shoulder the weight
Another thing is also necessary to make you better.
Nobody loves pressure. Pressure is like medicine. It’s definitely a good treatment once you don’s abuse it.
Pressure can definitely make us concentrate on what we’re doing once you set an appropriate goal. To convey the pressure that you can handle to yourself and ensure you can make it later. Once you make it, you get the energy to keep moving again.
Size doesn’t matter!
Keep doing something for a long time is not that easy, even doing the things you love.
Set a goal, shoulder some weight, keep moving forward. Don’t care about the SIZE of the step you made. Even it’s a tiny one, it’s YOU MADE IT. You should be proud of yourself!
When practicing rock music, we often make powerful and punchy kicks on beats to keep time and provide energy. After playing several songs, we feel something wrong on our back. The kicking motion makes our back hurt, and not able to keep the power of kicks consistently.
It also happens when we play complicated grooves, especially the groove needs limbs coordination.
Back vs. Legs
There’re muscles between back and legs. When we sit on the throne and raise right leg to make a kick on bass drum, we’re using both parts of muscles. If we have a backache after playing drums, that’s definitely we forget to keep our back straight.
I’m usually excited in the begin of a practice or a gig. In 20 or 30 minutes, I become tired so that my brain starts to find a way to make my mind and body as much comfortable as I can. Then my back is not straight anymore.
To avoid the issue, I try to write a note and post on the wall in front of my drum, read the note every time before a practice, keep being aware of the status of my body until it becomes natural. After a while, I do improve my kick and make it more efficient and consistent.
Keeping back straight not only makes our performance better but avoiding our body getting injured and lasting our drummer career. Good luck 🙂
Shifting notes and accents of a groove is called permutation, which is a mathematical concept and is used to develop exercises in the book. When I read the book, I found it was a good way to create a new groove idea. So I started to use ‘permutation’ to compose groove for fun and tried to come up with some innovative licks.
Another method I used very often to be innovative is to pick up a new pair of drumsticks that you’ve never tried before, and make improvisation for fun.
I have a lot of pairs of drumsticks. And all of them have totally different length and diameter. (Most of them are Vic Firth 🙂
I love to try different sticks to improvise sometimes. I find my body is able to sense the change of what I’m holding and give me something in return. My body leads me to somewhere and I simply get new ideas unconsciously.
Remember to videotape yourself when you improvise, so that you can check your performance and make transcription later.
There’re tones of videos, books talking about how to practice rudiments or how to speed up your rudiments, like paradiddle.
Do you ever think about why we have to practice rudiments?
Especially, the rudiments we probably not use in our life or the speed we don’t have to play in our music style.
Rudiments are sound Patterns!
In my point of view, rudiments are developed by collecting all rhythms, tempos and beats together, like a big data nowadays. Then analyzing the data to pick up the most popular parts which people must know and spend time, such flam, drag, paradiddle, five-stroke roll …etc.
Rudiments are the collection of minimum element of sounds. Even a one-bar fill, it could be composed of several elements (rudiments). If we want to make the fill feel good, we gotta make every little part perfect, probably a flam-tap, flamacue …etc.
So, if you find your play always doesn’t feel the way as you expected, it’s probably the time to take a break and go back to practice rudiments again. We can control the little things! Rudiment is the little thing of playing drum.
I watched a Drumeo lesson features Dom Famularo. He mentioned 4 stages to be a great drummer.
The 4 stages are as below:
After watching the video, I was wondering which stage I am. Stage 1?, Stage3?. The interesting thing is that we may be on 4 stages at the same time, but on 4 different areas. I am a software engineer, programming is what I’m good at. So I could be on stage 3 or 4. As an electric bass player, I’m still a beginner , so I could be on stage 1 or 2.
It doesn’t matter which stage you are. The point is how to be CONSCIOUS, to be aware of things, to sense things when you learn.
Be a teacher and teach yourself!
Purchase an iPhone stand and start videotaping yourself. Check the video for thousand times as a Grammy judge, and criticize you in your play, including your gestures, body motion, balance, timing, dynamic, energy …etc. That will develop your sensibility.
You can also show the video to your friends, your teacher or band member, and ask for the TRUTH! The truth is always cruel, but it’s the only way to pull you out of the stage 1 (Unconscious incompetent). That will provide you with different point of views so that you can be a better teacher to teach yourself next time.
Try to be a great teacher, and teach you to be great!
Ed Soph, a great drummer and teacher, says that “Even time-keeping is produced by strokes and silence in time.”.
Playing drum to keep time is drummer’s job. Not to play drums to keep time is drummer’s job as well.
When we practice rudiments, grooves and cool fills, we practice not only what to hit, where to hit and when to hit, but also be aware of what NOT to hit, where NOT to hit and when NOT to hit.
Practice ‘Not to hit’
Practicing ‘Not to hit’ means you have to build up the internal time, so that we are able to count 1, 2, 3, 4 … evenly and consistently.
There’s a way I use often and it’s easy to practice everywhere:
To count loudly along with metronome for a while, and then turning down the volume of your metronome slowly until you hear nothing, and turning the volume back in serval beats. Check if you’re still on the track and match the beat of the metronome. You can also use a song or play-along track instead. Remember NOT to chase the beep sound of the metronome. Try to imagine the beep sound is produced from you.
The REST is a part of music.
Beginners hates REST. Waiting and doing nothing is so boring! REST is a part of music, and we play music, so we MUST ‘play’ REST.
No matter what kind of instrument you play. You are a musician, you play music, you gotta love REST!😊
I love sports. When I was a student, I tried golf, baseball, tennis and badminton. Baseball is the game of using a bat to hit a ball. Similar to Tennis and badminton, which are using racket to hit a ball. Not to mention golf, there’re different ‘clubs’ that you can choose before you hit a ball. Based-on the experiences I found there’s a big common to the kinds of sports.
That is the GRIP.
The sport players all need to hold something to play the game. So, the way of holding things (bat, racket ..etc.) are so important that are able to affect the performance of a player. That’s why a coach or a teacher spends time teaching beginners how to make a correct grip, and even keeping adjusting the grip all the time.
Once I started playing drum, I found the way of holding drumstick is much similar to holding a racket and golf club. Furthermore I found the little finger plays a key role of the control and stability of the grips.
The Little Finger
When you make a stroke, the wrist is like a starter of the whole motion. The littler finger is a controller in charge of restraining the stroke. Here’s a way I use to teach my student (for match grip) to feel the control of the little finger.
Holding you drumstick with 3 fingers ONLY
Relax your shoulders, arms and wrists first. then holding you drumstick ONLY with :
At the time your hand just shows a ‘7’ by the index finger and thumb.
Starting to play single stroke on you practice pad, and keeping adjust the strength the 3 fingers to just right NOT to dropping drumsticks.
Then closing your index finger and thumb SLOWLY. Be aware of how tie your LITTLE finger holds the sticks.
Remember your index finger andthumb are simply in charge of keeping the sticks NOT ‘free running’, so NOT to convey too much strength on drumsticks to make you grip looks tie.
Repeat the process over and over again. You’ll find the way you feel comfortable.
How to be relaxing and comfortable to hold drumsticks?
It’s a time-consuming issue!
When you hold drumsticks to make a stroke, you provide an energy to your drum to produce sound. The batter head is hit and vibrate to deliver sound to drum shell to resonate. The bottom head accepts all energy from the top to keep resonating and sustaining.
It’s a big chain of how sound was produced. So if you can’t provide a quality energy in the beginning. Your drum can’t produce a lovely sound for you either.
Holding eggs to sprint
When I was a kid, my mom asked me to barrow an egg from a neighbor. I was watching my favorite cartoon, so I run back home as fast as I could once I got the egg. I gotta not only keep the strength of my hands to ensure the egg is safe, but also keep the running speed fast!
At the moment, the strength I held the eggs is the perfect strength to hold drumsticks as well!
I’m not sure if the story above is appropriate. How about having a try later and figure out your own story.