Getting your chops out of the practice room and onto the stage

brentcn

Platinum Member
Well if I think about it, one major roadblock is if I don't have the ideal live setup, it's always different from my home setup in that I can't have my rack toms in the same spot because I am not using a rack and I don't have a tom mount fitted to any bass drums (I still need screws to fit my tama tom mount onto the kick). I have been mounting 2 rack toms from a stand but I can never seem to get them in a good spot.

And I guess to a degree my mind goes blank on stage when it comes to anything like a big fill. Creativity is definitely stifled. I think someone said I should keep an idea of something I intend to do in my mind and use it when the time is right. I agree with that. Thanks to those who answered the question I asked.
Well, you could start intentionally altering your set up at home, in order to get used to the set ups you'll encounter on gigs. Play a four piece for a month or two, then a five. Set up your kit so that it looks normal, rather than setting it up so that you can reach everything with ease. Make your body conform to the kit a little, and tweak your technique to make it happen. The conventional wisdom is that a drummer should angle and shift until a kit feels good, but your experience is the downside to this sort of thinking.

If your mind is "going blank" when it comes to big fills, then you need to change how you're practicing when it comes to moving patterns around the kit, and improvising. But now we're getting into private lesson territory. Get with a (good) teacher, and show him or her concrete examples of the types of fills you'd like to learn. Tear them apart, and learn what sort of practice will enable you to not only play those particular fills, but also to create your own, similar fills. Don't sign up for lessons with a locally renown jazz guy if what you want is Virgil Donati fills. Having specific goals like this is good; it tells the teacher exactly what your expectations are. If a teacher can't or won't figure out these monster fills for you, move on to someone who will.

If a discussion is ever about improvement, then it always ends with "take lessons". A forum is only going to get you so far.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Well if I think about it, one major roadblock is if I don't have the ideal live setup, it's always different from my home setup in that I can't have my rack toms in the same spot because I am not using a rack and I don't have a tom mount fitted to any bass drums (I still need screws to fit my tama tom mount onto the kick). I have been mounting 2 rack toms from a stand but I can never seem to get them in a good spot.

And I guess to a degree my mind goes blank on stage when it comes to anything like a big fill. Creativity is definitely stifled. I think someone said I should keep an idea of something I intend to do in my mind and use it when the time is right. I agree with that. Thanks to those who answered the question I asked.
Thats the whole crux of the matter, right there. I realised long ago that to practice really well,and make the muscle memory stick, I had to have my e-kit at home set up exactly like my acoustic kit.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Back to the tried/true saying on here : "if you don't feel it don't play it' (I may have paraphrased wrong). If you are playing along and 'thinking' hey I've been playing simple for 12 bars now so let's.... {insert blushda here} it might come off just as that. Not smooth and piecemeal.

You sound like you play out lots, perhaps you could try awhile playing where you consciously embellish, fill or complicate your drumming and see how that goes. It sounds like you have the chops for it, and your band wants that. You can decide if it is really 'you'.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Thats the whole crux of the matter, right there. I realised long ago that to practice really well,and make the muscle memory stick, I had to have my e-kit at home set up exactly like my acoustic kit.
Don't tie your skills to a specific setup or set of gear. It's extremely limiting and makes people turn into whiny brats when they're expected to gig with a house kit. Focus on music, rhythms, patterns... Not being able to pull off the same fills as you do at home because the setup is the same. Wrong focus. Focus on music and don't let differences in the instrument kill your groove.
 

River19

Senior Member
As I read through this thread a few thoughts occurred to me.......

The whole "Practice harder elements than required for your live gigs"......makes the most sense in the world. It plays out in other areas of life as well.....my wife competes in equestrian events (dressage....long story) anywho, she trains at a level above what she competes at.....for the same reason we should practice stuff that well, needs practice and challenges us.

The whole physical set-up thing......I have found that guys either are constantly using different setups and they become hyper aware of where and what they are "hitting" and are very flexible in what they play (physical setup-wise) or you have guys that always use the same setup and muscle memory is built up over time....but put them on someone else's kit and they are a fish out of water. By playing the same set-up we are also creating a bit of a rut for ourselves....and I am as guilty as anyone. Been playing the same setup for 20+ years.

Recently I have found that dropping down to a simple setup makes me try things I wouldn't have before on my full kit.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I guess for some people it's better to force the issue but for me I just wait for it to come out by itself.

Like when you say your mind goes blank...I hear a few things.

A. You're not in the zone
B. You're not feeling the fill
C. You sound like you are at a point of unsuredness when you think you should fill but can't, which can't be good for the feel of the time, a guess.

Apologies if I'm off, just calling them like I see them.

Trying to think ahead when you can incorporate a practice lick into a song may work for some, but it's a recipe for disaster for me. It will come out when it's ingrained enough in my muscle memory that I don't have to think about it. And then only if I feel it.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
A lot of practice is about having enough headroom to easily play what's required. It can peeve other band members if you disrupt the flow too often, unless they also like to stretch out.

Risk taking is great fun and IMO makes music more exciting. I find it dull to watch seasoned pros nonchalantly pulling off their well practiced chops without adding any edge to the music. However, most audiences today prefer clinical competence to passionate risk taking, unfortunately.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Chops, groove, technique. I get it-just don't practice it. I started "drumming" at 8 so I see my success is like a bell curve. Playing rock n roll I ascended the curve working on technique and power, then over time I lost interest (also breaking a limb here and there screws up your technique although breaking my right hand turned out to be a good thing) so my "drumming" decreased descended down the curve, however my attitude changed and I quit calling myself a "drummer" to I'm a percussionist who sits behind a drum kit. I don't care for tricks, quit worrying about technique, not interested in being the focus to watch-just how it sounds and "fits" with the music, keep the pulse, keep the groove, keep the band together but maybe add some flavor a bit-make the band and song "sound better"-not so much stand out but fit in. My days of flailing and doing things properly has turned to how can I cheat and get this sound more ergonomically -eh I've gotten lazy.But I'm not trying to be a professional "drummer" so I appreciate the need for all I don't do. And I'm not putting down those who fervently adhere to their belief in technique, chops or groove-and I'm sure I could be schooled on the benefits and assets of all. I know I'm not a good drummer but hey I'm a hell of a "percussionist" LOL. The main caveat is my philosophy could be wrong-which admittedly most of time I am.
 
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Mikedrums78

Senior Member
I know what you mean DT when you say your playing is different from practice room to live setting. I think one of the biggest factors is environment. In the practice room, you can screw up, stop, rewind, try again, with no negative impact. Lol, try that on stage..
Of course recreating a live environment in the practice room could be difficult, but one thing I`ve personally found helps is video taping my sessions, and trying to play songs all the way through without stopping. I find that I get some of the same “pressure” from taping that I do when I play live in front of people. Plus, I can watch and listen back to see if what I think I sound like in my head is really matching up with what I am actually playing.
I also think that guy was right. You kind of need to just go for it on stage. I say that, but man I have a helluva time trying to do that myself! I second guess myself and end up shying away from trying that new sticking or fill i`ve been working on.

For me, I think it`s mostly mental and how the environment of live vs practice room changes my mentality and playing.
 

drum4fun27302

Gold Member
It's mostly mental , and the big part of it is confidence.
At the next rehearsal , tell them that you will try to go for it and have them give you some feedback . Go from that and see if you can get used to it !!

And remember , all the flashy/ linear drummers you see on YouTube and other places started as "non flashy" drummers. If they can do it, so can you :)
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Risk taking is great fun and IMO makes music more exciting. I find it dull to watch seasoned pros nonchalantly pulling off their well practiced chops without adding any edge to the music. However, most audiences today prefer clinical competence to passionate risk taking, unfortunately.
This resonates hard with me.

Yeah, you can play it safe and stay focused on transparency, and you can take all the sticking combinations and canned licks you've worked out in the practice room and find a way to shoehorn them in, but that's not really what this is about.

I've seen you play on your vids (you're a fine player, btw) and IMO, you already have more than enough "chops", so I'm not seeing that finding transcriptions of other cats' mojo is gonna be the ticket. Sure, you'll learn more stuff by doing that, but what I'm getting from your posts here is that you need to unleash some FIRE. Like kick 'em in the teeth, full-on mini explosions of hellfire and brimstone.

Take a guy like Keith Moon for example - you're already miles beyond where he ever was from a practiced technical perspective, so what do you think Elvin Jones saw in him that he thought was so special?

My take is that Moon was able to open himself up all the way (unable to contain himself is more like it) and riding the music in a way that's similar to how a surfer rides a wave. It's all in reading the lay of the land, and trusting your intuition and gut sense to what the possibilities are and what goes where. Really, it's what all the great jazz drummers have always done, and in that key respect, Keith Moon functioned more like a jazz drummer than a rock drummer.

I've always admired jazz from a distance (generally not a huge fan of the soundscapes, though), but have been hugely influenced by the way the drummers comp, drop bombs, setup horn kicks, and run phrases over the bar line. This is just what they're feeling in the moment - that composition on the fly element - but if you roll that way often enough it becomes second nature.

For someone slightly more contemporary, I've always had a great time listening to Dave Weckl, not just for his amazing abilities, but for his willingness to go 'Keith Moon' so often. To me that's where he really shines, and while I don't usually stop to deconstruct his many amazing fills (tho some I do), there are loads that I can air drum along to that are almost passable. But for me, deconstructing them isn't the point; it's about absorbing that reckless attitude, admiring the awesomeness, and getting inspired to roll that way. When I fake my way through Weckl-inspired fills dumbed down enough for me, I end up with something that even he might not recognize.

When I get on my kit, either by myself, at band practice, or on stage, these inspirations and attitudes have a way of coming to the surface without me having to think about it much. When it's in the zone, it's almost transcendental.

FWIW, I have never had any interest in stick twirls or Vaudvillian show-biz elements. Whatever floats yer boat, I guess, but that's not my scene.

My measly $0.02 would be to ditch your formal practice routine. Not forever, but take a long hiatus (at least radically de-emphasize it) and practice going for broke in as many musical ways as you can conceive. The only way I know of to acquire fluency in any language (in this case, freestyle high-risk fills) is total immersion. So grab a bucket of peyote and go spend a few years wandering the proverbial desert.

tl;dr

Stop thinking about the technical side of everything you've learned to this point. Now go play some damn music and burn it down while you're at it!

If you do it right, that one cheeky grin from your bandmate will morph it's way into spontaneous laughter and amazement from all your appreciative bandmates, the audience, and with some good cheer, you as well.
 
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MikeM

Platinum Member
I just wanted to add that playing cool fills (and playing free-style) is a skill just like any other, and takes some time to develop.

As the OP has seen, some players actually want that from a drummer, and IMO, it's part of being a well-rounded player.

If you or your particular gig prefers fewer fills and more minimalism, then that's what you do, but the choice to be a groove or pocket player should be just that - a choice.

If it's because you can't or because you haven't found your voice with the skills you already have, then that's something you should add to your list of things to work on.

Very few bands or gigs want total abstinence, IME, so they should count for something however often you use them.
 

Mouse

Member
Totally agree, just play heaps with and whatever you have under your belt wil or won't come out naturally. I think of myself as a solid player, try to not overplay and no frills. Once was told tham i'm quite a technical player. Never thought that but that could be my pipe band upbringing coming through in my playing.
Sure you can over think this,just get out and play.

I recommend Kenny Werner's " Effortless Mastery".


This resonates hard with me.

Yeah, you can play it safe and stay focused on transparency, and you can take all the sticking combinations and canned licks you've worked out in the practice room and find a way to shoehorn them in, but that's not really what this is about.

I've seen you play on your vids (you're a fine player, btw) and IMO, you already have more than enough "chops", so I'm not seeing that finding transcriptions of other cats' mojo is gonna be the ticket. Sure, you'll learn more stuff by doing that, but what I'm getting from your posts here is that you need to unleash some FIRE. Like kick 'em in the teeth, full-on mini explosions of hellfire and brimstone.

Take a guy like Keith Moon for example - you're already miles beyond where he ever was from a practiced technical perspective, so what do you think Elvin Jones saw in him that he thought was so special?

My take is that Moon was able to open himself up all the way (unable to contain himself is more like it) and riding the music in a way that's similar to how a surfer rides a wave. It's all in reading the lay of the land, and trusting your intuition and gut sense to what the possibilities are and what goes where. Really, it's what all the great jazz drummers have always done, and in that key respect, Keith Moon functioned more like a jazz drummer than a rock drummer.

I've always admired jazz from a distance (generally not a huge fan of the soundscapes, though), but have been hugely influenced by the way the drummers comp, drop bombs, setup horn kicks, and run phrases over the bar line. This is just what they're feeling in the moment - that composition on the fly element - but if you roll that way often enough it becomes second nature.

For someone slightly more contemporary, I've always had a great time listening to Dave Weckl, not just for his amazing abilities, but for his willingness to go 'Keith Moon' so often. To me that's where he really shines, and while I don't usually stop to deconstruct his many amazing fills (tho some I do), there are loads that I can air drum along to that are almost passable. But for me, deconstructing them isn't the point; it's about absorbing that reckless attitude, admiring the awesomeness, and getting inspired to roll that way. When I fake my way through Weckl-inspired fills dumbed down enough for me, I end up with something that even he might not recognize.

When I get on my kit, either by myself, at band practice, or on stage, these inspirations and attitudes have a way of coming to the surface without me having to think about it much. When it's in the zone, it's almost transcendental.

FWIW, I have never had any interest in stick twirls or Vaudvillian show-biz elements. Whatever floats yer boat, I guess, but that's not my scene.

My measly $0.02 would be to ditch your formal practice routine. Not forever, but take a long hiatus (at least radically de-emphasize it) and practice going for broke in as many musical ways as you can conceive. The only way I know of to acquire fluency in any language (in this case, freestyle high-risk fills) is total immersion. So grab a bucket of peyote and go spend a few years wandering the proverbial desert.

tl;dr

Stop thinking about the technical side of everything you've learned to this point. Now go play some damn music and burn it down while you're at it!

If you do it right, that one cheeky grin from your bandmate will morph it's way into spontaneous laughter and amazement from all your appreciative bandmates, the audience, and with some good cheer, you as well.
 

Numberless

Platinum Member
A lot of this also depends on how much you trust your bandmates, it's way more easier letting go and taking risks when you know your bandmates have your back.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Thanks a lot Jules!

Sometimes it's as much fun banging out long winded thread-killing posts as it is banging out room-clearing drum parts. Haha

But mostly it's just me sitting at work trying to avoid getting any work done. I almost never post at home.

As Road Bull said recently - anything worth doing is worth over-doing!
 
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