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Old 03-19-2011, 04:58 AM
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southpark southpark is offline
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Default First gig, nervous

Hey everyone. I'm an amateur drummer that has been invited to play with a band whom I jammed with a few times (some of the members) and we will be jamming once a week for a couple hours until maximum September (when most of the members will be going abroad). By then we are expected to play live and record a demo. I am terrified. I love playing more than anything, and I am extremely excited about the jams, but horrified at the idea of recording, and playing live. I am the most amateur player in the band compared to all others. Here are some things that are bothering me:

1) The audience will most likely be quite small. I can't decide if I would feel more nervous with a smaller or larger audience. In any case, I will be nervous. Also, I live in a small country, and the rock/metal community is even smaller, and I expect I might see some people in the audience I will know. I also cannot decide whether or not playing in front of strangers is more nerve wrecking than playing in front of acquaintances.

2) When to begin a song? For some reason, I find it a little annoying and repetitive when people hit the sticks before every song, and when they don't and I can't seem to detect any cue of an auditory or visual countdown, I always wonder... how the hell do they do it?! Whenever I jammed with anyone and they sort of nodded their heads to start or said "Let's start", I never really knew... when to start. I was talking to my boyfriend about this (who's also a drummer and has played live countless times) and he told me that the more I play with them the more used to their timing I will get, and sooner or later our "inner clocks" will synchronize. Makes perfect sense, but what if......... BLAAAAAA there's always the what if. No one wants to start a song sloppily. This is all assuming the song is not started by only one instrument and picked up by the rest, but everyone starting simultaneously.

3) Probably the most important one. We will have to learn about 20 songs before, say, August. We will be playing for 2-2:30 hours every week. That means, starting Sunday, I will have approximately 22 jams to learn and perfect the songs, including all of August. I don't have my own drums and am currently broke so buying an electronic set is out of the question, so my best bet is to listen to the songs a million times and tap around with my sticks and feet. And this is all assuming we will be playing in August and not sooner, and assuming all the jams are fixed and there is no way some will be canceled for whatever reason.

4) Sound and equipment. This country is strangely notorious for bad sound at gigs. Especially metal, which is understandable, since the distortion takes a hell of a lot more of a toll on the clarity and balance than any other genre. Thankfully, we will be playing rock with moderate distortion. But what about the equipment and the sound guy? As far as I can remember, whenever I attended a gig that friends played at and I had inside information on how the sound preferences were communicated to the sound engineer, every time there has been either a fundamental misunderstanding or just carelessness and indifference on the sound guy's part, so I am a bit biased and predisposed to being wary of them. No offense to any sound engineers! And the equipment.. since I am amateur, I have noticed a MASSIVE difference on the quality of my playing based on the set. I know that the quality of the set affects everyone's playing to some extent, but the more professional a player is, I imagine the difference will exponentially become less and less.

5) Perhaps related to paranoia #4: What if I can't hear the other players? I will f*** up badly. Memory and knowing a piece inside out doesn't seem to be enough to keep the song going. Obviously, you have to be able to hear others playing to be in tune with everything as it is going, split second by split second, vibe and all. My boyfriend told me that during his second to last gig he could barely hear a thing apart from himself playing. He managed to pull it off quite well, but I know I am doomed to failure (dooming the rest of the band with me) if I can't hear anything.

6) Facial expressions. Sometimes when I'm playing, my self observation kicks in and I realize that I'm making totally retarded facial expressions.

Well.... these are the concerns I can currently think of. I'm sure there are others that I'm not thinking of at the moment... thankfully. Everyone I talk to about this (well, just by boyfriend, our friend/his bandmate, and my bandmates) are all just saying "Chill out, relax, learn the songs, everything will be fine." Please... I need advice!!

Thanks for reading my over-elaborated and strung-out post!
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:36 AM
shadowlorde shadowlorde is offline
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

ever hear the term "fake it till you make it"

if you get nervous .. close your eyes and visualize ppl screaming your name .. no can do no wrong in their eyes.

over all .. it's all about having fun ... and also know .. unless the audience is a room full of drummers or extremely learn-ed musicians .. no one will notice a mistake unless it's so bad you have to totally stop the song. just listen as best you can to your mates and jam out .. if you get nervous .. close your eyes .. enjoy the natural high the stage gives you .

suggestion though .. if you can ... don't be that band that stops after every song and has a 5 minute discussion on what song to play next .. work on transitions .. 1 song ends .. quick 4 on the hats into the next song .. or song ends straight into guitar intro for next song ... or work out some hits from the end of 1 song straight into the next .. try to do a group of 3 songs before your front person does a non music rambeling session

and don't be afraid of the 4 count off ... unless they have in ear monitors and a click track pretty much everyone does it .. some click sticks .. some hit the hats .. some speak it, .. unless you mastered telepathy .. it's practically impossible to start dead on without it
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:41 AM
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720hours World Record 720hours World Record is offline
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

Southpark

First of all - if your nervous and your mind is racing before your first gig - That is normal, if you were not scared that would be bad.

Take the time to make your first gig your 5th or 6th, by that I mean take every chance you can to play in front of anyone, kids, people down the street etc. and understand you will make mistakes and have problems - its how you recover from the problems that matter. If you dont have a drum set - play on boxes (they were a HIT at a party for me one year) get creative. If you drop a stick - and don't have a spare - play one handed, if you drop the other stick - play with your hands! develop a calm quick recovery mindset.

What you will learn over time is recovering from problems will be automatic for you, we all have instrument and sound problems that sneek up when you least expect them - keep your cool on the outside (even if your mind is is going a million miles an hour) and deal with them when they happen.

Oh - and I don't like using sticks to count off either - I make the band have full eye contact on me and I nod my head to the beat to start.

GOOD LUCK - you will do fine.
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:49 AM
shadowlorde shadowlorde is offline
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

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Originally Posted by 720hours World Record View Post
Southpark



What you will learn over time is recovering from problems will be automatic for you, we all have instrument and sound problems that sneek up when you least expect them - keep your cool on the outside (even if your mind is is going a million miles an hour) and deal with them when they happen.


GOOD LUCK - you will do fine.

agreed .,..EVERYONE (even the pros) f*** up once in a while ... its how fast they recover that is important .... if you get totally lost .. try to just keep basic time and listen until you get back on track .. NEVER STOP .. odds are a non- musician in the audience will barely notice unless you just stop playing and give the deer in headlights look ...
1st gigs are always an experience .. i remember my 1st gig more fondly than losing my virginity .. just ride the waves

HAIL AND KILL ! ( just saw manowar last weekend .. still on a metal high from that show )
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:59 AM
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southpark southpark is offline
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

Thanks everyone! 720 Hours World Record, you got me paranoid about losing my stick(s) :P lol jk, I already had that paranoia, it was bound to come back at one of the jams when it'd probably flick out of my hand. xD Maaaan I suck. Anyway, thanks again guys :)
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Old 03-19-2011, 06:09 AM
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

The best cure for being nervous about a gig is - lots of - work.
Learn your material until you have it down in your sleep.

The learning doesn't all have to be at the kit. You can do tons of it by - just listening.
In the car. On the train. etc. Put your down time to good use.

You have plenty of time to learn your material. Put your work in, and you're going to be fine. The people you are playing with like the way you play. If they didn't, you wouldn't have the gig. Enjoy it.
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Old 03-19-2011, 06:58 AM
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

Face it you will be nervous. Accept that. Work around it. Prepare yourself as best you can, but once you're up there, stop thinking and just feel the music. Try and find your center by meditating and relaxing yourself right before you play if possible. Picture your best desired outcome while meditating. But once you're behind the kit, listen hard and just feel the music, that's all there is. That's all you have to do. Have faith that you will automatically do the best you can, and simply allow the music to flow through you.
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Old 03-19-2011, 10:49 AM
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
Face it you will be nervous. Accept that. Work around it. Prepare yourself as best you can, but once you're up there, stop thinking and just feel the music. Try and find your center by meditating and relaxing yourself right before you play if possible. Picture your best desired outcome while meditating. But once you're behind the kit, listen hard and just feel the music, that's all there is. That's all you have to do. Have faith that you will automatically do the best you can, and simply allow the music to flow through you.
Superb advice from someone I know doesn't suffer from performance nerves. I'm luckily in the same boat, but I guarantee we both felt quite a degree of aprehension on our first time out. Problem is, it was soooo long ago, we can't remember through the early days haze of partying & endless supply of hot chicks hungry for a bit of demi rock god action, lol! (hope the possibility has taken your mind off the detail!)
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:00 PM
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

My first gig was about a year ago, and I've played a ton since then.

As much as I messed up, It was the most fun I've ever had. I wasn't terribly scared, more excited. At some point I realized I didn't really care what the audience thought, I just really like playing. Point is, the first gig is almost always going to be your worst, but you'can only get better. Have fun, pretend people are watching you practice.

Recording was less fun, just because it's repetetive and everything's got to be perfect or close to it.
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:06 PM
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

First gig, nervous, human.
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:12 PM
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

My first gig was the worst one I've ever played. I had to use this horrible CB/Trax kit, which had a defective hi-hat. I lost sticks, the hi-hat got stuck, played wrong etc. It was a learning experience though. Always come prepared and set up everything before you start to play. After that, my gigs have just gotten better and better.
As long as you don't think about the audience and playing wrong, it's one of the best feelings in the world!
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:23 PM
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

I just want to tell you about a recent gig of mine -.-' Hahah
I played in a really big room, but only a small bunch of people so it really sucked. A smaller room, filled with people is much more intense and works ten times better!
Well, about 1 minute in the song, i fucked up and threw the stick away.. not meant to, but some guy threw it back and i catched it and started playing again, in the meanwhile ofc, i just played a beat with one stick ^^ LOL
Worked out fine, even tho i couldn't hear shit, and i dropped my stick. I pretty much laughed at it the whole day.

Another gig, was a little sooner than that. I was nervous, really nervous and i just wanted to get it over with, but afterwards, i wanted to play more, because it worked so well. A heavy metal dude was head banging in front of the stage for 10 minutes, so i guess he liked it a little. - Btw that was my biggest gig ever! Packed with people, and so nice!

MY POINT IS! Maybe u screw up once, but it will be okay. I've done it quite aŽlot.
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:55 PM
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southpark southpark is offline
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

Ahhh i just remembered.... lol... you will s*** your pants from shame and pity for me... i can't play open/closed hi-hat variations yet. it has to be pre-set one way or another and tightened, i can't do those closed and then open 't-t-sssssssss' grooves. also - can't play double pedal, can barely blast (but luckily it's not necessary for this project) and the last couple times i jammed (last week for 10 minutes and 8+months ago for approx. half an hour) my fills were worse than normal because i was playing on my bf's left hand setting and was not f***** to switch them. ok seriously enough complaining... I will go on forever. thank you all :) i just needed some fellow drummers' (if i can even call myself that atm) input and advice on this. thank you so much! :)
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Old 03-19-2011, 06:16 PM
Bertram Bertram is offline
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

No problem, you will track it down! Also fills can be anything, it can be a break, some hits at random places! Just mess arround, try different stuff.
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Old 03-19-2011, 06:24 PM
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

Find time and opportunity to practice outside of rehearsal. If you played guitar, you would have one so you could practice, right? Maybe you can go to where there is a drum set a couple times per week.

Learn to chart out the songs, because, you're right, 20 songs is a lot to remember in a relaxed environment, let alone on stage! Having the song's structure written out on a page, with notes on it about when/what fill to play, when to switch to the ride cymbal, etc., will help keep all that information organized, and you will be able to memorize it for the gig.

Count off with your voice AND the sticks, LOUDLY! I agree that it's not the most glamourous approach, but you'll drive the bus when it comes to starting a song most of the time, so learn to do it confidently. Before you count, look at your bandmates. Are they tuning? Switching instruments? Being distracted? Tell them to look your way when they are ready, so you know when to count. Your band needs to start the efffing song together, so this is non-negotiable! If something goes wrong (break a string, etc.) with one of your band mates, tell them to let you know, so you don't count off the next song right away.

Expect that the sound will be bad, but arrive early and respectfully request that you can have a monitor next to the drums, so you can hear the vocals. It may be that the previous drummer wanted to hear the guitar in that monitor, so it's up to you to communicate your desires to the sound guy. Learn his name and be polite.

Even if you can't hear the band that well, play the perfect version of the song in your head. Things will get ugly if everyone is just following the singer (who is a human being, too, and might mess up, forget lyrics, or has a technical difficulty with the mic, etc.). Don't follow each others' mistakes!

At some point, practice smiling while you play. Better to look giddy than stupid...

Break a leg! :)
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Old 03-19-2011, 06:26 PM
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

I think you are over-analyzing things a little, it's not a bad thing but when you're playing live sometimes you have to let go of all that stuff and just feel it.

1) Focus on the music instead of the audience, for me playing in front of people I know is more nerve wrecking than playing in front of strangers but no matter the type of gig or audience, I'm there to play music. Keep that in mind, you're there to play music and have fun while doing so.

2) I would suggest for you to bite the bullet and count the songs with your sticks or hats or maybe throw in a little fill here and there.

3) Listen to the songs as much as possible, even if you can't play them at the kit, take the time to not only learn the drum parts but all of the elements of the song, the melody and the changes, the more you know a song, the more comfortable you'll feel when playing the song's drum parts, the more prepared you are, the better you'll feel at the gig. Btw you mentioned your boyfriend is a drummer, couldn't you practice with his kit?

4, 5) Unfortunately, bad sound is just something that will happen, there's no way of getting around it, you WILL have gigs in which you can't hear yourself very well or you can't hear anyone else. All you can do to prepare for this is to practice, practice, practice. Learn your parts inside and out, learn what everyone else is doing too and don't forget your eyes, glance every once in a while to the other members just in case, try to be as aware as possible.

6) The drummer face syndrome is a still unexplained phenomenon, no one knows where the sudden urge of twisting and contorting your face as you play the coolest instrument ever invented comes from, some theorize it is your body's natural reaction to all the emanating awesomeness being generated by the beats and grooves you're throwing down, experts suggest to just roll with it, keep playing drums and stay badass.


Mistakes happen, it's ok to make mistakes, trust me, most people don't even notice, after a certain point you'll start to ease up on yourself and when that happens you'll be able to recover from them much more easily, there's a video on youtube of Jojo Mayer playing a song and he drops his sticks two times, I barely noticed, if you only listen to the video, you can't even tell he drops the sticks, that's the point you want to reach, where you just go "ooops" pick another stick and keep on marching as if nothing happened.
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Old 03-19-2011, 06:57 PM
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Strangelove Strangelove is offline
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

I was real shy and self conscious when I went in front of a crowd my first time. Trust me, you do get used to it. At your first couple of shows, just close your eyes and just get into the music. Take yourself in your mind to a practice session, and just relax. Become part of the music and don't focus on yourself, if that makes sense. It's always nerves that cause silly mistakes on stage and nerves are brought about by too much self consciousness and self examination. If they don't have any type of monitoring system, play as quietly as possible so you hear the other players and don't race off or lag behind them. Just stay cool, you will be fine.

Recording is a completely different animal. You certainly won't have the nerve problems there. Just do what the sound engineers tell you to.

Last edited by Strangelove; 03-19-2011 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 03-19-2011, 07:00 PM
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

Quote:
Originally Posted by southpark View Post
Ahhh i just remembered.... lol... you will s*** your pants from shame and pity for me... i can't play open/closed hi-hat variations yet. it has to be pre-set one way or another and tightened, i can't do those closed and then open 't-t-sssssssss' grooves. also - can't play double pedal, can barely blast (but luckily it's not necessary for this project) and the last couple times i jammed (last week for 10 minutes and 8+months ago for approx. half an hour) my fills were worse than normal because i was playing on my bf's left hand setting and was not f***** to switch them. ok seriously enough complaining... I will go on forever. thank you all :) i just needed some fellow drummers' (if i can even call myself that atm) input and advice on this. thank you so much! :)
I know how you feel. I remember my first gig over 10 years ago - my left leg turned to jelly and decided to shake around all by itself! Though not enough to stop me keeping the hi-hat down fortunately.

In January this year I did my first gig in about 3 years and I was so nervous before it. It was a new band who's material is a bit faster and more complex than any previous bands, and I really didn't want to let them down. I was so worried I was going to mess it up that I only invited a few people I knew rather than everyone at work. It went really well in the end and was upset that I didn't invite more people. The extra adrenalin of playing live also made playing faster easier - it ended up being a lot of fun!

You may of done this already, and I've no idea where you're at in your playing, but what helped me a lot was buying myself a nice new practise pad, and a couple of technique dvds, seeing a couple of reputable teachers to check and clarify a few things, and then practising basic rudiments every day.

Practising like that everyday is important for me at least; it seems to develop a kind of relationship between your hands and your sticks so your confidence when you sit behind the kit goes up a lot. It's certainly helped me a lot anyway lately - I wish I'd done it years ago. Be careful not to practise bad technique though else it'll become engrained in your playing (speaking from experience).

If you've got till September, practising a little every day should make a serious difference between now and then.

I'm no pro, but after experiencing some serious gig nerves myself recently, I thought I'd share the things that helped me :-)

PS what country did you mean when you mentioned the bad sound?
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Old 03-19-2011, 09:21 PM
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

What country has the bad sound you wrote about?
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Old 03-20-2011, 07:38 AM
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

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Originally Posted by southpark View Post
Thanks everyone! 720 Hours World Record, you got me paranoid about losing my stick(s) :P lol jk, I already had that paranoia, ...:)
I have not dropped a single stick while playing, since I started wearing golf gloves.
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Old 03-20-2011, 12:09 PM
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

My first gig I dropped sticks, did not warm up so got cramp after the first song and completely forgot when to end the second song and had the entire band looking at me with an expression of horror.

One of the best gigs I have ever played. I learnt so much! The best drummers are the ones that can hide the mistakes really really well. If you are not nervous then you are not ready to go on stage.

Take a deep breath and get on with it. As long as you are having a damn good time everyone else will. The band will pick up on your vibe and so will the audience. Just rock out. Drop a stick? Ha laugh it off. You are a stupid drummer remember. Tell the band to point out to the audience if you drop one and then when they do make caveman noises.

If you are not confident on fills then just do simple fills. Roll round the kit. Nothing wrong with it and it sounds awesome.

Last but not least, the drummer face is a curse to all drummers and nothing can be done about it. Just learn to accept it. The guitarists make just as stupid faces from time to time (and more eyes are on them than you).
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Old 03-21-2011, 09:41 PM
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Default Re: First gig, nervous

brentcn, i do play guitar (even more amateur-ly than i play the drums) but barely ever practice which is probably why (same with drums). it would be awesome if there was a guitar-sized capsule that opened up into a proper set with the push of a button that also had a sound-proof shield around it and you could adjust its size according to whether or not you're practicing alone or with a band... hahaha that would be awesome :D (reminds me of the movie the fifth element with that microwavable pill that instantly turned into a huge dish of baked chicken with side foods xD).
problem with finding a place to practice is that there isn't one... the only places are recording studios that you could also go and jam at, but to rent a room costs 20euros per hour, and i don't have that kind of money :/
also, having the song structure written down doesn't do much for me, my best bet would be to just practice them as much as possible with the band until i totally memorize them, or have the guitarist/lead singer record them for me as samples so i can listen to them over and over again and have the structure memorized. as far as following, i tend to follow the bassist and/or rhythm guitarist, but of course take it all into account to make accents when needed and generally accommodate the song in all its forms as best as possible.

Numberless, unfortunately i can't practice on my bf's kit because, although it's electronic, he's gotten complaints from the neighbor which is probably because of the vibrations rather than the sound, and he's waiting to get paid to buy the roland K-something (can't remember the model name), a kick drum piece with a mesh top rather than the kind he has which is like compressed rubber. it will definitely reduce the vibrations, and i also suggested him buying the rubber/whatever carpet thingy to put under the set which is also said to reduce vibs, and it seems perfect for keeping the set in place. i don't know if he's gonna invest in the latter, though, but i think he should :)
hahaha love your last point about the drummer's face syndrome xD

Mark_S, i know im probably gonna get a lot of -rightful- scolding for this, but... i have a drum pad, but rudiments BORE ME TO DEATH. every time i played on it, i tried rudiments for a couple minutes and just dropped it. i probably shouldn't be complaining so much since i do have a form of practice, but... im high maintenance and whiny, lol.

the country is Cyprus.

720Hours World Record, that seems like a good way to be sure :D

ourlorderic, we jammed for the first time last night, and, thankfully, the set was right-handed (anyway if it wasn't id switch it, reason i didn't other times is coz either it was my bf's set and i wasn't bothered to or it was during his payed jamming time with his band that i only played for 10mins) and my fills were surprisingly better than i expected, given i haven't practiced in ages, not to mention i haven't really practiced that much in general. also, i misunderstood the band leader; when he was talking about the band leaving in September he actually was talking about his other band, so a LOOOOT of pressure is off of me, since there is no real deadline. :))))
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