Fast playing and relaxation don't work and play well together within me

JimmyM

Gold Member
It's not that I'm trying to be a speed demon, either. I'm talking stuff like Ramones level 8th note hi hat work and spangalangs at fast tempos. I can do it for about 20 seconds and then the tension gets to me. Tried using different sticks, grips, fingers, practicing at slow tempos them building up to it, etc. Same results every time...OK for the first 10 seconds, then the tension starts to mount, then I have to let off it. Have that same problem with bass, too. I can be quite fast with my picking fingers when I want to be in short stretches, but need a pick to do long stretches like Joe Dart in "Deantown."

But as of yet, I haven't seen a drum pick, so I guess I need to deal with it another way. How do you all deal with it?
 

dcrigger

Senior Member
Facility is all about training and exercise - it's about being able to do something for 10 secs, then working towards doing it fo 11, then 12, etc. Yes starting slow and working up to a tempo (while always trying to stay relaxed) is a big part of it. But I believe you have to attempt to push beyond that as well. I always feel like I'm trying to push that place where my chops fall apart just one step further.... then one step after that.

And I think usually - our top end isn't going to survive time off - our top is always kind of "use it or lose it". Which of course is the biggest reason to try and master more technique than we practically need or are going to regularly use. We have to have headroom - we can't rely on always having our top chops available to us.

But anyway - in a nutshell it is like building any physical ability - it's just a long, relentless slog.
 

BGDurham

Well-known Member
Relaxed speed is tough to achieve but achievable. It's taken me about a year to get comfortable with 8th notes at 195bpm for 3 minutes. And I play open-handed, so I've been pushing my left to lead...but I get a break in the chorus when my right hand leads on the ride.

Anyway, I agree with @dcrigger: it's a matter of deliberate practice in which you go for 3 minute sets at progressively faster relaxed bpms until your muscles burn. Then take a couple days off and do it again. Repeat and increase bpm as you go.

You can try more french grip so you can use fingers more--they are faster than forearm--to get used to the speed. But I'd rather feel comfortable not thinking about grip...but that's probably on the other side of lots of deliberate practice sessions.

I always take my pad and sticks around and when I'm just hanging out at my kid's sport practice (or wherever) I'll burn up my arms on the pad.
 

JimmyM

Gold Member
If you haven’t already try a set of aux hats on the right of your kit, this can make the experience of playing fast much more comfortable as your arm is in a better position.
I've considered it, but I like the 4-drum/3-cymbal/hihat vibe of my set and don't really want to add anything more to it, lest I disrupt its feng shui. I also wonder if it would truly help me or if I'd just be moving a problem with me to the other side of the set.

Facility is all about training and exercise - it's about being able to do something for 10 secs, then working towards doing it fo 11, then 12, etc. Yes starting slow and working up to a tempo (while always trying to stay relaxed) is a big part of it. But I believe you have to attempt to push beyond that as well. I always feel like I'm trying to push that place where my chops fall apart just one step further.... then one step after that.

And I think usually - our top end isn't going to survive time off - our top is always kind of "use it or lose it". Which of course is the biggest reason to try and master more technique than we practically need or are going to regularly use. We have to have headroom - we can't rely on always having our top chops available to us.

But anyway - in a nutshell it is like building any physical ability - it's just a long, relentless slog.
I was afraid that was the case. I do try to stay on it, but have to admit I lost some practice time to my new-to-me Ludwig resto set over the last 3-4 weeks. And I suppose you're 100% right, Dave. Lesson learned, thank you, sir.
 

jda

Active Member
Learn to play Slow for long periods of time.

Once you're comfortable double it. but may take Years of playing slow to moderate.
(around 7 years.
Build up that muscle/memory and whatever; is not something that happens over-night or in a month
and the slower over time you build it up the longer over time it will stay with you.
 

JimmyM

Gold Member
Learn to play Slow for long periods of time.

Once you're comfortable double it. but may take Years of playing slow to moderate.
(around 7 years.
Build up that muscle/memory and whatever; is not something that happens over-night or in a month
and the slower over time you build it up the longer over time it will stay with you.
I was hoping I still had enough childhood skillz to compensate and speed things up a little, but I think you're right, even with the advantage of knowing how to play but losing the skillset over years.
 

C.M. Jones

Diamond Member
Relaxation was at the core of my early training as a drummer, a focus for which I've always been thankful. So many players look tense behind kits, with death grips on their sticks as they strain to perform. The hand technique my instructor promoted was predicated on maintaining a loose grip and relying on effortless rebound to generate speed. To paraphrase his philosophy, the best way to control your sticks is to set them free. Incidentally, fatigue isn't a setback that's ever troubled me, nor have I confronted overuse injuries. Low-stress execution is paramount to long-term drumming health.
 

wraub

Gold Member
After a long time of playing guitar while feeling low I have realized that it's hard for me to play blues on the drums. Even whan I feel incredibly sad I can't adequately play through it on drums, I need a guitar.
Maybe I'm just not good enough as a drummer to play the blues on drums.
 

JimmyM

Gold Member
Relaxation was at the core of my early training as a drummer, a focus for which I've always been thankful. So many players look tense behind kits, with death grips on their sticks as they strain to perform. The hand technique my instructor promoted was predicated on maintaining a loose grip and relying on effortless rebound to generate speed. To paraphrase his philosophy, the best way to control your sticks is to set them free. Incidentally, fatigue isn't a setback that's ever troubled me, nor have I confronted overuse injuries. Low-stress execution is paramount to long-term drumming health.
Some people are just so relaxed that you have to check them for a pulse now and again :D I guess you're one of them. Must be nice.

After a long time of playing guitar while feeling low I have realized that it's hard for me to play blues on the drums. Even whan I feel incredibly sad I can't adequately play through it on drums, I need a guitar.
Maybe I'm just not good enough as a drummer to play the blues on drums.
I've been doing it at jams and it's so not as easy as people who haven't done it may think. The blues is the basis for jazz, and there is plenty of crossover. Very simple to learn the basics, very hard to make it sound real.
 

C.M. Jones

Diamond Member
After a long time of playing guitar while feeling low I have realized that it's hard for me to play blues on the drums. Even whan I feel incredibly sad I can't adequately play through it on drums, I need a guitar.
Maybe I'm just not good enough as a drummer to play the blues on drums.
Perhaps you simply feel a greater emotional connection to guitar, which might explain your capacity to express the blues through that medium. As you're well aware, there's a lot more to music than technique alone.
 

wraub

Gold Member
Perhaps you simply feel a greater emotional connection to guitar, which might explain your capacity to express the blues through that medium. As you're well aware, there's a lot more to music than technique alone.
Actually, I believe I have a greater emotional connection to drums than I have for any other musical thing in my life ever to this point. I truly wish I'd started playing drums decades ago.

I think it's about the physicality, if I feel that low the mechanics of drumming almost feel intrusive and if explored further generally lead me away from feeling so down. Guitar is easier to sit with in a corner and feel sad with- drums make me work through those stages, where guitar lets me explore it easier. Possibly just the time invested involved.
Again, maybe I'm just not a good enough drummer yet. I'm content to express myself as I can and hope to grow.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Play what you can play, don't play what you can't play. If you can't do the 8th notes at ramones speed, play quarter notes.

You can also strategize, look for places to rest so you don't have to do an endless fast rhythm. Look at some ramones video and see if he ever does 20 seconds of unbroken 8th notes. I kind of doubt it.
 

GetAgrippa

Diamond Member
Jimmy I know where you are coming from I had same issue. And the only way I’ve increased my speed and stamina is playing songs faster than I could play. Nate Smith’s playing in jazz groups and Fearless flyers I just love. Super challenging but I do pretty well on them now. Trying to keep up with him really helped my snare, hats , and he plays busy kick patterns and I love that. In process I changed my death grip to a changing one from American to French just depending, and more wrist and fingers now. Sometimes it feels like the stick is dancing in my hand flying all on its own. Great feeling after prolonged effort (and I mean prolonged effort) and I definitely play faster with less effort- which just blows my mind. I’m no Nate but he has helped me improve. I think when people say loose it really means don’t impede the motion of the stick - which my grip and motions were out of harmony so I was fighting my speed and working harder than I needed to.
 

C. Dave Run

Silver Member
What works for me is about 20 minutes of extremely slow practice, until I am really relaxed. THEN I can play fast and stay relaxed
I'm the opposite. I just sit down and go. And stretch. Lots of stretching, more sometimes than others. Takes about 5-10 minutes to feel really warmed up and good to go. That's when I'm most relaxed, when everything is warmed up and operating correctly.
 

River19

Senior Member
The faster the tune, the more relaxed I need to be. The faster the tune, the more I focus on remaining relaxed. It took a bit to get there.

First thing I did was cut out all the extra movement. Proper hihat/ride hand technique like the ability to play single hand 16ths like Tom Sawyer etc was also at the core of being relaxed in high tempo songs......

Without proper technique and being able to relax and chill........I won't make it through the first min of a quick tune let alone the 3-5mins it takes to finish strong. I don't blink at quick now......did a handful of takes in a row today at 190bpm (which isn't lightening, but it's moving pretty good).........25 years ago I would need oxygen for that.
 

C. Dave Run

Silver Member
@JimmyM it takes time and repetition. There is really no shortcut for speed and endurance. Even the techniques that are supposed to make speed easier, they still take time and repetition.

I like bounce for speed. Move my hands up on the stick and use my fingers. There is some wrist, but mostly fingers.
 
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