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Thread: Advice sought on practice and double strokes

  1. #1

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    Default Advice sought on practice and double strokes

    Hello! I was about to describe myself as a beginning drummer, but that's not quite right .... Let me explain. I used to play (after a fashion!) about 26 years ago; I was entirely self-taught, and though I enjoyed myself a lot, probably in truth not that good. Having said that, I was, I think, more impressive in some respects than other self-taught drummers I knew, mainly due to the people I listened to (Mitch Mitchell, Robert Wyatt pre-accident, Billy Kreutzmann and so on). Being influenced by them meant, for a start, that I could do an awful lot more with my left-hand than most people I knew in the mid-80s (a semi-professional drummer, seeing me play, once said "You don't need to bother with all that left hand stuff; nobody does that any more"!).

    Anyway, a couple of months ago, I bought a Roland HD1 electronic kit, just to get back some of that fun I had as a youngster. I was very rusty at first, but I'm probably now back to being as good as ever was. But, of course, all my bad habits and faults are still there. In particular:

    * I have a slow right foot
    * My rudiments and so on are imprecise and undisciplined, and apt to be approximations of the way things should sound
    * Independence of limbs is not great: for example, I find it very hard to keep the beat with hi-hat pedal when doing other stuff with my hands.

    My wife is a musician, and living with her over the last decade and a half, I've come to realise that my problem always was that I never really *practised*: I only ever *played*. My intention is now to put that right. When the academic year restarts, I'll get a teacher and start again from scratch. In a way, though, I'm trying to do that on my own first. I've bought a Steve Laffy instructional DVD, and even though it starts right from the basics, I think that's probably what I need.

    Here are my questions:

    First of all, do you agree that going right back to the beginning is probably what I need.

    Secondly, if so, should I give up doing the more complex stuff I can do (though with flaws) while practising the very basic stuff. In other words, should I stop playing for now, and do nothing but practise?

    Thirdly, does anyone have any tips on getting evenness in double strokes? Even when I'm not going fast (so not relying on rebound for the second stroke), I tend not to be even--the second stroke always seems to be weaker than the first.

    Oh, and finally: years ago, I taught myself to do (rather sloppy) paradiddles. However, assuming each stroke to be a semi-quaver, I taught myself them with accents on 1, 2, 3, and 4. Now I can't stop accenting in that way, and certainly can't play each stroke of a paradiddle evenly. Any advice?

    Thanks for your patience!

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Advice sought on practice and double strokes

    Good evening, Gavagai...
    Going right back to the beginning is probably the best, but equally the hardest, route to take. I will assume that you're playing exclusively for your own pleasure..?
    A teacher will help enormously; meanwhile, to get those rudiments back into shape I would suggest that the main problem is excess speed. I guess that these accents and imprecisions are in there because you're not playing slowly enough.
    Now comes the hard part...
    Do your exercises with a metronome (or any source of constant beat...), but EXTREMELY slowly. This will be boring (no, let's face it; VERY boring...) for a while (not too long, though...), and will require some high-level will-power on your part.
    By slow, I mean really slow. Each touch on the drum must be exactly right, and a voluntary effort on your part, not just 'muscle memory'. The slower you go, the easier it will be to readjust your touch and feeling, so that those damned sticks do what your conscious mind wants, and not what your years of bad habits have got them to do.
    I think that, for sanity's sake, a relaxation 'end of session' blast could be allowed; the downside will be that it will take longer to get back on track. It's up to you whether to be (very...) strong and patient, or blow it now and again, for kicks. Your call.
    I wish you well in your endeavour; not the easiest road, but ultimately very rewarding.
    Keep us posted with progress, please..?
    Have a nice day.
    Dad3353 (Douglas...)

  3. #3

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    Default Re: Advice sought on practice and double strokes

    Thanks very much for the enormously useful advice! Yep, I can see that being boring, but I really want to make a good fist of this, so I'll do it (and will, as far as possible, try to avoid those end of practice session blowouts!): I think I just needed someone to tell me to do it, which you now have! That's just one reason it will be useful to have a teacher ...

    By the way, yes, you're right that I've only taken up drumming again for my own pleasure. But part of that pleasure is going to be getting it right this time, even if doing that is sometimes unpleasant.

    Thanks again! Much appreciated.

  4. #4

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    Default Re: Advice sought on practice and double strokes

    You're entirely welcome, I only wish I had as much will-power myself..! I'm afraid I'm going to be buried with my bad habits (but then, I'm old...).
    Bon courage (and do what your teacher says..!).
    Have a nice day.
    Dad3353 (Douglas...)

  5. #5

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    Default Re: Advice sought on practice and double strokes

    Welcome to Drum Chat Gavagai!
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  6. #6

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    Default Re: Advice sought on practice and double strokes

    It's good that you have some sort of idea of what your weaknesses are, that means you know what to do to get better the fastest. For the feet, practice alongside a metronome along with the beat to get those legs back in shape. Take good recooperative rests where needed, don't overwork yourself and just go a little bit at a time. Yes, I do believe if you've been out of the game long enough you should start at the beginning again, but that doesn't mean you won't get it back. You likely have some good instinctive techniques left over that will come back to you once you spend some more time with it. Welcome to drumchat Gav.
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  7. #7

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    Default Re: Advice sought on practice and double strokes

    Quote Originally Posted by pastor_bob View Post
    Welcome to Drum Chat Gavagai!
    Why, thank you Pastor!

  8. #8

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    Default Re: Advice sought on practice and double strokes

    Quote Originally Posted by Russ View Post
    It's good that you have some sort of idea of what your weaknesses are, that means you know what to do to get better the fastest. For the feet, practice alongside a metronome along with the beat to get those legs back in shape. Take good recooperative rests where needed, don't overwork yourself and just go a little bit at a time. Yes, I do believe if you've been out of the game long enough you should start at the beginning again, but that doesn't mean you won't get it back. You likely have some good instinctive techniques left over that will come back to you once you spend some more time with it. Welcome to drumchat Gav.
    Thanks Russ. In truth, my feet were never good, but I'll try what you say to get them that way for the first time!

    I'm sure I have many more weaknesses than the ones I listed, but that's another area in which a teacher will come in handy.

    Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone!

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