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  #1  
Old 08-16-2017, 12:36 PM
nbavidge nbavidge is offline
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Default Down to earth ... bump

Hi all
My first post here and I'm afraid it's going to be a silly question.
I'm a mid-life-crisis drummer - been playing for a couple of years and love it but am under no illusions that I'm any good.
With kids/life etc, my only real opportunity to play in real life is a local jam night. I've been along a few times and have varied between bad and embarrassing. I can play along to the original recordings just fine, but with a real band it feels completely different - acoustics, timing, leadership, feel, volume ... my last outing totally bombed. It's pretty clear to me that doing my exams (just hitting G4) is helpful for technique and structure but will never make me a drummer.
The jam night gives me 2 songs, once a month, which seems the perfect frequency to achieve maximum humiliation without actually learning anything.
So... silly question: any hints on practicing live playing without actually playing live?
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  #2  
Old 08-16-2017, 12:59 PM
mikel mikel is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

Just one point, and I may be completely miss reading your issue here, so bear with me.

When you play along to recordings you are pretty much following the music. When you play live you are the drummer, you are leading (depending on the song) Most times the count in and the tempo is up to you. Often the dynamics of the song are down to you. Its a different ballgame.

If you practice the songs for the jam night, dont just learn the drums, listen to the melody and fix that in your head, that way you always know where you are in any song. When I gig I sing all the songs to myself as I play, I am part of the music.

When you have learned the songs from the recordings, play them on the kit without the recording. Be honest with yourself. Can you then "Lead" the song and hear the rest of the music and know where you are?

Its always worked for me, but I learned to drum by playing in my first band and only had band practice to use a kit. Technique is a valuable thing to have on any instrument, but playing with and bouncing off others is crucial if you want to make music in a band situation. Good luck and keep playing.
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Old 08-16-2017, 01:10 PM
Woolwich Woolwich is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

Mikel's advice is far better than the advice I was about to give....but I'll put it out there anyway.
Perhaps playing along to songs that you don't know might help. Put the radio on, put a cd on that doesn't belong to you, play along and learn what bare minimum you can get away with to "muddle through" the song bearing in mind that you might be clueless as to where the song is going. This might be a completely stupid idea but your thread is a real thought provoker. Like Mikel I also learned to drum by playing in my first band (we were amazing....I'll bet it sounded awful ;-) ) but we learned and we learned in our own time and behind closed doors.
It's also made me think again about how much I didn't know and didn't do when I first started playing live but now do naturally and think of as being nothing. As drummers we take some of the things we do for granted and there's no harm in trying to remember what we were like before we learned, hopefully people who've been in the same boat as you will pop up with advice and solutions.
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Old 08-16-2017, 01:11 PM
nbavidge nbavidge is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

Thanks Mikel - that makes sense - will give it a go.
When I'm up there, I'm with a bunch of far better musicians so it's tempting to try to fit in to their tempo - then I lose my own timing and fall apart. Maybe better to try to force them in with me?
Part of the problem is that the venue acoustics aren't great and the rest of the band often improvise or adapt their solos etc so I lose my place quickly and find it very hard to hear where we are.
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  #5  
Old 08-16-2017, 02:25 PM
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Odd-Arne Oseberg Odd-Arne Oseberg is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

Recording yourself has always been the greatest tool since that was possible.

In regards to playing with others, find some people who want to practice to develop their ensemble skills as well. Create your own ensemble class experience. Record that, too.
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  #6  
Old 08-16-2017, 02:39 PM
greenstar323 greenstar323 is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

I don't really have any more advice than what was already provided but joining a band was the best thing I ever did for my drumming. Playing along with real people is so different.

I like the idea mentioned earlier of playing along to songs you don't know. The ability to play on the fly is a good skill. Also are you trying to play a basic beat or trying to add in a bunch of fills and getting too fancy with your drumming so you get lost? Sometimes it's better to just dumb it down and play simple.

Also we are all our own biggest critics. Maybe record yourself so you can go back and hear from an audience perspective, you might not be that bad. If possible seek out one other person there who plays guitar who is about your skill level and see if you guys can play on the side.

Keep your head up... the fact that you're getting out there is a good thing.
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Old 08-16-2017, 02:56 PM
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

Just keep time. And don't let me get started about guitarists that keep their own time, many do, you find out jamming with them! Often they get lost if the drummer does a fill, so keep it simple.
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  #8  
Old 08-16-2017, 03:02 PM
mikel mikel is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

Quote:
Originally Posted by nbavidge View Post
Thanks Mikel - that makes sense - will give it a go.
When I'm up there, I'm with a bunch of far better musicians so it's tempting to try to fit in to their tempo - then I lose my own timing and fall apart. Maybe better to try to force them in with me?
Part of the problem is that the venue acoustics aren't great and the rest of the band often improvise or adapt their solos etc so I lose my place quickly and find it very hard to hear where we are.

Its a great start to play with better musicians. They will help you, and they will also follow where you lead. Experienced musicians are rarely thrown by other people mistakes so If you get something wrong just keep going and I feel sure those guys will jump back onto your groove. Keep it simple to start with but try and enjoy being in charge.

If the acoustics are that bad ask the bass player to angle his cab so you can hear him, that way when they improvise you can still maintain a steady beat and not get lost.
Good luck.
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  #9  
Old 08-16-2017, 04:10 PM
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Purple Cobwebs Purple Cobwebs is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

I so know where you are coming from!

I've played for about 3 years and am comfortable reading music and learning songs that way. I love being on my own kit at home and practising for hours on end. However, improvisation is hard for me.

I've recently got together with a few friends to practice together at a local hall. Songs that I could play at home with my eyes shut suddenly became much more challenging! No longer could I miss a beat and then just blend back in, as my missed beat would throw the others off. Then the singer would come in a line early so I had to learn to adapt to that. So much more thinking on your feet, and looking at each other for signals.
I found it so scary at first, but it's getting better!

I've also just been away on a 3 day residential band camp where you are thrown in with complete strangers to write, rehearse and perform 3 songs in 3 days. At the end of day 1 I was in tears! I felt like a total beginner who couldn't play. A real blow to my confidence. However, the organiser recognised that part of my problem was due to a personality clash with the singer, and he moved me to a different band on day 2. My experience there was much better. The others supported and helped me. I still feel that I underperformed hugely, but it was still a good learning experience and has made me determined to keep at it. It may be worth you looking for something similar.
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  #10  
Old 08-16-2017, 04:29 PM
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GetAgrippa GetAgrippa is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

Great points made-but since you've been playing along with recordings your brain and you have learned the original-playing with other "better musicians" is relative if they are just winging a "version" of the song and expect you to be a mind reader. You have to have some cues or agree to play a song a certain way. I basically memorize a song in my head so I can play start to finish with no other music-if the song I've memorized isn't being played there's a problem. I recently quit a band because the guitar and bassist continually altered the songs (never the same start of finish) and tempo-initially I played over them hoping they'd catch up and play the song as original but sadly relented to try and play along which is just disastrous-because then you all sound like $hit!!!!!!
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  #11  
Old 08-16-2017, 05:19 PM
brentcn brentcn is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

As midlife crises go, learning to play music is a social, intellectually stimulating, and relatively cheap endeavor!

Get into a band that rehearses once a week, and plays the same songs week to week. Every month, record/film yourself playing with the band on your phone. There is no substitute from jamming with actual musicians on a regular basis. It's hard to make real improvement without this aspect of training.

Do NOT concern yourself with playing with accomplished players. You only need to be playing with people that permit you to challenge yourself. And, frankly, learning to plow through other musicians' mistakes and poor playing is in itself a good skill to have.

Is there a local music teaching studio near you that has an ensemble program for adults?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nbavidge View Post
The jam night gives me 2 songs, once a month, which seems the perfect frequency to achieve maximum humiliation without actually learning anything.
You're absolutely correct. Jam nights benefit experienced players looking to network; they're not educational by nature, for the most part.
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  #12  
Old 08-16-2017, 06:02 PM
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larryace larryace is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

In order to progress, mistakes have to be made, it's the only way to really learn, to fail.

Like Odd-Arne and brentcn stated already, record yourself. It has proven itself to me to be the very fastest way forward, by a large margin..

When I first started, I recorded, listened back, cringed quite a bit, and removed what made me cringe the next time I was up there. I improved by subtraction, not addition. I eventually removed all my cringe-worthy ideas, or executions, and was left with a working drum part, and a realization that I needed to practice to a metronome. It's never ending, trying to improve. But you have to humble yourself and record yourself. I cannot stress that enough.

Don't play again unless you can record. I just picked up one for 100 USD. You must endure the horror by listening back to get past this place. A strong sense of security in that you know you are stinking the place up, but you are determined to get past this place by recording yourself and hearing EXACTLY what you are doing, is required.

Here's a little story that I think any drummer would appreciate. When I first started recording, for one little fill I did, I really liked my note choice. When I listened back, the fill Just. Did. Not. Work.

Long story short, I realized that it was not my note choice but my execution. I simply played it too loud. I stuck it out volume-wise, on purpose. (this is my 2 seconds of spotlight, I'm going to make a statement dammit. WRONG!)

My dynamics were completely inappropriate. The next time I went up and did that song, I played the exact same notes, only I didn't up the volume because it was "my spot". I kept it where the rest of the song was.

That worked as intended on playback, and a valuable lesson was learned.

That lesson was BLEND MY VOLUME, and don't stick any fills out.

It's much better to err on the side of not enough volume than too much volume as a drummer. This is assuming lyric based backbeat groove music, that you would likely hear at an open mic jam. Not anything real heavy.
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  #13  
Old 08-16-2017, 06:30 PM
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

If you want to play with other people live, you have to practice with real people and not recordings. Find someone at that jam who is willing to practice with you.
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  #14  
Old 08-16-2017, 06:50 PM
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

I'm with PorkPie - talk to other musicians at the jam who are beginners and see if they want to practice together - even if it's just one guitarist or bass player to start. It will benefit everyone.

You need an opportunity to learn group playing in private.

Whatever else you end up doing, record yourself.
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  #15  
Old 08-16-2017, 07:48 PM
toddbishop toddbishop is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

There was a hotly debated forum post awhile back about a quote from Buddy Rich: "You only get better by playing." You have to play more. Find some other players about your level (or better) and start doing some weekly sessions. Have fun with it.
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  #16  
Old 08-16-2017, 07:57 PM
KamaK KamaK is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

My solution was to start a weekly music club in my basement with washups like myself.

http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/s...d.php?t=128586


Get together, drink beer, talk shit, play loud music. It's bliss.
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  #17  
Old 08-16-2017, 08:08 PM
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

Definitely agree that playing music with others is the way to go. Low-pressure, low-stakes jam scenarios are good. Still record them, still critique yourself, and still work to improve.

I did an open jam recently. My original intent was to go to the venue, eat a salad, and just listen. But I ended up on stage. Ended up having a video of the performance, too.

Listened back, and the timing was off, so it's something to work on. But then I remembered to also not be too harsh on myself, for perfection was not the point. The point was interaction.

The self-improvement notes are just icing on the cake, and give me a challenge to pursue.

Not being rough on yourself is the hardest part for some, like me. I have to say that it's okay, so long as I work on what I need to work on, and I see some improvement. I also had to remember that I hadn't really played in a band setting in a long time [labrum tear], so I should give myself a little bit of a break. Then, get to work.

Have fun. Gotta remember that, too.
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Old 08-17-2017, 01:29 AM
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

I've posted this before, but it's a great clip:

Victor Wooten on learning music as a language

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yRMbH36HRE
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Old 08-17-2017, 01:48 AM
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belairien belairien is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

One thing that has helped me is to find some drumless guitar backing tracks. While they are set tempos, they can help you discover how to lock in to the song.
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Old 08-17-2017, 01:55 AM
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Hollywood Jim Hollywood Jim is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustJames View Post
I've posted this before, but it's a great clip:

Victor Wooten on learning music as a language

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yRMbH36HRE
PERFECT !

Thank you.

.
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Old 08-17-2017, 03:16 AM
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

Quote:
Originally Posted by nbavidge View Post
So... silly question: any hints on practicing live playing without actually playing live?
Find some friends with similar musical interests and form a band. Have weekly rehearsals in someone's basement/garage/studio, or cooperate to rent some rehearsal space.

There's no way around it. You have to play with other people. Be patient but constant.

When you're not actually playing, practice your timing and coordination whenever you can... while watching TV, while listening to music in your car or public transport, while waiting in the doctor's office, etc. You can practice anywhere: on a table, on your legs, in the air. Do it until people ask you to stop, then keep doing it, with our without music (the music is in your head).
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Old 08-17-2017, 06:24 AM
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

There are two aspects at play here:
1 - Playing with people who you know
2 - Playing with people who are competent

Occasionally I attend a jam night. The songs are divvied up beforehand, so everybody arrives (hopefully) knowing the songs and parts that they will be playing. Even though the talent level is generally pretty good, it's very taxing locking in out of the blue...will everybody be playing as per the recording? Have we been listening to the same recording? How exactly are the inter-personal playing dynamics working? Is the drummer providing the groove or supporting it? Even simple songs that I know well get more tricksy when playing live in from of (even a friendly) crowd.

Even more important is playing with people who are competent. When my band started out, we were appallingly crap. Most songs felt to me like I was trying to drag them along by the scruff of their neck, as chaos threatened to engulf the whole endeavour.

Then, with some changes in personnel and elevations of skill level among the survivors, suddenly it began to feel like I was happily riding the songs from start to finish, occasionally tweaking the reins but not fighting them.

Keep on at it, play with people every chance you get. Also, play with drumless tracks (you can make your own at karaoke-version.com) which will give you nowhere to hide and force you to learn to lock in properly.
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Old 08-17-2017, 11:25 AM
Someone's Dad Someone's Dad is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustJames View Post
I've posted this before, but it's a great clip:

Victor Wooten on learning music as a language

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yRMbH36HRE
Mind blown. That is a really interesting perspective and not just for kids.
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  #24  
Old 08-17-2017, 02:06 PM
nbavidge nbavidge is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

Thanks everyone - loads of great advice and thanks especially for the encouragement.

Will try out all of those tips but, as I guessed, there's no silver bullet (never is, right?). For now, kids and job are going to limit my live exposure, but one day ... until then I'll just focus on making the other jammers look good ;)
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  #25  
Old 08-22-2017, 07:02 PM
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CommanderRoss CommanderRoss is offline
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Default Re: Down to earth ... bump

Quote:
Originally Posted by Odd-Arne Oseberg View Post
Recording yourself has always been the greatest tool since that was possible.
This!!

I was playing to recorded songs for many years. One time I got my hands on a buddy's GoPro & decided to hook in the audio of the song & record how I played that song.
I was just messing around with it, but I learned a valuable lesson: I SUCKED!!

My timing was WAY off & my fills in the song were ripe with stick clicks & the like.
So as a result, I began to really LISTEN. Hear the song for what it was, not for what I thought I heard.

When I recorded myself again, it was a 180 from the last time.

Years later when I began playing live, I never forgot to listen to how the song progressed and what the other musicians needed from me.
It's been a good time behind the traps ever since.
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