Have you ever "underplayed" because you fear embarassment or failure?

dpk204

Senior Member
I'm a shy guy and I generally don't like to embarrass myself. I think this has translated into my drumming because I feel like I "underplay" some times. Sometimes I get the urge to go crazy but I don't because I feel like I might mess up and people will criticize me, so I tend to keep it simple and "boring."

I remember when I was 16 and my teacher was teaching me this cool book by Charlie Wilcoxen. I think it was called All American Drummer. I had just finished Ted Reed's Syncopation and my teacher was trying to teach me the snare drum solos in this book. The book was way over my head at the time and I think I got frustrated or I had a fear of failure and kept avoiding it. My drum teacher eventually stopped pushing it on me and we went back to some other stuff. I'm 27 now and I know I would be in a different position today had I pushed myself to learn that book. Today, I would give myself a B+ for keeping time but an F for creativity.

Have you ever avoided playing something or learning something because you didn't believe you could do it? Some people just pick up the drums real easily, but for some people, it really is hard. Have you ever been in my position?
 

drums_n_surf

Senior Member
Hey man, the beautiful thing about practice is that you can stuff up so badly, and nobody will ever know. Okay apart from maybe your neighbours. But if you look at any drummer, and maybe they play some cool little fill, or beat, or just any part of their drumming, and you go, wow, i wish i could play that...keep in mind that they tried to play that countless of times, screwing up many times on the way before they played it to perfection.

I tend to set aside the last 30 minutes of my practice session just playing whatever the hell i want, and not holding back. Sometimes it sounds awful, but thats okay, because nobody is 'examining' me, so to say. Othertimes it sounds great, and then I try and practice it and incorporate it into some of my playing.

In regards to your last sentence about avoiding to learn something because you don't believe you can....I don't believe in that statement. Anybody can learn anything...for some people it takes longer than others, but if you put in the neccesary hours, you can do it. In regards to snare drum solos...just take it a real slow tempo, maybe even a quarter of the recommended tempo, and just make sure its solid and build from there. I'm currently trying to play foot ostinatos over some snare solos, and right now, this one snare solo which i can do at the recommended 108BPM, i'm practicing it with the ostinato at 54BPM and still sometimes stuffing up. Thats half the speed it should be at, and i'm still stuffing up! But I know that if i put in a good half an hour to an hour every day, i'll have it perfected soon enough.
 

chathamight

Senior Member
yes. i think everyone has been in your position. even the greats.
hopefully it will dawn on you that the reason you've played the drums for so long is because it's fun. and having played for so long, you must've picked up something along the way, whether it's groove, technique, creativity or whatever. after having realized this for yourself, maybe your perspective will change in regards to how other people think of your playing. play for yourself again. doing that, you will automatically play for others. that's how i look at it.
but this doesn't only relate to drumming does it, 204?
if you don't love yourself, how is anyone else supposed to?

i could be way off and excuse me if i am, but you posted on here for folks' two cents, so here's mine...
 

jkevn

Senior Member
The ONLY thing I've ever been able to do in front of a crowd, without pi$$ing myself, is play drums. I've been out of it for a while so I'm re-learning. A lil tidbit of advise about anything in front of a crowd....the only people who critique public speakers are other speakers, the only people who realize when the drums are not spot-on are other drummers.

There are usually not that many fellow drummers in the crowd, and usually they are supportive when you jack it up. The rest of the crowd will just enjoy it. Don't be nervous about trying something new..within reason....don't break out with some "God of Thunder" or something, but some of the best licks come "in the moment". You will grow more confident and add your "flavor" to your music.

Yeah, I've under-played, and what everybody thought were ghost-notes were really me shakin like a leaf....but it wont last forever...
 
R

Royal

Guest
Hey man, the beautiful thing about practice is that you can stuff up so badly, and nobody will ever know. Okay apart from maybe your neighbours. .
That's it.
Quite a lot of my practice sounds bad because I'm learning to play things that I can't already play.
 

Neil

Senior Member
I'm 27 and feel exactly the same way! I have to head down to rehearsal rooms to practice on my kit and I feel really embarrased just thinking about what the other bands are saying about me in neighbouring rooms. I then get all nervous about leaving at the end incase the other drummers in the studios are wandering around and able to pick me out as being 'that guy making all the noise in room 3'

It's really stupid and all in my head, so what that I've spent an hour at 100bpm just playing single strokes, doubles, parradiddles. So what that I've got to slow or too fast and have had to stop and get back ontop of the metronome. Even the best had to start somewhere and have had their fair share of frustration. I know that my foundations need serious improvement and my tutor is happy to sit there and go over things to ensure I'm doing this correctly (he must have the paitence of a saint). At the end of the day, when I've got this crazy lack of confidence thing sorted out, it'll show through in my drumming giving me more confidence.

All being said, sometimes it takes a great player to underplay.
 

yesdog

Silver Member
It does not matter if you underplay when performing, what does matter is feeling embarrased or not confident. If you are not confident even playing simple it will come out in your playing.
The more you practice and develop chops and technique, the stronger your playing becomes.
The stronger your engine is, the more confident you will be. I also think its rubbish to think you can't play something because its to complex. When learning something new take baby steps and monitor your progress. I to am studying out of ALL AMERICAN DRUMMER. its a bitch. I take some solos a measure at a time. Don't sell yourself short, If you put in the effort and time you will be able to play anything that you set your goals for.
 

Kenny Allyn

Senior Member
There is an old musicians axiom, that goes ...

"Play 80% of what you know" (this means in a live setting) and those are pretty good words to live by.
If you follow that plan your always "underplaying" and usually giving a better performance live ...
 

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
Well, as a musician you're trying to say something through your instrument, get something across with the drums as your voice.

So it's understandable that if you're a shy person it translates to your drumming. But I think it's also a chance to learn to articulate yourself without having to actually speak. I know many musicians who are shy persons, or otherwise lack communication ability, but as soon as they pick up their instruments, they really shine.

As for underplaying: I'm more afraid that your playing doesn't groove, doesn't sound convincing and has rather bad sound, to be honest. Because it doesn't matter how many notes you play, it matters how you play them.

Try to look at it this way: If you play in a "shy manner", you're gonna sound weak and unconvincing, which actually is embarassing! But if you try to overcome your shyness and play every note as if you're leading and conducting the band (which you actually are to a degree as a drummer), no matter how you're feeling while doing so, you're gonna sound great, which a) isn't embarassing ;) and b) will increase your self-esteem I'm sure.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Don't automatically think that what you perceive as "underplaying" is sounding bad. Now if you record yourself and still think the same way, then maybe there's something to it. Many times where I felt like my playing was boring (because I was just keeping time), when I listened back, I was pleasantly surprised how unboring it sounded. Now I know that if I feel like my playing is boring, I'm usually wrong about that. Keeping time may feel boring, but it usually works beautifully in relation to the other players.

Right now you are you own worst enemy. Get out of your own way, and allow yourself to play the music the way you know it should be. Get Kenny Werners book "Effortless Mastery" and apply his attitudes and suggestions to your life. In it, he tells you to reinforce yourself everyday, saying things like, "I am master of this drumkit"

It really makes a big difference compared to telling yourself, "I'm too shy to go for this beat I'm hearing in my head" (or whatever you are saying that is hamstringing yourself)

Record yourself at your next gig and listen back hard, this will give you a true picture of what you sound like. It might not be as bad as you're imagining.
 
R

Royal

Guest
It does not matter if you underplay when performing, what does matter is feeling embarrased or not confident. If you are not confident even playing simple it will come out in your playing.
.
yesdog; Nail on the head.

If things go astray the band need you to keep it real. If you go astray. it's crash & burn.
If you're not confident playing drums, well......... get confident (it can be done) or don't play drums.

A band's only as good as it's drummer. Nowhere to hide.
That's my feeling.

Sorry..is that too blunt?
 

Davo-London

Gold Member
Yup. Drumming is a lot about confidence. Because a screw up on bass, is unfortunate; a screw up on drums is a de-railment.

Davo
 

Meat the beat

Senior Member
It's no sweat dude,
Everyone has "underplayed" or just "Played it safe" at sometime...
Classic - I'm not quite sure whats next, but its not always the drummers fault... if you know that other members of the band are not quite sure whats going on, then sometimes you have to play safe and stop them from making themselves look like A *^%@s !!
 

toddy

Platinum Member
I'd be more concerned if people were overplaying. That said you shouldn't be afraid of failing.

"Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently."
 

Fur drummer

Pioneer Member
Yes, the first time I started playing with other people and in bands. I was a little unsure of myself and nervous. I didn't want to show off or get in the way. Now I'm more confident and having a blast playing drums.
 

j.son

Junior Member
not drumming related,but only once...and i got kicked off the stage..i was playin sax in an open jam led by jimmy smith.i was so intimidated that i didnt venture out of a couple licks....he lowered his shades,looked at me and whispered,white boy best mooove along now.....
 

RogerLudwig

Senior Member
When our band records, sometimes I feel like cutting loose with more fills, more complex fills, and more intricate grooves. While I'm playing it feels great. Then I listen to the playback and I sound like a self-centered, overbearing tub thumper. When I play simply, I try to play only short, tasty fills spread further apart, and getting into a simple solid groove. While I'm playing it feels to me like I'm being too simple, almost boring. Then I listen to the playback and it sounds better. More like I'm playing for the song.

I've also found that memorizing the lyrics to all the songs we play, and them marking them up with accents and changes helps give me the confidence to know where we are in the song and what to expect as the music progresses.

Practice new things at rehearsal, use the stuff you can nail at gigs. You'll begin to build your confidence. The more you practice, the more muscle memory will develop which will allow you to increase the stuff you feel compfortable playing at gigs

I think it's safe to say many of us go through periods of self doubt, but in the end the point is to enjoy creating music and to learn something new every day.

Find a new teacher, discuss your goals and expectations, and make sure that you can work with this person. If it doesn't work out, move on and find another

Find some people you get along with and play with them. It is a another great confidence builder
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
When our band records, sometimes I feel like cutting loose with more fills, more complex fills, and more intricate grooves. While I'm playing it feels great. Then I listen to the playback and I sound like a self-centered, overbearing tub thumper. When I play simply, I try to play only short, tasty fills spread further apart, and getting into a simple solid groove. While I'm playing it feels to me like I'm being too simple, almost boring. Then I listen to the playback and it sounds better. More like I'm playing for the song.
Yes, I've been way more embarrassed by overplaying than underplaying. It goes in cycles ... you'll be grooving away for some time but after a while the weight of all that self control and discipline builds ... and then one day you're not quite centred, drummer madness takes hold, and you feel compelled to "stretch out". When I'm at that point I find the flow of the song harder to grasp than soap in a bath and I'll be adding all this abstract guff.

Then I hear the playback, feel embarrassed, and get back in my box ... until, after a while ...
 

GingerBakerJr

Junior Member
Heh, it's funny you mention you being worried about embarrassing yourself while playing drums. I can relate, but just in the exact opposite way, I walk around on egg shells all day having the hardest time opening up, but once I get behind the kit all that bottled up energy and emotion comes out and I just throw down anything and everything, many times overplaying and messing up. But it helps me learn and tbh 9 out of 10 times I throw down something unexpected and it sounds great, so that one time I mess up means nothing to me in the long run. I hope you can open up your playing more man (if that is what you want), you will probably create some really nice beats/fills out of it, and it will overshadow the few blunders you may cause. Just play on and don't let a little mess up stop the song.
 
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