Why should I practice things that I would never play on a gig?

Joffry

Member
I've been going through the New Breed by Gary Chester recently, and while some of the systems seem very applicable to grooves that I would play on a gig, others seem less applicable. Obviously this is an excellent book that has received praise from countless drummers, but I guess I just don't see why I should spend time practicing all the systems when I could just focus on perfecting the ones that I feel are applicable to the music I play.

For example, system 2 is sixteenth note groove that you would definitely have to play on a rock/funk/pop gig, but system 20 has the bass drum on all four beats, the hi hat on 2 and 4, and the ride on the ands and you have to play the melody on the floor tom. Personally, I doubt there would be a situation in which I would have to do something like that, so why would I devote my time to it, when I could be practicing something more practical?
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
1) You're practicing general time, coordination, rhythm, reading and accuracy.

Did you read the text? There's more to it than just playing the notes on the kit.

2) As you grow as a musician you'll probably actually play more stuff like it.

3) These things are building blocks. You build a foundation.

4) A lot of practice isn't just what you will be playing yourself, but get rhythms that you have to relate to from other band members well ingrained.

The more control you have with this stuff, the more confident your playing will be in general.
 
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brentcn

Platinum Member
I've been going through the New Breed by Gary Chester recently, and while some of the systems seem very applicable to grooves that I would play on a gig, others seem less applicable. Obviously this is an excellent book that has received praise from countless drummers, but I guess I just don't see why I should spend time practicing all the systems when I could just focus on perfecting the ones that I feel are applicable to the music I play.

For example, system 2 is sixteenth note groove that you would definitely have to play on a rock/funk/pop gig, but system 20 has the bass drum on all four beats, the hi hat on 2 and 4, and the ride on the ands and you have to play the melody on the floor tom. Personally, I doubt there would be a situation in which I would have to do something like that, so why would I devote my time to it, when I could be practicing something more practical?
New Breed gets the high praise it does, I think, not for its content, but for its concept. The idea that you should play a repeating thing on some limbs, and then read exercises on other limbs, is very cool. It helps you develop your dexterity and reading chops. But the content gets pretty ridiculous. Half of those systems aren't very realistic. Maybe they seemed so at the time of publication. But the overall idea is good.

I like Time Functioning Patterns, too. Essentially the same concept, the user is instructed to play an ostinato with the right hand, and then play the written kick and snare exercises against it. There's a section for developing interdependence against the jazz ride pattern, too. But, some of the suggested right hand ostinatos are not very practical. I'm probably not going to play "1 e -- a 2 e -- a..." on the hi-hat, with one hand for a whole song. OTOH, I've personally created my own ostinatos, and used the exercises to develop my comfort and coordination, to the point where I can actually use them on a gig.

I also like that TFP presents ALL the permutations that are possible within a given context. New Breed is not that thorough. Although, only NB has reading exercises; TFP expects you to try all the possibilities, and then improv with them to develop your vocabulary.

To your point about practicing something more practical, sometimes it's good to play things that are impractical, in order to develop your coordination purely for its own sake. Having that coordination "headroom" can help the simpler, more practical thing feel more fluid and comfortable. But, playing a line on a floor tom is not much of a challenge; you just move your hand over to the right. So there's not much benefit there, I suppose. Use your judgement when going down the coordination rabbit hole, and make sure it's supporting a bigger goal.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
"Why should I practice things that I would never play on a gig?"

Perceiving a given pattern as an isolated exercise bearing no relation to pragmatism and avoiding it on that basis can be detrimental to your development. What seems too erudite to be useful can sometimes enhance other aspects of your playing. Drumming isn't exactly a linear pursuit; it's shot through with dynamic subtlety, some of which may appear irrelevant until you discover, through experience, its broader application. At the same time, devoting excessive attention to the weeds of obscurity can be wasteful as well. Common sense and sound judgement should help you recognize the difference.
 
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timmdrum

Silver Member
The idea that you should play a repeating thing on some limbs, and then read exercises on other limbs, is very cool.
Isn't that the point of Syncopation and Stick Control also? Or if not their original point, this method of using those texts was utilized later?

True. It is a real benefit to be able to do more than you need to. Just continue to exercise some discipline/restraint on the job. :)
**THIS** Just because you have more chops than you need, doesn't mean you perform with more chops than you need.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Isn't that the point of Syncopation and Stick Control also? Or if not their original point, this method of using those texts was utilized later?
This is particularly true for Syncopation, when used for jazz interdependence. IMO, modifying Stick Control for drum set is not as versatile, or as thorough, as TFP or New Breed, hence the popularity of those books.
 

timmdrum

Silver Member
This is particularly true for Syncopation, when used for jazz interdependence. IMO, modifying Stick Control for drum set is not as versatile, or as thorough, as TFP or New Breed, hence the popularity of those books.
I think I was recalling learning about Syncopation's use in this way, but couldn't quite recall if it was that or SC, or both. 🤷‍♂️ 😁
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I've been going through the New Breed by Gary Chester recently, and while some of the systems seem very applicable to grooves that I would play on a gig, others seem less applicable. Obviously this is an excellent book that has received praise from countless drummers, but I guess I just don't see why I should spend time practicing all the systems when I could just focus on perfecting the ones that I feel are applicable to the music I play.

For example, system 2 is sixteenth note groove that you would definitely have to play on a rock/funk/pop gig, but system 20 has the bass drum on all four beats, the hi hat on 2 and 4, and the ride on the ands and you have to play the melody on the floor tom. Personally, I doubt there would be a situation in which I would have to do something like that, so why would I devote my time to it, when I could be practicing something more practical?
You can definitely prioritize. There's so much to work on, you kind of have to. Assuming you're not with a teacher, whose job it is to prioritize for you.

Your first job is to build a practical vocabulary-- meaning you have to be pretty good at a lot of obvious relatively simple stuff. You don't need to blindly work on some random hard thing you don't like or understand, just because it's the next thing in the book.

But when you're basically able to do the stuff you want to do, try some other things. Or put them in the mix while you're putting your basic thing together. It would be best to get a good teacher, so you don't have to guess at it.
 
Less headroom: if you have slightly lower skill than the gig requires it becomes more arousing. ;)
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Kidding aside, definitely prioritize. New Breed never ends, so unless you have thousands of hours to practice every single combination, work on stuff that seems most useful. Mixing in some obscure stuff could lead to some interesting grooves for a bridge or help somewhere else, though.
 

Seafroggys

Silver Member
So there's two thoughts I have here. On one hand, there doesn't always need to be a practical application for everything we practice. We practice technical things to get better at performing. So yeah, maybe the later Systems where you're playing the melody on the floor tom isn't something that you'd play often, but its gonna give you skills that are applicable in the stuff you do play. Plus, you never know, it may give you groove ideas.

I play out of New Breed periodically, but I play specific things out of there to work on specific things I want to work on. Earlier last year I was playing System 3 with Melody 1 and 2 specifically because I was speeding up my left hand speed to play one of the hardest grooves in Groove Essentials, and it helped. And now I'm starting to work on system 6 on melody pages 1 and 2 because I need to work on my quarter notes on hi-hat pedal.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Another obvious thing is that it may actually inspire you to create new things.

You can also create your own systems. It is essentially just ostinatos with reading pages, so use those reading pages for whatever you want.

Also, if you try to go through it and you feel there is a step missing progression wise, add it yourself.

In the back of the book there are groove examples you can check out, too.
 

Captain Bash

Silver Member
Said it before on here but one of the best pieces of drumming advice ever given to me was....practice 100% but actually play 70 % (especially in the studio). In other words there is no need to overstretch/ overplay, do the hard miles in practice room rehearsal going slightly beyond your comfort zone. Then in the real world just relax, play the music and enjoy the headroom this gives you. This mode of operation is obviously the inverse of what Miles Davis would want - but Miles ain’t in my band......
 

TMe

Senior Member
I just don't see why I should spend time practicing all the systems when I could just focus on perfecting the ones that I feel are applicable to the music I play.
That's what I did. I'm no virtuoso, so most of the systems in the book are beyond my ability. I just worked through the book with a few systems that I actually use, and that was very beneficial.

As brentcn said,
New Breed gets the high praise it does, I think, not for its content, but for its concept.
 

Al Strange

Well-known member
Some awesome advice as usual above. I’ve got to the stage where I know I’ll never be content with the level of my playing... I’m not a full time pro and my life situation doesn’t afford me the time I know I need to put in to get to get to the level I would like. I’m consequently selective on what I practice but like the challenge of learning stuff I can’t do, even if I don’t think I’ll ever use it... I learned to blushda (is that a thing?! 😂 ) but I’m not naturally inclined to use them in my preferred genre, same with playing everything backwards and super fast double bass. I have no interest in playing music that calls for that, but it’s fun to learn and tools in the box to aid creativity?:unsure:
 
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