My sense of time and accuracy sucks. How to practice?

I've been playing for a while, and I have a good handle on independence, rudiments, grooves, improvisation, and soloing, but all of my playing suffers from 2 problems - macro and micro timing, probably from years of never playing with a click and a teacher who never pointed it out. My consistency suffers as well.

My macrotiming is off in that I'm often unintentionally pushing or dragging the beat, and if I focus too hard on a large fill, by the end of it I'll be maybe even a 16th note off.

w/r/t microtiming, I often find that when I record myself I can hear my kick drum hitting off a tad, I'll do an accent that sounds off, etc.

What I've been doing:
Recording my practice (usually just whatever groove comes into my head) with a click or song on, then listening and watching w/o the click to assess. If something sounded off, play it all again until it's perfect.
Recording my practice with a click on that turns off every 4th bar so I can try and totally nail my fills - then listen, etc. Be more mindful, and if I can't pull it off, simplify it until it's impossible to do wrong, then turn up the complexity.

This is excruciatingly tedious, but it seems that the more I examine my playing the more I hear major imperfections throughout. Is this the only way? What other methods, practice routines, or ideas might help?

Thanks,
Some guy

Edit: I also have a large collection of books I could work through including the entire Patterns series, funk studies, 4-way, etc etc etc.
 

drum4fun27302

Gold Member
I have the same "issue". Played without a click for years and also , being a jazz trained sax player, I listen to the soloist a lot. Most people know a jazz soloist likes to drag often .

You said it in your question :click. Work with it, on the upbeat, 2nd 16th and last 16th. , last triplet and keep on doing it. It will come.

I also try to do a grove with a click and do a fill every 4 bars (typical). And come back on the one. Repeat same fill over and over.

I am getting there and it takes time.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
Many ideas and concepts to toss out there but start by playing whole notes at 35 BPM - no faster.

Then the table of time at 35 BPM - no faster.

Then everything you're currently shedding at 35 BPM - no faster.

Then up the click to 40 BPM and repeat.
 

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
-Train your ears and don't give up! It's hard because it takes time.

-Pledge for Benny Greb's new DVD The Art And Science Of Groove :-D
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Yes, it's one of the hardest things to improve in your playing. I don't have much to add to the suggestions, other than to say it's a great thing that you've identified this as an area for improvement. Listening to recordings of myself was what did it for me. Many drummers are oblivious to it and don't realize how important it is.

I've been doing more recording lately and my accuracy has improved noticeably (to me) even in the last couple of years. It takes a long time and lots of practice to improve, but it's worth it. I honestly believe it's one of the most important skills a drummer can have. It makes other musicians want to play with you.
 

Winegums

Silver Member
It sounds like you're already on the right track. I personally never had a problem staying on time until I moved up past 185 BPM at which point I found I needed a click to really nail down my double kicks and rolls. So I set aside an hour each practice session on my snare and kicks only, till I had each limb on time together and apart. Only then did I move onto my toms and cymbals.

I had a drum teacher who never had me practice with a metronome, but I had tons of time practicing with bands during my lessons so my timing wasn't terrible but not perfect either. I was surprised how accurate I was when I started playing to a click and hearing recordings of myself, but I still needed practice.
 

FrontierGibberish

Senior Member
Many ideas and concepts to toss out there but start by playing whole notes at 35 BPM - no faster.

Then the table of time at 35 BPM - no faster.

Then everything you're currently shedding at 35 BPM - no faster.

Then up the click to 40 BPM and repeat.
Want to be sure I understand this clearly as I have the same issue as the OP. I understand whole notes at 35 BPM I believe. I am going to be playing "1" each time I hear a click, counting 2,3,4 between clicks. Does "table of time" equate to playing all of the various subdivisions after whole notes to the point where I cannot keep up? Can you clarify what "everything you're currently shedding" means? I really appreciate threads like this one - thanks everyone here, especially Dmac and WhoIsTony.

JM
 

Duckenheimer

Senior Member
I'm back in the game after a layoff - I can still sight-read and play any of my old stuff in a rough manner (I hit all the notes somewhat in tempo...), but my microtiming is kaput! Flams everywhere.

So for the last 3-4 weeks (and next while) a bulk of the practise is quarter note unisons (2, 3, and 4 limbs) to a metronome at 15-30bpm, aiming at burying the click, recorded, and listening back. And all the figures I'm practising (comping, sight reading things) are at 30bpm quarter note (singing the various subdivisions, spaces, individual drum parts, and multiple drum parts together) with the subdivisions of the figures on the metronome as a guide to where the notes are really falling, Playalongs are done to tracks slowed down a lot in VLC player - playing along with the recording balanced to clearly pick up my drums and also the drums on the track playing if present. Same with the ride cymbal/swing. Finally having the metronome on subdivisions other than the downbeat. It's killing me, but it's paying off. The increase in awareness and cleaning up of technique and dynamics, as well as time, is tremendous, and is translating well to the tempos at rehearsals and gigging.

When I am consistently burying the click, and can no longer hear discrepancies/flams at 30bpm I'll move the tempos up, drop the metronome playing all subdivisions for grooves at the slower tempos, etc. I have a Beatnik rhythm analyzer on the way as well.
 
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dmacc_2

Well-known member
Want to be sure I understand this clearly as I have the same issue as the OP. I understand whole notes at 35 BPM I believe. I am going to be playing "1" each time I hear a click, counting 2,3,4 between clicks. Does "table of time" equate to playing all of the various subdivisions after whole notes to the point where I cannot keep up? Can you clarify what "everything you're currently shedding" means? I really appreciate threads like this one - thanks everyone here, especially Dmac and WhoIsTony.

JM
Many great suggestions and people here I'm sure will offer even more. Glad you find mine helpful as well.

Yes, you'll be playing "1" each time. Everything - including the "1" needs to be internalized and felt with the appropriate time value.

You may already have a copy of it or a better copy can be found, but this is the table of time I am referring to is at the bottom of my post here.

For the Table of Time:
- If you can't keep up then you need to slow down the click.
- Use single sticking, double sticking, paradiddle sticking, etc.....

When I mention shedding - I meant everything you are working on - grooves, solos, fill ideas, independence exercises, etc......

View attachment 64492
 
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DsDrummer

Senior Member
I would first and foremost, PLAY WITH A CLICK. Now that could be a little boring so they make drumless songs like this http://drumfun.com/ that make it a little more fun. I would also try practicing the book Syncopation by Ted Reed. It will help with time values and feeling different beats.
 

Winegums

Silver Member
I would first and foremost, PLAY WITH A CLICK. Now that could be a little boring so they make drumless songs like this http://drumfun.com/ that make it a little more fun. I would also try practicing the book Syncopation by Ted Reed. It will help with time values and feeling different beats.
This!

Playing with a click is a huge help and can be the best thing in the world or the thing you hate the most. I've had to use a click for recording and it drove me insane but it also kept me on time and made me a better player coming out of it.
 

Justinvarnes

Junior Member
Totally agree with the click and 35BPM suggestions.

Something else to consider while you're working through your time issues:

1 - pinpoint exactly where it happens. You've already started this by identifying your issue with fills. But I urge you to dig deeper. EXACTLY where? And EXACTLY how? Do you start fine and gradually pull away? Or do you jump the very first note of the fill? Where else do you have time issues and what exactly happens in those spots?


2 - after you've pinpointed the trouble spots, video yourself and watch very closely what you do physically. You may find that it is a physical error, not a mental error. (Or rather, the mental error is manifested physically...)

As drummers, sometimes we overlook the mechanics when we are assessing a timing issue. Athletes have timing issues and it's usually a mechanical flaw that causes them. Not always the case for us, but I've found it to be the case with drummers more often than we think.
 

Justinvarnes

Junior Member
Wow, thanks!

That "52 licks" series was fun to make. Had no idea so many people would be into it.

At any rate, at the risk of hijacking the thread I'll just say thanks for the compliments.
 

lsits

Gold Member
I have the Time Guru app for my Kindle an it has a feature where you can have it randomly drop out and then come back in. Victor Wooten recommends this technique for developing one's sense of time.
 

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
I know one weak point of my timing: When I play some rather busy patterns and then
transition to a simple two four money beat, I always slow down. It's very frustrating, and
even when I practice a transition like that on purpose, my sense of tempo cheats me, and
in order to keep the exact bpm my own ears wrongly tell me I got a bit faster. I measure
myself with the livebmp app by the way, that's why I know :). I.e. my busy pattern will be
around 95 bmp, and then as soon as I get into the money beat it will sink down to say 92
in the first two measures or so.

Anybody else find this transitions tricky?
 

cornelius

Silver Member
t
I know one weak point of my timing: When I play some rather busy patterns and then
transition to a simple two four money beat, I always slow down. It's very frustrating, and
even when I practice a transition like that on purpose, my sense of tempo cheats me, and
in order to keep the exact bpm my own ears wrongly tell me I got a bit faster. I measure
myself with the livebmp app by the way, that's why I know :). I.e. my busy pattern will be
around 95 bmp, and then as soon as I get into the money beat it will sink down to say 92
in the first two measures or so.

Anybody else find this transitions tricky?
Those transitions are tough... One thing I do is what Billy Ward teaches in his first DVD - keep time with other parts of your body. You can tap your hihat foot as eighth notes or upbeats , sing to yourself, click your teeth, etc. Also you can "fill in" the notes that you're not playing, by doing the above in between the actual notes that you're playing.

For example, if someone asks you to play quarter notes at 40BPM on a ride cymbal - it will be a lot easier if you feel upbeats or sixteenths, to fill in that big space when you're not playing. You're body motions can help here, too. At 40BPM, your ride cymbal hand will be able to fill in some of the time, by making a larger, sweeping motion.

Lots of times I like to warm up on the snare drum with a simple table of time exercise, just like the one posted above. But it's also good to play a groove table of time on the whole kit. This can help with transitions - especially if you jump around between sparse and busy rhythms.
 

uniongoon

Gold Member
Good question and topic for discussion. I have been playing a long time, my teens and 20's were one long run of 6 and 7 nights of gigging and now I am 50. I have struggled with sense of time, been accused of things that were more someone else's bad time than my own, but I also had things that needed fixing. Falling back was the hardest, settling down for someone who is very hyper active is never easy.
Any how, I now have a hyper sensitive awareness of timing and can easily pick out misplaced beats, rushing, dragging etc. I always record myself now, and still although 98% of my playing is steady, no train wrecks or fumbles, the odd spot I will catch a bass drum slightly too soon after a fill, so minor most would not notice. But I also find it strange when I am playing, often I don't hear this and only catch my goof on playback.
This makes me think of the relevance of Justin Varnes post, was it a distraction, did I hear someone else play something taking my attention elsewhere?
And those, like 8 mile who suggest recording yourself. There is no better teacher than allowing yourself to listen as an observer, as long as you don't love yourself so much you are not really listening.
 

FrontierGibberish

Senior Member
I am not sure what others think about it, but this weekend I installed a new app on my IPhone called "liveBPM". The app is very simple - it listens for a beat and then displays the BPM that it hears. I have been addicted to the thing since I got it. I will play with a click via headphones so the app does not hear the click, just to get started. Then I will turn the click off and see how close I can stay to that tempo. The app has a graph that displays your tempo in near real time to let you know how you are doing. I "tested" the device by playing a click and seeing if the app displayed the click's BPM accuratety and it did. It is also fun to turn on when songs are playing on the radio - it makes it super easy to locate songs that were recorded with a click and to learn what tempo a song is played. Cool stuff.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.DanielBach.liveBPM&hl=en

JM
 
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