Improving consistency

Anon La Ply

Renegade
In the Did speed come easily for any of you? thread Skulmoski replied:
Yes; consistency No!
That's something I'd like to improve. Now that I have my kit set up at home all the time my consistency practice is repetition of grooves, fills and transitions. I'm improving, but it's slow.

Any thoughts on how you improved your consistency? Is it an area you focused on at some stage or was it just a by-product of other things you were practising?
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
I improve consistency by adding cornflour usually.

I'm working on exactly the same thing at the moment. The new project means that I have to be consistent because I'll be quite exposed. Really listening to your playing is vital - I have a monitoring/recording system set up with microphones in my study (pictures pending) so that I can get a 'real' impression of what's going on. Your own ears can be very deceptive when you're playing although I'm finding my perceptions are getting much closer to reality.

Perception is vital. Developing your ears to attune to what is actually being played as opposed to what you think you're playing is the most important thing in my view. Once you hear the problems, you can remedy them.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
I improve consistency by adding cornflour usually.
I prefer to use a mixture of 60%/40% of flour and butter, hot or cold, depending on what I'm using it for, I find it more versatile than cornflour :)

Perception is vital. Developing your ears to attune to what is actually being played as opposed to what you think you're playing is the most important thing in my view. Once you hear the problems, you can remedy them.
Absolutely, my approach completely, although is a challenging one, to say the least.

Most of my practices these days are based on consistency, in terms of feel, textures, sounds, colours as opposed to practice rudiments or speed related achievement on the kit.

To be able to sit and reproduce the same "consistency" of a desired patterns/grooves/feel/fills is one of my top priority, I could play the same groove over and over until the brain got it locked into the memory cells (I'm loosing them so fast nowadays), I've been doing this for over a year now, I have noticed an improvement which is promising and makes me think and motivate me to keep at it, on a regular basis, every time I play, a part of the session will be dedicated to this very important topic of drumming, as it's stands now, I'm better at the consistency of doing the perfect mashed potatoes than the consistency of a jazzy/funk groove :)
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
I think this topic may mean a little different to each individual.

For me consistency = repetition. It means working on something until I have it truly mastered before moving on. Much of this starts by working new exercises and concepts slowly eventually building up the speed. This can take years for me.

I was taught by my teachers many, many years ago to not rush things and explore all variations of an exercise until you move onwards. Hence, this is the philosophy I have adapted to and have used for decades.

For example, for the last 2+ years I have been working diligently out of the John Riley's Jazz Drummer's Workshop book and am only 1/2 way through it.

I'm also still using the same two snare drum solo books that I did 25+ years ago. Again, I always look for improvement in them. To this day, they still help me I feel.

So, it's a combination of starting slowly and repetition for me.
 

cornelius

Silver Member
On the Speed Thread I responded with speed coming easily but evenness not as easily.
On that thread I thought more about technique - i.e. consistent stick heights. That is something that is great to work on for your playing to sound even/consistent.

On another level, it's sounds like you might be addressing a time issue - working with a click and recording yourself (with and without it).

Some good points - BacteriumFendYoke: developing your ears - the ability to "hear" yourself while you play. And also the ability to hear whether your playing evenly or not while listening to yourself on a recording. dmacc: Playing slowly - that's a great way to get grooves down, because you can get the mechanics in your body more easily, but also your ears have a chance to tell you whether things are even and in the right place or not.
 

mikeyhanson

Silver Member
I think repetition develops consistency, especially if you're talking about developing the ability to play the same fill the same way each time.
It may also have to do with self control. I know a guy who is wildly inconsistent...fills happen sporadically and in strange places, beats waver all over the place.....he has a consistency problem, but it's much deeper. He tries to pack everything he knows into everything he does, and his music suffers for it, imo.

But stick heights, consistent fills, beats, hits, rolls...all that stuff comes from practice and repetition, always listening to what you're doing, not just hitting drums. Consider your body and what it's doing while you're doing it. Keep your mind focused.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Improving consistency to me means three things: metronome, metronome, and more metronome.

And that's all I have to say about thaaaat....(gump ref)

Only when you have the luxury of hearing where the beat is supposed to be, can you point out your shortcomings.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Hmmm, maybe I'm not sure what is meant by consistency-- accuracy and good time, I guess? Or maybe evenness of volume, when it's intended? Accuracy can be worked on by listening closely to the attacks of your notes, checking the quality of your unisons, and listening to the combined rhythm made by the different limbs.

Work on your time by using a click and making the time consistently your primary focus. It sounds obvious, but it's not that easy to do.

Uneven volume can be helped by learning to make a note by attacking it directly, without lifting the stick before it-- it's hard for a lot of people to do, even when they try. The full stroke/down stroke/tap/up stroke system makes the preparation for the next note part of each stroke, and is a good framework for working on that.
 

Volentry

Senior Member
This is an issue I've been increasingly worried about for the past few days. For me consistency includes everything from consistency of volume of strokes, consistent time, and tightness. Really want to work them out, but it's difficult, there's no real remedy for it or so it seems.

I've been doing the exercise that Donny Gruendler demonstrated in the video section; bringing the click to 45bpm (16th subdivisions) and making sure they are no flams between your right hand, left hand, and bass drum foot. I sure hope it works.
 

cp84

Senior Member
good points so far.

some more things that can help. check your posture and the movements that you make to play the drums. use your whole body and really move with the groove. this will settle any time issues that you have and things will flow better i think.

further to checking your posture, also make sure that the kit is set up in an ergonomic way for you. make sure things are angled in a way that will allow you to use the kit in a relaxed way.

and practise practise practise :)
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
good points so far.
Absolutely ... and posture is an important aspect too, as well as studying the mouvements of the 4 limbs to enhance consistency during playing, it's another key element.

Metronome practice will certainely improve the consistency in terms of time keeping, developping the inner clock, for sure, but you can play in time with a metronome and still be inconsistent in terms of feel and sounds, it goes beyond time keeping, you don't play a rock groove the same way you play a funk groove, or reggae, or jazz, or pop, or metal, each and every style has a certain way that is commonly expected from a drummer when he/she plays a given piece of music, this is were consistency gets a full meaning for me, to be able to play, consistently, a groove, a fill, a pattern that is suitable for the music we play, that's the point Duncan was raising I think.

Each time you sit at the kit, assuming you know the song and you're playing in time, the goal is to play that fill, hitting the tom that way, to produce that sound, easy in theory, harder in reality, and it's just one fill, you'll have to play the whole song, the whole set, the whole gig, every week, and every month.

To use my mashed potatoes analogy, to get the right consistency everytime you're cooking it, it must have the right ingredients and the right amount of these ingredients, to much milk, it's runny, not enough milk, it's to thick and dry, to much butter, it's sickening, it has to have the right amount of each, the right seasoning, and it's sure to be a success.

I'll keep practicing consistency on the drums for a long long time :)
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Hmmm, maybe I'm not sure what is meant by consistency-- accuracy and good time, I guess? Or maybe evenness of volume, when it's intended?
All of the above.

All good comments. At first glance it seems my approach is logical and now it's a matter of patience. Tomorrow I plan to take one rhythm with a nome and stay put until I'm satisfied. I feel like I need to backtrack a little to move forward.

Will think more deeply on this when I wake up properly rather than in the middle of the night trying to heat the place up after waking freezing and coughing. Wish Dad hadn't been too tight to get the place more weather proofed. I've gotten the roof repaired, rotting cornices replaced and still to get the ceiling cleaned and insulated. Can't wait. I'm f-r-r-e-e-e-e-z-i-n-gggg
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Consistency is one of the most important keys to being a good drummer, and I think it's impossible to attribute the solution to a single thing. My take:

1) Practice with a metronome. All the time. No matter what you're doing, whether on the pad while watching TV or reading a drum set piece. Just get used to hearing the metronome going constantly and refine those areas where you have a tendency to drag or rush (like during fills or when switching from quarters to eights, etc.). Eventually, it will become second-nature to play along with the metronome.

2) Practice rudiments. You want control over dynamics/volume? That's what rudiments will help you with. Taps, accents and grace notes... there's nothing better to get you accustomed to having total control over your dynamics. Work on your speed. If you can play it clean at fast speeds, then you'll have the headroom to do it effortlessly at faster tempos.

3) Don't forget your feet! A sloppy bass drum foot will ruin your ability to groove, no matter how good your hands are. I find the ideal time to work on feet is when you...

4) ... Practice grooving on the set. With the metronome going. At different volumes. Slow, medium, fast... everything. Make every note sit square with the beat of the metronome.

Just my 2 cents.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
Great points from all and should have also included working with a click is a must.

In my opinion going above and beyond a simple regular click is a must as well.. A tool such as the Dr. Beat DB88 is as important as any piece of equipment you have. Being able to control what click you hear and what you don't is ideal in developing consistent steady time. It'll keep you beyond honest.
 
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Anon La Ply

Renegade
All good comments. Thanks guys. I've been mulling over them all, and shall mull more :)


I'm working on exactly the same thing at the moment ...

Perception is vital. Developing your ears to attune to what is actually being played as opposed to what you think you're playing is the most important thing in my view. Once you hear the problems, you can remedy them.
Agree with all of that. I can have trouble getting my head in the right space at times. Thinking I should be spending more time upsidedown on a yoga mat ...


For me consistency = repetition. It means working on something until I have it truly mastered before moving on.
Yep, I've been flitting around way too much, getting all excited about playing drums at home again. It gets old fast - my noodling's just an ear irritant. Did repetition to a metronome on the kit for the first time in about 30 years tonight - a rhythm I've never got to sit for more than a few bars (before flitting off). I think that kind of practice will be good for my playing.

This is getting me to look at my ergonomics, just getting the old body a bit more organised behind the kit rather than getting in a tangle. Stick heights too. I want to drop them waaay down, even though the punters seem to enjoy seeing drummers flail ...
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Personally, I'm with the big "D". For me, repetition promotes familiarity, which promotes consistency. The more I do something, the more confident I am with it and the better I become at the task.
I think that's it too. Was loving just working on one groove to the met for almost an hour tonight. I'm feeling a bit freed by playing at lower volumes. If I think the neighbours can hear me I get paranoid about repetition, as though I'm inflicting water torture on the neighbours.

I want to practice more but not to be nerdy about it, if that makes any sense. I do enough nerdy blah and want the emotional side - just drum simply and clearly and groove with a bit of colour ... and to do it easily so I can tease the accents and tones to fit or goose things up without turning into Speedy Gonzales - consistently.


Wish I was mulling!!
You can if you want it enough. It's all about repetition :)
 

eddypierce

Senior Member
I think that's it too. Was loving just working on one groove to the met for almost an hour tonight. I'm feeling a bit freed by playing at lower volumes. If I think the neighbours can hear me I get paranoid about repetition, as though I'm inflicting water torture on the neighbours.

I want to practice more but not to be nerdy about it, if that makes any sense. I do enough nerdy blah and want the emotional side - just drum simply and clearly and groove with a bit of colour ... and to do it easily so I can tease the accents and tones to fit or goose things up without turning into Speedy Gonzales - consistently.




You can if you want it enough. It's all about repetition :)
One thing I would add to all the excellent comments so far is not to move too quickly in trying to speed up a groove you've been working on, even if it feels like you've nailed it at a slower tempo. Try sitting on it at a really slow tempo for a long time--really concentrate on making it grooving and consistent. I've been trying to be more patient about this in my practice over the last year or two, and it seems to be yielding positive results. Robert Kaufman has some excellent exercises in his book The Art of Drumming called "Slow Motion Exercises" that address this idea.
 

Busy b

Member
Robert Kaufman has some excellent exercises in his book The Art of Drumming called "Slow Motion Exercises" that address this idea.
That's a great exercise. Really helps develop your concentration and swing.

I was recently recruited to play for a rock band and they (although never mentioned) prefer every part to be played the same way. Play the same guitar solos, same bass lines etc.. I am not that type of drummer/musician and this sort of thing drives me crazy, but it is somewhat of a challenge to play the same parts every single time. Think of pit drummers for Broadway musicals. Those gigs take a very consistent drummer.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
One thing I would add to all the excellent comments so far is not to move too quickly in trying to speed up a groove you've been working on, even if it feels like you've nailed it at a slower tempo. Try sitting on it at a really slow tempo for a long time--really concentrate on making it grooving and consistent. I've been trying to be more patient about this in my practice over the last year or two, and it seems to be yielding positive results. Robert Kaufman has some excellent exercises in his book The Art of Drumming called "Slow Motion Exercises" that address this idea.
"Slow motion exercises" - sounds great! I've started with 120, which is close the actual tempo of the song. I was always going to wind back the nome before cranking it because there's a couple of fills I play to that rhythm where I tend to speed up a tad and I obviously want it them to be cleaner.

As a self taught player I have an uneven skillset with plenty of gaps (most of which I have no intention of filling) so I find that on the rare occasions where take a "pick and stick" and practice instead of play, it not only improves that particular rhythm, it also helps tidy up related areas of my skillset that were a bit half-baked in unexpected ways.

It should be so easy but I've tended to have a hard time committing to actual practice as opposed to playing songs and fudging the difficult parts. Should be saving it for jams and gigs ...
 
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