Find Joy in Playing at the Level You Are Currently At

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I run a weekly open mic jam. I watch a lot of drummers and other musicians play at jams. And I always evaluate their playing. It is hard to not do that. If nothing else I need to know how good they are as I put together groups of players for my jam. I never make negative comments about their playing. And I can always find something nice to say about their playing.

The other day I found myself wondering what would a really great drummer sound like playing with less than accomplished players. I play in a band that has one guitar player that drags and another guitar player that rushes. And the bass player just follows along with me, the drummer. So I have to mostly ignore what the guitar players are playing and just keep a solid tempo. There ain’t no “locking in the groove” with this band. But I still enjoy playing with them.

What would a really great drummer would do in my band? Would Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta or Steve Gadd play it differently than I do? What would Dave, Vinnie or Steve sound like playing at my jam or playing with mediocre players? I don’t know the answer.

There is a need for players that play at all different levels of expertise. We need beginners for the beginning garage bands. We need mediocre players for mediocre bands. We need excellent top of the line players like Dave and Vinnie and Steve for the studio and to be part of groups and to play with artists that play at the very top level. We need players at all levels who are willing to come out and jam with other players.

After running a jam for two years I have learned to respect and enjoy listening to all musicians no matter what level they play at. For a long time I struggled with the hope that I could play at higher and higher levels. And now after playing for 65 plus years I have discovered that I am very happy playing at the level of expertise that I play at. I find joy in playing every time I play. And I have discovered that I am happy playing with other musicians no matter what level they play at. When I play I enjoy helping other musicians sound good. Especially if they don’t play so good. As a drummer, that’s my job.

Thanks for reading my rant…………….



"Uncle Larry"
I agree Jim. Playing can an exercise in joy if we allow it. Or an exercise in negativity if we allow it.

I think being joyful when I play is the most important thing. THAT is what people latch onto, the amount of heart I put in it. I am where I am level-wise. If I can't enjoy playing now, I probably never will be able to.

Music is all about expressing the heart. The better one can emote, the better the musician IMO.

Great quote I read: The best way to do art is to dispense with the good and the bad and just get on with it.


Junior Member
Agreed. A good drummer can make the rest of the band sound better. Not great mind you. But better. Same goes for a great guitarist. Bassist. Keyboard player. You can just hear it. And it doesn't make sense to get down on yourself over your own level of playing. If you accept the level you are at and keep playing, practicing and jamming, you will get better. That's how it works. And no matter who you play with, it's a win win. If you aren't all that good, and you play with people better than you, they will make you sound better. If you are better than the rest of the people in the band, you will make them sound better. The only issue is playing with a bunch of people who can't play and you yourself can't play. That can be a disaster. But if each of you knows you suck, then you're just doing it for fun anyway. So it's still a win. Just play. Don't be too hard on yourself. You'll get better.


Staff member
Agreed. A good drummer can make the rest of the band sound better.
I agree, but equally, a stand out player amongst players who aren't able to roll with the same delivery, can sound more disconnected / player focussed. There is something to be said for the cohesiveness of band delivery operating at a similar level.

Rock Salad

Junior Member
In fact I hope I can always find joy playing at the very basic level I am at. I hope I always can simply enjoy the basics and watching the guys gain confidence riding on my Rock Salad 1/4ths.


Gold Member
I used to go to an open mic jazz jam. The leader would always hire a professional drummer, the only paid artist, but it was more of a job for him.


Platinum Member
Playing the drums has always been my happy place. You really can’t rain on that parade cause I love to play n mud puddles.


Senior Member
Thank you Jim. I found your post heartfelt, honest and reaffirming. ( sometimes I think we lose sight of the fact that DW is often reassuring and supportive as a forum, besides all the other insight re technique , drum gear etc) I describe myself to others as a " meat and potatoes" drummer ie pretty basic and I think on the scale , mediocre.Losing 40 years didn't help! But I have good timing and I can learn the songs the band wants to play reasonably easily. I play in a band with other " meat and potatoes " guitarists. I'm working on a few personal goals re technique that only me will know about - but at 67 I figure I'm not going to get that much better ! sigh! But It is a great joy for me to play and jam with others and its one of the highlights of my week ( aside from having the grand children) Thanks again for sharing.


Well-known member
I feel that I am happy in the journey to becoming good. I honestly don't want there to be a day where I "arrive" at the end...the best...

As mentioned above, drumming is my happy place. I have never had a bad day drumming...even at my most frustrated.

I also believe that the feel of the drummer has the ultimate say in the interp of the whole band. A legendary guitarist, with a mediocre drummer, is still not going to feel "complete"...but I have seen many situations where a mediocre guitarist sounds great with a great drummer

In marching band, we always say the band is only as good as the bass drum line and tubas...I think in a stage band, it is the same thing...the drum set and bass player are "it", no matter what