Am I a terrible drummer?

Zurgman

Junior Member
So, for starters I have been playing drums for about 3 years, and have been playing seriously for about 2. I have felt confident in my drumming for quite awhile, and everyone I know has said that I'm talented and should keep on playing. But recently I've been told differently. I'm currently in high school marching band and I'm playing the drum set, I feel like I've been doing ok, but our director is always critizing me, and only me. He says that I set my drums up wrong, I don't play enough like "Ringo Starr" (we're doing a Beatles show this year), and that I'm not "dedicated enough". These are things that I've always felt very strongly that should be left to the drummer himself, if I'm pleasing the audience and myself, I really don't care how my drums are set up, and I'm not Ringo Starr, dammit, I'm my own person and if I want to be my own person that's sure as hell what I'm going to be. I don't think these are things that matter to anyone but him, but what does everyone else think? Are these really things that define a good drummer? Or am I really that bad? Should I just quit? Because after being beaten into the ground daily, I feel like I would contribute more to the band by just not showing up.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
Without hearing you play I can't comment on how terrible or otherwise you are.

But I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

But as a high school student, I'll go out on a limb and guess you're "spicing up" the drum parts. In that you should be aiming to play like Ringo when you're playing Beatles songs, the director is spot on.

You don't have to set your kit up the same way, cut your hair the same way or wear a collarless jacket...but you should play as close to Ringo's playing as you possibly can, and avoid the urge to come up with "better" drum parts.

The other thing you might want to consider is having a frank discussion with the director and find out what his gripe really is. Be prepared to talk, and be prepared to listen too.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I think the only real solution is to go down to the courthouse and get your name legally changed to "Ringo Starr".

What's he going to say?

"Hey, uh, Ringo... You need to play a bit more like, er..."

Mods, I think we can go ahead and close the thread. I've solved the issue entirely.
 

moxman

Silver Member
Yes I agree.. you can't mess with Ringo's parts! Or if you are trying to play them and they're not sounding the same then you need to seriously analyze what it is that's stopping you. I think they call it 'woodshedding'.. spend some serious time practicing the parts and video yourself and watch objectively.. Is your time steady? Are you getting the dynamics right... a solid balance between your kick , snare and hats? Are the fills simple yet expressive? Take it as a challenge to see if you can get inside the parts and really nail them - and the next time you play for the conductor if you don't blow him away then get a second opinion to make sure its not him that/s off!
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Nobody will play like Ringo. I was joking around with a fellow this weekend who played in a Beatles tribute band. Tasteful grooving player, and he is a lefty playing righty so he should be able to nail Ringo. He gets close to the feel but told me that it's much harder than it looks. http://youtu.be/KG0MA1ZErUk
When playing other people's music, start by trying to capture as much of their vibe as possible. You can learn from everybody''s playing. If you're playing in some sort of show/tribute/someone else's band, try to reproduce that. If you're playing in your own band doing your own thing, start from where you found it and then add yourself. Don't shortcut the way you found it.

About a year ago, I was at a jam and was behind a singer who turned out to want everything to be like a runaway freight train. She started the song in free time and didn't count in, so I played it at standard tempo. A friend who is a much better drummer than I was laughing afterwards and said that I played it "exactly where famous and important producers and arrangers had long ago decided where it should be". In the absence of any other direction, I played it like the record. Everyone else knew where to be with the original tempo and groove (as best as I could manage it).
 

Ekim

Silver Member
You like being in band and want to stay, right?

So go to your director and ask for specific things to fix in regards to your playing. Listen and apply what he says best you can. If he's criticizing, he should know enough to explain what he wants.

With setup, you might find setting your kit up more like Ringo might make certain parts easier to play in some fashion. AND it might placate your director some and get him off your back.

Dedication? Only you can answer that one. If you honestly feel like you're dedicated, maybe up it a notch anyway. It's drums! So the worst that happens is a few more sticks and heads get worn out and you get better, right?
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I'd say you haven't played long enough anyway. After you've done ten years or so (for some even 20) you should be able to get a handle on whether or not you can do what you're supposed to do. 2-3 years just isn't enough for me to be a judge.

That said, band directors aren't perfect people either, so there may be some legitimate gripe he has too.

Or, like has already been said, you're messing with the parts you should be playing. I say post a video of your playing and then we can be the judge.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
Young drummers are pretty bad with overplaying (I was too), and in a concert band setting you're playing with instruments that draw more conservative musicians and so you will stick out like a sore thumb if you play a big fill or don't serve the song.

If you're worried you suck then you should demonstrate your playing to someone.. We have no clue what you're like.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
On the other hand perhaps the Director is just a git and has an issue with you. It is possible, we only have one side of the story here. If its a marching band how earth can it sound exactly like the Beatles? Also its high school, I would presume there is a fairly broad range of abilities. Is the bassist a leftie and is he using a Hofner Violin bass?

Also I find it hard to agree with Bo, on the longevity take, If you can play you can play. Using the 10 or 20 year minimum stance would rule out most if not all the drummers in pop/rock/punk.
 

BrandonXD

Senior Member
Here have some motivation.

I remember watching a video on YouTube a while back, can't remember what it was called otherwise I would link it. It said that no one is a bad drummer. And no one is worse than anyone else.
Drumming is a journey, and anyone who is "better" than you, is just ahead of you on this journey, and at some point were exactly where you are. Anyone who is actually a committed player can't be called bad, they're just behind other people on their journey. Inspirational post of the day there
 

Reggae_Mangle

Silver Member
Don't let it get you down. It's hard to sound like another drummer, but if you're doing a proper "cover" without any embellishments, it's best to stick as closely to the source material as possible.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Zurg, I only see challenges in your OP :)

3 years drumming is not what you'll call a lot of experience, so it might be quite a few things to look at...

How do you project yourself? your attitude towards your band mates, the director and the music might need a different approach?

Take the challenge to play Ringo's parts as close as the records as you can, it's easily said, harder to do, try to capture the feel. Do not overplay and do not add your own things/patterns while playing the songs.

Work and practice those songs at home, really hard, so on your next rehearsal, the director should see some serious improvement, that should get the "dedication" part solved.

I have not seen your setup, but set it up as conventionally as possible, beginners and young drummers tends to have strange set up. Is the tuning of your kit OK?

Last but not least, ask your director for advices, directions, etc... he/she will like that.




Here you go, if after genuinely applying all the above, your director's still not happy with you, then it might be something wrong with him/her.

But I'll reckon you'll be alright, swallow your pride and ego... and go for it :)

Let us know how it goes.
 

SquadLeader

Gold Member
I love Ringo...he's one of my favourite drummers of all time. And he's massively under-rated.

But, seriously, I have to say this. His drum parts, in the main, are not particularly challenging. I'm not suggesting that it's easy to pull off the exact sound Ringo produced, but certainly in terms of technicality, he rarely did anything 'scary' for competent, even to lower standards, drummers.

If the show is a Beatles show, I can wholly understand why the tutor would want the drum sequences to be 'Ringo-like'....which again I don't suggest means 'simple' or 'dumbed down' but I would say means 'linear' or 'without excess'.

Just my humble opinion.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Zurg......there are a lot of people on here giving you a hard time, not sure why, this forum is usually supportive of its members. What we need is for you to come back and give us some more details and info. Are you playing the parts as close to original as you can?
Is the rest of the band nailing every part spot on?
Is there another reason why the guy has an issue with you?
 

Davo-London

Gold Member
The couple of Beatles songs I've played have been fast (160 bpm) and they would be very difficult for a beginner. Normal players with 2-3 years do not have much control of dynamics and sound. I would be very surprised if you did sound like Ringo.

He used to swish his hihats with a sideways motion, which no-one else seems to do. I imagine this introduces a touch of swing to his playing. It's an unnatural technique when you first try it for sure.

Study old videos and just work on your sound. Introduce dynamics one limb at a time in your practice and focus on good technique and lighter playing. Ringo has jazz influences and is not a big hitter.

Davo
 
T

The Old Hyde

Guest
There are better ways for a band director to explain how he wants you to play. he sounds like a failed drummer to me.
 

MaryO

Platinum Member
Zurg......there are a lot of people on here giving you a hard time, not sure why, this forum is usually supportive of its members. What we need is for you to come back and give us some more details and info. Are you playing the parts as close to original as you can?
Is the rest of the band nailing every part spot on?
Is there another reason why the guy has an issue with you?
I don't think they're giving him a hard time. I think they're just trying to figure out what's really happening from the little information they have. It's all been pretty good advice in my opinion. As someone who's been playing about the same amount of time as the OP, I've actually gleaned a lot of good information from this thread as I read through. I do think it would help, as you suggested, if the OP could post some of his playing or at least be a little more specific about how's he's playing the songs. If he really is trying to play as close to the original as possible, and not embellishing, then it sounds as if the band leader is being harsh. However, if the OP is trying to make it his own, then maybe he needs to come at it from another angle.

Whatever it is...I hope he has gained some of the same useful insight from this thread that I have. :)
 

mikel

Platinum Member
The couple of Beatles songs I've played have been fast (160 bpm) and they would be very difficult for a beginner. Normal players with 2-3 years do not have much control of dynamics and sound. I would be very surprised if you did sound like Ringo.

He used to swish his hihats with a sideways motion, which no-one else seems to do. I imagine this introduces a touch of swing to his playing. It's an unnatural technique when you first try it for sure.

Study old videos and just work on your sound. Introduce dynamics one limb at a time in your practice and focus on good technique and lighter playing. Ringo has jazz influences and is not a big hitter.

Davo
Regarding Ringo's oft used hi-hat technique, I believe its called "Buttering the Bread" or something similar. As for the 2 to 3 year experience players not having much control of dynamics or sound!! I would take great issue with that. Its like anything, If you are good enough you are good enough, regardless of age, experience or gender.

I am yet to see an add for a drummer that includes "Must have at least 20 years experience, or you wont be any good". Not in my neck of the woods anyway and If someone did I would avoid the numpties like the proverbial.
 

EarthRocker

Senior Member
A bad drummer will make a good band sound bad. And a bad band will make a good drummer sound bad. If your listeners are comfortable with what you're doing, and you're confident in your abilities, don't worry about it. More often than not, we're our own worst critics. I often find that when I'm playing in front of a crowd, even if I make an obvious mistake, nobody notices. Even bandmates don't really notice. As long as time is being kept, more often than not, people pay us little mind.

As for your director, he's just one of those judgmental prudes who thinks if you aren't playing how 'he' thinks you should play, it's wrong, and you need to change it. I've met enough chaps like that in my lifetime, and I'm sure I'll meet hundreds more. Ignore it, and hold your head up.
 

mymarkers

Senior Member
I'm going to bombard you with questions. Is this a marching band field show? Or is this for an indoor concert band on stage? Is a drumline playing, too? Is it the full band or is a jazz band?

Playing in any of these contexts is completely different than playing in a rock band. For the most part, you stay out of the way, keep really solid time, and focus on dynamics. As a drummer in a school band, dynamics are especially important because the rest of the band subconsciously matches your volume. A few simple, tasteful, and well-executed fills are usually all it takes to liven it up.

Do you have a written part? In my experience, two-thirds of the drum set parts I've seen in concert bands are pretty much worthless. I reference them for tempo, time signatures, dynamics, and general style. Even the worst ones usually have at least a hint of where its appropriate to put those few tasteful fills. On the other third of the written parts, I follow it note-for-note just like I would if I were playing say the timpani part.

In a band with a director- especially a school band- your goal is to please the director. You have to trust that the director is coordinating everybody's individual parts to put together to please the audience. What are the director's primary and secondary instruments? Most of my directors have been drummers, so they were very hard on me, but they definitely knew what they wanted. Other directors can be relatively clueless about what they want from the drums and completely ignore them. Your director sounds like he's in the middle somewhere. He knows what he doesn't want and has a vague idea of what he wants. But he's struggling to articulate either to you. Your responsibility to the band is to help bridge that communication gap- even if at times it feels like playing pin the tail on the donkey.

Many band programs require a few one-on-one lessons with the director each semester. Does your band do this? If so, perhaps you should schedule one. One way or another, you really should try to find a chance to discuss or work one-on-one. Before you do, you should prepare some material as others have suggested. Listen to the original recordings and practice playing like that. Brainstorm and practice a few other approaches and just try them in rehearsal. There's a good chance he'll know what he wants when he hears it and let you know.

Finally, do not feel discouraged. Playing the drum set in a concert band is one of the toughest things to do as a drummer. You have to bring out the somewhat rebellious nature of rock and roll music while conforming to the composer and director's interpretation.
 
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