Continuing On With The Counting Discussion and How It Applies to Fills

ZenR1

Well-known member
I appreciate everyone's responses about counting. It seems that the majority of people count while trying work out drum pieces but not during performances.

The issue I'm having is with fills. Even though I'm getting better at counting along with music I listen to or counting out something I'm trying to learn, when I'm actually playing, either along to music or some bars I learned, when it comes to fills and their subdivisions, I can't count them out in time with the rhythm. And so, unless I'm doing the most basic fill pattern, i.e., consisting of the same notes with no rests, I tend to get tripped up. And this results in ending a fill either before the start of the next bar or after.

What's the fix for this?
 

Hewitt2

Senior Member
The obvious answer is to play slowly and get it down cleanly until you slowly up the BPM.

you may also want to use reading materials like syncopation or modern reading text to ensure you can count quarters when your hands are doing something else or syncopating.

The more you count the easier it becomes. This has to be an activity you are doing constantly when practicing so that it takes hold. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the journey.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I appreciate everyone's responses about counting. It seems that the majority of people count while trying work out drum pieces but not during performances.

The issue I'm having is with fills. Even though I'm getting better at counting along with music I listen to or counting out something I'm trying to learn, when I'm actually playing, either along to music or some bars I learned, when it comes to fills and their subdivisions, I can't count them out in time with the rhythm. And so, unless I'm doing the most basic fill pattern, i.e., consisting of the same notes with no rests, I tend to get tripped up. And this results in ending a fill either before the start of the next bar or after.

What's the fix for this?
Two things, probably:

1. Are you counting out loud? If you're just counting in your head, it will be very easy to make mistakes. Counting out loud, for whatever reason, raises your awareness so that mistakes become instantly recognized.

2. Slow way down. At first, it's very difficult to count and play at the same time, so give yourself a fighting chance! You will NOT be able to play at your normal speed, or the full speed of a song, and add the task of counting out loud. You'll need to slow it down, which, of course, takes maturity and patience. If you're playing along to songs, then slow the songs down. You can use the Amazing SlowDowner app, or the speed setting on YouTube, etc.

In lessons, I often play along, and count out loud with my students, so that they can also see and hear me. But this is also so that I can control the tempo. Nearly always, the student will try to push to tempos that are too fast, too soon.

And, for whatever reason, they resist like hell when I tell them to count out loud (not in their head). Maybe they think it's embarrassing? Or that it's not a worthwhile method? Teenage apathy? Some combination of these?
 
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brentcn

Platinum Member
you may also want to use reading materials like syncopation or modern reading text to ensure you can count quarters when your hands are doing something else or syncopating.
Great suggestion! Actually, get both of those books. Like, today.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
In very simple fills, single stroke roll types, your lead hand should be either the same speed as your hi hat/ride hand, or an iteration of it (half or double speed). Fills must still adhere to the same time rules as everything else you play. They dont speed up or slow down in the frame of time.

Try this:
Play a basic 4/4 beat. When it is time for the fill, use only your lead hand for the fill. It doesnt matter what your fill is, just that you keep the speed of the stick the same as it is on the hats/ride. Keep doing it until your brain clicks, then add the other hand.

If written out, your lead hand would look like this (H=hats, F=fill):

HHHH/HHHH/HHHH/FFFF

That's 16 notes across the measure, absolutely no shift in speed, only the targets you are aiming for.
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
Stay focused on the backbeat, that is typically the 1 beat. Whatever fill you play probably should join the groove on the 1 beat.
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
I used counting to figure out my Vinnie fill dissection this week. But once I had it written out on paper (or using the Code Insert tool on the forum) I could execute it with my hands by just feeling the pulse.

It was 5/4 which I don't play that much these days. When I attempted to clap the rhythm out while vocalizing the count, it was pretty difficult at first. I think counting a few empty bars helps, almost like establishing a new ostinato, rather than slow down and study superimposed things.

Here's the exercise again. And I think just about every drummer out there would have difficulty counting it the first time.

Code:
Quarter = 182 bpm
Vocal with hand claps
|1...2...3...4...5...|1...2...3...4...5...|1
|            o     o      o o     o   o o |o
 

ZenR1

Well-known member
Two things, probably:

1. Are you counting out loud? If you're just counting in your head, it will be very easy to make mistakes. Counting out loud, for whatever reason, raises your awareness so that mistakes become instantly recognized.

2. Slow way down. At first, it's very difficult to count and play at the same time, so give yourself a fighting chance! You will NOT be able to play at your normal speed, or the full speed of a song, and add the task of counting out loud. You'll need to slow it down, which, of course, takes maturity and patience. If you're playing along to songs, then slow the songs down. You can use the Amazing SlowDowner app, or the speed setting on YouTube, etc.

In lessons, I often play along, and count out loud with my students, so that they can also see and hear me. But this is also so that I can control the tempo. Nearly always, the student will try to push to tempos that are too fast, too soon.

And, for whatever reason, they resist like hell when I tell them to count out loud (not in their head). Maybe they think it's embarrassing? Or that it's not a worthwhile method? Teenage apathy? Some combination of these?
Yeah I need to slow down.
 

Sebenza

Member
I appreciate everyone's responses about counting. It seems that the majority of people count while trying work out drum pieces but not during performances.

The issue I'm having is with fills. Even though I'm getting better at counting along with music I listen to or counting out something I'm trying to learn, when I'm actually playing, either along to music or some bars I learned, when it comes to fills and their subdivisions, I can't count them out in time with the rhythm. And so, unless I'm doing the most basic fill pattern, i.e., consisting of the same notes with no rests, I tend to get tripped up. And this results in ending a fill either before the start of the next bar or after.

What's the fix for this?
Is this something that happens in improvised fills or in fills that you practiced beforehand as well?
 

ZenR1

Well-known member
In very simple fills, single stroke roll types, your lead hand should be either the same speed as your hi hat/ride hand, or an iteration of it (half or double speed). Fills must still adhere to the same time rules as everything else you play. They dont speed up or slow down in the frame of time.

Try this:
Play a basic 4/4 beat. When it is time for the fill, use only your lead hand for the fill. It doesnt matter what your fill is, just that you keep the speed of the stick the same as it is on the hats/ride. Keep doing it until your brain clicks, then add the other hand.

If written out, your lead hand would look like this (H=hats, F=fill):

HHHH/HHHH/HHHH/FFFF

That's 16 notes across the measure, absolutely no shift in speed, only the targets you are aiming for.
Well that's the thing, with very simple fills, it's not an issue. But throw in some rests and vary the notes, and I end up at the floor tom either too soon, needing to play more notes than I want on the floor tom, or too late, when I should be on the '1' of the next bar instead of the floor tom.
 

Sebenza

Member
Improvised.
Try playing quarter notes on the bass drum throughout your improvised fills then. Set up a metronome that clearly denotes the '1' and keep improvising fills with the bass drum stomping quarters underneath.

Also, it might be an issue with the stickings you use. You mentioned it happens in fills with rests, so it might be that your alternate sticking turns around somewhere inside the fill, forcing you to end on a left hand, which can be very difficult at first. Make sure you can always end on the '1' on a right hand. Ending on a left hand will come later.

Can you read basic rhythm notation, like in Syncopation, Bellson or the new breed?
 

wraub

Well-known member
As a drummer, I found at first that I would rush fills while improvising, whether in anticipation of the next beat or just by missing the beat entirely. Playing slowly and counting has helped a lot, as has playing with a metronome- no hiding mistakes there.

Oddly, as a bass player I have never had this issue, I've always been complimented on time, feel, and groove, and I've played some wacky stuff.

Drums are hard.
 

ZenR1

Well-known member
Try playing quarter notes on the bass drum throughout your improvised fills then. Set up a metronome that clearly denotes the '1' and keep improvising fills with the bass drum stomping quarters underneath.

Also, it might be an issue with the stickings you use. You mentioned it happens in fills with rests, so it might be that your alternate sticking turns around somewhere inside the fill, forcing you to end on a left hand, which can be very difficult at first. Make sure you can always end on the '1' on a right hand. Ending on a left hand will come later.

Can you read basic rhythm notation, like in Syncopation, Bellson or the new breed?
Thanks. Just starting out here so beginning to learn how to read notes and beats.
 

MrPockets

Gold Member
In your practice sessions I would count quarter notes out loud at basically a yelling volume.

Do this for both when you are learning grooves from a lesson book or when doing the 4 bars of groove and 1 bar of fill exercise.
 

Lennytoons

Senior Member
Stick with basic fills...that's what the pros do.
Learn Pat Boone, Debbie Boone ,
Then combine Pat Boone Debbie Boone.
I agree with starting slowly...gradually speed up to tempo. Don't worry if it takes a while. It took me a week to master a Mike Johnson lick but now I can do it without thinking.
listen to this song.....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_UXvcr22rM
 

ZenR1

Well-known member
So, slowing everything down and counting out loud really seems to help. It seems to have the effect of enabling me to know where I am in a fill more easily. For instance, if the "1" is coming up and I'm still on the high tom, I can know more easily that I need to speed up in order to be able to get in a couple notes on the floor tom before I have to go back to the hihat.
 
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