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  #1  
Old 07-22-2014, 05:11 AM
DSCRAPRE
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Default Negative Progress / Quitting

I used to post around here somewhat regularly a few years back and recently started lurking again. In the intervening time I had played a fair deal with a couple of friends including a handful of casual gigs around the area, nothing too crazy. We stopped doing that after those guys went their separate ways. Most of my playing time has been devoted to playing along to music on my MP3 player. I know that it's not the best practice method, but I really have a hard time working out of books, doing practice routines etc. The disturbing thing that I've noticed is that, slowly but surely, my playing has become far less "capable" than it once was. My playing has become terribly sloppy, uncoordinated and out-of-time even compared to how it was at the beginning of this year. Songs I used to play well are now virtually impossible. I've been playing since early 2009 and I feel like I peaked about a year ago but it's been downhill since. Everyday it seems I somehow lose some level of ability.

I guess I don't have any questions for anybody or anything, I'm just very depressed about all of this, and I needed to vent. Quitting is becoming an increasingly attractive option considering that my potential musical prospects are nonexistent, and even if I did have those prospects, my rapidly deteriorating level of play would surely cripple my attempts at performance. Playing is enraging and not playing feels just as bad.

It's a real mess.

[EDIT: Like I said, I guess I don't have a real question, I just wanted to get this all out in the open]

Last edited by DSCRAPRE; 07-22-2014 at 05:13 AM. Reason: ^
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  #2  
Old 07-22-2014, 05:20 AM
KamaK KamaK is offline
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Playing = Playing what you know
Practicing = Learning what you don't know.

Reignite the furnace and get to work.
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  #3  
Old 07-22-2014, 05:23 AM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

DSCRAPRE:

Sad to hear about this. Having your ability to play degrade like this is not common. I quit playing for many many years and the only thing that suffered was my speed. It is kind of like riding a bicycle, once you learn, you can always ride it.

If you don't enjoy playing then by all means don't do it.

You may have some medical problem. Get yourself checked by a doctor. Explain to him or her that you are losing your coordination.

Best of luck to you.

.


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Old 07-22-2014, 05:28 AM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Most of here drum for fun, so you need to rediscover the fun aspects of making and playing music.

For me, that's playing with mates. I'd love to get to play out, and maybe that will come, and maybe it won't. But playing songs with others is one of the most fun things you can do with your clothes on.

Here's a thought: is it possible that your playing hasn't worsened but your listening has improved?

And another: The best way to improve is to take lessons.
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  #5  
Old 07-22-2014, 06:03 AM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Unless you get a teacher, then playing with others is the only way to go. maybe try a different genre like reggae or some Texas shuffle,or study jazz with a teacher.

I've been playing off and on, mostly on, for the last 30 years. Just the love of playing drums has kept me going. I never miss a practice if I can help it, and I never pass up an opportunity to play with others (almost never). I don't have a place to woodshed, so all my playing is on a set with a band. I've been doing it this way for quite awhile. I just started doing pad work in just the last couple years. Never give up finding and looking for bands. There are plenty of musicians out there.
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  #6  
Old 07-22-2014, 06:16 AM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Hey man,

Sorry to hear that. What it sounds like to me, is that you need to introduce some other hobbys/activities into your life that arent about drumming, or music. Maybe you're playing too much if that makes any sense and your body is getting tired, and your mind a little bored maybe. What I would do is do whatever feels right to you. It sound like to me that you really like to play the drums unless you wouldn't of had the desire to post your feelings on here, so don't quit. I would say just take a little break. Find something else to do. Anything. Go workout, hang out with someone where you don't have to talk about music, go out to a movie, go fix something that needs fixin' around the house, go to an amusement park, get some connections in politics and end world hunger. I don't know. ANYTHING. Then in a week, hop back on that kit, forget anything bad has happened and see if you can play any bit better than you were able to. You may be a whole knew drummer, or you may see just the tiniest bit of improvement but either of those or anything in between is in the right direction. Time is a great medicine

Also, don't let any of this stuff get you down. Drums are supposed to be fun, right? Don't make this a chore for you. Unless its, your only source of income, there's no reason that need to play everyday unless you don't want to. Remember: This stuff is fun.

Let me know if this gets you anywhere and I hope you get your drummer-self back dude.

Best of Luck.

óDan
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  #7  
Old 07-22-2014, 07:23 AM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Ya know.....life happens.

Things come up, barriers get put in our way, our priorities change.

But despite whatever else may be going on in life, the drums are still there.

And sometimes, that's good enough.
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  #8  
Old 07-22-2014, 07:35 AM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Quote:
Originally Posted by DSCRAPRE View Post
I used to post around here somewhat regularly a few years back and recently started lurking again. In the intervening time I had played a fair deal with a couple of friends including a handful of casual gigs around the area, nothing too crazy. We stopped doing that after those guys went their separate ways. Most of my playing time has been devoted to playing along to music on my MP3 player. I know that it's not the best practice method, but I really have a hard time working out of books, doing practice routines etc. The disturbing thing that I've noticed is that, slowly but surely, my playing has become far less "capable" than it once was. My playing has become terribly sloppy, uncoordinated and out-of-time even compared to how it was at the beginning of this year. Songs I used to play well are now virtually impossible. I've been playing since early 2009 and I feel like I peaked about a year ago but it's been downhill since. Everyday it seems I somehow lose some level of ability.

I guess I don't have any questions for anybody or anything, I'm just very depressed about all of this, and I needed to vent. Quitting is becoming an increasingly attractive option considering that my potential musical prospects are nonexistent, and even if I did have those prospects, my rapidly deteriorating level of play would surely cripple my attempts at performance. Playing is enraging and not playing feels just as bad.

It's a real mess.

[EDIT: Like I said, I guess I don't have a real question, I just wanted to get this all out in the open]
When you feel like you're taking backwards steps it's only to get a running start. Find a teacher.
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  #9  
Old 07-22-2014, 10:16 AM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

I actually don't really believe in getting worse. Couldn't it be that either your musical taste
and maturity, or your ears made step forward? So instead of playing worse, you'd be
hearing and understanding your own playing better more accurately, and in the end more
realistically. That's my guess.

Or: You don't yet "have" all the abilities for sure, maybe you haven't really mastered some
of it, and so sometimes it's happening, and some days it's not. As Zoro says - many people
give up at a point not realizing just how close to success they were. If drumming is your
passion, don't quit :)! Maybe take a break, some days, a week or two - sometimes this
does wonders!
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  #10  
Old 07-22-2014, 10:59 AM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

I agree with Swiss_matthias to a degree, the more you know, the more you realize you don't know...which can adjust the perspective of your own playing.

My advice is to eliminate as many distractions as possible, start hitting the books ( preferably with an instructor) and create a practice routine you can do every day, adding new things as you go along. Discipline and desire are the only way to make the improvements you want to see.
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  #11  
Old 07-22-2014, 01:10 PM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Keep at it, please don't get too depressed. Most of us play because we simply love to, most of us don't have all the chops. You could be over critical. Pick the song you love to play the most and get inside it, play it from the heart and then see how you feel. As was mentioned above it may be worth checking If you have developed a balance or inner ear problem.

Good luck, and keep your head up.
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  #12  
Old 07-22-2014, 01:44 PM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

What were you doing before that you are not doing now?
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  #13  
Old 07-22-2014, 01:49 PM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swiss Matthias View Post
I actually don't really believe in getting worse. Couldn't it be that either your musical taste
and maturity, or your ears made step forward? So instead of playing worse, you'd be
hearing and understanding your own playing better more accurately, and in the end more
realistically. That's my guess.
This is a definite possibility. I have seen this effect many times, At the outset, we can't even hear well enough to realize that we sound terrible. I remember, at age 15, thinking that I could play "La Villa Strangiato" perfectly. Later, when I heard the tapes, I wanted to melt into the floor. As our ears improve, all of a sudden we can hear those mistakes and it can be eye-opening.
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  #14  
Old 07-22-2014, 01:50 PM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

I don't know if this is going to help, but I've gone through a similar thing as a guitarist.

After about 5 years into my playing I was doing pretty well. Then, I slowly just kind of got worse. I went through periods where I didn't even pick up the guitar for a long time. At point there was a space of literally two years where I picked it up maybe 5 times to have a quiet solo jam and put it back down again. In the last few months I realised that after those first 5 or so, when things started to change, I should have refocused my approach. Instead, I tried to turn myself into the kind of musician I wasn't - fast solos, technical metal riffage, etc. Meanwhile, what was I listening to? Jazz, prog rock, classical music, electronica.

Bottom line is, I was trying to improve my speed and all techniques geared towards speed when I should have been focusing on my musicality, my musicianship. I should have been taking cues from David Torn, Charles Mingus, Michael Gira and Bill Frisell instead of Steve Vai, John Petrucci, and Jason Becker (not that those guys aren't musical in their own way, just not my way).

Since I've come to terms with my limitations and stopped trying to be a musician I'm not, I've been enjoying my guitars a lot more. I don't know if this has any resonance with your situation, but maybe try and think about what kind of musician you are, and then look at what you're doing behind the kit. Do they align? Or maybe you just need a break. If drumming is really part of your who you are, you'll come back when you're ready, in a couple of weeks or a couple of years. If not, well there's nothing wrong with that.
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  #15  
Old 07-22-2014, 06:22 PM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Introduce some strong practice into your playing. Improving rudiments help you to do what you are thinking. If you can take lessons. I also suggest playing with some people looking to play for fun. playing with others is a very necessary step to improving.

Pick a handful lof songs you like and focus on those. If you are just playing to the next song up you will have trouble improving because you are spending too much time interpretting. Do a little charting of the songs you try, which should help too.
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  #16  
Old 07-22-2014, 07:14 PM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Every problem starts in the head. I don't believe you are losing your abilities, I think your mental outlook is the root of the problem. Just a guess.

If you played a gig where everyone was dancing I bet that would put some wind back in your sails.
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  #17  
Old 07-22-2014, 09:09 PM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swiss Matthias View Post
I actually don't really believe in getting worse. Couldn't it be that either your musical taste
and maturity, or your ears made step forward? So instead of playing worse, you'd be
hearing and understanding your own playing better more accurately, and in the end more
realistically. That's my guess.
THIS.

Hey, man, I've been there, and it's very frustrating: you struggle with things that used to come easily. You feel like you're regressing and you don't know why.

But what I came to realize was that I'd come to expect more out of my playing than I once had, and that it wasn't so much about 'regressing' as much as it was finally recognizing limitations in my drumming. As soon as I adopted this perspective my playing began to come together again.

And always remember: what sound like big, fat fvck-ups to the player are usually not even noticed by the audience. We put ourselves under a microscope that reveals all the imperfections, while the guys you're playing with (and the people listening to the band) are just having fun and appreciating that you're there.

Find some guys to jam with...just jamming, having fun.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollywood Jim View Post
Having your ability to play degrade like this is not common. I quit playing for many many years and the only thing that suffered was my speed. It is kind of like riding a bicycle, once you learn, you can always ride it.
I'm not so sure about this. A few years back when Lars Ulrich's difficulties in playing became internet fodder, I recall a Dave Lombardo interview where he said he felt for Lars because he himself had gone through something similar not long before.

If it can happen to Lombardo, it can happen to anyone. The important thing to note is that Dave worked through it and came back playing better than ever.
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  #18  
Old 07-22-2014, 09:17 PM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Yes this is totally just in your head. You are becoming more critical with time.
Neil Peart stopped near the peak of his career to....change his approach, and take lessons.
Maybe take a break, but those drums will be there, don't quit.
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  #19  
Old 07-22-2014, 09:31 PM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Oftentimes when you feel as if you're getting worse it's not because you are "getting worse" but because your awareness is expanding and you hear more things that you used to didn't perceive.

It's like this- when you begin any activity you're going into a darkened room. You know the room is infinite but all you can see is the tiny space that your tiny light allows you to see. As you begin to work out and become aware of the tiny area you occupy, you begin to "furnish" that area with your personality and proclivities. At some point "the light goes on" by way of epiphany or other realization and all of a sudden you see so much that's there but the meager furnishing that you've brought in prior don't even begin to give the added space any sort of life or definition.

So it's a bit like interior decorating; you have all this newly found space but only so much stuff to put into it to make it look "liveable". So you have to work up more furnishings and items to place around the area and fill it in to make the space functional.

Another way to look at the learning process is like a pile of sand. If you have ever watched those conveyor belts that stack sand onto a pile you'll notice that the height of the pile grows, grows, grows then BAM!! It all falls down and the height shrinks. But what happens? The base gets wider and occupies more space and then it's the same process over again. Wash, rinse, repeat. Eventually you get frustrated at your "upward progress" but should you step backwards and see, the pile of sand is taking up so much space and it's a LOT of material. What you lack in stature is made up for in stability. It's easy to push something tall over if it's not stable.

When I was teaching years back kids would come in with the fast paradiddles and rudiments, stick tricks, etc. I'd give them something to counter that "ego" and it would decimate them. "Play paradiddles around the drumkit" I'd say and they would look at me like I'd asked to sleep with their mom! It was like I'd pushed over the top of their sandpile. But their base needed to be widened.

And so that's probably what's up with your learning process. Your base is getting wider, your light is growing brighter but all you are seeing is the negative and that's the fact that now all you have is empty space where there ought to be something there. Everything you've learned is still there, it's just settled in.
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  #20  
Old 07-22-2014, 09:36 PM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

So why does taking a break mean quitting? I think you're making a mountain out of a mole hill. Seriously, if you feel like you don't want to play for a while, then don't play for a while. That doesn't mean you're quitting, or that you're not a drummer. Sometimes too much practicing leads to the "non-improvement" factor, or actually thinking you're getting worse.

Take some time off, get into some other things (I do alot of other things) and leave the drums alone for a little while. That doesn't mean you can never get back to them. Find a happy place and rejuvenate!
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:01 PM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Quote:
Originally Posted by philrudd View Post
I'm not so sure about this.
philrudd: You mentioned that you are not sure about my comment; when I said I think his degraded playing is not normal.

You might be correct. But I keyed in on this statement he made: "My playing has become terribly sloppy, uncoordinated and out-of-time even compared to how it was at the beginning of this year. Songs I used to play well are now virtually impossible."

Sounds kind of serious to me.

.
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:12 PM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Is there anyone else around you can play with? I could easily see myself getting into exactly the same rut as you if I were just going it alone with drumming. I would almost feel like what's the point if it won't be serving some music at some point. Playing with others will likely give you a sense of purpose to keep moving forward.

The other thing you might consider is if you play any other instruments, start your own home recording project. I've been reduced to once-a-week band practices so playing guitar and bass at home, writing and recording my own stuff, has been where most of my musical itch-scratching has been taking place. Bonus that the new guys I've been playing with like what I write so I feel more like a contributor than just as a drummer.

Do you play any other instruments? Maybe time to think about that - it could be just the shot in the arm you need to expand your horizons while providing a right-now use for your drumming. We always talk about serving the artist and the song with our drumming, so why not be all the above?
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  #23  
Old 07-22-2014, 10:15 PM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

[quote=MikeM;1278506
Do you play any other instruments? Maybe time to think about that - it could be just the shot in the arm you need to expand your horizons while providing a right-now use for your drumming. We always talk about serving the artist and the song with our drumming, so why not be all the above?[/QUOTE]

I've always had a bare-minimum grasp of piano, and in the last year or so picked up the ukulele. I love it. Playing another instrument definitely helps you get a handle on your main instrument. Highly recommended!
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  #24  
Old 07-22-2014, 10:49 PM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

I like Bill Ray's advice, play in the sandbox lol.

Bo brings up a great point too. Why quit when you can take a break? Drums are good practice for real life. Drums are like a marriage. You have to learn how to get through the not so good times. Only drums are way easier, they don't set your chest hair on fire lol.
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  #25  
Old 07-23-2014, 06:30 AM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Thanks everybody!

I'm going to try what a few people have suggested and take a break. As of late, it's been a meaningless treadmill of masturbatory noise-making that I would engage in seemingly out of some bizarre obligation to use the equipment that I w̶a̶s̶t̶e̶d̶ spent so much money on. So I'm packing up the kit, moving it to the attic and I'm not getting it back for a month. I'll see how I'm feeling about it all then.

A teacher would probably be a good idea too.
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Old 07-23-2014, 06:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSCRAPRE View Post
Thanks everybody!

I'm going to try what a few people have suggested and take a break. As of late, it's been a meaningless treadmill of masturbatory noise-making that I would engage in seemingly out of some bizarre obligation to use the equipment that I w̶a̶s̶t̶e̶d̶ spent so much money on. So I'm packing up the kit, moving it to the attic and I'm not getting it back for a month. I'll see how I'm feeling about it all then.

A teacher would probably be a good idea too.
You can't just leave it where it's at and should you feel the urge, just go play it? If you have the room, I'd leave it set up, but put myself under no pressure at all to play it. Stewart Copeland said after his days in the Police, his drumset was the thing in his studio that he walked by on his way to his Fairlight. I say leave it up and relax.
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  #27  
Old 07-23-2014, 09:57 AM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Books are boring, I get that. I've been playing for ages and it's only now I'm getting into reading because I've already got my fingers in the other pies. Books are actually great, that's where you can get routines from, just start from page 1 and go a little further each day, pretty soon you won't even need to look at the book and you'll see your playing change in weird ways.

Do you enjoy just tinkering without any music going? Would you like playing to a click track? I like these things, and that's how I know I'm supposed to play drums. I have had a bit too much lately but I enjoy watching & listening to great drummers, they inspire me, I steal ideas and I try to be like them. Everyone is saying 'do this, do that' when you should probably do a bit of everything. Playing to music, playing to drum less music, playing with people (look for a jam night and have a go), pad/technique stuff, click, open solo's.. Watching/listening to others etc etc etc

Larry kinda said it - you might be getting in your own way. You used to do things without much thought but now you're trying to do them consciously and you're making mistakes because x. Everyone goes through that at some point. I remember learning double kick and sometimes not being able to do the basics.

It seems like these types of threads have everyone ranting and raving, add this to the pile - good luck!
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  #28  
Old 07-23-2014, 11:17 AM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

I'm "getting worse" too, have been for a while, yet strangely, I'm playing what I can play better. My gig performances continue to improve. I'm not stretching myself technically, & that allows me to work more on my interpretation & dynamic skills (still much to do there). Of course, this is all down to playing out & performing. I hardly ever "practice". I know I should, but I almost never have the time. We all "practice" & succeed in different ways.

Take a break, find some gigging/jamming opportunities, & keep your playing simple. Enjoy what you can do, don't struggle with what you can't do (consistently). Back off the expectation gas pedal a bit, & the improvement will happen organically alongside your enjoyment of playing.
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Old 07-23-2014, 08:55 PM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollywood Jim View Post
philrudd: You mentioned that you are not sure about my comment; when I said I think his degraded playing is not normal.

You might be correct. But I keyed in on this statement he made: "My playing has become terribly sloppy, uncoordinated and out-of-time even compared to how it was at the beginning of this year. Songs I used to play well are now virtually impossible."

Sounds kind of serious to me.

.
Yeah, you could be right. I guess I was unsure of how objective the statement was: is the OP actually getting sloppy and uncoordinated, or does he just perceive himself to be getting sloppy and uncoordinated?

I'm thinking the latter usually applies in this sort of situation, but if it's the former, you're right - it could be something beyond the regular psychological stumbling blocks we all come across occasionally. And a trip to the doctor would at least rule out one possibility and free him up to tackle the real problem.
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Old 07-24-2014, 01:23 AM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
You can't just leave it where it's at and should you feel the urge, just go play it? If you have the room, I'd leave it set up, but put myself under no pressure at all to play it. Stewart Copeland said after his days in the Police, his drumset was the thing in his studio that he walked by on his way to his Fairlight. I say leave it up and relax.
Nah, I've tried that before. It only lasts a few hours before I start up again. I view this as kind of a "trial run" for quitting. I'm seeing what it feels like to remove them from my life completely for while.
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  #31  
Old 07-24-2014, 01:32 AM
DSCRAPRE
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

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Originally Posted by philrudd View Post
Yeah, you could be right. I guess I was unsure of how objective the statement was: is the OP actually getting sloppy and uncoordinated, or does he just perceive himself to be getting sloppy and uncoordinated?
Well, I've always been sloppy and uncoordinated, but I feel that it's somehow getting worse. If it is or not is kind of hard to tell, because I have no old recordings of me playing along to music that I can use as a baseline so I can determine.

But, I've never actually been any good at drumming either so it would end up just being degrees of badness anyhow.
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  #32  
Old 07-24-2014, 08:38 AM
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Anon La Ply Anon La Ply is offline
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Philippe (? sorry, bad memory :), I agree with a lot of advice given here about:

1. Taking a break to freshen up
2. Finding someone to jam with / find a band etc.

It seems to me that, like me, you are a kinaesthetic learner. If I don't do something directly for myself I don't learn. Exercises don't engage me. Nor lessons or books. The only time theory has engaged me was to solve a particular musical problem that bugged me.

If you don't aim to be a pro the focus has to be on enjoyment or it's just silly. That means finding the joy of playing even if you commit the seemingly "cardinal sin" of sloppiness.

There has long been a trend towards greater perfection with the evolution of technique and the standards set by machines. Yet perfection - in music and every other area of life - brings no happiness. More usually, perfectionism is a destructive force that sucks the joy out of everything it touches. Sound familiar?

Think of it this way. A lot of the "perfect" music I have heard lacks sincere expression - akin to a politician flawlessly reciting meaningless platitudes. Most of us would much rather hear a sincere layperson give real insights punctuated with stumbles, stutters, ums, ers and "unprofessional" pauses.

I have much more fun with old music (or retro new music) - music that says it's okay for tempos to shift around, that it's okay to focus on expression, feel, sound and imagination at the expense of accuracy - though I say this with a big proviso ... as long as everyone in the band does it together as a team to help the song tell its story.

Moonie. Mitch. John Densmore. All have been lambasted by some people for "sloppiness" - even Bonzo - but their performances are loved my many for their passion and integration with the band and the music.

So, from a non pro standpoint, just get with a bunch of people you like as human beings and try your best to make them sound good. If you do that you will most likely rediscover your joy of drumming.

That's my cent.
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  #33  
Old 07-24-2014, 11:53 AM
Boomka Boomka is offline
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swiss Matthias View Post
I actually don't really believe in getting worse. Couldn't it be that either your musical taste
and maturity, or your ears made step forward? So instead of playing worse, you'd be
hearing and understanding your own playing better more accurately, and in the end more
realistically. That's my guess.

Or: You don't yet "have" all the abilities for sure, maybe you haven't really mastered some
of it, and so sometimes it's happening, and some days it's not. As Zoro says - many people
give up at a point not realizing just how close to success they were. If drumming is your
passion, don't quit :)! Maybe take a break, some days, a week or two - sometimes this
does wonders!
Exactly. Good post, Matthias.

Beyond the possibility of medical conditions, I'm going to ask the OP the same question as Phil Rudd: how do you KNOW you're getting worse? Do you record yourself? What evidence do you have? Of course, it is possible that you're deteriorating because you aren't playing new and challenging things. You're playing the same songs over and over which means you aren't challenging your brain and body to get better. I've seen lots of players - including myself - deteriorate when they get stuck into a repetitive gig for too long. The lack of new challenges leads to stasis or you start to accept mistakes and cut corners and eventually your playing doesn't go anywhere or even gets worse.

But, are you really getting worse? We can convince ourselves of all manner of things. I'm no stranger to a negative internal (and sometimes external) monologue. You know, that voice that tells you you suck, that you'll never amount to anything, that you just sh*t all over the stage during that last performance, etc. The thing is, a lot of that isn't objective information. It's just noise in your head. Somehow, despite that nasty voice, I've managed a fairly good career as a player and teacher. So something must be going right. I've asked around; believe me, you aren't the only one who thinks they suck. :)

As Matthias alluded to, sometimes we can also convince ourselves that we're really, really good. That we're nailing something that we're really not. A lot of younger drummers go through this in my experience. They have a sense that it's all going swimmingly because they don't yet hear the subtle (and not so subtle) problems in their own playing. So perhaps this feeling that songs you used to play fluidly are now impossible is actually your ears and discernment outpacing your technical abilities. Perhaps you're finally hearing the errors that were there all along and that haven't been corrected because you don't have a serious practice routine. Also, while recording can provide some objective feedback, this is one of the primary roles of a teacher: to help a student learn to hear and diagnose the problems in their own playing. External correction leads to self-correction.

Also, what are your goals? It's difficult to ascertain if we're really getting better or worse unless we have a definite aim. I think you may have named your biggest problem. And it's not just a technical one, but an emotional one: by not having clear goals or practice structure, you've robbed yourself of the magnificent feeling that comes when you surpass a personal benchmark. If you set small, purposeful goals you can come out of the practice room every time with a feeling of accomplishment. Don't cheat yourself of that. It's really important. In my life, that feeling of depression and being stuck comes up when I don't have a clear set of goals I'm working toward and a way of measuring progress. Imagine a weightlifter who went to the gym and just lifted random stuff without ever keeping track of how much they lifted or how many times they lifted it. How would they ever get anywhere? But, the weightlifter who goes in to the gym with a clear outline of what they're trying to achieve that day (and what they've achieved previously) can walk out knowing that they did just a little more today than last week. They can walk out knowing they're stronger than they were before. I'm sorry to say that your methods are setting you up for feelings of failure because they don't provide for a feeling of accomplishment. Don't be the author of your own demise!

You say yourself "I know it's not the best way to practice". If you know that, then why are you surprised and depressed when you aren't getting the results you want? Repeating errors hundreds or thousands of times can definitely make you worse. But you're already half way to solving your problem because you know what to work on from identifying what isn't right in your playing: e.g. coordination, etc. Put some solid programmed work in on that and if you don't make progress, then you might have a problem. Don't give up before you've tried the patently obvious.

I only play a doctor on TV, but I suspect this isn't medical but you coming to grips with the difficulty of the task of becoming a good drummer or, in fact, good at anything. But, don't try to do that all at once. Bite off some small chunks and chew them for a bit. Start with what you know you're weak at. Be clear about what you're trying to achieve and track your progress as objectively as you can. The negative voices in your head don't have to be in charge. You have a choice to make. Have courage and face your demons down or let them run the show. What do you want? Who do you want to be?

Last edited by Boomka; 07-24-2014 at 01:04 PM.
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  #34  
Old 07-24-2014, 03:14 PM
wy yung
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swiss Matthias View Post
I actually don't really believe in getting worse. Couldn't it be that either your musical taste
and maturity, or your ears made step forward? So instead of playing worse, you'd be
hearing and understanding your own playing better more accurately, and in the end more
realistically. That's my guess.

Or: You don't yet "have" all the abilities for sure, maybe you haven't really mastered some
of it, and so sometimes it's happening, and some days it's not. As Zoro says - many people
give up at a point not realizing just how close to success they were. If drumming is your
passion, don't quit :)! Maybe take a break, some days, a week or two - sometimes this
does wonders!

This.


Over the decades I have seen many fall away. Generally the reason was the same. The player had found some excuse not to practise properly. Ignore basics, mistake fun for actual work, and then later complain and and give up.

As if their poor attitude was ever going to produce positive results. Of course they were going to fail. And we see them come and go every day. Whether or not the OP continues is meaningless. Another will take up drums and buy equipment in his place...

I tell all my students that it takes work. But also that what they achieve is a choice. How good one wants to be is how good they can be. And mistakes and trials and failure are par for the course. One must be prepared to make mistakes. And understand that only through mistakes does progress take place.

I am not a drumming ambulance driver. Nor is anyone here. We all care that drumming may cause personal pain. But I think we also know that drums do not do that. That drums are passive things that must be struck in order to speak.

I think, OP, you probably need to ask yourself what it is you want. Be comfortable with that and simply play.

It is up to you. Unless of course there is an illness involved. In that case see a doctor.
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  #35  
Old 07-24-2014, 05:16 PM
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larryace larryace is offline
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

DSCRAPRE...in you original post you said that playing is enraging....

It is totally possible to feel the opposite of this, like right away. It's your choice.

There's so many things I can't do, but to get enraged over them...that could be the very worst place to play from.

You are taking a break, but IMO, the first thing that needs work, and it's not too hard, is your whole mental approach. You're too hard on yourself. 5 years is not a long time playing drums.

Lighten up. Use the drums for fun. Right now you are using them as a way to get aggravated. Playing and infuriating yourself is 100 times worse than not playing at all.

Adjust your mental approach. The one you're using now is about as detrimental as it gets.
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  #36  
Old 07-24-2014, 07:30 PM
Brian Brian is offline
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

I have to agree with Larry there. It's one thing to play the drums with some anger and conviction such as that, in a deliberate way - but it's another to mentally approach drums with the outlook that you are getting worse and generally unhappiness, and play angrily.

I was reading a thread several months ago about taking time off from drumming and became curious, so I took a break for one full week back in May. It was the first time in ten years I hadn't picked up sticks every day for at least a half hour. Overall, definitely a breathe of fresh air and I maybe even improved a bit. My worry is always falling behind and not improving, so that week off was reassuring.
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  #37  
Old 07-24-2014, 11:08 PM
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mmulcahy1 mmulcahy1 is offline
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

You need an attitude adjustment - plain and simple.

And since that's the case, take a break. Get away from your drums for a while. What's it going to hurt, huh?

Just like personal relationships, you know you like (and/or love) the other person, but sometimes it's nice to just get away from them.

Take a break and focus on something else.

Everybody needs to once in a while.
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  #38  
Old 07-24-2014, 11:17 PM
Drumminchick Drumminchick is offline
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

I never quit... however, I went on a long sabbatical as I like to say. It had the exact opposite affect on me - I am excited about drumming again. I was a little disappointed in myself at first because the chops weren't there like they used to be. However, after my first "get into the true groove" session with myself... I realized something: I've matured... my sound has matured. My brain actually missed playing and I was capable of things that I didn't know I was. After one good session... I knew I hadn't lost it.

I don't play out. I don't play in a group. I play for me, plain and simple. This is the first time in my drumming career that it has been this way.

Here's my advice: Find YOURSELF in your drumming. Who cares about the song? I've never practiced with a song in my life. Play what you feel... put it into beats.
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  #39  
Old 07-24-2014, 11:36 PM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Quote:
Originally Posted by DSCRAPRE View Post
Well, I've always been sloppy and uncoordinated, but I feel that it's somehow getting worse. If it is or not is kind of hard to tell, because I have no old recordings of me playing along to music that I can use as a baseline so I can determine.

But, I've never actually been any good at drumming either so it would end up just being degrees of badness anyhow.
Oh, MAN! You just need to get your confidence up.

And I've BEEN THERE! I've thought about quitting more than once. There were a few times when I was absolutely certain that throwing away the whole kit was the best solution to my problems.

But I didn't. And I'm betting you won't either. In some weird way, in the not-too-distant future, you're going to reflect on this moment and realize it was a pivotal point in your growth as a drummer.
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  #40  
Old 07-25-2014, 12:40 AM
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Default Re: Negative Progress / Quitting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anon La Ply View Post
Philippe (? sorry, bad memory :), I agree with a lot of advice given here about:

1. Taking a break to freshen up
2. Finding someone to jam with / find a band etc.

It seems to me that, like me, you are a kinaesthetic learner. If I don't do something directly for myself I don't learn. Exercises don't engage me. Nor lessons or books. The only time theory has engaged me was to solve a particular musical problem that bugged me.

If you don't aim to be a pro the focus has to be on enjoyment or it's just silly. That means finding the joy of playing even if you commit the seemingly "cardinal sin" of sloppiness.

There has long been a trend towards greater perfection with the evolution of technique and the standards set by machines. Yet perfection - in music and every other area of life - brings no happiness. More usually, perfectionism is a destructive force that sucks the joy out of everything it touches. Sound familiar?

Think of it this way. A lot of the "perfect" music I have heard lacks sincere expression - akin to a politician flawlessly reciting meaningless platitudes. Most of us would much rather hear a sincere layperson give real insights punctuated with stumbles, stutters, ums, ers and "unprofessional" pauses.

I have much more fun with old music (or retro new music) - music that says it's okay for tempos to shift around, that it's okay to focus on expression, feel, sound and imagination at the expense of accuracy - though I say this with a big proviso ... as long as everyone in the band does it together as a team to help the song tell its story.

Moonie. Mitch. John Densmore. All have been lambasted by some people for "sloppiness" - even Bonzo - but their performances are loved my many for their passion and integration with the band and the music.

So, from a non pro standpoint, just get with a bunch of people you like as human beings and try your best to make them sound good. If you do that you will most likely rediscover your joy of drumming.

That's my cent.
As always Grea, awesome insight. This really resonates with me. There was only one band I was in that had serious "pro" ambitions and having some of those issues always in my face was a total buzzkill. After that (and even before, but especially after), I made it my mission to never mess with the source of what makes me like to play to begin with again.

It's good to have goals but for some things (creative itch-scratching, for example), I prefer not having anything too specific. Sometimes it's better to just see where the rabbit hole takes you than trying to find a pot of gold down there somewhere (mixed metaphor for mixed up goals :) There are plenty of other interesting discoveries to stumble across without getting wrapped up in trying to know what they are beforehand.

There are enough things in life that aren't necessarily fun, so music, as a as refuge from the dull day-to-day stuff, absolutely has to be be that. At least for me.

When it comes to recreational activities, I'm firmly in the camp that says if it ain't fun, don't do it. Life's short, so if drumming isn't doing it for you, find something else that does. No harm in that. Better to get a good read on your personal satisfaction landscape and make corrections (difficult as they may be) than to stubbornly stick to a outdated course that will never get you where you want to be.
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