A mental block I need to get over ...

Daisy

Senior Member
"Fill needed here. DO SOMETHING" = PANIC, mess it up.

I have many wise words on here that have helped me enormously in getting over various issues which, as wise Uncle Larry says, start in the head.

I'm playing in a covers band. They don't require me to slavishly follow the original except for the general feel/groove and any particularly iconic fills (well, they don't even require that, that's just my preference).

But I can't get through a number unless I've worked something out and written it down and practised it, and memorised it. Last practice, we were trying out some new numbers. I knew the songs although I hadn't played them before, and I didn't have any notes. Grooving along - great. Every time it came to a tansition to a chorus or whatever, I panicked, did something that didn't fit, froze in mid air, all that stuff.

I know I'm capable technically (enough for this band anyway) but I can't seem to get over this.

I am generally fairly lacking in confidence. I suspect this is a confidence issue, but I don't know -and if it is then I don't know how to deal with it. Even playing on my own, I can't get it right. It's holding me back.

Any suggestions gratefully received.
 

Liebe zeit

Silver Member
Easy. Practice those fills, transitions etc until they flow, you can't get em wrong (or at least not very often) etc
 

drum4fun27302

Gold Member
If nothing cones to mind , a crash with the snare on 4 and another crash with the kick on 1 works. Or whatever amount of beats you have , feels them up with 1/16th notes on the snare in a crescendo , with a crash on 1. That should work.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Hey Daisy, maybe you should deliberately try to play straight through the transitions for now instead of faltering because you think you should be doing something. If you don't feel it, don't play it. It's OK to play straight through a transition, it keeps the groove. Better to keep the groove than falter, right? Every transition does not need a fill from the drummer.

Some drummers have a hard time playing straight through the transitions because they think they have to fill there. You are putting undue pressure on yourself at transitions. Why is that? You're not breaking any laws if you don't fill, but if the groove drops out, well that is a punishable offense. Drum fills are over rated. Can you give us an example of a song with a transition where you faltered?
 

x_25

Member
When I am playing a song for the first time (usually not a cover, my band jams all the time) I will toss in a fill when it seems apropreate, but I keep it really simple. Usually something like tom, tom, snare, crash. Just so there is something there if it needs it. My default fill (and I know it sucks and is cheesy :p) is just: tom, tom, snare, snare, floor tom (on one and two and three) then crash on four and move on. I play it so often I just have to think "ok, fill on the next measure" and it slides right in like I was still playing a normal beat. So maybe try coming up with a defualt fill for each time signature you play in regularly and practice it till it becomes second nature. That way, when it is time to "do something" you have it ready.
 

lsits

Gold Member
When I'm doing a song for the first few times, even if I'm familiar with it, I usually keep the fills and transitions pretty simple. Mostly a crash on the "1". As I gain confidence I start adding fills. I usually start with 16ths on the "3" and "4" or just on the "4". Once I get the sticking pattern down I start mixing it up on the different toms and then maybe a cymbal crash or a hi hat bark in the middle somewhere.

On the iconic stuff, like the beginning of "Come Together" for example, there's no two ways around it: practice until you can't do it wrong.
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest

vxla

Silver Member
For every style of music, try and learn 10 fills that you can learn, memorize, perform fluently at various tempi. Remember that LESS is MORE and keeping the groove in your fills will keep getting you hired for gigs.
 

MaryO

Platinum Member
When I am playing a song for the first time (usually not a cover, my band jams all the time) I will toss in a fill when it seems apropreate, but I keep it really simple. Usually something like tom, tom, snare, crash. Just so there is something there if it needs it. My default fill (and I know it sucks and is cheesy :p) is just: tom, tom, snare, snare, floor tom (on one and two and three) then crash on four and move on. I play it so often I just have to think "ok, fill on the next measure" and it slides right in like I was still playing a normal beat. So maybe try coming up with a defualt fill for each time signature you play in regularly and practice it till it becomes second nature. That way, when it is time to "do something" you have it ready.
I love the idea of having a default fill. This would help me greatly and the idea is so simple I'm not sure why didn't think of it myself. I think I'll work a couple of those up to have in my repertoire.
 

Daisy

Senior Member
Well ... I'm no "fill queen" - obviously. But there are times where they're needed, and I feel like if I just play through those places, it's like "What's the point of YOU, just keeping the beat.. that's not drumming".

Trouble is when I panic like that I don't even know what beat of the bar I'm on, or whether it's 4/4 or shuffle or what I'm damn well doing. My brain freezes up.

Sometimes I'll say "I don't know this one so I'll just keep the beat going" and then I get more and more embarrassed at doing just that and only that (although I do believe I do it quite well).

I've got over my (formerly crippling) nerves SO LONG AS I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I'M GOING TO DO. Any sort of improvisation required and I still feel like a fraud.

Can you give us an example of a song with a transition where you faltered?
Mustang Sally. I know! Who messes up Mustang Sally ? The bit after the stop. "Stop 2 3 4. DO SOMETHING !!"
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
A fill doesn't have a big or complex, or even there. The audience doesn't come to see the drummer play fills anyway, they come to hear music, dance, have a good time. If you keep that in mind, perhaps you can mentally take the pressure off yourself to feel like you have to perform a fill.



When in doubt, remember the k.i.s.s. principle (no, not that the band)

keep
it
simple
stupid
 

MLdrum

Senior Member
Can you get behind your kit in between sessions with the rest of the band? If so, practice playing on the parts of the kit you normally don't use while grooving. Nothing special. Just quarter notes, 8th notes or 16th notes. Alternating at first, later you can try with different stickings. Move them around. Then try playing a straight 4/4 beat. 4 measures of time with a fill starting on the 4 of the last bar. Repeat. If it makes it easier, think of a fill that fills 1 quarter note beforehand. If you nailed it, play it 3 more times and then move the fill to another drum. Nail it, play 3 more times and move it again. Now repeat the process with a different rhythm for the fill. By now you should be able to do short, simple fills from the top of your head. And you can start expanding by doing the same process and begin the fill on the 3 in the last bar. And of course, do the same thing with a shuffle (triplet-style fill) :)

This is how I would go about it (-:


And yes, I completely agree with DrumEatDrum. Probably the best compliment I have ever gotten was from a fellow student who studies drum kit at the conservatory here in Tromsø, it was at our annual x-mas ball (I played drum kit for the event) and went something like this: "You really played great tonight. Steady and no fill was big or out of place. You make us who actually study drum kit sort of jealous."
 
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opentune

Platinum Member
It sounds like you are over-thinking, and not feeling enough. Do you 'feel' like filling in places or you just 'think' you should or are supposed to? If you see a transition or approaching a bridge and you start thinking "hmmmm....here it comes, so what bag of tricks to pull from, or that I've memorized?", then that becomes a formula, a recipe and moreso seems to put pressure on . Just play what feels good and right (and obviously what you have the chops for).

Also if you are constantly playing cover music and not practicing grooves and 'fills' on your own with no band, it may also be confining of how you feel while drumming. Stop thinking start feeling.

Don't lose confidence by just keeping time, if there is any complaint of many band members is that the rummer over-plays. Most bands appreciate a straight-ish player.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Many good advice given here already, the best one being to keep grooving through the transitions, until you've worked out what "fill" would be suitable, if any are required.

But I can't get through a number unless I've worked something out and written it down and practised it, and memorised it. Last practice, we were trying out some new numbers. I knew the songs although I hadn't played them before, and I didn't have any notes. Grooving along - great. Every time it came to a tansition to a chorus or whatever, I panicked, did something that didn't fit, froze in mid air, all that stuff.

I know I'm capable technically (enough for this band anyway) but I can't seem to get over this.
Don't get too hard on yourself Daisy, many drummers struggle on the "fills" problem the first time they play a song they've never played before.

Playing a song, and knowing it intimately does help, even top drummers would go through songs first by laying down the groove, focusing on what pattern makes the song work, with the right feel, both spiritually, emotionally and musically, the "fills" come after and they're often dictated by the context, the style and/or the phrasing in which the "fill" is executed.

You can build up a repertoire of fills and licks to have in your tool box, depending on the style, you can shamelessly use them, but I find that "fills" are like the patterns and grooves you create and play in songs, they're unique, and a genuine part of that given song, you won't play it in other songs.

Since your problem seems to be in cover band at the moment, one way to relieve your panic attack is to practice on the kit while playing along the original track, and try to copy the original fills, on your next rehearsal you'll feel much better and more confident.

There's 2 types of "fill", the one that's in your face, no one can miss it... and the one you hardly notice at all, because they fit the song so well...
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
keep
it
simple
stupid
Hey Ian, what are you trying to say ;)

Daisy, play through the transitions & get comfortable with playing the spaces. Once you have the structure in your memory, finding something appropriate to place around the transition is less of a challenge. You only dread something when you don't have a plan. if you know exactly what's coming up, & exactly what's expected, then you're good to go.
 
In my opinion, playing any song on the drums(tight and to a tee) is merely a matter of knowing, and feeling the song, all the parts, all the instruments as well as the vocals.

Its like anything else that requires knowledge. The more you know, the easier it gets.

The time, space, groove, and any fills become AUTOMATIC. Its at that time where one can go "exploring" within any song and either expand, or contract the drum contribution aspect.

The fun really begins when you can stop short, or drive by a measure and still find yourself in the right place without doing a disservice to the overall piece of work being played.

That, to me, is one type of start to being more creative.

Knowledge is drumming power. Know the song first, inside and out.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
But there are times where they're needed, and I feel like if I just play through those places, it's like "What's the point of YOU, just keeping the beat.. that's not drumming".
Daisy that's a huge pitfall right there. There's point all over the place, in spades. The reality is exactly the opposite of that thought. You need to do a 180 there. That could be the #1 biggest drummer misconception, of all time, in the history of the world, right there. Keeping the beat is what we do. Rule of thumb. When in doubt...just keep the time. It always sounds better than you think. The time is the very essence of our instrument.


Trouble is when I panic like that I don't even know what beat of the bar I'm on, or whether it's 4/4 or shuffle or what I'm damn well doing. My brain freezes up.
What would it take for you not to panic? Panic is debilitating. Everything is OK, really it is. Except when you panic lol. Hey I'm not telling you to all of a sudden get confident, because I know it doesn't work like that. But what I am suggesting is for you to just not panic. You have to be kind to yourself. You are manufacturing someone in your head that is telling you what you should be doing, and you are blocking your way forward. Punch that person's lights out, they're your enemy.

You really need to read Kenny Werner's book "Effortless Mastery" It will deal with the headspace you need to be in while playing. You're not in a good headspace. That headspace doesn't work. Read Kenny's book.

Sometimes I'll say "I don't know this one so I'll just keep the beat going" and then I get more and more embarrassed at doing just that and only that (although I do believe I do it quite well).
See first comment. And you're right about doing it quite well.

I've got over my (formerly crippling) nerves SO LONG AS I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I'M GOING TO DO. Any sort of improvisation required and I still feel like a fraud.
You've just revealed your weakness right there. You improve by identifying weakness and converting them into strengths. Identifying the problem is a big step in eliminating the problem. Don't you ever just sit down at the set, without music playing, and just play what comes into your mind? You must. That's improv. Just let it flow out, bad or good. You need to deliberately incorporate some form of free form improv in your playing as a new practice thing.

And this feeling like a fraud stuff.....Geez, lighten up Francis. You are so hard on yourself that it's a wonder you even like drumming. Read Kenny's book. Really, just do it.

It's right here, for free. Effortless Mastery. It's a tune up for your head, no drumming required. Now you don't have an excuse.

http://musiciansprocess.wikispaces.com/file/view/Kenny+Werner+-+Effortless+Mastery+-+Liberating+The+Master+Musician+Within.pdf



Mustang Sally. I know! Who messes up Mustang Sally ? The bit after the stop. "Stop 2 3 4. DO SOMETHING !!"
Just try keeping the bass drum going on the quarter notes for now. Simple. Simple works so well, and it's simple. The audience loves the quarter note.
 
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x_25

Member
I love the idea of having a default fill. This would help me greatly and the idea is so simple I'm not sure why didn't think of it myself. I think I'll work a couple of those up to have in my repertoire.
Just wanted to follow up with a few examples of the super simple fills I rely on while jamming. Didn't want to hijack the thread though so I posted over here.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Many of us find that the trick to not panicking is just being prepared.

So, practice playing fills. If you're not sure what to play, listen to what other drummers do and decide what you'd like to steal or make your own. Most of all, have big ears. The music will dictate what fits and what doesn't.

I think every drummer should practice trading phrases/solos with other musicians. Maybe trade two or four bar phrases with the guitar player, for example. This trains you to listen to the other musicians, improve your counting so you know where you are in the song and develop your technical ability to execute patterns that you can turn into fills. I can't recommend this strongly enough. If you can trade fours with a guitarist and feed off what s/he's playing, you'll find playing regular old drum fills a piece of cake.
 

SquadLeader

Gold Member
99.999% of people listening to you don't actually listen to the fills.

They may well hear the fills, but they're not listening thinking "oh..that's a quite poor fill that, or...ooooo didn't he play that fill earlier".

No-one gives a toss, only us drummers.

If I'm not up for my usual frenetic mix of fills on one of our tunes, especially if I'm struggling with achy muscles early in a gig or rehearsal or some such, I'll just play straight through.

As plenty of more experienced drummers than I have said earlier in this thread...more important to keep the music bouncing along than fudge up a fill and bring it all crashing down.

One staple for me...if the music is speeding along and it's a particular song that absolutely demands a fill and I'm not confident of hitting it then I...errrmm....I will rely on more experienced people here to explain what I am doing....but I will SLOW the fill down....by half....sometimes it feels the fills slowed down even more than by half.....and it works...surprisingly well sometimes....it's really quite queer how it works....but it does. I have NO idea what it is I do but I know that I'm hitting perhaps half as many or less times than I do at normal pace.
 
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