Every once in a while we can surprise ourselves with how good our drumming turned out. This happens in recording situations pretty often. But how can we “hack” this process and make it happen more often?
Sometimes in these posts I like to go super deep, and then sometimes I like to keep it simple, and today is definitely going to be a day where I keep it simple. This came from experience, I played a session yesterday and it was one of those days, and maybe I’ve mentioned this before, but it was one of those sessions where playing the drums didn’t feel very good to me, for whatever reason, you know?
I just wasn’t “feeling it” but it’s one thing when you’re practicing and you’re not feeling it- you can find ways to try and get around that or push through it or whatever, but when you’re on the clock, so to speak, and you have to deliver something for somebody else as a drummer, not feeling it is not the best feeling in the world.
What I mean by not feeling it was I just didn’t feel like I was able to get something that really had a good groove to it, had a good feel, or was accurate.
I didn’t feel like I was doing a good job with any of that. I felt like I was playing pretty poorly. In this situation of course, I can’t just stop or wait until I feel it or whatever. I have to play, so I did and what’s interesting about it is me and the producer both, when we listened back after my playing, it was like wow, that actually feels pretty good. I can’t tell you why, what I did that made it feel good, but what it was was that I actually, the problem wasn’t actually with my playing, it was with my perception of my playing. It was with how I was in the moment of playing the part, how I was perceiving and feeling what I was playing.
I had drifted into what I’ve talked about before, which is I was playing with my hands, I was feeling the way everything felt with my hands and my feet.
I wasn’t listening to my playing with my ears to hear how it sounded when it lined up. That’s really a tough thing to do, it’s a concept I talk about a lot, which is don’t let the feeling of your sticks impacting drum or hitting the head, don’t let that feeling be the thing that informs you on how accurate you are with your playing or how much feel you have or anything like that. Try to remove yourself from the feeling of those hits happening, and try to listen with your ears and hear where things are lining up, not feel them. Which is kind of backwards, I know. I’m always talking about trying to play with feel, then I’m saying don’t feel something, listen to it. In this situation I think this is what you do.
Anyway, I had drifted into saying I’m not feeling my playing, feeling like it should, but what was amazing was when we listened back to the recording it was like, oh, that actually feels pretty good, and it wasn’t as bad, nearly as bad as I thought and so this is why I always say, my advice to other drummers is always to video yourself or record yourself, find some way to play and then be able to listen back to what you just played. There’s so much more perspective you gain, and a lot of times, the assumption, when I say that, you’re going to find out places you’re going to need to work on, which of course happens a lot. It happens to me all the time. I find all kind of things that are wrong with my playing.
Every once in a while, I actually surprise myself, I’m like wow, that was pretty good. I’m sure you’ll find the same things out too. You might listen back to something and be like, wow, that was better than I thought it was. I’m actually recording this and I’m about to head over to the studio to hang out with someone on one of my drum intensives, my two day intensive where a drummer comes into town and we work in the studio and we do a recording session and all kinds of stuff. I’m actually about to head over there after I do this podcast. When I do these intensives, a lot of times when we do the recording session, a lot of times the drummers themselves will notice the same thing. They’ll actually be surprised at how good they are.
They’ll say, “Wow, I didn’t realize I played that well,” when they hear themselves back the first time after doing the tracking. They’re almost always surprised at how good it sounds and how solid their playing is, because in the moment maybe they’re not perceiving it very well or you know, you just never know. The more you can listen back to yourself playing, the more of course you’ll find things to work on, but also the more you’ll find that you are actually a better drummer than you think sometimes. I know it’s early in the week when this episode comes out for most of us, so I wanted to give you something to sort of kick start your week.
That you’re probably better than you think and you’re probably better than you think a lot more than you realize or that you give yourself credit for. Record yourself and find those things that actually are better than you expected, not just the things to work on, but listen for things that actually surprised you in a good way. That’s good fuel to keep going and to keep working and keep improving. All right, we’ll talk again soon. Thanks for joining me today!