Frustrating plateaus and how you beat them

Talismanis

Senior Member
I'm at a serious barrier with my playing at the moment. I am working on it to get through but for the last few weeks I've been very frustrated with myself. I'm focusing on learning Tornado, the snare solo, and I'm probably frustrated because after 9 years of playing I thought I had pretty good rudimental technique but this has revealed that I really haven't.
As such, I'm slowing things down and I'm going to spend a few months working on my control and getting things up to scratch.

But how do I get over the mental side of this? Do you guys have any similar experiences? How do I motivate myself to continue when the urge to give up is so strong? Short of making excuses to reassure myself (eg I haven't worked on rudiments so seriously before and that's why I am suffering) I'm clueless!

Discuss!
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
Repetition.



Slow it down and/or break it into segments. Treat it like digging a ditch. Don't think about it, just keep digging.

I spent a couple hours yesterday and another one today playing a relatively simple, repetitive beat/pattern, My issue is trying to sing along when the lyrics are a different rhythm.
 

NerfLad

Silver Member
I agree with New Tricks; just keep practicing it. Break it up, slow it down, speed it up, play it backwards. Remember to have fun! Practice with the TV on.


If your rudiments and pad vocabulary specifically are lacking, I can't recommend Tommy Igoe's "Great Hands For a Lifetime" strongly enough. He goes through basic hand technique and then weaves you through the rudiment families in a logical way that isn't dry and boring. It got me far more excited about playing rudiments over and over on a pad than a poster or a nagging teacher ever did. Just putting the DVD on and playing along with Tommy and his group of students is literally something I do for fun. Now my rudiments and snare drum skills arguably overshadow my drumset ability (which isn't much, but still).
 

Talismanis

Senior Member
I do his advanced lifetime warmup, it's a great DVD! I've just ordered Playing With Sticks by Jeff Queen which should add to that side of things as well.

But really I'm more on about the mental aspect of being frustrated or feeling like you're not going anywhere. Is it just a case of sensible practice over time and the frustration will eventually go away as I improve?

I think part of it was I've spent years playing along to CDs, a lot of funk and acid jazz, so my rudiments are lacking because I've had the mindset of "wow yeah look at these paradiddles round the kit my rudiments are amazing!" and I've never actually, until very recently, decided to sit down and dedicate practice to rudiments and rudimental solos.

But what tricks do you guys use to motivate yourself when you don't seem to be making any progression? This could happen in regards to any aspect of drumming.

I like the 'digging a ditch' mentality actually. I have literally no commitments for the next few weeks (basic training on october the 8th) so I'm spending my days practicing, exercising and gaming. I'd like to say I've improved since I started doing so much padwork; I'm sure I have but I've never been so critical of myself like this before so I'm not sure what standard my rudiments were at before. It seems only natural that I must have improved though!
 

bigd

Silver Member
You need to focus on the rhythm without any embelishments and rolls first. Then add roll skeletons, then actual rolls, then add flams without ruffs then ruffs without flams and then all together. First and foremost the rhythm without anything. That's the system.

Good luck.
 

AZslim

Senior Member
What helped me was to quit beating myself up and using the phrase "I should........". If I try something over my head, well it's over my head for now. I work on something else I can't play well but I make more progress at it. Later I will go back to the difficult thing and usually I can make some more progress with it.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
But what tricks do you guys use to motivate yourself when you don't seem to be making any progression?
I think back to a riff I learned decades ago in high school. I started really really slow and forced my brain to learn it.

It will get boring but you know that your brain will eventually build the neuropathways necessary. Then it will be like tieing your shoes.

In my latest project, I sang/played the same damn verse over and over maybe a hundred times...maybe more. I started to try and carry on a conversation with myself and improvise words just to entertain myself and break it up a bit. I can see progress and I know from past experience that my giant brain will learn it.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
When you're going through hell....


keep going.

Just keep going. It won't all be awesome. I like your idea of slowing down. Sometimes "going backwards" actually moves you ahead a little. You might want to try dropping Tornado for 2 weeks. Work with a metronome in the meantime and come back to it. You need diversion. Tornado will still be there.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
I've learned to try and extend those plateaus.

The longer they last and the more frustrating they are the greater my subsequent jumps appear to be.(I say appear due to the difficulty of quantifying such a thing)

Revel in them...dance around in them...use them as a chance to shave your ego a bit...to have fun acting silly within your playing...to recapture "playing".

You'll be amazing yourself in no time..again and again... as long as you can master frustration...in more endeavours than just drumming...in more times than this.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I've learned to try and extend those plateaus.

The longer they last and the more frustrating they are the greater my subsequent jumps appear to be.(I say appear due to the difficulty of quantifying such a thing)

Revel in them...dance around in them...use them as a chance to shave your ego a bit...to have fun acting silly within your playing...to recapture "playing".

You'll be amazing yourself in no time..again and again... as long as you can master frustration...in more endeavours than just drumming...in more times than this.
Wow that's a great approach. Using it!
 

Arky

Platinum Member
Otto, that's a really cool concept!

To the OP I'd say don't overthink! A LOT of issues are purely mental/attitude. So take it easy, do your homework, watch your technique, stay disciplined, know you're doing the right thing and... keep at it and let time work for you.

Every plateau is a challenge. Having plateaus is the most normal thing in life. Just learn how to handle it (foremost mentally). You will surpass it. Try to stay confident and not expect huge improvements in short time.
 

Xero Talent

Silver Member
So how good should you be after 9 years?
That totally depends on the commitment one has throughout that 9 years.

One person who plays for 9 years could only play once a week, or started playing 9 years ago, took a few years off, took it back up.... whereas another could practice 3 hours a day for 9 years. They will have very different skill levels.

It comes down to the number of hours you've been playing.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
So how good should you be after 9 years?

IMHO you should be good enough to understand that there is less relevance in relative skill than there is in how you feel about your playing...

Essentially, your perception of what good is should have moved away from comparative terms....thats part of maturity.
 

rdb

Senior Member
I agree with everyone else that plateaus (even regressions) are totally normal, unavoidable even, and in my experience the best way to progress through these periods is the change up the practice routine; start working on some new material and then go back to the old after a few weeks. That approach has worked well for me across many different disciplines.
 

drstrangefunk

Senior Member
the drag about learning new licks and/or techniques is that often it requires a complete overhaul of everything you know. it's a real drag to have to re-arrange and sometimes unlearn and relearn all that you have accomplished in order to assimilate the new thang.

loving the Philosophies of both Larry Ace and Otto.

Otto's, i often employ in life. make it harder than it is...then it'll be a breeze if an easier method is required during crunch time. the life experience equivalent of ankle weights. my hat's are farther out than need be, for instance. if things get tough, i'll pull em in and get real serious. dead on it.

Larry - that may be the most profound thing i've ever heard. often employed, but never consciously risen to the surface of thought. thanks.
 
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