help desperately needed

guitarheel

Junior Member
Hello everyone!

I have a problem that I seek advice on. The band I am currently in consists of 5 members, including myself - all of which are long time friends of mine. With the exception of the bass player and myself, the rest of the band is very green on their respective instruments(drummer and rhythm guitarist). I have been playing guitar since age 5, and I have a natural ability in music which I was born with. I'm not a horn blower by any means, but in terms of this band, I have the most experience in "the scene", if you will. As a group, we have been playing together for almost a year, and our sound is not getting any tighter because of one element - our drummer.

He has the heart, and the equipment(he also owns the PA) but his ability is lacking severely simply because he won't practice. He also has what I have dubbed "Right-side synchronization syndrome" meaning he cannot separate his limbs, nor can he syncopate any rhythms. I have tried repeatedly to motivate him to practice but to no avail. I am a former music education student so I felt like I could help him with no problem, but no. No matter what I try, I can't get him to practice. Also, I feel apprehensive about confronting him in the manner that I WANT to(my patience have worn quite thin after a year with no results) because of our long-time friendship. I have even tried to hook him up with instructional videos on Youtube to help cure him of the "My right hand does whatever my right foot is doing" disease.

For lack of a better explanation, he can play the standard "straight four" with no problems, save some tempo issues. He has a great kit and knows how to care for it properly as far as I can see. But he won't practice because he thinks he's good enough to slide by on his current skill level. Bottom line is, this won't fly.

So my question is, what motivates a drummer to WANT to play? I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of how to teach someone to play, but when the powers of retention are non-existent, it can be very discouraging. Not to mention the fact that he knows nothing of rhythm or even subdivision.

Also, can anyone recommend any rudimentary DVDs or websites that can help my friend be a better drummer?

Thanks in advance :)
 

fixxxer

Senior Member
All I can say is that I play for me and my own personal development because I have a passion for playing the drums. All of the practicing that I do, of course, benefits my band, but that is just a bonus. I would not be in a band or play with others if I didn't have a passion for playing nor would I want to play with someone that didn't have a passion for it.
If he is not cutting it and causing the band to not progress, I think you need to just be very honest with him about the situation. Sounds like you have tried everything else.
 

K.Howden

Senior Member
I can only speak for myself in that what motivates me to play is self-expression. The reason I practice and learn new things is because I want the facility to be able to express feelings, sounds and musical ideas that are in my head. Maybe what your friend needs is something to inspire ideas rather than excercises or techniques to expand his musical facility for the sake of it...although from what you say it's clear his musical facility does need to be expanded either way.

Maybe you could try sitting down with him at home, at a bar, or anywhere and have a conversation about musical expression. Ask him what it is he wants to express on the instrument and wider musically, who and what inspires him and why. I think if you get down to the bones of what it is he wants to do you'll be able to point him in a good direction in terms of technqiue and musical vocabulary that he could learn to help him express himself.

Hope you're well,

Kev
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Tough spot. Actually I may have a solution. Start auditioning other drummers. If this doesn't light a fire in his pants, continue auditioning. TBH, you probably won't want to wait this guy out for him to practice. He would be practicing for the wrong reasons anyway. You need a different, more dedicated, more effective drummer. You should probably replace him. You could tell him to read this thread.
If he does read this, this is for the drummer in question.

Dude, you're embarrassing the family, shape up or move aside.

I have a lot of respect for the guitarists that come in here trying to sort out their drummer woes. You can tell they really care.
 
Firstly, your absolutely right, if your rhythm section isn't happening, then it ain't happenin'

Whilst I understand your frustration of trying to persuade your drummer to practice you could always try a tough love approach. For example, playing gigs and picking songs that will show his flaws to lots of people. I know there is nothing more that would motivate me than making a complete failure of myself in front of a bunch of people.

Harsh I know, but a possible option.

Another, my subtle approach, would be to say "hey guys, lets try record some of our stuff". When your drummer hears if he is off time etc he might decide its time to sit down with the metronome and drumming books.
 

toddy

Platinum Member
Tough spot. Actually I may have a solution. Start auditioning other drummers. If this doesn't light a fire in his pants, continue auditioning. TBH, you probably won't want to wait this guy out for him to practice. He would be practicing for the wrong reasons anyway. You need a different, more dedicated, more effective drummer. You should probably replace him. You could tell him to read this thread.
If he does read this, this is for the drummer in question.

Dude, you're embarrassing the family, shape up or move aside.

I have a lot of respect for the guitarists that come in here trying to sort out their drummer woes. You can tell they really care.
nothing more i have to add. quoted for truth.
 

guitarheel

Junior Member
Wow - thanks for the quick responses - all great advice IMO. And yes, I really do care about him both as a musician in my band, and as a friend. So the treading has been light to say the least. I have cracked down on him pretty hard before, and he simply says "I can't play it" or, "Let me work on it" - which to me means the same as "I can't play it" because the work never happens.

The inspiration thing is a good idea - haven't tried that. I'm not even sure if he has EVER listened to another drummer in a band from an inspirational standpoint. I am a multi-instrumentalist, and the drums are one of the things I can also play. And even being a guitarist first and foremost, I have recorded drums before and am quite confident in my own abilities on the kit, and thus have even gone as far as to show him rudimentary things like single stroke rolls, right left right left patterns to help him isolate his limbs, and I even got him a metronome so he can work on his tempo issues. I have also tried a few things posted here - talking to him, letting it ride till gig time, etc. The worst part about that is, when the drummer screws up, the band screws up. There's really no way to cover his mistakes like you could with say, another guitarist. And it's not so much blatant mistakes as it is tempo issues, limb separation, and syncopation - and within these three elements, the root of the problem is strictly fundamental. I don't expect him to become Terry Bozzio overnight, but the drummers for AC/DC were rock solid, and they hardly ever played extravagant fills or crazy rhythmic stuff. I just want a solid sonic foundation for the band, and to me that starts with the drums.

To give you and idea, one of the covers we play is "Victim of Love" by The Eagles. It took us almost a month to learn that song because he couldn't get the timing of the intro(the stabs during the intro solo). I finally told him to play the song on his "internal radio", and tap his foot to the beat. Then take the taps of the foot and transfer that to the hi-hat, so the band can keep tempo. The problem was solved immediately. This is what I mean by fundamental stuff. He also has an issue with bouncing the stick in his right hand which drags him down SEVERELY. An example of this would be during "Man in the Box" by AIC. In stead of playing the straight four that Sean Kinney plays during the intro, he plays this Neal Peart-ala-YYZ bouncy thing with the ride cymbal. Sounds like &*(# to say the least. In terms of rhythm - he can't even do a single stroke roll. I thought every drummer learned "Wipe Out" first...LOL. Just kidding. Despite all this, there are some songs that we play that he does quite well with - but he still lacks flavor even with the simple stuff.

Another thing that is sort of a blessing and a burden at the same time is the fact that he DOES have an ear for music, but he doesn't realize his role in a band - both as a drummer and as a part of the rhythm section. He frequently complains about not being able to hear our vocalist or the bass player because he says he listens to them and plays with them, whereas the band SHOULD be listening down to HIM. Granted, he and the bassist should be in the pocket, but right now, there IS no pocket.

Sorry for the novel, but I really appreciate the input here. And again, what sort of instructional material or pointers can you guys recommend?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Sounds like replacing him is not something you want to do. In that case, I'd say that it's time to lay the cards on the table, and address the problem with him.
 

eamesuser

Silver Member
I have been through this a lot,most recently with the Bass Player of the band I just quit.

Extremely frustrating.This Bassist was not born of a lot of natural raw talent,but was the rhythm guitarist in our group before we fired the bassist.He was not a good electric rhythm G to start with,but his fingers were nimble enough to get around the Bass OK,but he did not understand the bass's role in the music and had fundamental problems.
I treaded lightly around this issue,got him Bass for dummies,tried to teach him to count and read tab that wrote for him,and he could do it,but would not focus or stick with anything long enough to get a real handle on it.The songs we were doing were so standard that I was able to find a good you tube vid on almost all of them,still did not help much,and in a 3 piece band a bad Bass Player will kill a drummer for sure and bring the band down something fierce.

You can lead a horse to water,can't make it drink. You could sit him down and tell him to take lessons,practice etc or he is out,but he sounds like the type of player that will keep showing up because you all make him sound better than he is,that was the case with my bass player.You can replace him or leave yourself, because in the end he is only going to drive you crazy,especially if you are the type that tries to play as best you can,and keep challenging yourself.He will probably not change anything,players like that rarely do unless they get kicked out of enough bands.
 
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