Drumming wisdom: Great advice on DW Forum

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I've been here at the DW forum for a while now and I love it when people come up with some real gems of wisdom. I thought it would be nice to have a thread where we could compile the ones that really made a difference to you. Early on the push to go back to using a metronome helped for me.

A few more that come to mind:

Almost all of the Re: Tightness / Microtiming thread. There were some great comments but this very simple one hit the spot for me (because I can get too uptight and anal about my drumming):

I have the same problem with my playing it seems like. Don't buy a bunch of books or anything like that, it's mental. When I play it sounds good, but it doesn't quite flow perfectly. It's because I think about it too much. I think about everything i'm doing and making sure it's precise, but by doing this i'm taking away from my sound and feel. Just don't think about it. You have to know where you're taking the band so i suppose you do think about that. You have to feel, don't think. You'll be able to express yourself more also and that's what drumming is all about!

branflakes992​

There were some pearlers in the Re: Consistency of musical performance thread:

In order to have consistency, we must practice consistency. I don't know how you practice, but often we flit about from this to that without a lot of focus and staying power. This results in half-digesting concepts and often we don't really own a lot of what we can play. It's these half-digested, unowned movements that will tend to be the first thing to go on a bad day. So in order to raise our median level, we need to choose some of these things and really work at them for long periods of time so that they become second nature - i.e. part of our median level. This means practicing things like consistent time, or practicing moving in and out of our favorite fills at all tempo ranges and with all manner of grooves. It might mean taking a beat that sounds great one day and pants the next and working on nothing but that for a week. We also need to practice physical and mental endurance, because in my experience one of the biggest causes of inconsistent playing is fatigue and a lack of focus. If your limit on your best days is intense playing for 30-40 minutes, then on your bad days you're going to have trouble playing a 40 minute set with ease.

Boomka​

and

See, the difference between that simple rock beat that was the first thing you ever learned and that Weckl 5/8 funk groove is that you have done that rock beat so much at every level and for so long that you never think about any part of it anymore because it is so internalised. It has literally become a part of you, to the point that even on a bad day you could still play it with your eyes closed and your mind switched off, whereas that funk groove has only been worked at a little bit and so on a bad day, you still need to think about it a lot and your limbs might be feeling sluggish, and your synapses aren't firing properly because of the booze you had the night before ....or whatever. That's the only difference.

So, you have to practice everything as you have that simplest of rock beats. Play everything slow, slow, slow up to medium, fast and super-fast. Then, add accents everywhere from slow, to super-fast, then play it backwards, sidewards, upside down, macro-cosmically and micro-cosmically.

Focus on a few things but master them completely. Then, and only then, will you rarely have bad days and even when you do have those bad days you will still play better than most people on their good days!

Jazzin'​

Another thread with lots of goodies was Something We All Should Know!, such as:

The best way I've found to get a good tempo is to detach. Play the song like you're recording the 50th take of it, and just want to get it done and go home. Don't "get into it" just play your part and don't get emotionally caught up in the fills and how good it feels. As wrong as that sounds, the end result (from my trials anyway) is when I detach and play it without getting all in to it, it sounds like I am "getting into it". It's backwards. I look at it like, I'm not allowed to "get into it" so the crowd can (and the recording sounds better, and the bandmates are more relaxed when you're not champing at the bit to try and add unnecessary energy, you should just play the part).

Charlie Chaplin used to say that most actors overact. He would give them the scene, what he wanted them to convey, and right before the camera rolled, he'd say, "now play the part poorly" In other words, don't overact, don't do too good of a job. I think it parallels the point I'm trying to make. I used to be guilty of "overacting" Now it hardly ever happens thanks to my recorder, and I'm much happier on playback.

Larry​

I tried this one out tonight at practice and it made a tangible difference.

Thanks to everyone who's pumped the product of their busy brain cells into this forum to turn it into such a mine of information :)

Any gems of wisdom here that made a mark on you?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Gosh Polly this place is a minefield of gems. Everything everyone writes has a moral in it, even the assanine ones. I am amazed of the dedication of the drumming community. I'll get back to you with the quotes and paragraphs that really smacked me over the head with obviousness that I never saw, but I have to go wire someones new kitchen addition. (I'd rather be here typing prose)
Polly you rock girl. I think of you as the glue that brings everyone together to play nicely. Thank God we have you, a very intelligent, accomplished female drummer in an ocean of males, with a gift of putting things in a way that are so endearing, and spot on (most of the time ha ha, we won't go there) Luv ya girl, and the same to everyone who is a regular here. You've all made my life much richer.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
The most thought provoking posts I can think of come from you, Pollyanna! You're in danger of becoming the DW agony aunt. You're certainly my favorite beligerent poster. I think a day inside your head would be both pleasurable and scary in equal measure!
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Guys, I don't want this to be about me! Hey, if you have any personal issues (girlfriend/marital problems, erectile dysfunction, existential dillemas and other such trivia) that need a Dear Dell reponse I'm happy to help :)

But what I'm looking for here are the posts that really made a mark on you, that have helped your playing or changed your approach to playing.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Just being able to get all these thoughts out, and have them listened to by the greatest people in the world, (without getting paid), purely for the love and bond of music, helps me to find my own philosophy. That means so much to me. I drive around thinking about responses to posts, what this person said, and so on.

One that sticks out, and i don't recall who said it, but when he made a giant blunder, he owned it, didn't cringe, and instead, came out from behind the kit, walked across the stage like a proud peacock, graciously getting applause for screwing up, I thought....Way to turn a mishap into a great moment. Couldn't have been handled better

Another was when I think it was John Riley(?) who advised to "play within your ability"
Pure gold. Why reach for what you can't do yet when there's hours of stuff you can do? Brilliant!

I like how Bobdadrumma "gets into character" before a show. A good solution for his dilemma, and useable by others.
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
I can't quote anything from memory, but I recommend the postings of Bermuda and Aydee as part of a well balanced diet. These guys are gold-mines of knowledge and wisdom.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Another thread with some good stuff is Is Jazz Holding Me Back? where FunkyJazzer was hoping to get his musical hunger back. Byronand said:

Good for you for getting up and playing with the better players! But, dude, you've gotta lighten-up on yourself and focus on what's RIGHT, rather than what's wrong.

Thank goodness you're healthy and you can play music! Thank goodness you have a place to live, and you can afford a kit of drums! Thank goodness you have the freedom and opportunity to go see and play live music....

Terry B. is right on ---> "LIVE LIFE, man!"

Read "Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck... go sit by the ocean or by a lake... dive in if you can!... get a girlfriend and fall in love... get your heart broken and recover from that! Jazz and blues is expressing feeling and life, more than executing notes at a certain speed in a certain sequence.

Wavelength is also right on when he says ---> "...and by the way, no one is ever going to be able to play like Tain Watts, but you if you are honest to yourself and listen to your heart you can start playing like yourself."​

Then Jon added:

As far as the "I don't really take compliments in, they do nothing good for me or my playing," thought...DUDE! That attitude is what's holding you back, not jazz. Drumming is about expressing yourself...it's a form of communication. Reaching someone, touching someone, to the point where they feel the need to tell you that they appreciate what you do is EXACTLY what jazz is about...not playing a lick the way DeJohnette does, or anything like that.​

Agree Jeremy. I liked this one from Abe on the How much "wrong" is still alright? thread::

... Over the years, I have learned however ( the hard way ) not to judge a performance through my ears alone. Listening to recordings later I'm also amazed that the part that I thought sounded good was'nt that good, and the parts that I thought we blew it, weren't all that bad. So I'm perhaps somewhat philosophical and just happy the the gig is over..and I can wipe my face and have a beer.

I am particular about no mess ups on the form though. That just tells me that someone is not rehearsed enough to know the road maps or to know the tune backwards.

Over reaching, overplaying, extending solos, a missed hit, a bum note in the attempt to go for glory are all acceptable realities of a live gig where the musicians are communicating real time with real people.

Mistakes are also relative, I think. Gavin Harrison making a mistake in a Porcupine Tree might be very noticeable because the form is so tight while Antonio Sanchez's mistake in a Pat Metheny free form solo might not.​

Agree Larry, the guy who got up and bowed after his giant bumble sounds like he'd be good to watch play :)
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
The most thought provoking posts I can think of come from you, Pollyanna! You're in danger of becoming the DW agony aunt. You're certainly my favorite beligerent poster. I think a day inside your head would be both pleasurable and scary in equal measure!
KIS, how can you say that when you come up with killer quotes like this?

The other end of the scale is the train crash of a mistake. In a gig some years ago, I broke a stick in half 4 bars into a track. In trying to get a replacement out of my stick bag I dropped the other stick. Now I'm trying to pick up the dropped stick whilst still keeping some sort of beat going with one hand, my stool moved about 2" backwards & slipped into a hole in the riser that had been gaffered over. Yes, you guessed it, I fell off the stool. The band carried on regardless. I composed myself quickly and finished the track. The audience did notice and everyone had a good laugh at my expense.​

*grin* That's almost as inspiring as Curly's take of falling backwards off the stage and disappearing into a pit. mid song!

I'd be scared if I found myself in someone else's head too. Being John Malkovich anyone? Seriously though ... thanks :)
 
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aydee

Platinum Member
...

I can't quote anything from memory, but I recommend the postings of Bermuda and Aydee as part of a well balanced diet. These guys are gold-mines of knowledge and wisdom.
Collectively known as Bermu-dee! ; )

Wow, Jeremy, thanks ( yet again ) for the acknowledgement. Its the nicest feeling in the world to be told that what you have to share is appreciated by someone..

I've been around here a couple of years now, and have run into some great great virtual people, powerhouses of drumming & music knowledge, worldly wisdom, razor sharp insights, hysterical sense of humor & more. I've have gotten to know some of them well. Mostly online and some even, in person.

However the special thing for me about DW as a community is that more than just drums or drumming, it has a lot to do with us people, as diverse human beings that share this passion of drums, and 'us' as a lifestyle which becomes a window to our world of loves, hates, insecurities, and pride and so on.
All the good, the bad, and sometimes even the ugly.
And thats ok too. If everyone thinks alike, no one is thinking very much.
No harmony if everyone's singing the same note.

And there something to learn for almost every comment one reads.

Sometimes I think I learn much more from an innocently asked question by a newb, than he or she does from my studied response, simply because i'd never really thought deeply enough about it.
So I think everyone counts equally and it takes each one of us to put on this show. Including the great Harry Conway who pops in very rarely now with 1 post every now and then, but man, what a post! I want to learn how to live my life from this man!

A footnote on Polly:

I think she represents something very unique on this board. I cant find the right word for it. maybe it needs two: 'spontaneity & honesty'.
Both are uncontrived, can be too much or too little to take, both have an innate beauty and goodness, intelligence and humor, but most importantly have a fearlessness & no ego.

More often than not, huge egos are shields that hide huge empty spaces, and to be egoless is wear no protection and to be open at all times. For anything.

I guess this means I like you too Polly ; )

PS- sorry if your'e embarrassed, its not intentional. And I don't think you are belligerent. At all. Really.. honest.

...
 
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Meat the beat

Senior Member
Just being able to get all these thoughts out, and have them listened to by the greatest people in the world, (without getting paid), purely for the love and bond of music, helps me to find my own philosophy. That means so much to me. I drive around thinking about responses to posts, what this person said, and so on.

One that sticks out, and i don't recall who said it, but when he made a giant blunder, he owned it, didn't cringe, and instead, came out from behind the kit, walked across the stage like a proud peacock, graciously getting applause for screwing up, I thought....Way to turn a mishap into a great moment. Couldn't have been handled better

Another was when I think it was John Riley(?) who advised to "play within your ability"
Pure gold. Why reach for what you can't do yet when there's hours of stuff you can do? Brilliant!

I like how Bobdadrumma "gets into character" before a show. A good solution for his dilemma, and useable by others.

Thanks Larry!! Its great to be remembered for your cock ups!!! :-D

Seriously tho, thanks for the flowers.
I hate forums, but not many are run by drummers, thats why this one has so many great people who contribute to it.
I love the brilliant pieces of advice that the engineering types give about great little modifications or bits they've made that do something really useful.
Keep it up guys - top marks *****
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Wow, all this niceness :) Thanks guys. Aydee, it's easy to be fearless if you're not worried about ego - nothing to protect. The last shreds of ego were knocked out of me here a while ago :) I'd be happy to have Larry's and KIS's uncommon commonsense and your warmth and creativity.

I've been keeping a file of quotes from here that I want to remember. As with any successful forum there's a lot being said (too much by me, admittedly but I've always been a talker) and sometimes it can be hard to find some of the gems. So I thought it would be good to compile them, and also to see what's really had an impact on others. Just as it's hard to know when you're playing which things worked and which didn't until you hear the playback, it's hard to know how things said impact on others.

Some other threads I've bookmarked with good advice are:

I am constantly speeding up. NEED HELP

Deluding ourselves

I'm going to the studio! (I think Colonel's pissed at me because I stirred him up on this one but, if he's reading it - Colonel I have a lot of respect for your musicianship, creativity and for running a venue ... without venues there's no scene.
 
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