How to practice playing fast

Mastiff

Senior Member
I'm working on Everlong too. I spent a while getting the fill sections worked out by recording them into audacity and playing on repeat as I slowly worked up to tempo. I thought I was okay on the 16th parts, but it caught up to me after a while and I got sloppy all around. It'll be in my practice routine for a while until I get comfortable.

Check out "Run to the Hills" by Iron Maiden, 16ths at 180 or so. That's next...
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Instead of thinking of it as practicing speed, think of it as practicing control.

Speed follows control.
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
Just to confirm my own assumption..

But that Low Down track from Boz Scaggs is definitely not played with one handed 16th's by Porcaro..

I allready remembered an interview where he said he had quite some difficulties playing I Keep Forgettin' by Michael McDonald like that, which is much slower than Low Down..

This is the interview and from 9.05 they speak about that track and at about 10.11 you can hear him say that his arm was about to fall off..

 
Last edited:

Channing

Member
I think most likely there is nothing wrong with you, just that you are a beginner, none of these songs are considered FAST or complex for a REGULAR drummer.

Then on one side is a matter of time that you´ll be able to play them (how long you have been playing drums?, do you study seriously?, can you read?, have teacher?, etc.?.), on the other you might never play them because, you need at least some technique (not a lot) to play that.

And yes, there are techniques that made some of the things you want to play easier...they are also esential so you don´t get hurt too.

Disregard what some say about sloppiness, don´t play like that, it hurts only thinking about it, hahah!
I don't know that I'd really consider myself a "beginner." I've been playing drums for 2 and a half years. I practice every day. I can read music. I don't have a regular teacher though. There's this guy that I get skype lessons from every now and then if I need help with something specific but I've asked him and he thinks there's nothing actually wrong with my technique but I just need to keep practicing.

I think maybe the biggest problem is my bandmates pushing me to play stuff that I can't do. They think just because they learned the song on guitar in one day that I should be able to do the same for drums. They've also all been playing like 5x as long as I have.
 

TMe

Senior Member
...what I did was learn it at a slower tempo, then gradually speed it up over the course of many practice sessions until I could play it at full tempo.
In the short term, if a song is too fast, simplify the song. Get rid of the fills if you need to, simplify the beat if you need to. The goal is to play with the band, at the tempo they want, so worry about that first. Everything else is just icing on the cake. Worry about the cake first, then worry about the icing.
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
..I think Jeff was pretty well known for his one handed hi hat 16th..

Yes he was..

But not on tempos that Jojo Mayer likes to play them..

Allthough Mayer is able to play them ofcourse faster than 115/116 bpm, like that Low Down track is..
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I like Jeff's video explaining shuffles and the Roseanna shuffle-he shows it then plays along to a 'groove' . Hey easy peasy till you try and apply to the song-and you discover hey he's doing that way, way, way faster LOL. Bernard Purdie showing his Purdie shuffle shows you what he does but then you watch him on Home at Last it's different a bit. It's like they can play it but can't show it or easily explain it.
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
It's been said that, "If you want to play fast, practice slow." While that's often what people need to hear, it often doesn't work at all.

My version is, "If you want to play fast, practice as fast as you can perfectly and comfortably using the next faster tempo's technique and for 20 minutes or more before jumping up 5 or 10 bpm and repeating."

95% of our practice should be done below the red line such that we're teaching our muscle memory what it is that we actually want it to do. Technique is crucial and that's where a lot of musicality, consistency, touch & groove come from (speed is a natural side afect of these things).
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
It's been said that, "If you want to play fast, practice slow." While that's often what people need to hear, it often doesn't work at all.

My version is, "If you want to play fast, practice as fast as you can perfectly and comfortably using the next faster tempo's technique and for 20 minutes or more before jumping up 5 or 10 bpm and repeating."

95% of our practice should be done below the red line such that we're teaching our muscle memory what it is that we actually want it to do. Technique is crucial and that's where a lot of musicality, consistency, touch & groove come from (speed is a natural side afect of these things).

I couldn't agree with this more. I tell everyone usually to practice slow as I know they are going to speed it up or are practicing too fast to begin with anyways.

One thing I do is log my practice on paper. Write down BPM's so you don't waste time the next practice.

I'll warm up for a while, then start at about 70% of my max, then 80, then 90.

I determine my max as what I can play tight and clean without errors for a sustained amount of time. Nobody cares if you can twitch something out for 5 seconds. I usually shoot for 5-10 minutes clean, but 20 is even better.

Sometimes I'll get up in to the 105% range for a bit at the end where I am still playing good but struggling JUST a little bit and pushing my limits. Not to the point that it's messy or falling apart though. there is not much growth in the muscle memory department there.

Sometimes when you are playing high speeds jumping up 2bpm is enough to really feel a difference. I always tell students to start slow, and if they were to increase 1 bpm every 2 days, they will be adding 182 BPM by the end of the year. You will find after a point that you can't do it every 2 days. That will be when you are in "the zone"
 

dullahan

Member
Actually, the thing about improvement is about overcoming something. If you are experienced and just not satisfied with your speed, and that's the only thing you're aiming for, then you have to increase it. "Fake it till you make it," you know?
That's just my opinion and it works for me... and yeah, it gonna take a hella lot of time too.
 

Old Dog new Cans

Senior Member
I don't know that I'd really consider myself a "beginner." I've been playing drums for 2 and a half years. I practice every day. I can read music. I don't have a regular teacher though. There's this guy that I get skype lessons from every now and then if I need help with something specific but I've asked him and he thinks there's nothing actually wrong with my technique but I just need to keep practicing.

I think maybe the biggest problem is my bandmates pushing me to play stuff that I can't do. They think just because they learned the song on guitar in one day that I should be able to do the same for drums. They've also all been playing like 5x as long as I have.
It's still the same process. You still have to start at a pace that you can handle, that's suitable for you. Then, as you learn the music, you increase the pace. There is NO short cut to playing faster. It's all practice and repetition. If you try and fake speed, it will show--clearly. It will just sound like mud.

Ask your bandmates to slow the song during practice. It won't take long before you're up to speed.
 

Channing

Member
It's still the same process. You still have to start at a pace that you can handle, that's suitable for you. Then, as you learn the music, you increase the pace. There is NO short cut to playing faster. It's all practice and repetition. If you try and fake speed, it will show--clearly. It will just sound like mud.

Ask your bandmates to slow the song during practice. It won't take long before you're up to speed.

Thanks. Right now I’m playing it at 134 bpm. I’m just gradually speeding it up over time. So far I’ve made consistent progress with this method.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
Actually, the thing about improvement is about overcoming something. If you are experienced and just not satisfied with your speed, and that's the only thing you're aiming for, then you have to increase it. "Fake it till you make it," you know?
That's just my opinion and it works for me... and yeah, it gonna take a hella lot of time too.
I think playing as fast as you can while keeping it CLEAN is the key. Just where you are on the edge. If you go past and "fake it till you make it" and are practicing sloppy, you are practicing bad habbits and drumming is 90% muscle memory. You are setting those bad habbits into memory too. It's like guys lifting off their pinkys for years trying to get out of that habit.

I think playing JUST above where you are relaxed and comfortable is good for periods of time, but same with playing at about 90% for longer periods of time.. It's similar to working out... if you lift too light, no gains. Lift to heavy and you will hurt yourself. You need to find the right ZONE so you can do a specific amount of reps. The difference with drumming is reps are TIME.
 

TMe

Senior Member
...I was wondering if there's anything specific technique-wise that I could do that might help me play those really fast 16th notes.
Different people give different advice. For me, what worked was... all of the above. I spent some time playing super slow, some time squeezing out as much speed as possible, some time playing as musically and comfortably as possible... if you try a bunch of different approaches you'll find something that works for you, and you'll avoid getting stuck in a rut.

One approach I'd add to the list is to start by playing 8th notes, with very short bursts of 16th notes. Once you can play those short bursts at the tempo you want, try longer bursts. Set two different tempo targets - one for sustained 16th notes, and one for short bursts. It's good if you have a target in mind. If you're just thinking "Faster, faster, faster!!!" that can be unproductive. It's better if you have some music in mind, and target the tempo of that music.
 
Top