Working through a drumming Plateau

Hoosier Drummer

Junior Member
I am in an unbelievablely great mood because with perserverience I've worked through a plateau or sticking point in my drumming. I've played the drums from age 6 and now I'm in my 30's. I've played with a purpose for at least 15 years but with the advancements in the internet and youtube I've probably learned more in the last 5 years than I ever thought possible. I've played several different styles of music but I really enjoy the hard metal stuff. Probably because of my age, but I've loved speed and double bass and prided myself in technique. I've also known my limitations as well. For a few years I've been trying to master command of double bass foot work and speed, power and all the while doing it without forcing it. Yesterday I figured something out and then it just hit me; so this is how it's done. I've read a lot of information on line here and watched a lot of techniques on youtube ect... drum videos, and practiced, practiced, practiced. working through a sticking point brings an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction thats hard to explain. Although my breakthrough happened to be in double bass it isn't the basis of the thread. This issue was over 3 years old. How long have some of you been working on Plateau's? Do you remember the feeling of overcoming something? Although business isn't good and money isn't great either, I don't care because I've got such a great feeling of accomplishment. Don't get me wrong, I'd like more money, but the world's problems just aren't as big today as they were before.
 

aaajn

Silver Member
I am in an unbelievablely great mood because with perserverience I've worked through a plateau or sticking point in my drumming. I've played the drums from age 6 and now I'm in my 30's. I've played with a purpose for at least 15 years but with the advancements in the internet and youtube I've probably learned more in the last 5 years than I ever thought possible. I've played several different styles of music but I really enjoy the hard metal stuff. Probably because of my age, but I've loved speed and double bass and prided myself in technique. I've also known my limitations as well. For a few years I've been trying to master command of double bass foot work and speed, power and all the while doing it without forcing it. Yesterday I figured something out and then it just hit me; so this is how it's done. I've read a lot of information on line here and watched a lot of techniques on youtube ect... drum videos, and practiced, practiced, practiced. working through a sticking point brings an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction thats hard to explain. Although my breakthrough happened to be in double bass it isn't the basis of the thread. This issue was over 3 years old. How long have some of you been working on Plateau's? Do you remember the feeling of overcoming something? Although business isn't good and money isn't great either, I don't care because I've got such a great feeling of accomplishment. Don't get me wrong, I'd like more money, but the world's problems just aren't as big today as they were before.

Awesome work I look forward to having these same problems.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Well done, Hoosier :)

How long have some of you been working on Plateau's? Do you remember the feeling of overcoming something?
I've been on a plateau since around 1980 LOL

My left hand technique has always held me back so I've finally bitten the bullet and focused on improving that by working on the Texas shuffle (normally I'd just play backbeat in a shuffle).

Last night I decided to be more stringent about my grip and stroke and slowed and slowed until I wasn't "cheating" by using bad technique. I was down to single strokes at 60bpm. Then I got more stringent again, measuring what my right hand was doing and comparing what was going on.

Finally, it struck me that I've been too forced and unnatural with my stroke and I experimented. I finally came upon to a flicking stroke that's like trying to gently swat a fly with the stick, not enough to squish it, just to stun it.

That felt good and natural so that will be my approach in working on the Texas shuffle. I see months of work ahead just to get that down at mid tempo so it feels natural.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The Texas shuffle is one of the best beats I know to get that left hand up to snuff. Instead of hitting it harder on the 2 and 4 to accentuate the backbeat, I play a rimshot on 2 and 4 with the same force as all the rest of the hits, and it comes out sounding accented, without extra effort (well you do have to change the angle of the stick to hit the rimshot.) All non rimshotted hits are just played with the tip on the head. One of my bands plays ZZ Top's "La Grange", for me, the definitive Texas Shuffle beat, and sometimes the guitarist plays his solo for like 10 minutes. That's a real workout. Plus it's of the coolest beats I know.
Polly, how do you get the flys to stay on your drumhead? Are they trained? Do you have a jar of them or something? After you stun them, are they still useable later?
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
The Texas shuffle is one of the best beats I know to get that left hand up to snuff. Instead of hitting it harder on the 2 and 4 to accentuate the backbeat, I play a rimshot on 2 and 4 with the same force as all the rest of the hits, and it comes out sounding accented, without extra effort (well you do have to change the angle of the stick to hit the rimshot.) All non rimshotted hits are just played with the tip on the head. One of my bands plays ZZ Top's "La Grange", for me, the definitive Texas Shuffle beat, and sometimes the guitarist plays his solo for like 10 minutes. That's a real workout. Plus it's of the coolest beats I know.
Polly, how do you get the flys to stay on your drumhead? Are they trained? Do you have a jar of them or something? After you stun them, are they still useable later?
Yeah, the TS is the next frontier for me. Long way to go before getting to La Grange tempo. Maybe a year, I'd guess. A bit risky to suggest rimshots to me after hearing my recording on the consolidated links thread, don't you think? ta-ta-click-tata-ta-click. I can't practice them in my non-soundproofed apartment or there'd be a lynch mob after me - burning torches, jars of stunned flies ... the works.

One of the hardest things with plateaus is working something new out and taking it from the pad to the public. It's easy to be impatient, but being able to pull off a phrase, beat etc nine times out of ten without losing the groove isn't good enough; it's got to be second nature. I guess that's where jamming with friends helps to act as a bridge.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I'm surprised this thread hasn't received much attention.

I would have thought this is a universal for players of all levels and we probably all have commonalities and differences in our means of working through plateaus.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
Isnt it the greatest feeling in the world!
I've always had a drumming plateau/mountain, whatever you want to call it... and I think its incredible fun to attack it day after day, week after week, lose hope, get frustrated and down on yourself and come back at it again and again, till suddenly 2 year later, eureka.... you pull it off!

Its the best.
 
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I have only been playing for a year and I ALWAYS feel like I am in a plateau lol. Honestly though the only thing I can do is just try to put in time to practice and just keep trying. Hopefully something will come out of it.
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
i don't feel like i'm on a plateau so much as i feel like i'm on a very long, shallow incline. i work and work on things, but they come slowly. they do come though.
 
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BigSteve

Guest
Nice job Hoosier Drummer!

It's a great feeling isn't it? :) I've had several little break throughs lately and it seems one leads to another sometimes! Larryace...yep the Texas Shuffle will get the left hand burning!! Hang in there Pollyanna...it took me months to even produce as half @ss shuffle my left hand was so bad! And I'd switched from matched to trad. grip....actually learning to use both depending on the situation. I'm surprised that I don't have a Popeye looking left fore arm from all the sticking excercises repeated in duplicate by my left arm, first matched then traditional. lol My latest breakthrough has been a glimmer of independence between my left and right arms and my right foot. I just didn't have much before...still pushing as I'm not even close to where I want to be yet.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Larryace...yep the Texas Shuffle will get the left hand burning!! Hang in there Pollyanna...it took me months to even produce as half @ss shuffle my left hand was so bad!
Thanks for the encouragement, Steve. It's good to hear a real life story where chipping away gets the result. Did you practice it more just left hand or always both hands in unison? At the moment I'm doing it both ways, but mostly just using my left on the pad while watching TV, with my feet tapping four on the floor. It leaves the right hand free for eating :)

Yep, I'm thinking months - at least. Maybe by retirement age LOL That's ok, plenty of time. I'll just keep playing simpler shuffle beats with the band until I reach Texas ...
 
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BigSteve

Guest
Pollyanna,

I've practiced it on just the pad and on the kit. I started with my right foot and left hand slowly...boom tata ta...boom tata ta...same with the kit until it was a little comfortable. Then added the right hand slowly working on the groove until that was comfortable. After all of that I'm trying to get some bass added and some swing in the right hand. Once all of that is do able I'll add more speed and play with some fills. It's always a fun journey. I'm also working on some latin grooves, an area where I don't have much of a drumming vocabulary either.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Thx Steve. That approach makes sense. Do you have it down to a gigworthy level now?

I'll be happy to replicate the drummer in Continental Robert Susz's Blues Booglaroo. He's basically just bouncing both feet on the quarters and Texas shuffling with his hands and it swings sweetly.

Even if it takes a year to get it swinging there'll be spinoff benefits to my left hand that will help many other areas of my playing anyway. I picked that up from a few forum members -it's better not to practice lots of weak areas at once because we'll end up with, as Boomka puts it, half-digested learning. Better to spend a heap of time just focusing on one simple thing and getting it completely down to the point where the groove is hypnotic. That naturally flows to other aspects of our playing. I suspect it's a great way to get past plateaus too.

There are some good Latin instructional things on YouTube. Yeah, it's challenging. Latin drumming is something I'm happy to appreciate from afar while I work on simpler stuff. If my band does something of that ilk I'll just fudge it with two or four on the floor with a bit of cross stick & tom LOL
 

con struct

Platinum Member
I've always viewed reaching a plateau as a taking inventory sort of thing. "Okay, here's where I am, let's see what I've got." That's where your individual style comes from I think. I take all the good stuff I've got and put that over here, then I'll look at the crap stuff and toss it out. What's left? Just the good stuff, and that's what I want to build on until the next plateau. Then the process repeats.
The funny thing is that whenever this happens I always end up finding one thing that I consider to be holding me back. This shoulder, that foot, this hand. Or maybe my stool is too high. Maybe my snare drum is too low. Maybe my bass pedal is too loose, or too tight. Over the years you sort of customize yourself, and that's why we need these plateaus from time to time.
 
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BigSteve

Guest
I could do the most simple version and gig with it.....but nothing that really swings...that's just not there yet!
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Interesting ideas, Conrad. I take it there's a moment when you think, "Geez, I haven't gotten anything new down for a while. Time to take an inventory" .... ?

I'm hearing you, Steve. At this stage I wouldn't even consider taking it to a practice let alone a gig.

Have you seen Zack Albetta's Latin tutorial? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2SI7qXnHOE. It damn near makes the style comprehensible to me.
 

Dedworx

Senior Member
I am in an unbelievablely great mood because with perserverience I've worked through a plateau or sticking point in my drumming. I've played the drums from age 6 and now I'm in my 30's. I've played with a purpose for at least 15 years but with the advancements in the internet and youtube I've probably learned more in the last 5 years than I ever thought possible. I've played several different styles of music but I really enjoy the hard metal stuff. Probably because of my age, but I've loved speed and double bass and prided myself in technique. I've also known my limitations as well. For a few years I've been trying to master command of double bass foot work and speed, power and all the while doing it without forcing it. Yesterday I figured something out and then it just hit me; so this is how it's done. I've read a lot of information on line here and watched a lot of techniques on youtube ect... drum videos, and practiced, practiced, practiced. working through a sticking point brings an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction thats hard to explain. Although my breakthrough happened to be in double bass it isn't the basis of the thread. This issue was over 3 years old. How long have some of you been working on Plateau's? Do you remember the feeling of overcoming something? Although business isn't good and money isn't great either, I don't care because I've got such a great feeling of accomplishment. Don't get me wrong, I'd like more money, but the world's problems just aren't as big today as they were before.
well done man! great to hear you've acheived what you set out to.

i try hard to avoid plateaus by always working out where i'm going next before i finish what im currently working on. a combination of short and long terms goals seems to work for me. the internet is fantastic for searching around for methods if the plateau is caused by physical limitations.

being in the great place you're in i'm sure will really help you in the next thing you set out to acheive. especially knowing you can stick with something, even over a period of years, and come out the other side achieving it.
 
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