Time for some introspection

Abhishek

Member
Ok, this is a bit long, so hope you guys bear with me.

I've been playing drums for a little over 2 years. For almost 1 and a half years, I was just playing on my own, self taught, looking in youtube, jamming along with Creed, and Alter Bridge, and that was that. I never thought I was any good, and I'd never played with any musicians.

Well, then, some of my friends asked me if I wanted to be in the school band, I tried and I got in. Since then, every competition we go to, we're all pumped up, knowing we'll win, and end up messing badly. Just today, we have another competition. We'd been practicing like crazy for this one, playing a modified version of Instrumedley. Completely dedicated to this for a month. Well, anyways, last jam session yesterday, and we were sure we were going to win everything.

Today was the competition, and boy did we mess up, AGAIN. Dropped my sticks during Erotomania, while playing my ride fell off, couldn't adjust it, so I messed up in between, my stick fell another time, and I didn't have a clue what the others were playing. Didn't have any connection with other band mates, who were messing up as well. As you guess, we didn't win anything!

Well, I've been a bit depressed ever since, thinking. I can tell you, we had been planning for this competition for months, working on our parts, and practiced like crazy.

Well, it just seems to be a repeating pattern. Every time, we get ready, practise, knowing we'll win, and we don't And every time, we practice more, so that what happened last time doesn't get repeated but it does.

What is the problem here? Part of me thinks I'm just not good enough yet. I'll be honest, I rarely jam otherwise, only for these competitions, and maybe that's why? 'Cos I'm not really familiar with my band mates and their playing, unless it's under the pressure of a competition. I've seen drummers today, who sound SO TIGHT it's crazy. I practiced like crazy, yet I messed it up. Was it because of my stage fright, because, atleast IMO, we were very tight during practice. Do I need to just jam more, and play in front of people (cos this is only the 4th or 5th time I played in front of an audience).

I really can't understand what's happening. Got my summer vacations coming up, and alongwith the studies, I'm going to dedicate at least 2-3 hours daily on my drumming, working on my double bass, my hand technique etc. But how do I work on groove? Timing? Tightness?

It's just way too confusing for me ATM, and so is my post I guess, but could anyone give me some advice? Drummer to drummer?
 

eddiehimself

Platinum Member
Hey don't worry about it mate EVERYONE messes up at shows, i went to see the foos once and even the almighty mr. Grohl mixed up one of the lines in the song! you wouldn't believe the amount of drum nuff-ups go on to all the members on here. It's something that happens to every gigging musician, honestly.

The thing is, you're clearly pretty new to doing shows, you just gotta get practice at doing shows and most importantly try to relax as much as you can and let all that nervousness be turned into good energy to get your drumming really good.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
Ok, this is a bit long, so hope you guys bear with me.
Hey Abhishek!!

I've been playing drums for a little over 2 years. For almost 1 and a half years, I was just playing on my own, self taught, looking in youtube, jamming along with Creed, and Alter Bridge, and that was that. I never thought I was any good, and I'd never played with any musicians.
I think most of us grow up this way.. no problem here...

Abhishek; said:
, then, some of my friends asked me if I wanted to be in the school band, I tried and I got in. Since then, every competition we go to, we're all pumped up, knowing we'll win, and end up messing badly. Just today, we have another competition..
What about the music? Do you all like the music that you play?

We'd been practicing like crazy for this one, playing a modified version of Instrumedley. Completely dedicated to this for a month. Well, anyways, last jam session yesterday, and we were sure we were going to win everything. .
Problem. You guys play to win? popularity?

Today was the competition, and boy did we mess up, AGAIN. Dropped my sticks during Erotomania, while playing my ride fell off, couldn't adjust it, so I messed up in between, my stick fell another time, and I didn't have a clue what the others were playing. Didn't have any connection with other band mates, who were messing up as well. As you guess, we didn't win anything!.
The 1st rule of music is that it isnt about coming 1st or 2nd.

Well, I've been a bit depressed ever since, thinking. I can tell you, we had been planning for this competition for months, working on our parts, and practiced like crazy..
Dont matter that you lost. It matters that you couldn't pull off want you had practiced for. Not good.

Well, it just seems to be a repeating pattern. Every time, we get ready, practise, knowing we'll win, and we don't And every time, we practice more, so that what happened last time doesn't get repeated but it does. .
So the guys who win sound better than you? To you ?

What is the problem here? Part of me thinks I'm just not good enough yet. I'll be honest, I rarely jam otherwise, only for these competitions, and maybe that's why? 'Cos I'm not really familiar with my band mates and their playing, unless it's under the pressure of a competition. I've seen drummers today, who sound SO TIGHT it's crazy. I practiced like crazy, yet I messed it up. Was it because of my stage fright, because, atleast IMO, we were very tight during practice. Do I need to just jam more, and play in front of people (cos this is only the 4th or 5th time I played in front of an audience)..
So is the problem not sounding good or not winning..?

really can't understand what's happening. Got my summer vacations coming up, and alongwith the studies, I'm going to dedicate at least 2-3 hours daily on my drumming, working on my double bass, my hand technique etc. But how do I work on groove? Timing? Tightness?
Fall in love with music. Cant get too far without that.

Listen to lots of music. Listen to you band mates, listen to yourself, listen , listen listen. Convince the others to listen too.

Practice softly. Turn the amps way down. Play lightly..

Talk a lot during practice.. fix little broken things. Explain and understand why you or the others are doing what they are doing in a particular song.

Understand that practice is 'work' not a 'jam'. I can be /should be repetitious, tedious, boring.

Stop thinking about competitions and start thinking about the gooseflesh you get when the band sounds tight & hot.

good luck.


......
 

Abhishek

Member
Wow, thanks for the reply!!

What about the music? Do you all like the music that you play?
Yes, I absolutely love Dream Theater, and Mike Portnoy. Every time I listen to him, I'm left in awe of his musicality.

Problem. You guys play to win? popularity?
Both. As I said, it's a school band, we practice only for competition, thus to win.

The 1st rule of music is that it isnt about coming 1st or 2nd.
Yeh, I need to remember that.


Dont matter that you lost. It matters that you couldn't pull off want you had practiced for. Not good.
Yup, that was the problem. I guess none of us had the experience of playing that much in front of an audience. Messed it up completely.

So the guys who win sound better than you? To you ?
Yup. We KNEW we weren't going to win, after we played. We knew who was going to win.

So is the problem not sounding good or not winning..?
Both

Fall in love with music. Cant get too far without that.

Listen to lots of music. Listen to you band mates, listen to yourself, listen , listen listen. Convince the others to listen too.

Practice softly. Turn the amps way down. Play lightly..

Talk a lot during practice.. fix little broken things. Explain and understand why you or the others are doing what they are doing in a particular song.

Understand that practice is 'work' not a 'jam'. I can be /should be repetitious, tedious, boring.


Stop thinking about competitions and start thinking about the gooseflesh you get when the band sounds tight & hot.


good luck.


......
Yeh, I feel the same way :)
 

Candyman

Junior Member
Honestly a lot of it sounds like traditional stage fright. I have never drummed in public, but I've played guitar in many shows. I can remember how frightening it was for the first few times. There's no doubt it affected my playing. I saw the crowd as hostile critics and dreaded screwing up. That tends to affect no only my playing, but the rest of the band. At some point, I just kinda made that transition to where I realized they were there to see us play. They were more fans than critics. And at that point, I started to meld with the audience. Treating them like they were just a couple friends that were watching us jam in the garage. And once you start really just screwing around with the crowd, that lifts a huge stress off you. You'd be amazed at how much a band can tighten up once that fear has been lifted.
Take your time. Play a lot. Get out and play in front of more people. Whether it's a competition or a family barbecue, get used to being the center of attention for 100 people. After the fear is gone, it becomes an incredible rush. Almost an addiction. Soon enough you'll crave it. And it's then that it really gets fun.
 

Matty G.

Senior Member
I think competition can be healthy, but not at the expense of your self-esteem. Maybe try to detach from winning/losing.

When I was in High School I was the 'hot shot' drummer. Then I got to college I found out that I was one of many talented kids. I didn't stand out AT ALL, plus it was very competitive. By the end of college I was getting more recognition, playing in the top ensembles, etc. Then I graduated and got into the real world of gigging. And it was pretty much the same story. I didn't stand out AT ALL. I'm still gigging, practicing, getting better, but those are really my main goals anymore.

My main goals now are 1.) To be grateful that I have a career in music. 2.) To teach/inspire as many students as I can. 3.) To develop a deeper connection to the music I play. Part of number 3 implies improving, and the mastering of forms but only as a means to deeper enjoyment and more ORGANIC playing. And 4.) to do my part to improve all of the ensembles that I am a part of, musically and professionally.

Find a reason to play for yourself. Maybe take a break from competition till you can regain your bearings. Maybe you can start performing at parties or local shows where it's more about the fun. And I'd say take a few lessons to improve those things you want to work on.

Hope that helps! Good luck!
 

SGT_Drummer

Senior Member
not to steal aydee's idea, but there were a few key things i caught in what you wrote that i wanted to point out.

I never thought I was any good, and I'd never played with any musicians.
you've only played for a year or 2, you have still got a long ways to go, just take everything as a learning experience and keep on keepin on. more importantly, fix your view of yourself. try to confident but not cocky. know that you keep with the best of them but you're not the best. it's comes in time.

Today was the competition, and boy did we mess up, AGAIN. Dropped my sticks during Erotomania, while playing my ride fell off, couldn't adjust it, so I messed up in between, my stick fell another time, and I didn't have a clue what the others were playing. Didn't have any connection with other band mates, who were messing up as well. As you guess, we didn't win anything!
so you messed up, you didn't win. the thing that matters is that you found something you really enjoy doing, you set a goal and you did your best to achieve it. next time, don't aim to win, just aim to place in the top 5 or something like that. noone in the history of music has just starting winning competitions right off the bat. you're going to lose more than you win, but like i said before, learn from the losses and cherish the wins.

I didn't have a clue what the others were playing.
this is a BIG problem. you'll never progress if you don't remedy this. now a couple things, at these venues are the guitar players amps mic'd, or are they just blasting them wide open to the crowd? if they are blasting into the crowd, think about getting a sound system. if they are mic'd, have them turn thier amps more in your direction. they need to understand that we aren't going to hear the lyrics for our cues, as drummers we listen to what the guitars are doing for our cues. they don't need to face them directly at you because that will just destroy your hearing, but angle them a little more to you, until you feel comfortable with how you are hearing them. one thing my old band would do during practice was to set up similar to how we would in a gig, then we would absolutely blast everything we had, just straight noise. while doing that we adjusted the levels on the amps and how they were angled so that everyone was satisfied. cheap eq lol.

Well, I've been a bit depressed ever since, thinking. I can tell you, we had been planning for this competition for months, working on our parts, and practiced like crazy.
don't get down about, sitting around going 'oh god i'm horrible' is going to accomplish absolutely nothing. sitting around going 'what did we screw up, specifically, and how do we fix it' will get you somewhere.


I'll be honest, I rarely jam otherwise, only for these competitions, and maybe that's why? 'Cos I'm not really familiar with my band mates and their playing, unless it's under the pressure of a competition.
big problem. you REALLY need to get with these guys more. even if it's 'only' a school band. meet up during lunch, or right after school, and jam! every guitar player has thier 'tells' and the only way to learn them is to play with them... ALOT! to the point that when the guitar player looks at you and raises an eyebrow, you know exactly what he means. part of that is going to come with just hanging out with these guys too.

I've seen drummers today, who sound SO TIGHT it's crazy. I practiced like crazy, yet I messed it up.
and i'll guarantee that every single drummer you're referring to has gone through the exact same thing. you're going to mess up, it's human nature. but keep practicing, then practice some more, then when you get done. go practice again. lol.

But how do I work on groove? Timing? Tightness?
eh, youtube is your friend. also the drum techinique section of the forums here is a very good place to start.



keep your head up, these are just the initial 'bumps' on the drumming road. you'll get through them, we all did lol.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
I think you need to play more in gigs, for fun, etc. Yes, everyone makes mistakes and usually, no one in the audience will notice. But a competition is an extremely stressful kind of performance because, indeed, the audience is looking for mistakes and will catch any. The value of your performance is based on its technical perfection to a large degree.

I'd say a competition is the LAST thing you should be doing if you've just been playing two years. You should be developing command of your instrument and the ability to express yourself on it and just having fun playing music.
 

Clayton_C

Senior Member
I just got back from the Reno Jazz Festival (one of the largest high school jazz fests in the nation, with competitors from all over the western U.S. and occasionally from other parts of the world), where my self-run jazz combo took 3rd place in our division, which was a wonderful accomplishment for all of us. So I have a bit of advice...

Rehearsal technique and awareness during performance are two hugely important elements.

When you are rehearsing with your band mates, you need to 1) play everything as much as you possibly can, do NOT settle for one quick run-through of your set and leave it at that; PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! 2) Don't be afraid to point out things that you hear wrong during rehearsal. When everyone is giving and receiving each other's advice, the whole band gets lifted onto a whole new level, and everyone able to get into the groove. 3) Get to know your bandmates! Go get coffee! Eat dinner together! Hang out! Familiarizing yourself with someone's personality can only HELP when you're trying to figure out where the heck they are in the song when your hihat clutch cuts out and you're totally lost. (and on that note, don't let gear malfunctioning screw you up. You should be practicing multiple variations of a given beat on different parts of the drumset. That way, you can slide right over into an "alternate" groove if something breaks on you.)

Also, I mentioned being aware during your performance. DO NOT simply zone out and go into a world of your own! A band, definitively, is a collaborative effort. This means that you will never play "as a band" if you aren't listening very carefully to everything your fellow musicians are doing, and responding intuitively. People often think that this is only something jazz drummers do, but that is so very very far from the truth.

Hey, failures are around every corner... but in the end, hard work and intense passion are the things that power success.
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
OK, I'm going to go against the grain and provide the other perspective.

I used to thrive on competitions. They elevate your awareness, help promote your product, and build character. And yeah you're right, you only enter them to win. That's why they're called contests. They have winners and losers, and are essentially devoid of art for arts sake issues. But they can be a tool that can lead you directly to at least some of those things, while most who claim otherwise are those who have never won them. Personally, I used to love hearing guys say they were only entering for fun. All that meant to me was there was one less guy in the way of my free drumset.

I went through a pretty serious competition phase, and in no way was I emotionally or aestheticly damaged. Now if you're one of those guys who spends all his time doing nothing but trying to ace a Guitar Center Final, then yeah that's pretty lame. But interestingly enough nobody who wins those national or worldwide deals is like that. Jerome Flood, the most recent GC Champion has been a classmate of mine here at AIM, and he's extremely versatile.

You have to be playing other stuff while you have your comp thing over to the side. Otherwise, an obvious chill creeps into your playing that even your grandmom /who knows nothing about music/ hears. Therefore, it has to have its place among many things. The moment you lose sight of that, you lose. Bank on it.

Now with all respect, and if you don't mind so much, let me just say something.

You need to drop the I'm depressed stuff, because if you're really interested in contests, that just makes you red meat for your competitors. And for every hour you sulk, another guy just passed you. You're also correct to get serious about actually putting in the work towards being a musical drummer, because you haven't been playing long enough to be competing in anything. I was top 4 WFD for more years than you've been playing, while a lot of pros on this board have been playing drums in the same pair of socks longer than I've been alive. So we're just not in a position for that kind of reflection.

Then when you get yourself together, make motivation the cornerstone.

When I went to my first WFD world comp, I had wiped out everybody on the regional level. Nobody in the world comp prelims was within 4 seconds of me. I was so cocky, I was at the NAMM Pearl display selecting the color of my winnings instead of warming up. Then I lost to a guy I had no respect for by 4 strokes. Now that's embarassment.

I was mad beyond belief. But I had only myself to blame. Starting the next day I got me some toughness, stayed serious about the task, while still doing my other stuff and never obsessed. And I never lost again.

6 months before that, I beat out a huge number of people to get to the first Louie Bellson Comp final that had been held in 20 years, then lost the whole thing in a tie breaker judged by Louie himself. I couldn't believe how it turned out. Then a week later, I lost a goofy regional comp in Dayton, Ohio, when a 20 year old /I was 15 at the time/ saw me practicing my routine, signed up to go on just before me, then stole the first minute of it.

Believing that my career in compeitive drumming had crashed in a cloud of disappointment and shame, I was pretty ticked off. Then I turned around to see that the Ohio WFD championship was going on 50 feet away. It was the first WFD I had ever seen. I grabbed my sticks, stormed over and qualified for the finals in one run without a warmup. Then realizing that rage had stupidly gotten the best of me, I calmed down, performed a careful warmup and won the thing in a romp. 10 minutes later, I got lucky and beat Johnny Rabb in a friendly exhibition /lucky because he was ambushed and hadn't had a chance for a legit speed drum warmup/. A picture of Johnny and me at the thing made its way around the drum forums.

And after that I don't remember ever losing a drumoff again either, and I haven't paid for anything past a couple of pairs of sticks and some brushes in probably 5 years. I just needed that first thing to get me going. But as I've already explained, there were still setbacks, and for every win there's always something you thought you could do better.

Then at the end you do all you can to go out a winner. Last year, when I set the traditional grip world record, I packed up the Drumometer, walked away from the drumoffs and haven't given comps a second thought. It's a phase now in the rear view mirror. But I got a lot out of it. And I don't regret it.

But before I got into a position to win, I became very serious about mental toughness issues to the point of willing outcomes. If you're not interested in taking the time to do that, best to stay out.
 
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mattsmith

Platinum Member
I just got back from the Reno Jazz Festival (one of the largest high school jazz fests in the nation, with competitors from all over the western U.S. and occasionally from other parts of the world), where my self-run jazz combo took 3rd place in our division, which was a wonderful accomplishment for all of us. So I have a bit of advice...

Rehearsal technique and awareness during performance are two hugely important elements.

When you are rehearsing with your band mates, you need to 1) play everything as much as you possibly can, do NOT settle for one quick run-through of your set and leave it at that; PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! 2) Don't be afraid to point out things that you hear wrong during rehearsal. When everyone is giving and receiving each other's advice, the whole band gets lifted onto a whole new level, and everyone able to get into the groove. 3) Get to know your bandmates! Go get coffee! Eat dinner together! Hang out! Familiarizing yourself with someone's personality can only HELP when you're trying to figure out where the heck they are in the song when your hihat clutch cuts out and you're totally lost. (and on that note, don't let gear malfunctioning screw you up. You should be practicing multiple variations of a given beat on different parts of the drumset. That way, you can slide right over into an "alternate" groove if something breaks on you.)

Also, I mentioned being aware during your performance. DO NOT simply zone out and go into a world of your own! A band, definitively, is a collaborative effort. This means that you will never play "as a band" if you aren't listening very carefully to everything your fellow musicians are doing, and responding intuitively. People often think that this is only something jazz drummers do, but that is so very very far from the truth.

Hey, failures are around every corner... but in the end, hard work and intense passion are the things that power success.
The year my hometown university student big band at Pfeiffer went to Reno /2002/ there were 388 bands and only 18 Superior Ratings. Pfeiffer got one of them. I'm pretty sure those 18 bands were drilled mental toughness until it was second, third and 4th nature. Meanwhile at the awards ceremony, all the bands that thought just being there was enough, probably found it perplexing to be sitting in a crowd of 2 thousand people, watching these wierd obsessed people with smiles on their faces, playing onstage alongside some of the best jazz musicians in the world, as they rationalized how unfair it was that everyone wasn't invited onstage too, in one massive lovefest of participation is winning too.

I love the Reno comp and the Lionel Hampton Comp in Idaho. Those bands play for keeps, and being the best you can be is the only thing considered or even accepted.

Congrats on the third place. At Reno, that's a very big deal.
__________________
 

Clayton_C

Senior Member
Congrats on the third place. At Reno, that's a very big deal.
Thanks, man. It was the peak of our time playing together, in terms of actively listening to each other, group dynamics, etc. The judges really liked what we brought to the table. :)
 
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