Signs you're getting better at the drums

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
This is one that got me thinking and apologies for the badly constructed thread - I was in a bit of a hurry. I hope I don't sound too FOS or like I'm bragging, because that's totally not the point.

I recorded myself playing in 2011 and for a couple of years after, I could see that I was playing different things but I didn't sound BETTER than I did in 2011.

Just lately I've been hearing drumming (mine and others) a bit differently, I've been practicing and playing so much recently that I feel like I've grown and it all sounds a little bit simpler to me, like I can see the forest from the trees. Now that footage from 2011 is sounding a bit dull and I know I have definitely gotten better since then.

I think that if you want to really improve you have to immerse yourself in drumming to the point of saturation and that's both good and bad. Some things about drumming aren't as exciting for me lately but I think that might be what prompts us to search for new ways to improve.

Over the last few days I thought I was hearing myself playing badly but then I think I realized I sound worse because my ears have gotten better. For quite some time I'd been playing through certain exercises that were a bit complicated, and I was so content that I was able to play them that I couldn't hear that I was playing them badly. Crap feel, dynamics, bad control etc.

Anyway I've been having a few milestones lately and I thought it would be interesting to hear from everyone else on how they think they know they're getting better. I've been playing for 16 years and I know there are guys here that have been playing for 50, so it would be cool to hear from those experienced players. It's a weird question too.

I'll throw a few in.

How you know you're getting better at the drums:

- Things you were happy to be able to play are no longer fulfilling
- When you play out, people dance to your playing
- Mike Portnoy isn't your hero anymore
- You can play up tempo stuff and stay relaxed
 

groove1

Silver Member
For me, progress has been like climbing stairs that have different heights and tread widths.
Sometimes you just plateau for quite a while and then suddenly you can see improvement.
The only thing I know for sure is that the improvement in my playing wasn't linear.

Another sign you're getting better at the drums might be that better musicians want to play with you.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Totally agree about the immersion thing. Nothing like a focussed and persistent work ethic.
Practice for me is becoming more 'work'. Trying new stuff or being better at it ...meh... it can be very discouraging.
For me the best reward of practice is still playing out with a band and executing. Not sure I would do all this stuff if not playing music in a band.
I also agree you know you're improving when the same things can be done more relaxed or naturally.
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
When you are playing in the park and people are dancing.

When you are playing in the park just for fun and people give you money.
 

hyruleherojoe

Senior Member
I know I'm getting better by how fluid and effortless it is to play what I hear in my head. Also for how long I can keep playing what my brain makes up until I reach a part where I don't have the skills or technique to execute that part.

Also like what others said before, parts I used to find hard and interesting just doesn't interest me anymore because my ears have matured. I used to be obsessed with Gospel style chops, now I'm obsessed with steve gadd type likes, ghost note placements, and implied time signatures.
 

Beam Me Up Scotty

Silver Member
- Mike Portnoy isn't your hero anymore
I actually burst out laughing at this one.

I've also listened to recordings of myself in the past, and I can definitely see improvements in my playing. To me though, I don't find myself caring if I don't improve a whole lot, because the main focus is fun. Some people love to practice hard, but to me, that isn't fun enough to warrant it. So I'll take my time with something, for example, a 5-stroke roll. When I first learned the rudiment, I didn't practice it on a practice pad, I just fooled around with it on the kit until I was happy with it. It's that moment for me where I can comfortably play something new at speed, and make it feel good, where I know I'm improving.
 

dat yeti

Senior Member
- Mike Portnoy isn't your hero anymore
- You can play up tempo stuff and stay relaxed
LOL I definitely had that first one about 2 years ago and still love his playing, just don't care to play or it or listen to it as much.

The speed increase has taken so long to achieve. Actually I started out playing along to Buckethead's Ghost song, and RHCP's venice queen. They're a bit up tempo and helped me tremendously with technique as I learned to use fingers and not just wrist.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I can do a good train beat now. My shuffle is getting better. And songs I used to feel apprehensive about playing no longer seem so daunting. Problem is, they expect me to bring it on every song now all the time, and if I don't, I have to hear about it.
 

jdsg

Member
Hahaha! Boy do I know this feeling. I used to think Danny Carey was the greatest drummer ever, now I can play half of Tool's discography. That's how I know I got better.
But could you have written those parts. I'm finding I can copy more drum parts but can I come with them? That is what I'm working on. Think Steve Gadd Fifty Ways groove- easily copied but would you have come up with it?
 

Diet Kirk

Silver Member
I know I'm getting better by how fluid and effortless it is to play what I hear in my head. Also for how long I can keep playing what my brain makes up until I reach a part where I don't have the skills or technique to execute that part.

Also like what others said before, parts I used to find hard and interesting just doesn't interest me anymore because my ears have matured. I used to be obsessed with Gospel style chops, now I'm obsessed with steve gadd type likes, ghost note placements, and implied time signatures.
But could you have written those parts. I'm finding I can copy more drum parts but can I come with them? That is what I'm working on. Think Steve Gadd Fifty Ways groove- easily copied but would you have come up with it?
Whilst I obviously appreciate the sentiments of people wanting to play with you and making people dance, the above two resonate with me the most.

From a creative perspective, being able to play what you hear in your head is a great place to be. Unfortunately I'm not there. But thats one of my main goals.

The second point is also a great one. I mainly write drum parts using cubase and other software. I often write parts I can't play and I often wonder how much cooler the parts could be if I could play them and mess around with them behind a kit so they morph into something else.
 

Bonefrost

Member
I've noticed my para's,ruda's and counting is better.
Just by playing 30-40 minutes a day for a couple months.

Very slow and precise.
 
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