Focus problems

Adcc

Junior Member
I am not shy, and i don't know if i have stage fright. I haven't played live yet. What i mean in this is about timing. When i play along with mp3's i'm ok with my timing. When I play with others i have the feeling that i get out of time a lot. But i have the same problem on focusing on either situation, alone or with others. I guess that when i play with recorded songs, the music is 100% on time and i follow that. But when i am going to give the time to the music, that's the problem. My english are not very good. Sorry if i did't explained that before.
 

SEVNT7

Senior Member
Pick a simple drum groove that you know you can play well. Play it at one tempo for 5 minutes nonstop, no fills, no crashes. when you can do that, pick 4 similar things you can do well and string together a 20 minute regimen, daily. That's 20 minutes nonstop.
This works with groove or fill exercises. you must concentrate only on the groove or exercise at hand and not let your mind wonder. When it does , come back to concentrating on the task at hand. The more you do this the better it gets. It's called practice. Every skill you want to be good at needs to be practiced. Focus can be practiced and this exercise works. Have patience, but do the work.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
When i play along with mp3's i'm ok with my timing. When I play with others i have the feeling that i get out of time a lot.
That's just because the pro drummer on the recording is leading and you're following on in his or her wake. Easy to credit yourself with a groove that's really a combo of a pro and you.

When you play with people you don't have that crutch and have to set the time alone, especially if your bandmates haven't got great time. If you play more with others than with MP3s you'll find it'll be much easier in time.

Metronomes and recording your band or jams are good to keep you honest too.
 

720hours World Record

Senior Member
That's just because the pro drummer on the recording is leading and you're following on in his or her wake. Easy to credit yourself with a groove that's really a combo of a pro and you.

When you play with people you don't have that crutch and have to set the time alone, especially if your bandmates haven't got great time. If you play more with others than with MP3s you'll find it'll be much easier in time.

Metronomes and recording your band or jams are good to keep you honest too.
Cool, your not shy, no stage fright, then your timing problems with band mates and no timing problems with practicing is just as Pollyanna says above.

When you practice a lot with music - you are not the leader - you are the follower - take time practicing >> to be the timing leader.
 
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DumDrum

Member
I used to have some problems when I played as far as focusing on the groove... I noticed that I was grooving ok, but it seemed like I was grooving differently through different parts of the songs... I don't know if I am alone in this but a big question for me when I was younger was "why can't I play the same groove consistently? Why do I feel like I constantly need to change things up? I am I losing focus on the music and just playing what ever comes to mind at the time?"

One thing that really helped me was being able to hear myself play... I got a simple recording device and picked a song with an easy groove and just recorded myself playing while listening to the song through headphones.... after listening back to just my drum parts I recorded, I was able to pick out my weak points... I was a little off coming back after that fill, or i was adding extra notes to that groove in that section...

I started doing this a lot, even concentrating on just playing a simple groove through out a song, no fills or anything... it finally got to the point where I would listen back to the recording and it would sound like a drum loop... that was the goal i was after... then I would work on adding colors and fills and making sure it was all in time...

This helped me a lot on focusing on groove when playing a song...
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
If you're missing changes, it either means you don't know the song, or you're concentrating too much on things other than the song. Playing rock, focus simply means listening to the group as you play, and not screwing around looking for places to throw in drum crap you haven't mastered adequately and the music isn't calling for. I kind of get the feeling that's what's happening here? And since you've only been playing 4 years, it's possible (or likely) you've breezed past some of the fundamentals on your way to the very advanced stuff you're working on now. I'd go back to page 1 of whatever rock book you have, and work on making your basic stuff really solid. You may also need to get some normal, simple music in your ear, so I'd be doing some listening away from the drums- maybe get a Beatles record.
 
Actually I had a similar problem friend. When I first started playing, and the time I actually joined a band were very far apart. I had been play simple 4/4 stuff like Blurry by Puddle of Mudd, and such, on up to the much more complex things. But when I actually started working with the band, it was totally different situation. I couldn't keep time, and I couldn't feel the music.

For some reason (I don't know if it's like this for everyone or just some) I had a hard time playing with a band because playing tracks, or a click, the rhythm was always set. I just had to keep up with it. But when I was the one drumming, I set the rhythm myself. And it's a big difference from following a metronome or someone else's drumming.

Anyway, I found that the only cure for this was playing with a band. As the months progressed I gradually learned how to set a rhythm and keep it, which I feel is the soul purpose of a metronome. Not to help you keep rhythm, but to teach you a sense of rhythm.

I hope this helps. (Also, see if you can get your hands on some drum-less music. It's still not the same as playing with a band because obviously a tempo is still pre-set. But it'll feel a lot more in your hands than music with drums.) Also it'll train you to NOT speed up temp. So many drummers around here will start a song, and the band will finish it playing twice as fast because as the drummer goes on he speeds up.

Good luck pal.
 
M

mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
Todd, I've been talking to a couple of people recently about listening skills and what kinds of music are good listening for drummers.

Now, there are obvious examples but I remembered something that the author Terry Pratchett said about aspiring fantasy writers (he's a comic fantasy author, very popular but also exceptionally good - just for the uninitiated). Pratchett advises prospective fantasy writers to not read fantasy - or at least not exclusively. He emphasises the importance of rounded knowledge and outside influence to achieve a genuinely original approach.

I'll grant that music isn't the same as writing, but I think the same thing is relevant. To become a really great drummer, it's not always important to be listening to music with drums. In fact, listening to anything and everything is important. I listen to contemporary and twentieth-century 'Classical' and experimental music an awful lot and this has sometimes sparked rhythmic ideas that otherwise I would have never considered. I'm not a good enough player to always pull them off or even practice them well, but actually paying attention to music of any sort can lead an interesting path to be followed. As such, listening to anything you can is a great start. You don't have to like it all, but it's necessary to try everything, even if it's only once.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Now, there are obvious examples but I remembered something that the author Terry Pratchett said about aspiring fantasy writers (he's a comic fantasy author, very popular but also exceptionally good - just for the uninitiated). Pratchett advises prospective fantasy writers to not read fantasy - or at least not exclusively. He emphasises the importance of rounded knowledge and outside influence to achieve a genuinely original approach.
Yes, absolutely- how that manifests in music is you get drummers who are basically fans of a particular genre to the exclusion of everything else, and they become extremely narrow in their playing. Metal is one place where that seems to be a problem- a lot of the players I encounter seem to be focused on the superficial aspects of the style to the exclusion of everything else.

To become a really great drummer, it's not always important to be listening to music with drums. In fact, listening to anything and everything is important.
Sure, yes- not only to be a great drummer, but also a musician, artist, and human being- especially the latter three- you can still do pretty well as a drummer even restricting yourself to just studying the craft of making good drum parts.
 

ikol

Junior Member
In my case, frequent recording of my practice (and the serious listening to the results), both with metronome and recorded music, has dramatically increased my sense of timing (even though it's still a work in progress!). The o.p. said he's fine with recordings- the teacher in me (I play professionally and teach on a classical string instrument) has to ask if he's recorded himself doing that to be sure?
There's a great Victor Wooten video on youtube that shows a fantastic metronome exercise. It goes something like this: Groove with metronome using quarter notes- then cut the metronome's BPM in half while keeping the groove the same. then cut in half again so that metronome only clicks once every 4 measures (or however slow the metronome can divide from that original tempo). That's making yourself do that is pretty important, but the real value comes from recording and analyzing the results. Just how tight is it when the metronome finally clicks after allllll those notes in the middle? In my case, horrible! but before I started recording, I thought I was fine, or good enough.

And record yourself playing with anything or anybody. At least until you are absolutely sure you are hitting when you think you are hitting. e.g., my tendency is to have a sluggish backbeat- just a hair behind. I really wasn't aware of it and although the tendency remains, at least it's better.

All of the above is about cultivating a good inner pulse and developing a more accurate execution within that pulse. Obviously listening to others is paramount while playing with others, but if your pulse sucks, then so will your ensemble playing
 

John Lamb

Senior Member
Focus is a fantastically misunderstood concept. I actually tell my students that focus is bad. I'd rather they strike the word "focus" from their vocabulary because it does more harm than good. The question is not "whether you have focus or not" and some people do not have "more focus than others." Instead, focus is always happening, but the form of it changes. I write a little more about it here in my blog- http://drumlessonsportland.com/hocus-focus/

(Incidentally, the only non-music class I ever got 100% final grade in was Neurophysiology. I'm a total nerd for how people do what they do. Anyway. )

Some tasks require one type of focus, such as learning coordination exercises. Other tasks, such as performing, require a different type of focus. ADHD can, in fact, be a real benefit when performing. Ideally, when you are performing, you'd be using spread focus. Instead of narrowing down focus onto one thing, ignoring everything else, you want to EXPAND your attention, including what the other band members are doing, how your arms feel swinging through the air, where you are in the song, the reverb of the room, and how the audience is reacting. All at the same time.

<<<<Side note>>This is one of the problems with stage fright - the cortisol hits the brain causing tunnel vision for whatever is causing the anxiety. <<<<

re: Timekeeping with a band... especially a *beginning band* can be really hard. It gets shoved off on the drummer to keep time for the band, but if the rest of the band does not listen and participate themselves, groove is impossible. You can play like a drum machine and sound like sh!t anyway.

To successfully navigate a band like this takes wisdom and experience. Unless you are 'mailing it in', it does *not* require more focus. It is a very social thing, and most of what you need to know you won't find in any book. For example. If that bass player is all over the map, then loosen your feel, not tighten it. If he's normally tight, but not paying attention, have a word with him in between songs, or communicate with fills. It could be that the way he wants the song to go opposes the way you want it to go. Don't underestimate the power of a conversation. Don't tie yourself down to a metronome marking. They are really useful, and important, but they are not music. Many drumming legends, for example Steve Ferrone, make adjustments in the pulse when needed. There is no "Perfect Time" merit badge. Just the one where everyone has a good time and connects with some honest music.

The Vic Wooten exercises (they go way farther back than him, but I have mad respect for the guy) are awesome. But you could be a machine and still fail. In fact, that's what usually happens with machines.


I used to have some problems when I played as far as focusing on the groove... I noticed that I was grooving ok, but it seemed like I was grooving differently through different parts of the songs... I don't know if I am alone in this but a big question for me when I was younger was "why can't I play the same groove consistently? Why do I feel like I constantly need to change things up? I am I losing focus on the music and just playing what ever comes to mind at the time?"
Excellent post. People do what they think will work to achieve their goals. The question is, what are your goals? "Why do I feel the need to change things up?"

I struggle with this myself. There is a lot of pressure that we put on ourselves to be unique, creative, clever, to impress others with our speed, our newest fanciest lick. While all of the above are desirable, and they can be achieved musically, they are not directly related to music. Listening to yourself blather on is one of the best ways to cure yourself of these misconceptions.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel or to anything other than what the music calls for. When I finally realized this, it felt like a ton of weight was lifted from my chest. Really, all you need to do is to be present. It feels like so much more is required - to play music, to play fast, to impress, to get the gig, to ... whatever we do when we perform. When we are playing, we can only draw on what we have already done. That is we can only draw on our experience, on ourselves. This is the most that we can be. Trying to be something we are not can only diminish what we can do. This is the way to really grooving.

And it starts with understanding clearly why you are playing the drums.
 

John Lamb

Senior Member
Sure, yes- not only to be a great drummer, but also a musician, artist, and human being- especially the latter three- you can still do pretty well as a drummer even restricting yourself to just studying the craft of making good drum parts.
I like to think that the last one implies the others!
 
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