Breakthroughs, Goals and Milestones

beatdat

Senior Member
I recently had a bit of a breakthrough in my playing. For the past year and a half, I've been practicing diligently at home. Several months ago, I realized that, no matter how much I practiced leading with my non-dominant hand, it still wasn't catching up to my dominant hand, or even really improving for that matter. So, a few months ago, a bought Tommy Igoe's Great Hand For A Lifetime, and have been working through it, primarily focusing on the Rebounds and Accents section. Unfortunately, this magnified the differences between my hands. I then bought Dom Famularo's The Weaker Side, and started each practice session by playing through the 1st page for 1/2 an hour. And, last week, it happened... I finally felt my non-dominant hand loosen up; you know the feeling, where, when playing, the stick is light in your hand, makes a clear and full sound on the pad, and feels like it is softly vibrating in you hand. It was, for me, a bit of a breakthrough, and I'm glad I put in the time to get to that point. My non-dominant hand is not entirely consistent, yet, but at least I know that it's getting there.

As far as goals go, a few months ago I finished working through Alan Keown's Mastering The Rudiments in 28 Weeks. While I certainly haven't "mastered" (any of) them, I at least now have a working knowledge of the 40 PAS rudiments.

I then decided to think about my short, mid and long term goals. My short term goal, which I'm working on with an old friend who has started teaching me again, is pulling the sound out of the drums. We first worked on hi-hat and crashes, then the snare drum. Those were fairly easy. Next we'll be working on toms (I think that may need a bit of work). Fortunately, he doesn't see much issue with my bass drum playing. For mid-term goals, I'd like to be able to play Igoe's Lifetime Warmup at the Basic Level within a year. For long-term goals it's playing the Musical Exercises in Mastering The Rudiments at tempo, playing the Lifetime Warmup at the Advanced Level and having a bass drum as fast as Bonham's - lofty perhaps, be we gotta aim big, no?

As far as milestones go, though, I can't say I've really achieved any... or thought about them for that matter, just that I thought it would help make for a good thread title.

How about you guys and gals? Any recent breakthroughs? Are you achieving your goals? What are they? Have you reached any milestones lately? Let us know.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I'm surprised this has no replies yet. I'll bite.

I recently got the pad out again and have been going over and cleaning up things I haven't done in a while. I can definitely hear and see some problems using the pad that go unnoticed at the kit. My goal right now is even doubles. I've been going from slow to fast to slow again, just cycling it. I've noticed I use 3 different techniques throughout, and the transition between the second and third is sloppy when getting faster. Evening it out where the transition is seamless is my goal.
 

mrfingers

Senior Member
For the past two years I had practiced my doubles with my change over from trad to matched which really magnified finger/wrist problems with my left hand. I never realized how many different muscles were involved with doubles! Starting slowly didn’t seem to help any medium doubles or fast doubles-different muscle groups seemed to be involved at each stage. I got no “input” from my right hand. So i’d decided my left will grip differently and i’d just put up with it. Seems to work.
 

trickg

Silver Member
I've never really thought about it in terms of milestones, or at least not at the time the breakthroughs were happening, but I know what you mean.

I went into the US Army Band program as a trumpet player right out of high school, and I was good high school player - out of 25 trumpets in the All-State band, I was 5th chair overall, but, let's keep things in perspective - I was a HIGH SCHOOL player.

I was a pretty typical basic course student at the Armed Forces School of Music in Littlecreek/Norfolk, Virginia - I wasn't awesome, but as a player, I was in the top half of the trumpet players in the Basic course.

Then I got to my band. I was the youngest trumpet player by 10+ years, and the rest of the trumpet section at the time (just 4 of them, 5 if you include the Sergeant Major) were all experienced musicians with 10 or more years time as Army trumpet players. They were well above me in terms of ability, so I was expected to catch up, and quickly. I got there in late April, and that first summer was a trial by fire - sink, or swim. I swam. Really, I didn't have much of a choice, and I was in every major ensemble by default.

I remember that in the middle of that summer, I'd gone home on leave, and I'd been off of the horn for a few days. I picked up my horn to go through some of the big band music for the next concert.

BOOM!

All of a sudden I wasn't struggling with the fast licks anymore - my playing elevated quite suddenly. I don't know if it was just one of those things where having the horn in my hands for 5-6 hours every day brought about the change, and taking the break while I was on leave allowed my brain to put all the pieces together, or just what the deal was.

That's happened to me 3 times in my life on horn, and once on drums. On the horn it happened in the middle of my 3rd year in 7th grade, again in the middle of my 9th grade year, and then after I'd become an Army trumpet player. On drums it happened after 5-6 years. All of a sudden things were clicking, and I things I had to work hard at before just started to click.

But I do still have issues with my weak side. Might have to check into that Dom Famularo book.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Nope no breakthroughs, milestones, or goals, but I still enjoy playing now as the first time I set on a kit. I guess I do have one goal to address in "finally" getting lessons and having better technique. But I haven't pursued (likely meaning I never will sadly) it mainly cause the way I do things now is because it's easier for me-even if wrong. Sometimes I think I should move to metal cause I like playing to many notes on my kick LOL. I know I should set some real goals so I'll have some breakthroughs and reach some milestones and really improve. But hell no I know me- I've always done things "my way" (in my best Sinatra voice LOL) in about everything in life -stubborn jackass that I am. If interested I do it-if I procrastinate at all it's the kiss of death. Sometime I "reason" It maybe different and not good, but I think different is good sometimes-even if it's bad LOL Oh how the worm turns.
 

Mr Farkle

Member
Another doubles goal: Very clean doubles and rolls ala Steve Holmes Double-Stroke Roll Phrasing video on YouTube. I've been working on this pretty steadily for two years and struggled so much with falling back into old habits that I recently switched to traditional grip as a way to start fresh. (The exact opposite approach of mrfingers in the post above.) Things are finally coming together and the last thing to overcome is to be able to start off super clean when coming off of a jazz ride pattern. The doubles start off a bit rough and come clean by the end of the bar. This week has been the first time I've overcome that through some focused relaxation.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
My goal right now is even doubles. I've been going from slow to fast to slow again, just cycling it. I've noticed I use 3 different techniques throughout, and the transition between the second and third is sloppy when getting faster. Evening it out where the transition is seamless is my goal.
Playing finger technique with my left hand without the stick flying everywhere
For the past two years I had practiced my doubles with my change over from trad to matched which really magnified finger/wrist problems with my left hand.
Another doubles goal: Very clean doubles and rolls ala Steve Holmes Double-Stroke Roll Phrasing video on YouTube.
It pleases me to know that, not only do some of us have similar goals, but that they are to develop clean doubles; to me, they've become an overlooked rudiment in a lot of the playing I hear on the local rock scene today. When did they fall out of favour?

I know I should set some real goals so I'll have some breakthroughs and reach some milestones and really improve. But hell no I know me- I've always done things "my way" (in my best Sinatra voice LOL) in about everything in life -stubborn jackass that I am. If interested I do it-if I procrastinate at all it's the kiss of death.
Given your academic and professional accomplishments, I have a hard time reconciling them with your self-assessed procrastination problem. Mind you, I've been known to procrastinate in my life, too. Doing something about it, however, is not that difficult; the only difficult part is sitting down and doing it - once that's done, the rest comes easy, no? And hey, it's never too late to overcome bad habits, and from my recent experience, it doesn't take too long... and it's definitely worth it!



For those having problems with the left hand (and, boy-oh-boy, did I have problems with mine), I highly recommend Dom Famularo's "The Weaker Side". I've been playing through it the past couple of months ( I spent the first 6 weeks on the first page alone before moving on) and, along with working through Tommy Igoe's "Great Hands for a Lifetime" for the past few months, the results have been noticeable and make playing so much more enjoyable.
 

Mr Farkle

Member
It pleases me to know that, not only do some of us have similar goals, but that they are to develop clean doubles; to me, they've become an overlooked rudiment in a lot of the playing I hear on the local rock scene today. When did they fall out of favour?
My first drum instructor never mentioned rudiments. Not once. In other ways he was a great teacher. I often say that he taught me how to learn anything. Each week he would give me an assignment and when I returned the next week he would listen to what I practiced. If I seemed to have grasped it he would immediately get me started on something more complex. Constantly building on complexity. I advanced to "proficient enough to play with other musicians" very quickly. That kept me interested and engaged which was exactly what I needed at the time.

Also to his credit, he almost never played in front of me and when he did he only played what I was learning. I took a SINGLE guitar lesson from a guy who displayed his virtuosity for the first 5 minutes of the session. For the rest of the lesson I felt like an idiot who couldn't even press the strings. Never went back.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
Similar recent frustration with the disparity of my weaker hand.
Did Gary Chaffee’s Technique Patterns pages 6-7 with my left hand spending five minutes on each exercise for 30 total minutes, 4-5 days/week for the last 3 months. Improvements have been great and my grips are becoming much more symmetrical.

I definitely have times at the kit where the left hand is getting to be more independent and not just a follower of my right hand and the hand strikes the drums and cymbals with much better consistency and confidence. And yeah, some days are “breakthrough” type feelings but I’ve yet to get that feeling to be there 100% of the time. So I’m keeping with Chaffee book. I also put in 4-5 hours/week with Morello’s Master Studies and I’m sure that helps a lot too.

Hopefully it will all stick soon and become permanent.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
It pleases me to know that, not only do some of us have similar goals, but that they are to develop clean doubles; to me, they've become an overlooked rudiment in a lot of the playing I hear on the local rock scene today. When did they fall out of favour?
Doubles was my third lesson. The first was a get to know each other, second was how to hold the stick, make it bounce, and singles. When he showed me doubles I was both amazed and horrified at the same time. He started slow and went to fast then back to slow (like I'm working on). It was so cool, but I had no idea how I was gonna do THAT! Almost 30 years later and I'm still working on smoothing it out.

Perhaps YouTube has something to do with it. Self taught without a book gives no structure. It's easy to overlook something so basic when there are millions of "how to play this fill" videos. Learning fills is more fun than just running drills at first to the uninitiated. They don't realize that running drills IS practicing fills. And control. And speed. And endurance. Instant gratification may be killing talent and creativity.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Watching Tony William's powerful doubles inspired me to do the same-then added more rudiments. Like going from smooth singles to double to triplets at different tempos-isn't that easy shifting gears initially. I kept stumbling shifting to triplets-actually more like a stutter. Now at fast tempos I can smoothly run the gamut of single, doubles, triplets but slowing down I still stutter on transition from singles or doubles to triplets. I'm getting there though. I like various paradiddles with all limbs exercises to. I note some people play their rudiments with no hand or arm movements and all fingers to some combination of all three to like Tony Williams who held butt of stick in palm and didn't use much rebound but had the most powerful doubles.
 

mrfingers

Senior Member
“It pleases me to know that, not only do some of us have similar goals, but that they are to develop clean doubles; to me, they've become an overlooked rudiment in a lot of the playing I hear on the local rock scene today. When did they fall out of favour?”
I think when blues-based rock fell out of style...is when.
 

thebarak

Senior Member
My recent breakthroughs have all been from watching YouTube. Seriously, I see a world class drummer playing something and then I sit down and work out how to make the same happen. It applies to music, stick grip and control, all kinds of things that have have made me metter drummer.

No books have ever helped me because I am music blind. To me the number of lines in the staff is constantly changing before my eyes and the notes appear to be anywhere on the page. I will never be able to read a single note, let alone a bar or a line. I can read words, but music notation may as well be ink splashed on a paper shirt worn by a passing cyclist.
 

TMe

Senior Member
...music notation may as well be ink splashed on a paper shirt worn by a passing cyclist.
There's a difference between reading and "sight reading". A person who can "sight read" is one who can play their instrument while reading a score that tells them what to play. That's like reading ink splashed on a paper shirt worn by a passing cyclist. A person who can "read" is someone who can puzzle out a part from sheet music and then try to play it. That's more like sitting down with a book and being able to read the same paragraph as many times as needed.

If someone hands me a page full of funk beat variations, for example, I can figure out the beats from the sheet music and work on them. If I come up with my own beat, I can write it down so I don't forget it. But I can't play all the beats back to back, reading along with the sheet music. I can read fairly well, but I can't "sight read" worth beans.

Learning to read is easy enough, definitely worthwhile, and every drummer should do it.

Learning to sight read is a much bigger project. Most people don't learn to do it unless someone taught them when they were kids.
 
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danondrums

Well-known member
Perhaps YouTube has something to do with it. Self taught without a book gives no structure. It's easy to overlook something so basic when there are millions of "how to play this fill" videos. Learning fills is more fun than just running drills at first to the uninitiated. They don't realize that running drills IS practicing fills. And control. And speed. And endurance. Instant gratification may be killing talent and creativity.
There are some great exercises I've discovered through youtube. The key for me is to have some organization to my own practice so I convert the youtube lesson into a repeatable exercise and then add that exercise to my calendar to do however often I feel is necessary. It's nice to be able to open and work through a book for sure, but some concepts are better explained through video and then when converted to a specific exercise that applies to your goals I've found some great benefit.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
A person who can "sight read" is one who can play their instrument while reading a score that tells them what to play.
Watching Aronoff site read this recording blew my mind. A few years ago I attended a recording workshop with him playing drums. Even though he’d been given the track weeks prior to the session, he wrote his part out in full detail. He said he plays so many different sessions that he writes his part to avoid mistakes.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Can you point us to a video clip of Tony Williams playing powerful doubles, so we can see what you're referring to?
Here's one of his clinics showing his "powerful" strokes. There's one where he's talking and explaining his double stroke roll that I remember and can't find.

Here's a great solo:
 

beatdat

Senior Member
I will never be able to read a single note, let alone a bar or a line. I can read words, but music notation may as well be ink splashed on a paper shirt worn by a passing cyclist.
Time to set a new goal!

Reading music is not that hard, and gets easier to do once you develop a foundation.

Maybe dig into some old Modern Drummer issues? I think they ran an introductory music reading series in or around July 2004
 
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