A "Midlife Crisis" With Drumming

Hey guys. I feel like I've been at quite a standstill with my drumming for quite some time, with several factors leading up to it. Before i go into detail, I'll give you a little bit of background about me and drumming.

I've been playing since I was in 7th grade, so around 7 years now. I'm self-taught for the most part, although I didn't really start getting into drumming until the 5th year (I saw the most improvement between my 5th and 6th years). The 7th year, where i'm at now, is my first year of college. Because of the fact that I'm in college now, I am no longer involved in a music program as there are none at my school. I performed in several bands throughout high school in the metal genre, and I also took part in the jazz program at my high school where I learned jazz and Latin beats (Latin very minimally). I spent the majority of my 6th year of drumming learning metal techniques, beats, and songs. This year showed the most improvement in my techniques and abilities, as the difficulty of songs I could perform slowly got harder and harder.

So now here I am, in the 7th year of drumming. I'm still a devoted metal fanatic, looking up to drummers such as Derek Roddy, George Kollias, Kevin Talley, Dave McGraw, etc. At this current time in my drumming "career", I've hit a bit of a rut though. In January, I began to suffer wrist pains in both my left and right hands (literally starting at the same point in time) and I was forced to sit back for a month from my kit. I returned to my set a month later after giving my wrists a chance to recoup, but I've found that I still face several issues. My wrists only tend to flare up in times of great stress, which means I've had to slow down the speed of my drumming considerably. I'm assuming that my pains stem from not being relaxed enough with my technique or something of the sort. I've also found that I can no longer perform songs I did a year ago. One of my former bands used to cover a song that consisted of me consistently playing a 225bpm hammer blast on my right hand, but now I can no longer muster the energy to keep myself going before I feel exhausted and tired. My footwork is also at a standstill, and really hasn't improved at all since I purchased my double pedals about 4 years ago.

Another aspect of drumming that I feel frustrated with is that it seems like the only way to improve is to repetitively perform exercises and routines, which seem to take any fun out of drumming at all. I can't stand the thought of just sitting and playing double stroke rolls for a half hour at a time; I want to have fun on my drum kit, and things like this make it seem like a chore honestly. At this point in time, I can't figure out what to do to make myself a better drummer. To put it in the plainest terms, I'm just another generic metal drummer who finds himself not even being able to play the basic death metal song. I lack groove, rhythm, and confidence in my skills, and I'm not sure what to do anymore about my lackings as a drummer. Maybe it's just me being pessimistic, but when I look at other death metal drummers my age playing solidly at ridiculous speeds, it's a bit discouraging and makes me feel very inadequate as a drummer.

Hope this doesn't seem like me bitching haha, but it's just something thats been bugging me for quite a while. I feel like I'm going through a moderately rough phase of drumming right now where I'm just a bit lost. Part of the issue stems from (I assume) not being able to be on my kit as much anymore due to noise issues. This leaves me confined to a HQ Realfeel Practice Pad and a Gibraltar bass drum pad (which is horrible to practice on).

Anyways, if anyone has experienced anything like this, it'd be nice to know your story and whatnot. I'm lacking direction in drumming right now.
 

sdedge

Senior Member
well you got a problem there.
My advice is : leave the metal for what it is ,you did that ,and master a new style.
Do some nice new stuff/style and so you skills will be better and more complete i think.
To play drums its not all about the speed,it all about feel and groove.
There is always someone better end faster than you ,and so what!.
all so if youre body says stop ,just stop ,because the damage will be greater if you go on .
And it will sets you back for a long time.

goodluck grt
 

BradGunnerSGT

Silver Member
Perhaps you need to ask yourself what exactly you want out of drumming? Do you want to be a "generic metal drummer" or do you want something else? The drummers that you cite are professionals who definitely do "[play] double stroke rolls for a half hour at a time", and the style of music that you have chosen is definitely one that requires focus, stamina, and peak physical conditioning.

If you continue the way you are you will injure yourself permanently with nothing to show for it but shot wrists. Take it slow, recuperate, and learn how not to injure yourself again. See a teacher who can help with your technique, etc...

I know this sounds weird, but try slowing down for a change of pace. Try learning a different style and focus on the things that you say you want to focus on, like groove, rhythm, and confidence. Have fun with it for a while.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
Tl:dr

If you wanna improve then there are no shortcuts, you will have to practice and play alot. If all you can do is convince yourself it's boring then it will be. If I have a moment where I feel bored then I remind myself that I sit in an office 8 hours a day doing something seemingly unimportant for someone else.. I'd be crazy then if I couldn't give myself an hour or 2 everyday working to pursue MY interests.

I agree on ditching the speed metal btw... Been there, not very exciting IMO
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Not to be mean, but your post comes across like you want to be a good drummer but you don't want to do what it takes to become a good drummer. And sadly, that isn't how the world works.

You don't appear to want to take lessons. You don't want to do "boring" exercises, you enrolled at a college with no music program. OK, so what do you want to do?

Like BradGunnerSGT said, you need to ask yourself what is you want out of drumming?

There is nothing wrong with just playing for fun, or just being a hobbiest. Most drummers are just that.

But if you want to improve, you have to work on it.

Playing double bass requires a lot of regular practice just to keep up the physical aspect alone.
 

MonkeysFly

Junior Member
225bpm??? hahahaha, dude, I've been playing for 25 years and NEVER reached that speed on almost anything! hahaha. Not that I ever really tried, but now in my 40's, I'm lucky to get 140bpm on double bass for 2 min. And that is with practicing 1 1\2- 2 hours a day for 3 months straight. And I STILL cannot get my speed any faster....So I know exactly what you mean when you talk about feeling like you're not getting anywhere. Trust me! But all you can do is just keep playing and like some of the other guys have said, try a different style or something. Maybe try and play along to some jazz again. But take it from me, no matter how you feel right now, you WILL figure out a solution to your dilemma so keep the faith bro!!!....
 

Skulmoski

Gold Member
Wait 20+ years and then tell me about a midlife crisis!

Focus on college not drumming (you implied you are not in a music program). Finish college then become serious again about drumming. Take drum lessons.

Good luck.

GJS

p.s. This advice is from a former Assistant Dean who as a university student focused on drumming and as a result earned poor grades.
 

toddmc

Gold Member
225bpm??? hahahaha, dude, I've been playing for 25 years and NEVER reached that speed on almost anything! hahaha. Not that I ever really tried, but now in my 40's, I'm lucky to get 140bpm on double bass for 2 min. And that is with practicing 1 1\2- 2 hours a day for 3 months straight. And I STILL cannot get my speed any faster....So I know exactly what you mean when you talk about feeling like you're not getting anywhere. Trust me! But all you can do is just keep playing and like some of the other guys have said, try a different style or something. Maybe try and play along to some jazz again. But take it from me, no matter how you feel right now, you WILL figure out a solution to your dilemma so keep the faith bro!!!....
Yep 225bpm sounds pretty good to me so stop comparing yourself to other drummers you see on YouTube or wherever, it's all a matter of perspective. Certainly try out other styles to mix things up but stay true to the metal cause!
 

Arky

Platinum Member
Chase, here's my 2 cents:

- ABANDON the term 'frustration' from your mind, at least in relation to drumming. Seriously, this makes a difference. POSITIVE mindset! Avoid mental blocks. It works!

- As said, 225 bpm is a decent speed. Maybe too high for some, at least for the moment. If you can't do it ATM - don't stress yourself. Either find a solution to play something slower on that song, have the band slow it down (might not be a welcomed decision from a songwriting perspective) or don't play that particular song live as it's not within your reach (yet). And don't forget that EVERYBODY has some limit. Some other drummers (even younger - if so, why do you even care, haha) might have a higher limit, so what.

(Just to expand on this - did you notice that current thread going on?
The Positive Post Campaign - Mike Johnston
http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=106084

So to put it with Mike's words: Those that are faster are simply further down the timeline - you'll get there, too - at a later point of time. Because getting there takes time (not considering/differenciating other aspects like talent, dedication).

- Keep practicing - and do push yourself - but don't let this have a mental buildup for you. Try to rediscover the fun of drumming, it should be a passion from within. Getting at higher speed ranges (with certain techniques/limbs) might take some time. When you're there - go find bands to utilize your additional skills. But until then... avoid getting discouraged.

If you really feel you didn't have any progress (on certain things) within 4 years or so - have your technique evaluated by a good drummer/teacher who might identify the problems. And they might be surprising. It can be (or a mixture of) not practicing efficiently, placement (throne vs. pedals, sitting height etc)... any parameter involved.
 
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GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I have been to many clinics where the pro drummer giving the clinic has said that they have worked 6, 8, 9 months on a new groove to get it right. I think you need a little more patience and know that things don't happen over night
 

MisterZero

Senior Member
There isn't a person on this board that doesn't know what you're going thru. As far as the srists go, I'd see a doctor. Wrists are tricky, there's a lot of bones,ligaments, and tendons in there. I agree with the other posters, put drumming aside for the moment and focus on college. I barely played drums during my undergrad years. Too hectic with all the drinking and...er studying. And don't worry, college is temporary, you'll be back in the swing of things soon. Not to say abandond drumming altogether, just play sporadically. Also, speed comes with painstaking practice, like others heer have said. Just like dieting, you gotta work at it. There's no magic pill that make you thin or fast fast at drums...

Lastly, take lessons ( as long as it doesn't interfere with schoolwork- and is affordable). Trust me, it works. If nothign more than have an extra brain to pick, lessons force you to think about what you're doing...
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Hey guys. I feel like I've been at quite a standstill with my drumming for quite some time, with several factors leading up to it. Before i go into detail, I'll give you a little bit of background about me and drumming.

I've been playing since I was in 7th grade, so around 7 years now. I'm self-taught for the most part, although I didn't really start getting into drumming until the 5th year (I saw the most improvement between my 5th and 6th years). The 7th year, where i'm at now, is my first year of college. Because of the fact that I'm in college now, I am no longer involved in a music program as there are none at my school. I performed in several bands throughout high school in the metal genre, and I also took part in the jazz program at my high school where I learned jazz and Latin beats (Latin very minimally). I spent the majority of my 6th year of drumming learning metal techniques, beats, and songs. This year showed the most improvement in my techniques and abilities, as the difficulty of songs I could perform slowly got harder and harder.

So now here I am, in the 7th year of drumming. I'm still a devoted metal fanatic, looking up to drummers such as Derek Roddy, George Kollias, Kevin Talley, Dave McGraw, etc. At this current time in my drumming "career", I've hit a bit of a rut though. In January, I began to suffer wrist pains in both my left and right hands (literally starting at the same point in time) and I was forced to sit back for a month from my kit. I returned to my set a month later after giving my wrists a chance to recoup, but I've found that I still face several issues. My wrists only tend to flare up in times of great stress, which means I've had to slow down the speed of my drumming considerably. I'm assuming that my pains stem from not being relaxed enough with my technique or something of the sort. I've also found that I can no longer perform songs I did a year ago. One of my former bands used to cover a song that consisted of me consistently playing a 225bpm hammer blast on my right hand, but now I can no longer muster the energy to keep myself going before I feel exhausted and tired. My footwork is also at a standstill, and really hasn't improved at all since I purchased my double pedals about 4 years ago.

Another aspect of drumming that I feel frustrated with is that it seems like the only way to improve is to repetitively perform exercises and routines, which seem to take any fun out of drumming at all. I can't stand the thought of just sitting and playing double stroke rolls for a half hour at a time; I want to have fun on my drum kit, and things like this make it seem like a chore honestly. At this point in time, I can't figure out what to do to make myself a better drummer. To put it in the plainest terms, I'm just another generic metal drummer who finds himself not even being able to play the basic death metal song. I lack groove, rhythm, and confidence in my skills, and I'm not sure what to do anymore about my lackings as a drummer. Maybe it's just me being pessimistic, but when I look at other death metal drummers my age playing solidly at ridiculous speeds, it's a bit discouraging and makes me feel very inadequate as a drummer.

Hope this doesn't seem like me bitching haha, but it's just something thats been bugging me for quite a while. I feel like I'm going through a moderately rough phase of drumming right now where I'm just a bit lost. Part of the issue stems from (I assume) not being able to be on my kit as much anymore due to noise issues. This leaves me confined to a HQ Realfeel Practice Pad and a Gibraltar bass drum pad (which is horrible to practice on).

Anyways, if anyone has experienced anything like this, it'd be nice to know your story and whatnot. I'm lacking direction in drumming right now.
You'll forgive me but it sounds like you are bitching. First off, get those wrists looked at and taken care of. Carpal tunnel is no laughing matter and if you're experiencing this in your 20s, then there's something going wrong. Go get that fixed, recuperate, and come back correctly.

Then go pay some money and get a teacher that will look at your technique and set you straight. And unfortunately, if you want to get good, you've got to put in the time. There's no way around that.

I find it amusing you call it a midlife crisis. At your age, that's when you start getting more serious and learning about everything you don't know. That is, if you're serious about taking your drumming to the next level. Good luck with those hands, though!
 
You'll forgive me but it sounds like you are bitching. First off, get those wrists looked at and taken care of. Carpal tunnel is no laughing matter and if you're experiencing this in your 20s, then there's something going wrong. Go get that fixed, recuperate, and come back correctly.

Then go pay some money and get a teacher that will look at your technique and set you straight. And unfortunately, if you want to get good, you've got to put in the time. There's no way around that.

I find it amusing you call it a midlife crisis. At your age, that's when you start getting more serious and learning about everything you don't know. That is, if you're serious about taking your drumming to the next level. Good luck with those hands, though!
No offense bro but yeah I whole heartedly agree with Bo up there. It sounds to me like you need to find yourself a teacher or at least look up some technique videos and re-train your hands. I am taking lessons at the moment and trust me, its excellent money spent. I recommend you seek a teacher more then anything; and hey shit happens and this sounds like (no offense) like you need to stop whining, and just do something about your problem with all do respect.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
First off, yes, do get the wrists looked at. I've been playing over 30 years without any issues and I plan to keep it that way. But believe me, first sign of weirdness starts happening in my wrists and I'm calling a friggin' ambulance RIGHT NOW! Don't mess around with that. Doesn't seem like you should need a teacher to help you hold your sticks right, but in this case, it might not be a bad idea to have someone experienced teach you less stressful grips, though your wrists *should* be able to at least steer you in the right direction (pain = bad; no pain = good). Yeah, get that checked out.
- ABANDON the term 'frustration' from your mind, at least in relation to drumming. Seriously, this makes a difference. POSITIVE mindset! Avoid mental blocks. It works!

- Keep practicing - and do push yourself - but don't let this have a mental buildup for you. Try to rediscover the fun of drumming...
This is excellent advice. Larry's usually pretty heavy with these sentiments, too, and I couldn't agree more. It's good to push yourself and it's good to be driven to improve. But, it isn't a competition or a race. Take it at a pace that's fun or you'll only burn yourself out and eventually find other things you'd rather do.

Just to give you an example of a positive mindset ... I'm not an egomaniac or terribly full of myself (at least I don't think!) but from the age of 13 when I first got my kit, I thought I was great. I'd been shown a few beats and how to play the most cliche 16th run around the toms and I thought I was on fire! It was as if everytime I sat down to play, I was going to further wow myself. And the funny thing is - I did! Time and time again, I could find something to impress myself, further reinforcing the idea that I was great. It doesn't take too many months or years of this kind of (delusional) thinking before it starts paying off in spades. That's not to say I didn't have some reality checks, because I did - there were several exceptional drummers around my area and in my high school that were far beyond where I was at, but I could always tell myself that for where I was on my timeline I was doing just fine - great even. And those guys served as awesome mentors and examples of how to keep yourself thoroughly entertained by the whole thing. I was really lucky that way.

Emphasize the things you're good at and reinforce them. Turns out that the things we're best at also tend to be in the areas we're most interested in. So if you're most interested in grooving like Steve Jordan, that's where your relaxed mind will naturally gravitate to so go with it and you'll be a monster grooving machine before you know it. Similarly, if you're most interested in blasting away on double bass, go with it - don't let a lack of perfect technique stop you from throwing yourself fully into it. To a large extent, the technique will sort itself out as you move along your timeline having a gas. Yes, sometimes you have to stop to sort things out and get some muscle memory happening, but for the most part, you should just be going for it and having a good time. One of my favorite Derek Roddy posts on here was regarding playing at fast speeds and what worked for him was just going for it AT SPEED. Someone was asking something about practicing it all slowly, making sure all the strokes were even and perfect before notching up the metronome another notch, and Derek was like - no, just hit it full force at the speed you want it at until you're feeling it there and let the technique follow. Might not work for everyone or every application, but I really love that approach and it's how I roll, too, which is probably why I liked his response so much.

Fun is a much more powerful motivator than some internal competitive pressure to get past the next guy. Fun yields some pretty amazing results, too, so don't try skipping that step.

I'm coming up on 46 (real mid-life) and I'm still trying to wow myself all the time and it's no less fun and intoxicating than it ever was.
 
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