Playing what you can't hear


Senior Member
I figured out that my right foot and left hand tend to flam, a lot. I can hear it on recordings and see it on the nifty scope function my Roland kit has. I've been trying to reduce the flams between my left hand and right foot but I have trouble hearing if I'm on the mark or not, whilst I'm playing. Any tips on training my ears to hear these flams better? How can I get better at this if I can't hear what I'm actually playing?


Senior Administrator
play extra slow grooves and use mechanisms (described in billy ward's DVD) to nail each stroke.
it sounds like you are already on the right track though - recording yourself and listening back. awareness of a problem is a maojor step towards solving it.

work specifically on a groove that requires no flams. try playing a slow texas shuffle with a shuffled bass pattern added.this will give you the most bang for your buck

also check if there are other factors involved. is your bass sound loud enough. is it sharp or round. is your monitoring good? also try changing your set up - change your stool height for example - just to see if this has an effect.



"Uncle Larry"
Playing unison quarters with all limbs to a metronome, one unison hit per click, is a great synchronization exercise.


Platinum Member
Break out Syncopation, and play quarters with your left hand, with your "normal" playing force, and play the figures in the first few pages of Syncopation on your bass drum. Since your not doing anything with your right hand or left foot, the flamming should be easy to hear.

Now do the same thing, but also play 8ths with your right hand on the ride/hi-hat/cowbell/snare rim. Now that both hands are playing, the bass drum exercises might be more difficult.

If you have no trouble with only the left hand and kick, but encounter problems when your right hand starts playing, then you need to figure out why. Get a big mirror and watch your technique and posture, and stay as relaxed as possible. Give yourself a couple weeks to see results (though you'll probably see improvement in a couple days).

I hate to say it, but this is why every drummer should go through some system-based interdependence training with a teacher. It gets the slop out in a hurry! Good for you if your playing is clean without this sort of training, but for the vast majority it's a good idea.


Senior Member
Thanks for all the help guys.

My timing is pretty good with right hand, left hand and right foot because my RH and RF don't flam and my LH and RH don't flam (much....). In other words as long as my right hand is going everything tends to line up pretty well.

Stuff gets weird when for instance I play four on the floor with the hi-hat on the &'s (the typical punk ska beat) or when I try to aim the bass on the e's and a's of a single stroke roll. With dubbles I find that the hits on the e's and a's flam but don't on the count or on the &'s.

In other words it's really a left hand, right foot issue. I'm trying to find a teacher but there aren't many good ones where I live. I'm ordering syncopation but it'll take a while for it to arrive (not a popular book at all here in the Netherlands so it has to be imported).


Senior Member
When practicing this, play a hand on the snare and a foot on the kick. Easiest to hear flams IMO. Practice all combinations.

I like this exercise as well:

Play 8th notes on the hi hat with the right hand and accent the quarter notes.

Play 16ths on the snare with the left hand as ghost notes. Make sure the snare wires are tight so it's an articulate sound.

Play the kick on the "e" and "a" (as in 1e&a2e&a etc).

Make sure the kick and snare are in unison and no flams.

Also change it up so you play the kick with the left foot if you have a double bass pedal and also change the hands so the right plays the ghost notes on the snare and left plays the hi hat. Try all combinations you can think of.

Try a paradiddle with the feet with single strokes on the snare and vice versa. Try a paradiddle RLRR LRLL with the feet and reverse paradiddle on the snare as in LRLL RLRR.

If you can get these things down accurate to a microscopic level at all speeds you can play say a paradiddle you will be dangerous.