Focus issues on Stick Control

SwingOnTheSide

Junior Member
Hey everyone, newish drummer here (less than a year). I've had some issues on Stick Control. Up until recently I've always used a timer, doing about 4 minutes on each exercise, but I want to improve the accuracy of my counting so I'd like to switch to actually counting it out 20 times. The problem is, after the 4th time or so, I'll zoom out and lose focus, or hyper focus on an exercise and play it until time loses all meaning. Any advice for keeping track?
 

jeffwj

Platinum Member
Use the standard method of counting multiple repeats and rests:

1, 2, 3, 4 - 2, 2, 3, 4 - 3, 2, 3, 4 - 4, 2, 3, 4, etc...

Jeff
 

SwingOnTheSide

Junior Member
Use the standard method of counting multiple repeats and rests:

1, 2, 3, 4 - 2, 2, 3, 4 - 3, 2, 3, 4 - 4, 2, 3, 4, etc...

Jeff
I've been using the standard system, what usually happens is I go 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 2 & 2...4 & 3 & 2 and crap, where was I?
 

Joe Morris

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
This is an easy fix and trust me I know what your saying but to this day I still use the Stick Control book. I have used it for over 30 yrs. I think. What a great resource.

Anyway, group them into groups of 4 and then you can feel them and not count them. That's what I did. You will get a groove going after a while and just know you did the 20.

Worked for me. hope that helps.

Joe
 

kettles

Gold Member
I actually use the clock on my wall rather than counting. I work out how long 20 will take at the tempo I'm playing, then round up to the nearest 30 second mark and go for it. Here's the formula: 80 / tempo

One cycle = four beats (treating them in cut time as written)
So twenty cycles = 80 beats

80 beats / 120bpm = .6667 or 40 seconds.
80 beats / 70bpm = 1.43 or 1 minute 30 seconds (rounded up)

I round up so I always have an easy place on the clock as the point to change to the next exercise, What Joe said is also good, feel them in groups of four, thus you'll get five groups to make 20 :)
 
M

mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
I actually use the clock on my wall rather than counting. I work out how long 20 will take at the tempo I'm playing, then round up to the nearest 30 second mark and go for it. Here's the formula: 80 / tempo

One cycle = four beats (treating them in cut time as written)
So twenty cycles = 80 beats

80 beats / 120bpm = .6667 or 40 seconds.
80 beats / 70bpm = 1.43 or 1 minute 30 seconds (rounded up)

I round up so I always have an easy place on the clock as the point to change to the next exercise, What Joe said is also good, feel them in groups of four, thus you'll get five groups to make 20 :)
What you're saying (in terms of efficiency) is a good idea. In reality though, I can see issues here with ensemble playing because you're still not learning to count the bars. I struggle with counting bars too and I've been in the situation many times when I've been lost on a score in a large ensemble (twenty players) and have had to fudge my way through instead.

I think it's important that a new player learns to count the bars accurately and without outside timing.
 

Too Many Songs

Senior Member
What you're saying (in terms of efficiency) is a good idea. In reality though, I can see issues here with ensemble playing because you're still not learning to count the bars. I struggle with counting bars too and I've been in the situation many times when I've been lost on a score in a large ensemble (twenty players) and have had to fudge my way through instead.

I think it's important that a new player learns to count the bars accurately and without outside timing.
I too thought that though of course what you mean by 'fudge it' is that you know by experience that songs have structures and that 9 times out of 10 you can hear where the change should be without counting. There's always the exception of course (speaking as someone who has recently played Blondie's 'Call Me').

We all find counting hard. Somewhere on DW is the interview with Gavin Harrison where he explains that he records 'vocal guidance' onto his click tracks so that he doesn't have to count. Instead, the voice on the click track will say something like '4 bars to go before the verse Gavin' or whatever. What a fantastic idea!

But leaving aside the possibility of customised clicks, I really like Joe's idea of counting groups of 4 and 'feeling' more than counting. That seems to me to be a very musical way of doing it: one that accords with what I do when playing a song.
 
M

mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
I like Joe's idea too.

I really have struggled badly with sheet music in the past. I'm lucky to have sharp ears and a good feel for song structure so most of the time it doesn't matter that I get lost. There are exceptions to that though and my playing in the ensemble would've been much better had I been genuinely fluent. I don't play in this group any more (it was a University group) but I think if you're starting out it's certainly better to get yourself into some kind of system that doesn't require workarounds like Gavin Harrison's. I'm sure Gavin can do it without the custom track if he needed to, however. Incidentally, programming a system like that is very easy but I would rather not have to rely on it.
 

Toolate

Platinum Member
As a new player too (11 mos) I think that mentally grouping bars really makes sense although it will be hard to master. It seems to me that the real answer to this is just to practice and play- experience in other words. So frustrating to us beginners but so rewarding when earned. I am waiting to feel rewarded.
 

Joe Morris

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
One thing I think that's important to remember is if you group them, your not only doing the patterns 20 times you also getting an excercise in timing. Think about it, you will be able to start feeling bars of 4 go by without counting. I never count when I play unless it's an extremely tough section of groups with odd time. Once you can feel the rotation of the groups you will find that playing in 4 becomes a feel thing and you can play in odd time without it feeling to weird at first because you can feel the bars go by. I don't think I explained this to well, im sorry for that. Its hard to explain, it becomes an internal thing and trust me it is an awesome tool to have as a drummer.

JOe
 

Levon's Pocket

Junior Member
My guess is that we can hear you say "where was I...oh fudge it" not only when playing drums...and where did I put the stick bag...and the tuning key...hmm..etc.
If you're like me, cheating is ok if it helps. People differ when it comes to concentration, mental stamina and working memory capacity. If you're lucky there's little need for tricks and gadgets, maybe you have a sense for meter And a sharp focus not easily distracted. Congrats! Most people are stacked in the middle of the bell curve and will have to put in some effort to deal with this problem of "losing track". They will often benefit from tips and tricks just like the ones mentioned. Then we have the elite of scatterbrains whose attention and focus is abundent but rarely in one place more than...let's say for 3 bars of stick control.
If you fit in the last group (no absolute cut-off between them) then we can join hands and start working. There's no short-cut for us and in my experience playing drums is a wonderful way of training this ablity to stay on track (even if the track is boring). Another way is meditating and another running ultra marathons. I do it all and it's great.
Do I have any advice? Well, do whatever it takes to keep you going and playing. Throw away all rights and wrongs about it and try finding your way. Really try to stick with one "method" at a time and give it a fair shot. You will probably have to put in more effort with less gain compared to the majority of drummers, but that's it. I'm pretty sure you have other talents that can make up for this and that you're better than average in some other areas like creativity, musicality etc. Usually that's how it works.
Disclaimer: this was in no way to critizice the advice given. point was that we stand on different ground when trying them out and bsically telling SOTS not to be discuraged if the problem persist in some way.
 

denisri

Silver Member
Don't treat it as sheet music...play it like music! this will make counting,humming,yelling,talking or what ever your doing easier to do stick control. you need to get beyond the dotes on the page. Denis
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I think the basic issue here is one of concentration. Do you have this same issue with reading or watching movies or television? To some concentration comes easier than others. But make sure if you are drumming that all other distractions are gotten rid of. In a room by yourself, with the radio turned off, TV turned off etc and count out loud and try to focus a little harder . If you are only making it through 3 or 4 measures you need to try harder. This from someone who knows first hand.


Quote: The problem is, after the 4th time or so, I'll zoom out and lose focus, or hyper focus on an exercise and play it until time loses all meaning. Any advice for keeping track?
 

jackie k

Senior Member
When you first start playing a groove focus or concentrate on it, this way you know you are playing it correctly, then try and feel the groove with your whole body, dont be afraid of getting your body moving or in motion alittle, its ok. Once you are feeling it you relax more kinda go into autopilot. Relax, have FUN and just keep an awareness of your playing.
 
Last edited:

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Many song parts repeat themselves. Like Joe was saying, you just get a feel for chunks of time. Sometimes on certain songs counting is essential like on the beginning of "Just what I needed" by The Cars, or "Beat on the Brat" by The Ramones where each time they repeat the verse it's a different count on the crashes. Other than that, with enough practice, you'll start getting a feel for the blocks of time for each part of the song without having to rely on numbers in your head. The most important thing above all is your meter. No matter what instrument you play, especially drums, if you can maintain a steady rhythm without speed fluctuations, you'll go a lot further toward your eventual goal of drumming fluidity.
 
Top