Am I the only one?

Vandalay

Member
When I practice alone, I hate the way I play, I struggle with just about every aspect. but If I play along with You tube vids or with other musicians, things change, and I don't feel as bad about my playing. Am I the only one this happens to? or am I just kidding myself?
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
Here is my guess. There is what I call an "auditory illusion" that happens in a band. It's like an optical illusion. A single instrument might not sound that good on it's own. But when the sound is combined with sounds of other instruments the imperfections disappear. Our brains seek harmony and rhythm. We will alter what we actually hear to emphasize harmony and rhythm.
 

sumdrumguy

Senior Member
When you practice alone, are you working on improving some aspect of your playing? Or just playing around the kit - random grooves, fills, etc?

Personally I find the latter very unfulfilling. I love being part of an ensemble, and contributing to creating an experience for everyone present - band members and audience. Most of my personal practice is spent improving facility. That involves a lot of sucking. :D However, I appreciate the process of sucking at something, working through whatever mechanical and psychological obstacles I have, and aquiring the facility to do something I couldn't do before.

This may not apply. The questions above were my first thought reading your post.
 

J-W

Well-known member
Touching on sumdrumguy's post above, what are you playing to on youtube, and what are you playing by yourself? If you're challenging yourself when you play by yourself, you're bound to struggle and hate the way you play. That's the point. You need to struggle in order to improve. If you're not trying to push yourself beyond your current abilities, then you will never surpass them. On the same token, if you're playing along to songs you know very well, or are super easy, then you will certainly be more satisfied with your abilities when doing so. Try playing to something more challenging and you'll feel the same way you do about playing by yourself. Struggling for a bit and then getting to that "ah-ha" moment where it all clicks is what makes drumming fun and exciting for me. I honestly don't know how people can just learn the "money beat" and never seek to expand on their abilities.
Another thought: How long have you been playing? If you're new to drumming it's possible that you rely on youtube videos or other musicians to keep the tempo and/or place in the song for you as well. Playing along to pre-recorded music has it's place, but if you don't work on it alone you will struggle.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
To expand some more on what has already been said, when you are playing by yourself you are only hearing yourself. Your focus then becomes "how am I doing?". If playing with music or others, your focus shifts to the overall package, not just inner reflection. You mindset then changes and its easier to overlook or not hear the little things you were before being critical of. It's like @No Way Jose alluded to above. It's not that those things arent there, the music hides them and your headspace is different.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
Simple. Every time you play by yourself, you're hearing every detail, every nuance, every imperfection. When you're playing with a band, you hear almost none of that.

I noticed this early on in college. I had occasional jazz combo gigs where we didn't have a bass player, and I suddenly felt exposed. It felt painful to listen to my playing because there was no carpet of sound underneath to make it sound better.

Don't let the flaws get you down. Use them to your advantage and let them inspire you to improve.
 
I have a ride cymbal I've never liked--it quickly gets too washy for my taste. And yet every time I've heard recordings of myself playing that cymbal with a band, I always think it sounds great, as the wash gets covered up and only the highlights, the nice pingy ping, remain audible.

I wonder if it's something like that for you, that in context, you sound good, and it's only in isolation that the things you don't like are noticeable.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
I have a ride cymbal I've never liked--it quickly gets too washy for my taste. And yet every time I've heard recordings of myself playing that cymbal with a band, I always think it sounds great, as the wash gets covered up and only the highlights, the nice pingy ping, remain audible.

I wonder if it's something like that for you, that in context, you sound good, and it's only in isolation that the things you don't like are noticeable.
I've experienced the same thing with my Meinl Extra Dry 20" ride. It has some annoying overtones when I'm playing at home, but when playing with people at the gig, I don't hear it. The band just covers it up.
 

Ruok

Silver Member
Great thread Vandalay!

I've always felt that I am "better" when playing with others than when I'm on my own, and sometimes I will feel very down on myself after my solo practice or after just goofing around, trying to have fun. Seeing the responses has definitely cheered me up. Thanks guys!

That being said, there are those very rare occasions when playing drums alone that I felt like I played above and beyond what I thought I was capable of doing and was disappointed that no one was there to hear it! Haha.
 

pocket player

Junior Member
Touching on sumdrumguy's post above, what are you playing to on youtube, and what are you playing by yourself? If you're challenging yourself when you play by yourself, you're bound to struggle and hate the way you play. That's the point. You need to struggle in order to improve. If you're not trying to push yourself beyond your current abilities, then you will never surpass them. On the same token, if you're playing along to songs you know very well, or are super easy, then you will certainly be more satisfied with your abilities when doing so. Try playing to something more challenging and you'll feel the same way you do about playing by yourself. Struggling for a bit and then getting to that "ah-ha" moment where it all clicks is what makes drumming fun and exciting for me. I honestly don't know how people can just learn the "money beat" and never seek to expand on their abilities.
Another thought: How long have you been playing? If you're new to drumming it's possible that you rely on youtube videos or other musicians to keep the tempo and/or place in the song for you as well. Playing along to pre-recorded music has it's place, but if you don't work on it alone you will struggle.
Well Said JW !!
 
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BonsaiMagpie

Junior Member
I recently recorded drum parts for a song without the lads playing in my in ear monitor and everything sounded terrible. Took about 50 attempts and couldn't get a good take, where previously I'd done a take in the studio in 1 or 2 attempts. It sounds very different on your own and you can really pick out the mistakes, and where the part you're playing is a bit dull or repetitive. You can definitely use this to improve your skill without annoying the band trying out new things on them without having them nailed.
 

CommanderRoss

Silver Member
If I'm working on something specific, it'll sound ok & I'm good with the flow.
If I'm trying to nail down a certain fill or some complicated rhythm then I'm feeling like you do.

Stick with it...it'll work out.
 

JaysonJeanChannel

Well-known member
When I practice alone, I hate the way I play, I struggle with just about every aspect. but If I play along with You tube vids or with other musicians, things change, and I don't feel as bad about my playing. Am I the only one this happens to? or am I just kidding myself?
I used to feel the same way you do and still do to some degree. When you playing along music, you just don't hear your playing 100% so you can't catch what's going on. Playing alone, you do hear those notes you may be lacking or missing. Whenever you're in this funk, analyze why you don't like it and improve on it. One tip I highly recommend is to record yourself whenever you play, especially when you're playing along to music. This can help you better catch things to improve.
 

ToneT

Well-known member
I record myself every evening; whether I'm playing alone or to music. From there, I can critique my playing. I record the metronome as a separate track too when practicing and / or playing on my own.
I love playing along to music with headphones on. I also record that as well.
 

Yamaha Rider

Well-known member
Still a learner myself - but for what it's worth, I don't enjoy playing the drums on their own.
The only time I play them without music is practising rudiments or learning specific techniques - but playing along with music ,and even better, musicians is why I play drums - and what drums were made for.
And in imo, if you sound good playing to music, you are good!
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
When you practice alone, are you working on improving some aspect of your playing? Or just playing around the kit - random grooves, fills, etc?

Personally I find the latter very unfulfilling. I love being part of an ensemble, and contributing to creating an experience for everyone present - band members and audience. Most of my personal practice is spent improving facility. That involves a lot of sucking. :D However, I appreciate the process of sucking at something, working through whatever mechanical and psychological obstacles I have, and aquiring the facility to do something I couldn't do before.

This may not apply. The questions above were my first thought reading your post.

for set, I HAVE to be playing along to something or I get bored pretty quick...unless I am learning. Then it is just me and a met. I can't stand "noodling" on any instrument I play. It always has to be some kind of focused, goal oriented practice. I think this is due to my OCD in a way <--- order. Things have to be in order.

One of my bands writes that way...3 hours of random noodling. I had to tell them that I can't be at those writing sessions....give me some ideas that at least have a structure. They were like "but don't you just want to fiddle around with some different beats?" NO!!! I will do that when there is some kind of phrase structure...
 

Hewitt2

Senior Member
I record every note I play. Then you can hear what woeked and what didn't. Helps a lot!

Interesting, I guess that assumes you have time and inclination to listen back to every note you play? In essence you are practicing twice....

Totally agree about the importance of recording practicing. But it may be more productive to listen back on things you are really focusing on.
 
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