Looking while playing

kurth83

Junior Member
Wanted to ask some of the guys here who can actually play (I am a beginner)
if you need to look at your drums (hands and sticks) while playing.

I am finding with some kit layouts I can play without needing to look.
I do a lot of reading music which developed this ability, mostly by accident.

Then I tried another kit layout and I found I had to look to play,
messed up the ability to read music, but fine for stuff I already knew.

I am thinking I should stick with layouts I can play (mostly)
without looking and even fine tune them to make that easier.

What say the more experienced drummers here?
 

Zickos

Gold Member
Why would you want to change a layout with which you are familiar? You can't hit it if you don't know where it is. I have had pretty much the same set up for 45 years with some very slight modifications. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
What say the more experienced drummers here?
Set up the kit in such a way that you can play, read and look around.

We have the opportunity to play an instrument which can be set up as we like it, why compromising this advantage.

Have you tried the "blind ergonomic" test? You close your eyes and reach and hit the element of your kit, if you miss or play continuously off center, adjust the culprit element(s) accordingly, it has to be set for your body motion, not for having to look at it or to make it look good to the eyes.

You need to be able to look around, to have eye contact with the other musicians and the audience.
 

kurth83

Junior Member
I guess what I was hoping for was something like

"good drummers (mostl) don't need to look",

Kinda like piano players.

Kits to me have a fundamentals section,
the money beat stuff, and some dribs and drabs that are for
effects, and I don't mind having to look for those.

Since I play better on a kit that I don't have to look for most stuff,
I am going to stick with that and assume I am doing the right thing.

I like the blind test, I was thinking that the layout I like I could
mostly play blindfolded, and was wondering if that was a good thing,
nice to hear someone else say it.
 

MLdrum

Senior Member
I agree with a lot that's been said and think that the best thing is to have the kit set up in a way that you can have contact with other musicians and read. I change my set up from time to time, but the main components always stay roughly at the same places (bass drum, main snare (if several are used), hihat and ride). Other things I move around and change in and out depending on what I'm playing.
 
A

audiotech

Guest
I think that it's great being able to hit what you want without looking. You'll feel more comfortable with this in time and also become more accurate with your hits. Having your kit set-up basically the same each time helps with this enormously. I have retinopathy in both eyes and I actually practice entire songs without looking at the kit. This also helps with reading scores because you can't have your eyes on everything at the same time. The conductors appreciate getting a fast glance once in a while too, lol.

Dennis
 

The Black Page Dude

Senior Member
Wanted to ask some of the guys here who can actually play (I am a beginner)
if you need to look at your drums (hands and sticks) while playing.

I am finding with some kit layouts I can play without needing to look.
I do a lot of reading music which developed this ability, mostly by accident.

Then I tried another kit layout and I found I had to look to play,
messed up the ability to read music, but fine for stuff I already knew.

I am thinking I should stick with layouts I can play (mostly)
without looking and even fine tune them to make that easier.

What say the more experienced drummers here?
For me I like to stay in the moment. I don't know if I cognitivley look .. but I am engaged in the moment and feeling the music.

I look at it like breathing or walking. We don't think about doing either, because our brain needs to function and focus on other things and thus it has alloted that task to another part of the brain that controls automatic functions. Certain things on the kit will eventually become second nature simply because you have played drums long enough.
 

drumkiller77

Junior Member
I think when your practicing stay comfy but its good to move stuff around from time to time to feel out what ya like and hate,,,if and when ya start to play out ya may get stuck using someone elses kit and thats when that may come in handy...i hate one up one down kits and when i get stuck playing someone elses kit like that it can be a bitch adjusting..but i have moved or played so many different kits now that i have adapted and play better when i get in that situation..just my opinion..
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
I often play with eyes shut so I guess I don't always have to look. I don't advocate playing with eyes shut because it disconnects you from the band but that's what I do.

Mike Mangini only had to look at the drums in that video because he was playing so fast and complex. If he was playing a normal song in a normal way he could easily do it with eyes closed (and one hand tied behind his back ... and tied in a straitjacket with a 200lb weight on his back :)
 

B-squared

Silver Member
I like looking at the crowd. I try not to let my attention waver too much from the band, but there is some really funny stuff that happens in the crowd. As far as the set-up is concerned, I keep my set-up as close to the same as I can. Sometimes I end up playing a house kit where I don't have a lot of choice, but I try to make it as comfortable as I can. Focusing on the song is most important.

If you are just learning, my advice would be to set it up comfortably for yourself and don't change it for awhile. What's the hurry? If you're just starting out, you can worry about alternate set-ups after you gain some experience. For now, read your charts if you are practicing that way and aside from that, don't worry about where you're looking. Think about what you're playing and relax.
 

Anduin

Pioneer Member
A musician who doesn’t look at his instrument while playing appears much more proficient to an audience. And even more so to other musicians. Of course, not looking is a lot easier with almost any instrument that isn’t drums, so we’ve got a more difficult task, but it’s worth working towards.
 

MisterZero

Senior Member
Practice, trial and error. Just like playing drums, setting them up in a way that works also takes a bit of trial and error. When i first started playing, I used to set up my kit like those that I would see in pictures in magazines ( there was no internet back then, gulp). After a while, I began to create my own setup. You will, too. Also, as far as looking at your kit, that's okay. There's nothing wrong with that. If playing live, though, you'll need to keep an eye on the rest of the band. Especially during endings and tricky song changes. I am like Anon LaPly in that i sometimes play with my eyes shut. I do this when i really need to hone my senses into the music. I think it works.

Anyway, enjoy your drumming journey.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
You really have to develop this skill. You just never know when you're going to be sitting in with a band who features a female singer with great assets (such as an amazing voice, and lots of talent)... You don't want to be limited to just looking at your drums in that case!
 

Otto

Platinum Member
The brain is interesting.

Reduce input in one way and more processing goes to the others.

I frequently find myself wth my eyes closed while playing...or simply unaware of what is coming into them.

Doing that does require familiarity with the sets layout...but you would be surprised at how you can learn to hear where things are on the fly.
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
You really have to develop this skill. You just never know when you're going to be sitting in with a band who features a female singer with great assets (such as an amazing voice, and lots of talent)... You don't want to be limited to just looking at your drums in that case!
OFFS. You've forgotten more about drumming than I'll ever know, but PURLEASE.

Apologies if I missed the irony in your reply: I'm new here.
 
Last edited:

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
OFFS. You've forgotten more about drumming than I'll ever know, but PURLEASE.

Apologies if I missed the irony in your reply: I'm new here.
For future reference, all of my replies contain irony. Especially the serious ones, which are ironic due to the lack of irony. Also, don't underestimate my ability to forget things.
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
For future reference, all of my replies contain irony. Especially the serious ones, which are ironic due to the lack of irony. Also, don't underestimate my ability to forget things.
We may perhaps have been separated at birth, in that case. In both cases, because I forgot about the second.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I look all the time. I look at the girls dancing.

But seriously, I think you learn to just use your peripheral vision for the most part. I set up my kit essentially the same all the time so I can play with eyes closed, but even when playing someone else's kit I rarely need to actively look.

Here's an interesting story. I also participate in traditional archery. A study was done to see if so-called instinctive shooters are actually using subconscious sighting methods, or if they only need to see a target to hit it. They tested this by putting them in a darkened area and having them shoot at a red dot projected on a wall. As long as there was any ambient light they did well. But as soon as all light was removed except for the dot, they couldn't shoot well. Turns out they were using peripheral vision to gather information about body position, distance and angle, bow position, etc, without realizing it. Your mind and body are a pretty amazing system. Trust your peripheral vision.

That way you can concentrate on the hot chicks dancing.
 
Top