No One is Paying Attention

Daily Podcast for Drummers

Feeling down because you’ve made mistakes while drumming onstage? Good news: no one is paying attention!


I’m having a good day today. What’s going on? Man, I’ve been up … I got up really early this morning and put the finishing touches on my latest drum video that I put up on Instagram. This might be my favorite one so far, at least from the way that everything came together. I don’t know if my necessarily was better or worse or anything than any other of my drum videos, or the same thing with like the backing tracks, which I love making the backing tracks. I don’t know if either one of those by themselves was better than any other time, but something about how it all came together, the end result this time, I really was really happy with it.

It’s one of my favorites. It’s fun for me, actually, to … Sometimes I’m really frustrated with these things when I make them. I’m like, “It’s not as good as I hoped it would be”, or maybe I don’t think my playing is as good as it could be or something like that. What’s really funny about that is that a lot of times the ones that I create where I think that I’m not doing so well or whatever, I’m not really pleased with it, a lot of times those are the ones that people seem to respond to the most and think are great. There’s been a lot of times when I’ve put something out that I think is just like the best thing ever, and I look at the number of likes, the number of comments, or whatever, the number of views a video gets, and it seems like the ones that I’m on my high horse about, those are the ones that don’t do so well. I hope this time, the fact that I’m proud of this one, I’m hoping that that doesn’t mean that this isn’t actually as good as I think it is.

That kind of brings me to what I wanted to talk about today. I didn’t actually plan it to be this way, but hey, that story kind of worked out. That’s where I’m at. We’ve talked a lot about how to get things right or maybe how to improve our playing, things like that, but I do want to talk a little bit about failure. I don’t necessarily know how to define failure as a drummer other than not so much failure maybe, but just kind of messing up or not feeling like we’re playing as good as we can. I mean specifically in the context of performance when we’re playing the gig, the thing, whether it’s a church service or it’s an actual show or it’s a session. We’re actually doing the thing, the big show. We’re not practicing. Basically anything except for practice.

There’s just times when things don’t go right. I’m trying to think. I won’t name the artist, but I played a show, a one off show, don’t go try to look it up, you’re not going to find it, but I played one show with an artist and the rehearsals went great. It was a … Trying to think how to put this. It was a very professional situation in all the ways that you expect it. I expect it as a drummer. All the rehearsals, everything, those went really well, really excited about how it was going to be.

We get to the show and we set up and we play, and the opening song of the show, the singer lost track of where we were in the song and came in late. We were using backing tracks. This was a heavily sequenced band. Lots of electronics, lots of things in it. The singer … For the record, I was playing this one off show, this band didn’t play a lot of shows. They’re not much of a live band. They do studio stuff and things like that. They don’t have a normal drummer. I was the only drummer they had with them and they hadn’t played shows a lot, so this wasn’t like I was filling in for somebody and they always did things the same way and this was any different. This was, I think, one of their first shows, one of their only shows still, they ever played because, like I said, they do studio stuff.

Anyway. Play the show. The singer comes in to the first song late, and then it becomes obvious that he’s not going to recover. He realizes at a certain point that he is in the wrong spot in the song and the tracks have moved on to a new part of the song and he’s not there yet and there’s no way to fix it, so he stops us and we start over again. While we’re waiting to start over, he says something like, “Hey everybody. Let’s give it up for our drummer, Daniel.” The insinuation was that it was my fault somehow that he came in late on the song. I’m like, “Wow.”

Everyone was going along, playing along, and we could have stopped that song. It could have been my fault, it could have been his fault, it could have been anybody’s fault, but if we just said, “We’re going to start over and try that again”, I don’t think that anyone would have known whose fault it was or would have had any idea. As soon as the singer was like, “Hey everyone. Give it up for Daniel”, all of a sudden it was like everyone who had no idea what was going on automatically assumed it was my fault.

Apart from being very unprofessional to do something like that, it got me thinking about the idea that a lot of times as drummers, or any musician on stage, we feel like everyone is always only paying attention to us. The reality is, and this is kind of what I want to get to today, the reality of that is that you know what, most of the time, no one’s paying attention to you. No one’s paying attention to me. What I mean is, I can … I have all my social media stuff. The reason why I even talk about how many likes or whatever, all that stuff, I put these videos out that try to build an audience because I want to influence you, I want to influence people with what I’m teaching about the drums, what we’re doing on this podcast, for example, and I want people to come in and have their lives changed by this stuff. I do use it as a tool to promote and get more people to pay attention, so I do look at that stuff.

Anyway. Even someone like me who’s kind of gotten … I don’t have a massive following, but I have a bigger following than I used to, and I’m learning that even with a larger following, most people aren’t paying attention. I still have to try really hard to get attention for my videos, for things like that. It takes a lot of effort. If no one’s paying attention to me and … I’m learning that even like when I play at church or I play shows or whatever, people aren’t paying attention to you as much as you think they are.

If you mess up or you fail or something doesn’t go well, I just want to remind you not to kick yourself too much over it because people do pay attention for the right reasons sometimes and sometimes for the wrong reasons, but I just want to encourage you that people aren’t paying attention as much as you think they do. We always assume that, like I said, everyone’s looking at you, waiting for you to make a mistake.

You can actually get away with a lot of mistakes a lot of the time and no one notices. There’s been so many times that there are little mistakes in like my Instagram videos that I put out, for example. I can’t tell you a show I have ever played where I didn’t make some kind of mistake that really drove me crazy. I played probably thousands of shows at this point on tour and there’s never been one, like I said, that I didn’t make some kind of not major mistake, but a mistake that really, really bothered me. The thing is, no one ever brings them up. No one notices them. Not even the people in the band notice them most of the time.

Just want to encourage you, no one’s paying attention, but also don’t get down about that because no one’s paying attention. People do pay attention for the right reasons. Keep doing the right things, keep playing the way you’re playing, keep pursuing this other path that we’ve talked about a lot as drummers, and people will notice you for the right reasons. Generally speaking, people have no idea what you’re doing and you know more about what you’re doing than anyone else does, so just be encouraged by that today.

I don’t have some kind of deep, crazy thought other than that today, but I just wanted to leave you with that and hope that that encourages you. Go out there. Be an awesome drummer. We’ll talk again tomorrow. Bye for now.

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