Drums advice for a newbie

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Drums advice for a newbie

Postby Mostess » Sun Aug 02, 2015 2:16 pm

So my better half, the hostess to my mostess, got me drum lessons for Father's Day and I have been enjoying the whole thing greatly! I love that first, steep part of the learning curve! Every time I practice I get noticeably better and I'm getting hooked on having a teacher who points out the best thing to try next. It's a great instrument and I'm happy that there's something about music that at 45 (well ok 44.9) years old I can still find exciting and new.

So I thought I'd turn you, venerable community, for wisdom. What things about drums and drumming do you wish you knew when you were a n00b? And what things about drums and drumming did you do, try, or experience that made you suddenly better? Who do you listen to to keep your drumming mojo up? What equipment, set-up, book, advice, or habit made you into the drum god you are today?

Do tell!
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Re: Drums advice for a newbie

Postby ken » Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:40 pm

Being able to play slow is just as important and playing fast, and even more challenging.

Think of each limb as a "channel" and try to play with the volume on each one. Play one thing REALLY LOUD, and another thing very quiet.

Play the very basic kick snare kick snare beat until it grooves and makes the people dance. It all starts there.
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Re: Drums advice for a newbie

Postby fluffy » Wed Aug 05, 2015 1:02 am

Syncopate

Have fun

You will never be this good but it doesn't hurt to try:



Also the thing that did the most for me in learning to suck a little less at drums was playing a lot of Beatmania and DDR. The higher levels really teach you how to involve all parts of your body in complex rhythms. (I still suck though.)

Finally, using one stick to stretch the head of a tom while pounding on the head and/or the stick with the other stick during a solo is an easy way to seem better than you are (sort of the drum solo equivalent of playing a lot of basic arpeggios with the damper pedal down on a piano).
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Re: Drums advice for a newbie

Postby jb » Wed Aug 05, 2015 4:58 am

Do you mean the sustain pedal?
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Re: Drums advice for a newbie

Postby fluffy » Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:25 am

Given that those are different words for the same thing...
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Re: Drums advice for a newbie

Postby jb » Wed Aug 05, 2015 1:33 pm

So I go to Google to prove fluffy wrong and discover that he is correct!

I was confusing damper for "soft". (I think "damper pedal" is a bad name, because it seems to do the opposite.)

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Re: Drums advice for a newbie

Postby fluffy » Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:35 pm

It lifts the dampers off the strings. Hence the name.

Also the middle pedal is (on most pianos) called the "sostenuto" pedal, because it sustains, but just individual notes (generally the ones whose keys were pressed when the pedal was first pressed). As such I think the term "sustain pedal" is potentially ambiguous.

Also the "soft" pedal is, at least on grand pianos, more property called the "una corda," as it works by shifting the hammers over to the side so they only strike one string, which in turn changes the timbre of the notes, not just the volume. (On most uprights it just moves the hammers further from the strings and is better called a "soft" pedal though.)

None of this has anything to do with drums.
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Re: Drums advice for a newbie

Postby jb » Wed Aug 05, 2015 9:16 pm

The tragedy of the Internet is that, since Google, you really can't get credit for knowing things straight out of your head, but you can get shame all day long for not knowing things.

So, I get demerits, but I'm sorry fluffy, no points for you. Probably works out to the same thing tho.
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Re: Drums advice for a newbie

Postby fluffy » Wed Aug 05, 2015 11:35 pm

Are we trying for points? I didn't have to look any of this up what with being formally trained as a classical pianist back in the day (not that I'm any good at it anymore).

Let's talk about drums.
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Re: Drums advice for a newbie

Postby user » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:07 am

Mostess wrote:What things about drums and drumming do you wish you knew when you were a n00b?


Might wanna keep some spare cymbals around. The damn things do tend to break at inconvenient times. Sticks too, of course.

Mostess wrote:And what things about drums and drumming did you do, try, or experience that made you suddenly better?


Join a punk band. Relax, go nuts.

Mostess wrote:Who do you listen to to keep your drumming mojo up?


The great thing about drums is that you can practice anywhere, even if you don't have any drums. I habitually attempt to play along (with hands/feet or just fingers/toes if other people can see me) with any music I listen to. The song doesn't even have to have drums; you can just add them.

Trying to follow along with something like Dave Matthews Band (yes, their drummer is insane) or the Mars Volta can be instructive, but it can also be daunting and discouraging: you'll never be that good. Metallica, say, is great for shadow drumming because a) it's complex & richly developed, b) you can easily hear all the notes he's hitting, even if you can't easily play them, and c) it's something that's at least humanly possible with a lot of practice (well some of it anyway).

Mostess wrote:What equipment, set-up, book, advice, or habit made you into the drum god you are today?


Book: A Lynyrd Skynyrd drum songbook back in 7th grade. "Sweet Home Alabama" for example is pretty easy and you feel exactly like a drum god when you get it. Come to think though, that's the first and last songbook I've ever used. I guess I prefer the hands-on approach.

Advice: Keep your wrists down and your thumbs squeezed tight at the base. Grip makes a major difference. Strike with the wrists, not the forearms. Your instructor probably already told you this. Also, try practicing with extra-large drumsticks (perhaps on a drumpad or on the La-Z-Boy, so as not to destroy your drumset). If you can play a song with heavy sticks, you can certainly do it with regular ones.
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Re: Drums advice for a newbie

Postby ken » Thu Aug 06, 2015 8:17 am

user wrote:Advice: Strike with the wrists, not the forearms.


Excellent advice. You should move mainly from your wrists, slightly from your elbows, and barely if at all from your shoulders.
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Re: Drums advice for a newbie

Postby jb » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:34 am

fluffy is just mad because he didn't get any points.

ALSO, because fluffy is correct that I am derailing this thread--- these things sent my drumming to a new level:

1. Learning to control the double bounce. Suddenly, I could paradiddle like nobody's business.
2. Learning how to imitate a double bounce with discrete hits (as in, not bouncing it, but striking twice rapidly so it *sounds* like you're double bouncing.
3. Learning how to speed up and transition from one to the other.

Never been a set player though. My feet are awful. But here's me on brushes with Frankie:
http://www.songfight.org/music/crinkle_binkle/frankiebigface_crinkle.mp3
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Re: Drums advice for a newbie

Postby ken » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:55 am

Yes! Practice your rudiments!
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Re: Drums advice for a newbie

Postby hillbilly » Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:35 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEtfbuP ... r_embedded good as my little brother is and is doing carpentry work now, no need for me to try. Gretch double bass, solid shell, big band, 1 tom and floor tom, high hat and 1 crash. pick up my left handed guitar,play upside down, better than me, he pisses me off. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=p ... 0bz1uqhqIE
i like the sound of wood.
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Re: Drums advice for a newbie

Postby fluffy » Sat Aug 08, 2015 1:41 am

Ken: Those rudiment exercises are great. Thanks!
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Re: Drums advice for a newbie

Postby ken » Sat Aug 08, 2015 3:26 pm

It's the first page of Stick Control. A classic drumming text.

http://www.amazon.com/Stick-Control-For ... B005PTZKOW
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Re: Drums advice for a newbie

Postby Leaf » Tue Feb 16, 2016 3:01 pm

Here's some various, what I think of as significant advice, that I recall getting over the years, that "pushed me to the next level moments" . Each of these thoughts were details where I noticed a sudden increase in ability after figuring it out.
I think the first two are relevant to recording more than to performing live, although it's hopefully obvious that it benefits both. I think the first bits can help improve time keeping skills and learning how to play to a click. The last bit is some detail about grip and double strokes/buzz rolls.

When practicing to a metronome and a practice pad, (like with those stick control exercises for example) if you hear the click at the same volume as when you are not playing, you are probably not on the click. It should "disappear" behind your playing, and if it actually seems like it "turned off" then you are likely nailing it.
If its' super clear or you perceive it as louder, you are probably playing your notes ahead or behind it (that's why you hear it so clearly). My buddy stormed into my practice module when I was 21 and literally screamed this at me as he was super frustrated by the way I was playing in time but not with the metronome...lol.. well, he made an impression cause I sure listened to him!! More importantly, the more I started to trust my tempo, the more click tracks seem to disappear into the mix... when I can hear it, I know (*and playback almost always proves this) that I drifted off it somewhat. Anyway, if you can get this idea to work for you, it's super helpful.

Play to metronomes and clicks as if they are a part of the music, not a guide for the music.
It will feel more natural and you will flow better.

I find (and I didn't discover this, I was taught this by the awesome teacher Roger Flock at Humber), a more successful way to keep time is not counting beats, or the clicks of a metronome, but counting out in the spaces and subdivisions as well as the beat. Much easier to nail a metronome click when you are counting "1e+a 2e+a" where numbers are the tempo click, and the 16th note subdivision, in this counting method, is the e+a.
So, if you are playing an 8th note groove of some type, thinking in 8ths or 16ths while playing along will help your "internal" clock know where those beats exactly are. Playing a shuffle or swing, think in triplets. Also helps with syncopation skills and understanding how to place the beat AND place the syncopated subdivisions of the heat.

Not related to click and metronome playing, but general playing; you don't hit drums. You don't hit cymbals, nor do you strike them, unless you are keen on breaking stuff and crappy tone. You bounce the stick off the instrument. The tip is a ball. Practice one handed "dribbling" of the stick. Focus on every bounce being as even dynamically as well as rhythmically as you can. Practice bouncing sticks with single bounces, try to get it to bounce twice, try to get it bounce "multiples" or "buzzes", and practice this on different surfaces. Not all drums and cymbals respond the same, so you have to constantly adjust your technique and stroke if you want an even response to the ear.

As JB was talking about above with working on his doubles, he is describing two techniques.
The first is a double stroke roll.
You have two, distinct, evenly sounding notes per hand (ll, rr) and use a bouncing, "catching" technique that relies on a wrist motion, proper grip that has a fulcrum point between thumb and first finger, the butt end of the stick in your hand moves as freely as the tip and remaining three fingers (including the tip of the pinky!!!) touch the stick to control the bounce... and add speed as well as control. I am not a rudiment expert, but my understanding is that in a true double stroke, you have two wrist motions per hand when playing slowly. AS you speed up, you need your wrist to "convert" to a single motion up and down, while the stick bounces twice. If you watch a rudimentary players hand's, you'll see that on slow stuff, the wrist motion usually matches what you hear, but on quick stuff, they will seem to move half as fast as the sticks and sound do.. this is likely why.

The second is , in my experience, commonly called a "buzz" roll. With the buzz, you drop the stick on the head, and don't worry about how many distinct notes you create (so more than two, and when this was first taught to me it was suggested that you focus, SLOWLY, on getting 7-8 bounces out of each hand before starting the second hand...) then gradually try to accelerate the two hands. You are less concerned with the evenness of the strokes too... but the idea is first you slowly go right, left, right, left, get as many bounces (up to 8 is good) but start the second hand as you are on bounce 7-8, so they slightly overlap to create a continuous sound.
Now, pay attention to when your bounces in one hand drop off in dynamic, and start focusing on overlapping right, left, right, left, so that each hand is bouncing as much as possible, but they overlap each other so it sounds like one continuous, even sound. I don't mean play at the same time when I say overlap, sorry, best word I could think of right now.. but hopefully I've described it well enough...

Once you have that down, you can press with the sticks a bit to speed up the bounces and the buzz roll, and pull with the three fingers not gripping the stick to add speed. If you can get the stick to bounce on the butt end (the part in your palm that you don't hold) ... if you can use those fingers to bounce the stick off them, you'll add even more speed.
This should be relaxed.

A "press roll" is similar but, again, to my understanding, has a more intense "press to it" so it looks like the drummer is digging in hard. Kinda reminds me of some thing you would see in an old 30's or 40's movie with a swing band... drum roll please! lol. I'm not a fan of that as a player. I am a fan of movies like drumline where they glorify this stuff though... lol.
For a good buzz roll, you want the effect of not knowing where any one drum bounce is... it is the drummer's attempt at creating a whole note effect on a staccato instrument. It should sound, once mastered, like a continuous, even sound where you don't know where each hand is starting or stopping. Apparently you don't want to hear where the beat (the 1, 2, 3, 4) is in it either... just one smooth sound, and the number of multiples in each hand are not important (although I always have a problem with that so I tend to try and keep them even between the hands and feel the time in my hands instead of my head... not sure if that is cheating or what, but it's mostly cause I had trouble with the whole " doesn't matter how many in a buzz" thing, I'm too OCD for that.

I hope I explained these ideas well enough that if someone want's to try them, they can. If this was interesting, or you got a specific question about some drum techniques and think you can trust me on it, PM or reply! Can't promise to get back quickly, but I will if I can.
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