Friday, August 26, 2011

Hardest Drumming Habits To Break

Got an email in from a drummer site that had asked a question...

"Hello Stephen ,

How you doing? Stephen, recently we asked a question on facebook -- "What bad drumming habit was the hardest for you to break?"...and got few reply."

Here's the issues and my responses:

1.: -- sing,smash and spin....

I honestly don't even understand what this means.

2. --- Using your shoulder when its not required

This one just comes down to simple technique. Here's what I do to break bad habits that you can actually VISUALLY recognize. Get a full length mirror (you should be able to pick one up for under $10...the kind you would use in a closet or college dorm room). Set it up a few feet away from you and to your side. Now watch yourself while you practice. Doing this will enable you to pinpoint exactly where you're developing bad habits and then you can constantly remind yourself to correct them. Warning: This is a shot to the'll discover your technique isn't near as good as you thought (myself included!).

3. playing on max.tension pedals

Easiest way to fix this is to loosen the tension. Problem solved. Now, notice I didn't say you would LIKE taking the tension down a few notches, but tough. Life's hard all over, get over it. After a few weeks of forcing yourself to play without as much tension response, the problem will be solved and you'll be a better player for it.

4. using my ankles throughout a song

This isn't necessarily a bad habit...unless your ankles are hurting from it. A player should take the time to learn how to play heel up, heel down, rocking, sliding, and heel/toe on the pedal. You'll use them at different times for different volume levels.

5. not gripping the stick at the right point

I struggle with this one myself. I always want to choke way to far back on the stick. Get a black marker and hold your stick correctly. Make a mark where your thumb comes into contact with the stick. While you're playing, check your hand position every 2-3 minutes and correct it if needed. The mirror that I talked about earlier will also help with this.

6. excessive rim shots

ROCK!!!!!!!!!!! Lol, it seems like once we learn to play a rim shot, we want to always play one. Makes us feel powerful as drummers! When I was playing in loud clubs 6-7 nights a week, I could kill a rim shot. It took me a long time to bring my playing back down. When you only play with rim shots, it takes away a lot of dynamics and versatility. The only way to learn not to do it is to not do it. Seems simple, but it's not. If you really want to break the habit, set your snare up a little lower than it normally is or sit a little higher than you normally do. You'll make it physically impossible to play a rim shot, and then once your ears see how great the snare sounds without a rim shot, you can begin to incorporate that sound into your playing easier.

7. eating after drumming

Hmmm...I don't really understand why this would be a problem...unless your gaining a ton of weight. I like food...I encourage you to eat a lot, lol...just make healthier choices. Maybe instead of going for that double cheeseburger, you opt for some hummus and wheat crackers, or a bagel with natural peanut butter, or a cup of unsalted almonds. Drink only water. It's all about what you eat.

8. Slouching while on the drum throne..I still can't get rid of it

SO HARD TO NOT DO!!! Because we sit there for hours...and humans are naturally we slouch...I'm doing it right now while I'm writing this. Again, refer back to that mirror. It will fix more of your problems than you know. If you can't get a mirror, set up in the bathroom for a few days...sounds crazy, but we're drummers, so I think "crazy" comes with the territory.

9. Stops while playing

Every student I've ever taught does this. I have an easy fix. When you're practicing, start the metronome on whatever exercise you're working on. When you make a mistake, either keep playing (something...anything!) until you can jump back into the exercise correctly, or wait to jump back in on the next downbeat. You have to learn that when you're playing live in a song and you mess up, the song doesn't stop...time ALWAYS keeps going. So lets act like it when we practice. Even if you just keep your foot going on the hi hat that's better than stopping altogether. I never allow my students to stop and start at random...we keep a steady pulse throughout the exercise.

10. unable to sync high hat and bass drum

This is called "flamming" on the kit. Every studio drummer that's worth their snuff deals with this constantly. When you record something and then play it back, it's painfully obvious how much or how little you're flamming. Simple exercise...Set your metronome to a comfortable tempo (start with 100bpm) and play unison eighth notes. Right hand will be on the ride cymbal or floor tom, left hand on the snare, right foot on the kick drum, and the left foot will be on the hi hat or a cowbell. Play everything together on all eighth notes and concentrate on hitting everything at once with no flams. IF you notice you're flamming at a certain tempo, slow it down and start again. Just to encourage you that you're not the only one...I STILL deal with this daily in my playing and practice...and I've been playing for 16 years. You need to learn and accept that some things in your drumming will be constant damage control throughout your career...this is one of them. You'll always come back to it.

Hope that helps!

-Stephen T.


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