Silver Member
And while I get the point, it's not entirely true. Sometimes you get better by listening. The mental aspect... the note choices you make, your phrasing, most of that is done without a drum in sight.


Aye, listening and watching also helps.

But if you don't practice.....

and you don't practice the right things.....


Platinum Member
Fake news-everyone knows you only get better by playing better. You can play forever and still sound like stink-believe me I know hee,hee,hee.


Gold Member
You can play forever and still sound like stink
Somewhere in here is a nugget of truth. There is a big difference between playing the drums and working at the drums. Those who just play, and dont put the work in will never be great. To be great takes dedication, and work. Working on the right things is more important than just randomly beating on drums with sticks.


Silver Member
Did Buddy Rich say this or is it a meme that was created because it sounds like the type of thing he'd say?
With my annoyed head on, whoever said it, it's a sound bite, a thrown out comment, possibly meant to admonish someone, just as likely meant to inspire someone. But because nowadays "we can", we'll all weigh in and criticise something that at its' essence is good advice. We all know that there isn't only one way to do something, and now that I've said that I'll be totally unsurprised if someone then comes out with an example of something that can only be done in one way, ergo I'm an idiot for saying what I said.
Maybe a more accurate and less contentious thing to say would have been something along the lines of if you learn, practice, listen, open your mind, apply what you've learnt then, take advice, go to a good teacher, and dedicate your life to your that point you'll only get better by playing. But everyone would have stopped listening halfway through and that point would never be made.

With my more reasonable head on, in the first pub band I joined over ten years ago, and to a lesser extent in the two bands I've played in subsequently, the learning curve that I was on as we started to gig was far steeper than any other drum related learning curve I'd been on. Suddenly "it mattered"! I learned what works and what doesn't work, what I can risk and when I can risk it. I learned on stage with greater relevance because suddenly there were stakes, how to drive the band, how to save it when things went wrong, how to persevere when I went wrong. Unlike a lesson, unlike a practice session, unlike rehearsal there are no second takes.

So while it isn't the only way to get better, it's one of the more effective ways of getting better. In my opinion.


Platinum Member
Wow, who would have thought that was a controversial statement. Here's the context, it's from a MD interview in 1977:

MD - Did you practice much?

BR - Well, I never really practiced because I never had the opportunity to practice. I've been working all mylife ... I've been playing drums all my life, and now, I'm too lazy to bother with it. I have other things that I have to do - practice my martial arts ... take care of my cars. I don't put too much emphasis on practice anyhow.

MD - Would you mind elaborating on that a bit.

BR -I think it's a fallacy that the harder you practice the better you get. You only get better by playing. You could sit around in a room, in a basement with a set of drums all day long and practice rudiments, and try to develop speed, but until you start playing with a band, you can't learn technique, you can't learn taste, you can't learn how to play with a band and for a band until you actually play. So, practice, particularly after you've attained a job, any kind of job, like playing with a four piece band, that's . . . on opportunity to develop. And practice, besides that, is boring. You know, I know teachers who tell their students to practice four hours a day, eight hours a day. If you can't accomplish what you want in an hour, you're not gonna get it in four days.


What I got from it was: there's a difference between practicing chops and actually playing MUSIC. Learning to play with other people, listening to what's going on, and responding in a sensitive and contextual way is what it's all about. Look at the plethora of YouTube sensations (not taking a single thing away from them btw), chops out the ass, but stylistically very similar, sterile, and to me, very boring. I like licks and chops as much as the next guy and I practice them too, but I get bored quickly if chops become the main focal point of a performance. I want to hear a living, breathing song, not a demonstration.

Edit: I wrote this before reading that excerpt from the MD interview...


I'd like to read the full interview sometime. A drumming idol of mine told me before a gig that you get so much sharper, so much faster by playing with people, and he's absolutely right.


Platinum Member
I agree with it, too. The idea is that what you do when playing music is just the only meaningful standard of your abilities as a drummer— and of the value of the things you practice. Assuming that the goal is to be a musician.

Re: his practice habits, if he's even being honest, I think he's a special case. Virtually everyone who can play practiced at least a few hours a day for at least a few years.