Can't play by myself

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Chatting in another thread made me realise something about my playing. It's completely different when I play with other musicians. When I am by myself with the pad I am hopeless and can't do anything right. When I play with others I feel much more confident and in control.

It makes it hard to practice technical stuff because I get bored and discouraged pretty quickly when by myself. Does anyone else experience this?

Bear in mind I have played since 1976 (with 9 or 10 years of breaks) so this has been the case pretty well forever.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
When you practice alone do you imagine other instruments in your head?
Do you meditate and put yourself into a transcended state of mind for a few mins before practice?
I pick a technique that I want to work on, I close my eyes, clear my mind, set a tempo in my head, I imagine that a bass player is playing with me. I begin to play.
I slowly add other instruments in my head as I play. Before I know it, there is a whole band playing with me. These imaginary musicians follow my every move. Its wonderful and fulfilling!
This site will take you where you want to go. http://www.tm.org/
 
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GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I would guess that when by yourself you are think hard about what you are doing and while with others you are relaxed and thinking about the music and not so much what you are doing. Try this, it worked for me when I started again after 30 years. Keep in mind I am a trained multi-tasker. I turn the telly on to a show or movie and pick out a rhythm or rudiment and play while watching. It keeps me from trying too hard. Give it a try. You can call me crazy later.
 

ENRICO

Silver Member
I really don't like playing by myself , I do it only when I need to improve in something or master any technique .
I'm much more creative when I play with others , when I play alone I get bored very easily .
 
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Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
One of those 'life cycle' things for me Polly.

When I was learning, I spent most of my time practising on my own. I knew no different and could occupy my time effectively due to the steep learning curve that a new skill provides.

When I'd developed to garage band and jamming with mates stage, I'd still practice on my own, but really started to enjoy being creative with others. I found myself being a lot more extended by playing music with others than I was just practising on my own.

By the time I was up and playing live gigs regularly. I put little time into personal practice (foolishly I'll add). It was all group rehearsals with the obvious exception of any parts or songs I found personally difficult and had to allot time away from the band to figure out.

Now after several years of doing nothing, I'm back on the pad daily or on the kit whenever I can set it up and need no motivation to go and play by myself. But I think it's fair to say, the more I play out, the less time I devote to practising on my own
 
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Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Thx for the replies, guys. One by one:

Bob, I did a full TM course in my 20s when I was "finding myself" (ie. trying to be less mad). I confirmed something I already knew - that I am a terrible fidget :) TM ain't for me. Nice thought, tho.

GD, yeah. That's as close as it gets for me. But don't you find the background scores and ad music are incredibly distracting? I keep finding myself following the music like a cat after string.

Enrico ... yep. That's the one.

Pocket, your "passages" post rings true but ... you know the kind of girl who always has to be in a relationship? I'm like that, except with bands. My first garage band was after playing along with records for 3 months and I've been a serial musical monogamist since (except for the approx 10 yrs I've not been drumming).

Has anyone made up their own rudiments that sound more musical to keep entertained when practising?
 
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Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Polly, your a musician first and a drummer second. What you're experiencing is typical of the breed. I'm the same. The only time I get excited by practicing on my own is when I have a target to reach. That can be "oh s%^$t, we're practicing tomorrow and I haven't ----" or "I've got to nail that groove/fill/whatever that I constantly mess up". Occasionally, I hear a riff from another drummer that inspires me. I take it away and alter it in some way (usually simplify) then practice it until I've got it nailed. I could play with a band for hours on end. No way could I do that on my own.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Polly, playing by yourself with just a pad would get dull for me too. Now if you can incorporate a quiet kick drum (I'm assuming noise is an issue) wouldn't that be far more interesting? Would you say you'd get just as discouraged with a full volume complete kit to play on?

"I keep following music like a cat after string"
Another great "Pollyism" Love your mind.
 

cnw60

Senior Member
I have a variation of this affliction - basically, as long as the band is playing, I have no problem grooving along, doing whatever, but if nobody else is playing - it's just not my thing to start up and wail away on my own and then expect everybody else to follow along.

Our guitar player will often ask me if there's some beat I've been working on that he could play along with and he's frustrated because I often don't really have some 'special' thing to play for him - I prefer to play off of the other musicians.

I do consider it a weakness, partially born of lack of confidence and partially attributable to not being the most disciplined player in the world.

On the other hand - I love practicing on my own. But I tend to work more on skills/exercises and not so much on 'beats' or specific grooves.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Thx for the replies, guys. One by one:

Bob, I did a full TM course in my 20s when I was "finding myself" (ie. trying to be less mad). I confirmed something I already knew - that I am a terrible fidget :) TM ain't for me. Nice thought, tho.
Im surprised to hear that Polly! TM helped me a great deal!
When I was a teen I was angry, violent and reckless to the point where I was always getting into fights over nothing, I was arrested for my behavior!
TM allowed me to control my body and my mind and focus on the important things. See the forest through the trees! I use TM everyday! It helps me with my job as well as music. It keeps me from going over the edge. I always meditate before a gig. When my mind is right, My timing is right. I can relax and count properly. I don't hit my bass player with my sticks! It sets the mood so that I can channel my anger and frustration so that I can function productively!
TM was first suggested to me by a social worker. I tried it because I knew that I had to do something to control my behavior. All other logic had failed! It worked! I have lead a productive life because of Transcendental Meditation! It would have much different otherwise!
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Bob you win the prize for the most exclamation marks! What are you going to do now?!
I like exclamation marks!!! I have always liked them!!! I will continue to like them!!! The exclamation mark is my favorite symbol!!!!!
Do you have a problem with that? Whoops, I have to go and meditate now!!!!!! I'll be back in about twenty mins.......................... See, Im using periods now. Do you see what you have done............Ah the heck with it, It just isn't the same!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Notice how well they line up and conform with each other in perfect harmony!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I feel better now.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Actually I was looking for you to say, I just won the prize for the most exclamation marks! I'm going to Disney World!!!! I love the EM's keep em coming! They're a real pick me up! I think I'll start using more myself!
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Actually I was looking for you to say, I just won the prize for the most exclamation marks! I'm going to Disney World!!!! I love the EM's keep em coming! They're a real pick me up! I think I'll start using more myself!
It's a fetish, I can't stop! I don't know why I do it! I have to! It must have been the Nuns that taught me how to type while they hit me with a ruler! My first finger hits the shift key, and my middle finger hits the ! key. It's so natural that I don't realize that Im doing it! its kind of like a rim shot at the end of a joke in a stand up club.
 
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Pollyanna

Platinum Member
KIS, that's exactly my approach. I love drumming itself too, but mainly African-style drumming. If I had a kit to play on, I'd probably spend many happy (or frustrating) hours trying to master Tony Allen's Afrobeat and play plenty of tom rhythms that have zilch to do with my band.

Larry, my feet are always flapping away on the floor too while I play on the pad. That makes it tolerable :) If I had a kit set up in a music room I would play more. If the room was soundproof enough so that NO ONE else could hear me I'd play a LOT more.

cnw60 - I share your weakness. If the music stops and it's left up to me I feel like I'm in free fall and have to shift the way I think. I do have some pet beats, though. They're the beats I've played with records that I like but haven't had the chance to use with the group.

I wrote a song for an old band based on one of those pet beats. It's blatantly based on the Steelies' Bothistatva and was a crowd-pleaser.

Or should I say ... it was a crowd pleaser!!!!!! Bob, the way you use exclamation marks is like hitting a crash cymbal every four bars :) My writing addiction is smilies :))
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Instead of thinking of it as playing "by yourself" try thinking of it as playing "with yourself"
Now don't think that is a sex based joke, I mean it in earnest. I'll give you an example.
Pretend you are two drummers, playing off one another, like 2 guitarists trading 4's or 8's.
Play a figure as person #1, then answer it as person # 2, wash rinse and repeat
This also makes a good philosophy to base a drum solo off of....like a musical conversation.
I feel so lucky and blessed that I can go in my studio at any hour of the day and play to my hearts content. My playing has improved so much since 2005 when I first built it, and also by recording ALL my gigs. (And listening back to viciously critique).
All drummers should have a safe haven to go to any time of day to improve their craft, it should be the goal of everyone here to get a space like that, if you don't already have one.
 

Shedboyxx

Silver Member
I like exclamation marks!!! I have always liked them!!! I will continue to like them!!! The exclamation mark is my favorite symbol!!!!!
Do you have a problem with that? Whoops, I have to go and meditate now!!!!!! I'll be back in about twenty mins.......................... See, Im using periods now. Do you see what you have done............Ah the heck with it, It just isn't the same!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Notice how well they line up and conform with each other in perfect harmony!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I feel better now.
Why would Bob use so many exclamation marks???? Does Bob have a long history with exclamation marks???????????????? Will everybody else start using exclamation marks like Bob???????????????????????????????????? Where's all the people who love other syntax??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????


(Am I) Jim?

:) ?
 

Chazz

Senior Member
Hey Pollyanna,

How's about finding another Drummer in
your town or area, you can practice/workout together..
this way you won't get bored alone on the pad as most people do..
and can share idea's too!
 

Concrete Pete

Senior Member
Hey Pollyanna,

I can't stand using a practice pad, so I always practice on my drum set in my garage. (pity my poor neighbors!)

When I practice alone, I do it in 2 different ways-- If I jam WITHOUT the MP3 player (using headphones), I do lots of solo-type riffs, pedal exercises, and loose chops of all kinds. I usually do this as a "warm up)

When jamming WITH the MP3 player, it's all business--strict attention to every detail in every song, especially the "lyrical clues" the where the breaks and fills come in.

When I practice with either rock band, I usually mellow out a bit and do less fills, play quieter, and use a bit more finesse. Of course, that changes when we play live gigs.

Every once in a while I get the urge to play too late at night for using the drum kit, so I use my little Yamaha DD-20c "drumkit". It's a cheapo POS, but is kinda useful and fun sometimes. I just wish I could hook up some kinda foot pedals for bass and hi-hat, as it's all stick-fired.

Cheers,
C. P.
 
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