Taking a break from drumming

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
I have been playing drums since the age of 12. I’m now 51. I’ve been gigging since the age of 14. My profession is that of database administrator in an IT department which has its stresses. The drums have been my passion and fun outside of the family and profession. I haven’t picked up a drumstick in about three months. After the pandemic hit, I was practicing more than ever. At some point, with a house remodel, I took down my electric drums and I haven’t set them back up. Obviously, all of our gigs have been canceled and it is unknown when our band will play again. Before, it was the upcoming gig or maybe the new tune or just banging on the old tunes that motivated me to play when I wasn’t with the band. It’s weird but after playing for all these decades I don’t even have a desire to pick up a drumstick right now and set my electronic drums back up. This is the only time that I’ve gone this long without playing with the one exception of when I was not able to after some injuries. I’m figuring I better start playing again lest there really be some rust to shake off when we finally do resume, if we resume. Not playing for several months is one thing, if it stretches out to a year that may become a problem when I start up again. For those of you that I stopped playing for a while, how long did you stop for? And how was it when you resumed?

I realized I forgot to add something really important. The tinnitus that I’ve been having for several years has gone down dramatically if not completely. I have tried all kinds of hearing protection and it still persisted to one degree or another. I have to ask myself if I am willing to go back. Assuming the opportunity even presents itself.
 
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C.M. Jones

Well-known member
If you possess a solid skillset bolstered by years of persistent drumming, taking a few months off shouldn't cause much harm. Drumming is likely as engraved in your muscle memory as walking is at this point. You may encounter a hint of rust, but it should burn off quickly as you resume a regular playing regimen. I've been drumming almost forty years, and while I've never taken an extended break from the instrument, I know many drummers who have. Recovering their previous acumen hasn't been problematic in most cases, so long as their expertise was well established in the first place.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Dont sweat it. We arent machines, sometimes we need a break. Set them up and leave it at that. Just looking at them will get the occasional juices flowing.

I stopped playing everyday in 2002 when I stopped gigging. I have no regulated drumming schedule anymore. It hasn't hurt anything. Actually, my drumming has improved as I can work on things I didnt need before. I have time to search out and learn new exercises. Actually, I love scanning the Technique section and finding exercises others post. It's funny, because being away from performance has actually improved my playing. How ironic.
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
Dont sweat it. We arent machines, sometimes we need a break. Set them up and leave it at that. Just looking at them will get the occasional juices flowing.

I stopped playing everyday in 2002 when I stopped gigging. I have no regulated drumming schedule anymore. It hasn't hurt anything. Actually, my drumming has improved as I can work on things I didnt need before. I have time to search out and learn new exercises. Actually, I love scanning the Technique section and finding exercises others post. It's funny, because being away from performance has actually improved my playing. How ironic.
Totally agree. There’s been times where I didn’t play for a week or a couple of weeks and came back fresher and actually better. Also I like the idea of just setting them up! Good call.
 
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johnwesley

Silver Member
I hadn't played my drums in 4 months because of this damned "C" virus. I've now been to my studio 3 times this past week. Drumming skills are still there though sloppy. Timing is pretty rough as well but getting better. I think it's kind of like riding a bike. Once you sit on the seat, it all comes back.
 

Pkells94

Member
Currently doing this myself. Can't play right now, I'm eager to get back but sometimes its fine to walk away. I asked a similar question a few years ago and honestly what most guys say is true, often it'll actually help your playing after having walked away for awhile. Also thats good new about the tinnitus!
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
One point I want to make here is that hearing loss and tinnitus can be a hereditary thing. It can happen even without being exposed to loud sounds. But it is still vital to always protect your hearing.

I played drums from about 3 years old until I was 20 years old. Then I stopped playing for 40 years. For the first 5 years after I stopped the withdrawal symptoms were horrendous! When I started playing again at age 60 I immediately started playing with a band. It took me about a year to get back to feeling comfortable with playing. But I never lost my musical ability or technique. I only lost my speed. Yes it’s very much like riding a bike. Now at 70 years old I am enjoying my drum playing with the band a great deal.

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Copeland

Active member
I think it's kind of like riding a bike. Once you sit on the seat, it all comes back.
I wish this was true. I started drumming as soon as I could pull pots and pans out of the cabinet as a toddler. Played drums all through childhood. My jazz drum teacher considered me a prodigy and did not bother trying to teach me. He would send me home with a cassette tape and say "learn this for next week." I was emulating some of the best drummers in history. I got standing ovations when I perfomed in middle school at 13 yrs old. Then when I turned 14, I started playing bass guitar instead because I wanted to be Paul McCartney (even though it was 1990). When I switched to bass I never looked back and I have been in more than 10 bands as a bass player but never as a drummer.

Fast forward to today. I am now 44 and I recently purchased my first drum set since selling my last kit as a 16 year old. I play these drums and I am completely SHOCKED at how poor my timing is. My mind knows what I should be doing (because I've done it before) but my body is not doing it. I find myself unable to work my right hand in isolation from my kick foot. In other words, I sound like a new drummer. My 14 year old self would totally kick my current a$$.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I have roughly the same history....started drumming at age 7. Am 51 now.

For me though, drumming has always been my escape. My rock. My sanity. I could not imagine a day without being involved in drumming in some way. When I hit rock-bottom in the mid 2000's, I sold every thing except my kit, and all of my drum stuff...drumming kept me out of "the garage with the engine running and door closed" many times.

you will get it back when it is time. The key is to not ever force your involvement in it - as with everything in life - if you want to enjoy it. You will get it back, and part of the fun in that pursuit is the fact of just getting to play again!! I have had a new renaissance in the recent 3 years trying to develop double bass speed...something I never really worked on in the early years. And speed overall now that all of the kids are playing these blast beats and really fast punk D-beats...gotta keep up with my students!!
 

Juniper

Gold Member
I've not played a drum kit in a year - this month (due to our baby daughter arriving and practice circumstances changing)

When I have occasionally practiced on my pad, although not the same thing, I found my chops were sloppy but still there. It's just a case of spending time getting back to the same 'level' and conditioning.

It'll come back, you'll never forget how to do things thanks to muscle memory. It's just a case of spending time getting your hands closer to what your head is thinking. I occasionally just sit there (watching tv...etc) with some sticks in my hands so I can still feel them, if that makes any sense.

Don't sweat it, the more you (eventually) put into it the more you'll get from it.
 

J-W

Well-known member
My story is similar to many. I started playing at 15 and just turned 50 in June. I played consistently up until 2007 and then took about a 5-6 year break not even touching the drums. It has come back as I've been fairly consistent again, but I'm not as good as I was before because I just don't have the drive, or the time to dedicate to it like I did in the past. Other than for fun, I just don't see the point. I've dedicated more of my time to fitness, work, relationships, and a new (to me) place I'm completely remodeling on my own.
But my rebound came pretty fast so I truly believe that it never completely goes away (like riding a bike). Copeland's story is on the extreme side having taken a 30 year break, but I think his chops will come back pretty quick if he stays at it. Like taking a 30 year break from riding a bike, sure you can do it, but don't expect to be doing wheelies, kick-outs and freestyle tricks immediately.
 
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PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
There are seasons for everyone. I know I've taken years off of playing before to explore other musical interests. I always return to the drums though. They won't leave me alone.
 
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