Practicing and walls/discouragement

What do you guys do (if this happens to any of you) if you practice 2-5 hours a day and all of the sudden feel like you're not progressing at all or even regressing? I want to get better but damn if I don't feel like I'm wasting my time...
 

TripleStroke

Senior Member
I think the important thing is to recognize when you've hit a certain plateau in terms of skillset/barrier you are trying to break. Also it would help to specify what level you are currently at, and what it is that you are stuck on in terms of achievement. Rudiment application on kit? Speed? not able to jam to a song?

There are certain part of you that always wants to progress like a machine. However I hope you know that practicing the right things in conjunction with gauging and being honest with your own playing level in relation to the playing level you WANT to be at, and with the right attitude helps tremendously as well.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
sounds like taking a week off is in need.


It happens in drumming and working out, I have also experienced in work, as well as training/school.

A week off, sometimes more you come back with a different mind set, and burn past a plateau.. every few months I take a week off the gym... sometimes drums too.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I say just stop worrying about "progressing". To be honest, you can't help but improve, it's just that as we get better the gains we make start to diminish as we're focusing on more and more difficult things.

But, you are getting better at these difficult things you're attempting. Don't worry about how fast it happens. You play drums because you love to, right? Or do you play because it's something you can get better at fast and it isn't very challenging?

Don't compare yourself to other drummers on the internet or otherwise. Don't spend all your time at the kit relentlessly going after a new and bigger goal to the detriment of enjoyment.

Get back to what you love about drumming. Invite some guys over with strings/keys/etc and rock the hell out. Find a open mic night and blow em away with the skills you already have.

Unless it's a job, it's not a job... Dig? Even if it is a job, you can and should still have a good time and not beat yourself up.
 

ottog1979

Senior Member
Agree with a little time off may be helpful. Not sure if your 2-5 hours is all in one chunk or not, but I find that practicing in smaller spurts with breaks works better for me. Between times sitting at the kit, something is still working in my brain even when I'm not thinking about it at all. When I come back & sit down a little later, what I was struggling with is already worked out. It seems like the time off lets the material I'm working on percolate and settle in. So, several 30-minute sessions a day is better for me than one 2 hour sitting.

I also find that my advancement comes in spurts anyway. I'll hit plateaus for a while, even while continuing steady practice, and then without warning really take off into a new level. It just seems that's the way it goes.

I think you can't force it. If you're bored and grinding it out anyway, it's not going to help you nearly as much. Some breathing time so you come back fresh, curious and interested is the way to go.
 
Well, I do this professionally, I teach mainly but play in a couple bands. I recently got back from the Benny Greb Masterclass in NY which was a real treat, so I've been working a lot on the alphabet stuff and different ways of practicing it. If you're not familiar with it I highly recommend checking it out.

Anyways, I didn't mean for this to turn into a plug. I've been doing a LOT of pad (along with pad for right foot and hi-hat for left) and am started to feel like my left hand will just never be where I want to to be.

There is an exercise in the Benny Greb book that talks about doing Double beat singles, basically you go through the alphabet and play diddles on alternating hands. I do this with alternating eighth notes between the feet and I can't seem to get it past 110bpm once I get to the letter 'E' here's a PDF of what I'm doing (It's alternating R/L sticking all the way through, no breaks between measures.) Something about that group of 5 leading with the left just isn't clicking.

This is one among several other things that I feel like I got better at over the course of a week and now am going nowhere with them. Maybe my new system of "If you can't play it, learn to play it." Isn't as good an idea as I thought.
 

Attachments

I say just stop worrying about "progressing". To be honest, you can't help but improve, it's just that as we get better the gains we make start to diminish as we're focusing on more and more difficult things.

But, you are getting better at these difficult things you're attempting. Don't worry about how fast it happens. You play drums because you love to, right? Or do you play because it's something you can get better at fast and it isn't very challenging?

Don't compare yourself to other drummers on the internet or otherwise. Don't spend all your time at the kit relentlessly going after a new and bigger goal to the detriment of enjoyment.

Get back to what you love about drumming. Invite some guys over with strings/keys/etc and rock the hell out. Find a open mic night and blow em away with the skills you already have.

Unless it's a job, it's not a job... Dig? Even if it is a job, you can and should still have a good time and not beat yourself up.
Thanks. It's almost certainly my mentality. Adapting a new one is usually easier said than done, but I'll work on it. This is great advice and I thank you for the encouragement. All of you.
 

spleeeeen

Platinum Member
I say just stop worrying about "progressing". To be honest, you can't help but improve, it's just that as we get better the gains we make start to diminish as we're focusing on more and more difficult things.

But, you are getting better at these difficult things you're attempting. Don't worry about how fast it happens. You play drums because you love to, right? Or do you play because it's something you can get better at fast and it isn't very challenging?

Don't compare yourself to other drummers on the internet or otherwise. Don't spend all your time at the kit relentlessly going after a new and bigger goal to the detriment of enjoyment.

Get back to what you love about drumming. Invite some guys over with strings/keys/etc and rock the hell out. Find a open mic night and blow em away with the skills you already have.

Unless it's a job, it's not a job... Dig? Even if it is a job, you can and should still have a good time and not beat yourself up.
Good stuff Doc (and others) and I would add that "progress" is really just another metaphor we use to organize our experience. It's not a bad metaphor (it's certainly very popular) but, like any others, it has limitations. One of them is that it gets us to place ourselves on continuums in regard to our playing, measuring ourselves not only against others but against our own previous performances. When you play that game, you either come up short in assessing your abilities (and identity) on any given day or you put yourself in a place where there's pressure to "maintain and keep improving."

Man, f@#k that. I prefer to spend my energy trafficking in the process of developing my relationship with skills rather than the destinations of having achieved them.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Discouragement is a vital part of the practice experience. It teaches you how to handle it and is a vital part of progressing.

Remember that a practice session that is the most discouraging....you actually learn the most from them, even if it doesn't feel like it. Your body doesn't want to fail you...and when it does (it's a naturally occuring thing which leads to you getting discouraged) your body doesn't like it and tries to overcome it. So discouragement...you could look on it as the dark before the dawn. Look at it like that....look at the big picture, and stop tunnel-visioning on the things that are holding you back. Don't get discouraged by your discouragement, know that a breakthrough is imminent. Look at discouragement as a good sign and it will serve you well. Don't fall into the trap of negativity. Take a break as suggested. You are unbalanced from too much practicing is my impresson. Regain your balance. Rejuvenate your spirit with something non drum related and your drums will give you that "come hither" look in no time :)
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
Your probibly progressing and don't even know it..

Maybe the bpm isn't increasing, but it could be getting tighter. I have had weeks/months where I have gotten slower, and sometimes when I plateau rather than try and push past that speed I'll actually lower my practice speed and come back in a week and it's faster.

Muscles sometimes need a break or even just a change of what your doing. change up the routine a bit.

I was playing today and just noticed that "hey, I am really improving on the pad" feeling. I didn't yesterday or the previous week. But something just flipped like a light switch and everything felt amazing.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
One of my fundamental frustrations with this instrument is that you often do not progress with direct practice. For example:

You're not going to learn the "Keep Forgetting" HiHat-hand by practicing the song, or even the HiHat portion of the song. You have to break it down, and fix your double stroke, then fix your triple stroke, then fix a quad stroke, then chain your quad strokes, then iterate the accent, and then return to the song to see if things have improved.

This instrument is a PITA to learn.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Something about that group of 5 leading with the left just isn't clicking.
Set up your phone and take some slow-motion (i.e. high speed) video of your left hand. Then do the exercise off the right, compare it to video of your right hand, and take notes. Probably the way the stick moves in the hand is different, one of your fingers is not involved, the fulcrum is different, etc.

You can't correct an error that you can't see.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
It could be the perennial weak hand issue too.

I made it a goal to have equal hands. It's served me well. I have to say, for me, it took A LOT of hours spent to get close to equal facility. I started whipping my weak hand into shape in 2003, as soon as I returned to drumming after a 20 year break. In 2009 I really decided to laser focus on my weak hand.

I was trying to get fast on my SSRs in 2009 but my weak hand was bogging me down. So I dropped the SSR thing to redouble getting my left hand up to par. Finally in about 2013 or so, I really started to feel and sound much more equal. It's just the best feeling for me, because I really put in the hours. Not to mention all the physical discomfort of strengthening a hand. My SSR's...without really even working on them for a while, are much evener :)

I have to say it's kind of validating to hear Kamak say that this instrument is a PITA to learn. Coming from a guitar player, that really means a lot to me personally, because I think that most people, especially guitarists, think playing drums is easy and that drummers are musician wannabes, which is kind of a thorn in my side. Nothing like working hard and having people not take drummers seriously. It's a lot harder than it appears, there's a lot more going on than meets the eye.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I have to say it's kind of validating to hear Kamak say that this instrument is a PITA to learn. Coming from a guitar player, that really means a lot to me personally, because I think that most people, especially guitarists, think playing drums is easy and that drummers are musician wannabes, which is kind of a thorn in my side. Nothing like working hard and having people not take drummers seriously. It's a lot harder than it appears, there's a lot more going on than meets the eye.
Usually guitar players on the drums are hilarious. As someone who moved to drums almost entirely because it was harder that bass/guitar, I have fun knocking those guys down a peg or two.
 

AndeeT

Senior Member
Weirdly I feel that I see the biggest improvements in my playing when I take a break of a few days and come back to the drums/practice.

I think it is kind of linked to the analogy of "the man that didn't realise he was turning blue";

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gq8C0GknwAM

The idea with the blue man is that he was gradually changing colour and didn't notice it - it was only when a friend that hadn't seen him in a while that they saw a difference. I think a similar thing can happen with drumming or indeed any skill where you practice frequently.

The idea that you a making many "gradual" improvements in playing, but because you are playing so much and so often, you don't get to 'see' the culmination of each small improvement.

I would suggest taking a break and revisiting in a few days or even a week. It doesn't have to be a total break from drums/music, i.e. you could try doing some transcribing.

Someone mentioned recording your hands on video. I would vote for that also. I have recently been watching my hands in a window/mirror while I play on a pad and it is one of the most insightful things for a drummer! For me with my left (weak) hand, for a long time I thought that I had to grip harder but it turns out it is closer to my right when I relax it more. Maybe try relaxing your left?
 
Top