Most Common Mistakes, Want to get better

aaajn

Silver Member
Can you tell me what the most common mistakes, barriers to progress are?

Had a real live audition last night. Not sure what the players thought but even though I had fun, it was hard work and I felt like I was missing something.

Been drumming about 4 years. I spend a lot of time alone, under the headphones, bashing away to songs I know. Problem with that is, the click track is always there, there is always a net to catch you if you lose your place, find the snare and chances are its either two or four. But live music is so much different.

I was wondering what your most common mistakes are, what gets in the way of progress. Chances are that I am making common mistakes; mistakes others make. There is something helpful in knowing you are average, you just have to fix the average things.

One mistake I am surely making is only spending time on stuff that I am good at.

Cheers and thanks.
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
This is an interesting question actually...

1. Trying to play from the forearms at speed, instead of using wrists and fingers.

2. Practicing fast and sloppy instead of slow and precise.

3. Playing through the drums as if with a hammer rather than using the free stroke

4. Only spending time on things you're good at!

5. Playing hi-hats as loud or louder than snare or bass drum while playing rock or funk.

6. Playing cymbals way harder than they need to be played.

There must be loads more, but those are some I've seen. I imagine it depends on the style of music to some extent.
 

IPC

Member
Heres a few I've experienced:

1 Letting the stick move around at the fulrum or pinch point of the grip, keep it stable but not too tight

2 burying the bass beater (when unintended). Burying has it's own sound but allowing it to rebound like any other drum gives a fuller sound.

3 changing the tempo as fills are played

4 changing the groove when your return from a fill

and heres an interesting point I heard from my teacher the other day. You have to consider that a larger drum such as a floor tom is physically going to require more air movement in it to produce the same dynamic level as a smaller drum. So for example if you were to do a roll around the kit it would actually make more sense to put a little oomph on the bigger, lower drums to make them dynamically closer to the other drums.

Hope this helps
 

LukeSnyder

Gold Member
Can you tell me what the most common mistakes, barriers to progress are?

Had a real live audition last night. Not sure what the players thought but even though I had fun, it was hard work and I felt like I was missing something.

Been drumming about 4 years. I spend a lot of time alone, under the headphones, bashing away to songs I know. Problem with that is, the click track is always there, there is always a net to catch you if you lose your place, find the snare and chances are its either two or four. But live music is so much different.

I was wondering what your most common mistakes are, what gets in the way of progress. Chances are that I am making common mistakes; mistakes others make. There is something helpful in knowing you are average, you just have to fix the average things.

One mistake I am surely making is only spending time on stuff that I am good at.

Cheers and thanks.
I think you mentioned the single most important thing that will slow your progress, spending more time playing what you're already good at. This is my personal bane. Practice what you're BAD at! Thats how you improve, by always trying things that you can't pull off. In fact, my m.o. is sort of becoming something along the lines of specifically targeting the things that I'm the worst at and working on those first.

I would also say that one mistake covers all of those other mistakes, and that is to not get a good teacher. If you don't have a good teacher, you're a hundred times more prone to committing all of those other errors that were mentioned. A good teacher will help you correct the smaller things that are problems now, and give you long term goals to reach for as well. I can't tell you how much I wish I had a good teacher that I could work with when I was starting out... teaching myself has made the process a lot slower for me, and I could have avoided a lot of pitfalls. As it is, my only teachers have been dvds, books, youtube, a video camera, and a mirror. Its doable, but you'll be much better off if you do it the right way, with an instructor!

I will mention that I think its also a HUGE mistake to not learn how to read sheet music. Again though, any good teacher will cover that.

Anyways, congrats on your audition aaajn, glad you had a good time! Ultimately, if you keep practicing and playing you'll get there!
 

brady

Platinum Member
1. Not getting a teacher.

2. Obsessing over double-pedal when your single pedal skills are lacking.

3. Not getting a teacher.

4. Speeding up/slowing down during grooves/fills. (Also known as not practicing to a metronome.)

5. Not getting a teacher.

6. Learning/playing only one genre of music.

7. Not getting a teacher.

8. Playing without dynamics.

9. Not getting a teacher.

10. Playing too many fills.

11. Not getting a teacher.

12. Not using hearing protection.
 

LukeSnyder

Gold Member
1. Not getting a teacher.

2. Obsessing over double-pedal when your single pedal skills are lacking.

3. Not getting a teacher.

4. Speeding up/slowing down during grooves/fills. (Also known as not practicing to a metronome.)

5. Not getting a teacher.

6. Learning/playing only one genre of music.

7. Not getting a teacher.

8. Playing without dynamics.

9. Not getting a teacher.

10. Playing too many fills.

11. Not getting a teacher.

12. Not using hearing protection.
I'm upset by the fact that you didn't mention that getting a teacher is important. I hope you correct this oversight as soon as possible ;)

The hearing protection one is SUPER important though, I can't believe I forgot that. I'm 20, and I already have some tinnitus going after bashing for many years without any protection... its a sad thing.
 

Volentry

Senior Member
The hearing protection one is SUPER important though, I can't believe I forgot that. I'm 20, and I already have some tinnitus going after bashing for many years without any protection... its a sad thing.
Man I'm 17 going on 18 and I already have some tinnitus :(

My take on this thread:

1. Posture.
2. Playing too many fills.
3. Grip. So many drummer friends I know have weird grips. Not that I'm saying it's wrong, but it's not as efficient as a proper grip. My teacher which I just got corrected one minor flaw of mine... which is my thumbs 'push forward' and the point of my thumb touching the stick becomes the midway of the thumb instead of the tip. Am still struggling to fix that bad habit urgh.
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
I've realised over the years that - for me, at least - the main barriers to progress are mental. Poor habits and lack of facility comes from a lack of proper discipline in practice. Tension starts in my psychological state and lack of awareness of my body. Playing innappropriately comes from a lack of attention and failure to listen or react quickly enough to what's happening around me. Ninety percent of the game is mental, the other half is physical.

For me, I'd say the biggest hurdle I still have to surmount is emotional. Even after many years of performing as a professional I have nights - I had one last night - when I am tentative and play from a reactive rather than active place, and it's reflected in my command of tempos and reduces my technical facility. I played the gig, everyone was happy, but nothing felt right. There is something in me that sometimes won't give over to instinct and emotion when I'm playing. A critical intellectual voice that is trying to observe the performance and evaluate it even as it's happening, draining energy away from where it ought to be focussed - i.e. on the act of playing itself.

The MD said something to me after which got me thinking a lot about this very question. He said (regarding tempos, etc.) "your instincts are excellent, they're bang on, you simply need to trust them and go with it. Lead us.." And while I know he's right and on many nights that's what I do, I'm still searching for the element, or a breakthrough, that allows me to do that consistently, night-in and night-out, without allowing the voices of doubt to creep in and - quite literally - steal the show.
 

Bonzo_CR

Silver Member
Lots of good advice here - posture, tension etc.

I would add the common mistake of not listening while playing. So much to be learned about playing for the song, locking in with the other members of the band, timing...
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Can you tell me what the most common mistakes, barriers to progress are?
Not practicing enough, not playing with people enough, not listening enough, or listening to too narrow a range of stuff. I've noticed some people can't stand feeling like they don't know what they're doing, and respond to it basically by hiding, either quitting lessons, or obsessing over minutia, or taking refuge in opinions and appearances. That's an impediment.
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
speaking from my own experience, when i was doing nothing but staying at home playing along to cds i got to the point where i felt i could do that pretty well. i thought i was a pretty good drummer! then i started going to jam sessions and playing in bands. that was a real eye opener! all of a sudden things like timing and tempo became serious issues! when i was playing along to cds, it was easy to let the cd be a kind of timing crutch. the cds were keeping time, not me. in a real band, i had to keep time, which turned out to be harder than i thought. i was having trouble with speeding up all the time, and generally playing irregularly, like the opposite of a drum machine. have you ever heard a band with a drummer who does not play in time or who plays with sloppy time? it's very unpleasant to listen to! sloppy timing and tempo can ruin a song no matter how many awesome fills are in there! i learned to really focus on timing and tempo and to actually practice it. i'm a lot better about that now, but it's still somewhat of a work in progress for me.
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
Not practicing enough, not playing with people enough, not listening enough, or listening to too narrow a range of stuff. I've noticed some people can't stand feeling like they don't know what they're doing, and respond to it basically by hiding, either quitting lessons, or obsessing over minutia, or taking refuge in opinions and appearances. That's an impediment.
Your first sentence was what I was trying to say in my first sentences, only better. Thanks. I got a bit up my own chute there...
 

aaajn

Silver Member
I've realised over the years that - for me, at least - the main barriers to progress are mental. Poor habits and lack of facility comes from a lack of proper discipline in practice. Tension starts in my psychological state and lack of awareness of my body. Playing innappropriately comes from a lack of attention and failure to listen or react quickly enough to what's happening around me. Ninety percent of the game is mental, the other half is physical.

For me, I'd say the biggest hurdle I still have to surmount is emotional. Even after many years of performing as a professional I have nights - I had one last night - when I am tentative and play from a reactive rather than active place, and it's reflected in my command of tempos and reduces my technical facility. I played the gig, everyone was happy, but nothing felt right. There is something in me that sometimes won't give over to instinct and emotion when I'm playing. A critical intellectual voice that is trying to observe the performance and evaluate it even as it's happening, draining energy away from where it ought to be focussed - i.e. on the act of playing itself.

The MD said something to me after which got me thinking a lot about this very question. He said (regarding tempos, etc.) "your instincts are excellent, they're bang on, you simply need to trust them and go with it. Lead us.." And while I know he's right and on many nights that's what I do, I'm still searching for the element, or a breakthrough, that allows me to do that consistently, night-in and night-out, without allowing the voices of doubt to creep in and - quite literally - steal the show.
Boomka, fabulous thoughtful post. I guess as a novice I can take solace that the pro's struggle too. My drum teacher told me about this fabulous book he had to read in college, don't know if you ever heard of it? The Inner Game of Tennis.....

http://www.amazon.com/Inner-Game-Tennis-Classic-Performance/dp/0679778314/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1298414971&sr=1-1

I have not read it yet but he said it was really helpful. What great problems to have, I guess.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
speaking from my own experience, when i was doing nothing but staying at home playing along to cds i got to the point where i felt i could do that pretty well. i thought i was a pretty good drummer! then i started going to jam sessions and playing in bands. that was a real eye opener! all of a sudden things like timing and tempo became serious issues! when i was playing along to cds, it was easy to let the cd be a kind of timing crutch. the cds were keeping time, not me. in a real band, i had to keep time, which turned out to be harder than i thought. i was having trouble with speeding up all the time, and generally playing irregularly, like the opposite of a drum machine. have you ever heard a band with a drummer who does not play in time or who plays with sloppy time? it's very unpleasant to listen to! sloppy timing and tempo can ruin a song no matter how many awesome fills are in there! i learned to really focus on timing and tempo and to actually practice it. i'm a lot better about that now, but it's still somewhat of a work in progress for me.
Derry, you have a habit of talking about my experiences. I think that when you learn to play the garage way, undoing the bad habits is a lifelong process. It makes more sense to get lessons from the get go, preferably as when you're young.

Boomka, feel free to go up your cute chute any time; I really enjoyed your post. That's the nub of it, as far as I can tell. I sometimes wonder about musicians who have that impregnable fearlessness. Since there's no fear, they're relaxed, and since they're relaxed they're listening clearly.

For some others, no matter how hard they study, exam time is always scary ... a gung ho attitude can cover for a multitude of sins ... not all, but lots.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Some great stuff in here already. I'd sight timing, & all it's sub groups, as being the biggest challenge. A simple player, with superb timing skills, will kill the most talented technician with poor timing skills in a music making situation. Being humble enough to leave those super fills alone for a while, & concentrate on performing simple routines in perfect time, will bring huge benefits through the rest of your playing life. I still find this challenging now, & have to focus really hard sometimes, especially when those around you fluctuate.
 

yesdog

Silver Member
I have a tendency to rush drum fills, and I know better. I have an excitable personality. so when I know some cool drum lick or fill is coming up I get excited about it rush the fill and come out with a faster tempo. As long as I keep tabs on what I am doing and lay back a little I have no problems, If I still do I always have a click at the ready. I have played back to back to back gigs with no timing or tempo issues what so ever. Then I play one show and my tempo and timing just is not in the pocket and my playing is just not happing. I hate that. The reason I know this is I record every gig I play and pick myself to pieces.
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
I have a tendency to rush drum fills, and I know better. I have an excitable personality. so when I know some cool drum lick or fill is coming up I get excited about it rush the fill and come out with a faster tempo. As long as I keep tabs on what I am doing and lay back a little I have no problems, If I still do I always have a click at the ready. I have played back to back to back gigs with no timing or tempo issues what so ever. Then I play one show and my tempo and timing just is not in the pocket and my playing is just not happing. I hate that. The reason I know this is I record every gig I play and pick myself to pieces.
i do that too! i record every gig and listen to it. it's painful sometimes! some of the older recordings have such bad timing on my part that i feel nervous and tense just listening to them. i've improved a lot but i sometimes still get that tense feeling listening to current recordings when i can tell i'm out of time. my drum teacher says the audience will also get that tense feeling when the drumming is out of time, but they won't know what's wrong. they'll just know the music is bad and they won't want to listen to it.

when it comes to fills, i tend to rush easy fills and drag complicated ones. that's a problem i've always had.
 

Little Ricky

Junior Member
As a guitarist, I enjoyed reading "Practicing" by Glenn Kurtz, about the mental side of practicing. 'Practice' is not so much the preparing to do the doing, but the actual doing, like a Zen kind of thing. Whenever you approach the instrument it should be with a certain intention. Applies to any instrument.
I'm new to drums so I can't offer any advice on the technical side.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
One of the biggest mistakes I see other drummers doing:

They are in their own world.

I found, for me, that if I fix my point of visual focus at least 10 feet beyond the drum set, I can hear the entire band, with everything in proper context. This assumes that the eyes are wide open and can see, and be sympathetic to, the other players. When your brain is ONLY hearing the drum part, and the eyes are closed or don't focus past the drumset...not good, not good at all. Get the biggest sonic and visual picture you can. Open wide your ears and eyes. Be mentally present and accounted for, totally on top of things. When a guitar player unexpectedly decides to put a quiet part in his solo, and he turns to you to signal you to do a dynamic drop, and if you are in your own little universe with your eyes closed...not good. That's one of the things that gives drummers a bad rap. Don't want to embarrass the family now.
 
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