Depressed about my talent

drumer12b

Member
Hello all. I was looking (and hoping) for some support actually. I'm in a very bad funk and feel that the only advice I could handle at this point, would be coming from other fellow drummers that maybe could relate or have been where I am. I'm 44 and have been playing the skins for 30 years. Over my years, I primarily played original music (classic rockish feel) for about 20 of those years. Back in 2005 I finally decided to give that up and now I'm playing in a cover band just for "fun". Since then, I also have been teaching part time at a local music store.
Over all of these years playing in clubs and recording, I've sat back and watched as most drummers I've played along side, BLEW MY DOORS OFF. I've learned a few things from them, but my jealousness seemed to have always gotten the better of me. I've seen others play so much more musically and rythymetically, something I've never heard in my playing. I took private lessons for about 7 years when I started out but I always found myself in those situations asking the same question, "where in the hell did I do wrong in those years? ". It seems the thing I lacked most (and still do) is creativity, which is something that I feel can't be taught. You need to be born with it. Basic two-four crap seems to be the only thing I can ever come up with. I've even listened to other music genera’s over the years thinking that would help with my creativity, but I'm still waiting. Hence, my DEMON #1- lack of creativity.
My current band members in the cover band now consist of one of the only bass players I've ever played with. He's a great guy but like myself, over the years was never solid at time keeping either. Not a great combination. I've always heard off and on about my inconsistent tempos. Directly or indirectly. Whether I played with him or with a different bassist. This is very noticeable in the studio, but even when I've watched myself on video from gigs I've played. Maybe not as noticeable to the "average person", but noticeable to me and to other musicians. In fact, I KNOW it is noticeable to other musicians because of the comments that have been said about me in the past. One of the main comments I overheard was that they felt I was a "second rate" player, and mediocre. I still to this day, play with a metronome and preach that in my teaching. However in my opinion, keeping good time is yet another aspect of drumming that you are either born with or you're not. There is no "in between" or "learning" to keep better time no matter how much you play to a click. (at least for me) Sadly, you either have it or you don't. It's called being a NATURAL. With that being said, that is my DEMON #2 - poor time keeping ability.
My third and last "DEMON" #3 is, and taken in all of the above thus far, I've made the mistake over the last several years of going on You Tube!! This is obviously the best way to learn how to play cover songs and is much easier then in the old days of sitting with a record player or cassette tape, desperately trying to figure out how to play a song in parts where you heard more hiss then anything else. But again, all I find mainly, is myself getting frustrated and jealous. All I come across is young kids, teens and sometimes younger, playing parts that I never would have thought of, and some parts, that I can't even physically play......
I find myself continuingly growing more and more depressed. I've been seriously thinking now of just giving up and selling all of my gear. I've had some great memories and experiences, but I can't seem to shake my demons. So maybe now is the time to quit and just stop torturing myself? As much as I've tried, I never really felt like a "drummer", rather, just a person who likes to play and that was just not born with the natural gift. I'm also at the point that I do not feel qualified to even teach. I know the thought sometimes is "bad players sometimes make good teachers" but when I can't play that "new lick" that even a teenager can play, that gets verify F$#king frustrating and old eventually.
So as you can all see, I have major mental issues that are NOT getting any better as well as, I'm also not physically being capable of playing things that I feel I should be able to play considering my years of playing and experience. I've never had much confidence in myself to begin with, which is well a part of my issues. I'm married with kids and have a full time job on top of my part time teaching job. So my practicing routine is limited now. However, I've proven to myself that even in the past when I did have the time and always played (for hours on end) that it didn't make much difference anyway. It only really gave me stamina. (oh, which I now battle as well on top of this other crap due to my limited time.. Doh!) My apologies for the long-winded novel, but I do not know where to go from here.......

Drumer12b (aka drummer wanna be)
 

drumkat

Senior Member
Hi there...it takes a lot of guts to open up like this.

Firstly, it is absolute rubbish to believe you "have to be born with creativity".

It is very much a learned skill....listen to heaps and heaps of different styles of music, drummers, bass players.

Go to as many shows as possible.

Buy as many DVDs as you can of concerts, instructional DVDs etc.

As far as I know...44yrs is the new 30!! You have a LONG way to go in your drumming life....you can easily learn creativity.

I can bet you a hundred dollars that there will be plenty of people out there who think you are a FANTASTIC drummer.

There are always sour grapes in every crowd.

Hang in there buddy, chin up and dont EVER let go of your drumming.
 

fixxxer

Senior Member
Something tells me that (as long as you have been playing), I could watch you play and feel the same way you do watching other players. Meaning, I would probably be like, "Damn, how can I play like that!"
I know what you mean about watching good drummers play. Hell, everytime I watch someone like Neil Peart I feel like I have no business even holding a pair of sticks, much less attempting to play the drums! It can be very depressing. But, I have come to the understanding that I will never be able to play to that level and I am ok with that. I just try to take something (even if just some inspiration) from it to apply to my own abilities.
As far as your timing issues, I'm sure others on this forum could give you better advice on how to fix this. Sounds like you have done alot to find a remedy.
Bottom line is that we all fall into a funk now and then. Brush yourself off and remember it's all about having fun!
 

Netz Ausg

Silver Member
I think one of the things to think about here is that some of the youtube superstars woodshed like crazy. If you have the time and inclination to sit and work on technique for hours a day then, yeah, you'll have chops like nobody's business!

Now, if I was putting that kind of effort in and still not playing like Gavin Harrison then I would be worried. If you're not putting that kind of time in EVERY DAY, then don't expect to play like those that do.

I'm a pretty decent drummer - I can keep time, can think of something to fit most rhythmic patterns and love to just play along to records (tabs and youtube tutorials aint for me) to figure out how things are played. That doesn't mean that I can touch half of the decent drummers out there on youtube or at the big gigs I've been to over the years.

The thing is to remember that there is always someone better than someone else at something. Sure, Usain Bolt (spelling?) might be bloody fast but there's someone out there just waiting to steal his record. If we let this stop our ability to function then it'll cripple us. There are people who play prog better than Portnoy - pop better than _____, jazz better than ____ etc etc. But those guys are people who do what they do and enjoy it - and so can we.

If you see someone doing something better than you then just enjoy the marvel - I certainly love watching Danny Carey live and whilst the drum envy is rife, it doesn't hamper my enjoyment of his performance.

Keep it up, man - keep playing and remember that you play to have fun! Lose yourself in the music now and then!
 

larryz

Platinum Member
I agree with Sticks. Just try and have fun first and foremost. I should study and practice rudiments way more than I do, but when it comes down to it I play just because I love to and I love playing to the music I grew up.
 
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double_G

Silver Member
there is a lot you are expressing here. but here is my quick take: 1: do not go into a depression loop. life is too short & should you be that bummed ? make a list & check things off. 2: it sounds like you are getting depressed trying to imitate some other guys style. i fell into this at points and just had to stop listening to certain players & consciously work on ME & MY STYLE. 3. i would be willing to bet that when you play YOU in your unique style, you are killing it - focus on that. no one can play like you, so work on expanding your uniqueness / creativity. there is a great quote by Keltner where he is in a rountable setting & saying how it is so awesome that he can exist / work in the same space as Vinnie Colaiuta (i think also there) because he plays like himself, he is that unique that it matters. here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pP66xUuGGQc

on the creativity, i think it just might be time for a change...hack your brain & get mid-life-crisis on your own a$$ w/ new music. start shedding bluegrass, sitting in at jazz jams & dancing to classical music. get drunk & play tabla. eat pizza while playing bongos & piano w/ your feet. dance tango while thinking about indian music. find some cool styles & listen to them in your car. find some weird stuff that you dig & own it in your style.
 
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toddbishop

Platinum Member
It seems the thing I lacked most (and still do) is creativity, which is something that I feel can't be taught. You need to be born with it. Basic two-four crap seems to be the only thing I can ever come up with. I've even listened to other music genera’s over the years thinking that would help with my creativity, but I'm still waiting. Hence, my DEMON #1- lack of creativity.
Some things to think about:

1) Creativity is something every single human being is born with. Unless somebody else is sneaking inside your head at and scripting and imagining your dreams for you, you have it, too. The challenge is, how do you access it through a musical instrument?

2) Creativity is overrated, particularly in playing rock drums. Sound, feel, conviction, and playing effective parts are all more important.

3) One thing you can do is not be attached to outcomes; if you feel you need to start sounding obviously creative and amazing to your ego, you're setting yourself up for failure. To play creatively you need to give yourself permission to play stupid things.

4) A tactic: take a handful of things that are very familiar to you, and run variations on them. You can either do this at the drums, or mentally, or in writing. Do the same thing you're familiar with, with one small change.

...keeping good time is yet another aspect of drumming that you are either born with or you're not. There is no "in between" or "learning" to keep better time no matter how much you play to a click. (at least for me) Sadly, you either have it or you don't. It's called being a NATURAL. With that being said, that is my DEMON #2 - poor time keeping ability.
1) You're telling me you can't walk down the street at an even pace? I don't believe you.

2) Musical timekeeping is a little more complicated than that, but it is an acquired skill. I can't tell you what your major problem is with it, but a lot of applied practice paying attention to it will fix it. Maybe your issues with being inadequately amazing are distracting you from this task. If you start thinking in terms of solid timekeeping being your one and only job- and criterion for amazingness- maybe it will start working for you.


My third and last "DEMON" #3 is, and taken in all of the above thus far, I've made the mistake over the last several years of going on You Tube!! This is obviously the best way to learn how to play cover songs and is much easier then in the old days of sitting with a record player or cassette tape, desperately trying to figure out how to play a song in parts where you heard more hiss then anything else. But again, all I find mainly, is myself getting frustrated and jealous. All I come across is young kids, teens and sometimes younger, playing parts that I never would have thought of, and some parts, that I can't even physically play......
1) The mind-blowing crap happening on youtube is not real drumming, any more than a Moon Pie is food. Real drumming is you going out and playing a 4 hour gig.


So as you can all see, I have major mental issues that are NOT getting any better as well as, I'm also not physically being capable of playing things that I feel I should be able to play considering my years of playing and experience. I've never had much confidence in myself to begin with, which is well a part of my issues. I'm married with kids and have a full time job on top of my part time teaching job. So my practicing routine is limited now. However, I've proven to myself that even in the past when I did have the time and always played (for hours on end) that it didn't make much difference anyway. It only really gave me stamina.
I wish I had time to write more, but it sounds like your major problem is ego (this I suck stuff comes from there, too), and having expectations that are out of line with the amount of time you're able to put into the instrument.
 

2bsticks

Platinum Member
Larry hit the nail on the head. Drumming should be fun. We all get frustrated and wish we could be better players. I'm 58 and still feel like a newbi at times. What has helped me recently is to focus on the music that my band plays and make that sound and feel better. I record myself at live gigs and when I play along to music minus drums CD's I don't care about all the independence and 5 pedals on the floor stuff. Single pedal, 4 piece kit and make the music feel and sound as good as I can.

Recording myself has really opened up my ears and has made me focus on every note that I play, every note is a choice. Believe me I don't play complicated music I just really listen to what the other players are doing and do my best to support them and play for the song.

Hang in there, just picture your life without your drums.
 
Well my Dad has played all of his life and he came to visit me the other day and I have only had my drums for about 4 months at this time. Now im not even close to being good but he was so impressed. I was acutally showing him different tricks and stuff. Then came the question how the hell did you get this good so fast? Now I do have a very girfted ear I cant read a note to save my life but im pretty good at listening to a song and figureing it out. Ok i'll get to the point, My Dad is a "Old School" drummer he will not watch videos on youtube and stuff like that. So when I told him all of these different little tricks was from watching youtube and from reading he a just blown away. Now I dont know if you do this but from my view drummers are very creative and visual people so watching someone play and hearing it may help you or just give you some inspiration for some new grooves. I hope this helps man. Cheers!
Oh one of the tricks was the heel toe method I was playing a song and I caught him kneeling down to watch me feet. I stopped and asked him what he was doing he said how the hell are you doing that? So I gave a very quick demo to explain. He response was well Its better to play using a double kick pedal I aggred then showed him how to still use your Hi Hat while using the heel toe. The look on his face was priceless LOL
 

choki

Senior Member
Your natural born talent just accelerates the learning process, it doesn't define your ability to learn and improve. What I mean is, some people pick things up faster than others, but even the best players put the time in with lots of practice. You're never too old to take a lesson, getting with a teacher is always a great thing to do. It's good to have an outside opinion of where you need to focus.

I don't want to sound harsh, but your "demons" just sound like areas that you simply need to practice more. Some people have more natural internal clocks, but it is most definitely a skill that can be improved, you just need to put in the time with the metronome. Play your band's songs with a click and you will start to see clearly where the tempo is moving. You'll know what fills are rushing and what fills are dragging, and then you can address those problems and move on. When you are comfortable with a click in the practice room by yourself, start playing with it with the whole band. That will help the rest of the band see where their tempo problems are. It is often the case that when somebody else in the band has bad time, they blame the drummer, having a click ensures that you are correct, and they need to work on their time as well.

In the end, it's a matter of whether or not it's worth it to you to spend the time (and money if you get with a teacher) to address your areas that need improvement. I hear a lot of musicians make excuses for their shortcomings by blaming the amount of natural talent, and it's a convenient cop-out, but in the end, less "natural" ability just means you have to spend 2 or 3 times the amount of time in the practice room. Even if you run slower than everybody else, you can still get to the finish line.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Basic two-four crap seems to be the only thing I can ever come up with.
Well, don't kid yourself, the very best drummers in the world play that "basic two-four crap" as you said, and in 90% of the pop rock genre, it is indeed the best approach, overplaying, fills every 2 bars and intricated patterns have generally no place within this kind of music, you said you played 20 years of rock music and currently doing covers, so I think you're having the right approach and the right feel for it, don't be too hard on yourself, we cannot all be the next Colaiuta, Gadd, Weckl or Phillips, these are drummer's drummer, they belong somewhere were most of us will never dream of contemplating such mastering at the instruments. :)

... just a person who likes to play and that was just not born with the natural gift.
Hey man, join the club, that what most "drummers" do on this planet, music is fun, music is joy, music is feel, music is emotion.... can you have fun? can you enjoy yourself? can you feel music? does music have an emotional impact on you? ....if you can answer "yes" to these questions, hey, no worries man, keep on drumming and don't quit or you'll feel real frustration if you do... :)
 

drumer12b

Member
Thanks everybody, I truly appreciate everyone’s input. All of you have some great suggestions that I will indeed, take into consideration. I guess maybe one could say that this is MY “mid-life crisis” that I am experiencing, instead of it being just another plateau like we all go thru through out our drumming lives?? Kinda like that “guy” who, FOR WHATEVER REASON, goes out and buys some expensive sports car he can’t afford, or goes sky diving, cheats on his spouse, gets some crazy tattoo, goes back to school- whatever, but for no reason other than to just feel alive and young again?? And when asked, they don’t even have a definitive answer as to WHY they acted out in the first place…….
I’ve done everything from changing around my kit set up (like I’ve done in the past) to even buying a new drum kit, hoping it would create that spark again. I just really don’t have an answer to my mental state and why it’s just getting harder for me to deal with all of this. Maybe I need some good drugs?? Hahahaha…..I used to be able to ignore most of all of this back when I was younger. But I guess like other things in life when you get older, some things continue and get harder to deal with. I just have to find the right answer but I can not seem to find it. That’s why I’m left with asking myself “is this even REALLY worth it?” And the last thing I want is to be miserable around my wife and kids…….
The thing I do know is that drums and drumming are the only things that I’ve ever known in my life that I loved to do. It has also been the only thing that has ever made me feel accepted, respected, alive, needed and even special. I was never good at anything else or had anything else where I was given those by my peers, other than I'm a "nice guy" that gets along with everyone. I always felt like no one ever took me serious until I started to play and actually sounded half decent. It has been an escape for me to put any other issues I have in life aside and to live in my own perfect little world. So for me to just STOP is an extremely hard thing to contemplate. Unfortunately, I can’t just take time off and not play, while I try to “go find myself”. I did that only one other time for 6 months back in 1998. I got that disgusted and just stopped playing. And where did that get me? Hahahaha, I actually lost some of my speed and playing ability. So I realized then, the hard way, that stopping completely was a bad idea….. I haven’t played the same since then. As my life has continued on, my playing time has declined due to family, job and other responsibilities that go with the territory. So I guess like some of you have mentioned, I need to just take whatever little time I do have and just do the best I can. Funny thing though is when I teach, I always teach with a positive approach. In fact, my main rule in my teaching booth that I tell all of my students, especially when they're new, is that the word “CAN’T” doesn’t exist in the room, and they are never allowed to say it. ( It’s just too bad I can’t take the same advice, I know ) I try taking all of my negative experiences and try to NOT let any of my students fall victim to what I’ve been ranting about here and that I have fallen victim of. As far as they are concerned, they think I’m a very confident player that does not have a negative bone in me. Another example, is I make sure that they all play along with a metronome during certain exercises as well, knowing that I didn’t do that when I was first playing and taking lessons. I don’t want them feeling alienated or uncomfortable playing with one like I did, plus, so they CAN improve on that “inner clock” incase they are like me. I’m not sure if my teacher ever believed in teaching that way or not, but I do not recall him ever pushing the issue of using a metronome with me. In fact, I didn’t play to one until I went into the recording studio for the first time. What an experience that was!! ……….
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Easy peasy lemon squeezy, I do this every morning, straight out of bed as a warm up, then I start something a bit more complicated.... ;-))
You need to get out of bed to do that? Pfffh = amateur ;)




drumer12b, as others have said, have fun, & don't over examine your playing. A very necessary element of being creative is expression, & you can't express yourself if you're hung up on the detail. Even worse if your insecure too. You need to be in a zone where the mechanics of playing aren't a concern to you.

If I compared my playing to every other player on the planet it would drive me nuts! I gave up for over 20 years & came back rusty, & frankly, pretty crap, yet I got out there gigging within weeks. It's a mindset thing. I'm not buying your lack of ability story one bit. This is a much bigger thing than drumming in your outlook, & I think you need to look outside of drumming for the answers. I'm a basic hack who can knock out a few beats, yet my joy of the instrument has never been greater. Choose to concentrate on your perceived negatives if you wish, but if you do, expect to perpetuate the issue.

Good luck in your struggle, but digging in search of a scapegoat isn't the answer.
 
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Otto

Platinum Member
Ive come to believe we are usually the worst judge of the quality catagory of our own playing.

I suggest hiring a teacher for a one time assessment...make sure they know you are not planning to take lessons from them so you get an honest assessment...and not a sales pick apart.

My thinking is...how boring would it be to be the mythical "best" drummer in the world by my own standards?...where do you go from there?...I prefer the hunt!...and redefining my own standards from time to time.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
You need to get out of bed to do that? Pfffh = amateur ;)
Amateur??? ... I can twirl a drumstick with the toes of my left foot, play a paradiddlediddle 16th notes at 260bpm between my left hand and my right foot, brush my teeth with my right hand while I'm reading the newspaper every morning after my "warm up" exercise, ha!


It's a mindset thing...
I totally agree Andy, so much depends on this, if your mindset is properly "tuned up", chances are you'll achieve better results, not only in drumming, in everything you wish to take upon in life, it can be very powerful. :)
 

MaryO

Platinum Member
You need to get out of bed to do that? Pfffh = amateur ;)
.
Well, you know, KIS...not everyone sleeps with their drums :)

But back to the subject matter at hand...it seems to me that there was a certain female drummer about a week ago ranting and raving about her own lack of accomplishment behind the kit. After a couple of swift kicks in the arse from other members of this forum, and a little encouragement, I'm beginning to see the light and realizing that it really is all about the attitude, not the skill level. This week has been a complete turn around for me because of it.

Drumer12b, it sounds as if you may have a few similar tendencies that I have...a lack of patience, lack of self-esteem and the impossible pursuit of perfectionism. Take it from me, a volatile and unhealthy mix! And something I'm working very hard to get over. Now, I should be the last one to give advice, since I've only been playing about a year but in your post, I saw a lot of things that remind me of me. I'm 44 and do have life experience though,so all I'm going to say is this...

You appear to have a very successful life...teaching, wife and kids who I'm sure adore you, playing music and actually getting to play gigs. That's more than a whole lot of people I know! Lighten up and allow yourself to enjoy and have fun behind the kit. I spent a lot of this week playing along to songs that I had no idea how to play but they were some of my favorites and even my sad attempts at playing them gave me pleasure. I'm learning to laugh at myself and and my deficiencies while working when I can to improve my skill level.

I'm sure you are judging yourself too harshly (something I do constantly) so step back and try to take a realistic look at yourself and your playing. I bet it's better than you're giving yourself credit for. And remember why you probably started playing in the first place, your love of music and FUN! That's what it's all about.

Good Luck and let us know how it goes!

Mary O
 

larryz

Platinum Member
You'd never find this same kind of support and goodwill and selflessness on a discussion site for any other instrument. Drummers I speak to at gigs I attend always have time to talk and offer advice. Drummers rule!
 
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