Let’s be honest, we all like being comfortable. Being lodged in our place of comfort can make us feel happy and content. Our comfort zone is where we often feel secure enough to dream of achieving greatness, without the actual ugly process of trying something new.
However, if you want to improve your drumming abilities, you’ve got to be willing to deal with the ugly. You’ve got to be willing to play and practice to different feels and different time signatures even if you suck at it. If you just repeat the same thing over and over, you’re never going to grow as a musician.
I’ve noticed that sometimes drummers who only practice and play to fast tempos cannot play to slow grooves and vice versa. Some can only play loud, and others only soft. Don’t let this be you! Training for dynamics is going to make you a much better player. It’s also important not to get stuck playing and practicing grooves that you are super comfortable with. You’ve got to practice rhythms you are not comfortable with as well. Anything uncomfortable at first can often later become your greatest strength.It’s the unfamiliarity that feels weird most of the time. You’re better than that!
"Anything uncomfortable at first can often later become your greatest strength."
If you’ve been using a metronome or drum application to practice with, chances are you’ve probably found a comfortable go-to tempo to practice with. But if you speed up (or slow down) a rhythm incrementally, playing for a little while in each spot, you can really find and learn to play differently, and in interesting ways, you may not have thought possible before.
A lot of it is getting your body and mind to relax into it. Speed can be intimidating until you understand that there are different ways to play to rhythms when they speed up. There are different phrases and spacing we can use when we’re soloing. There are also techniques to help your body and mind relax into it. There are various feels you can apply to put our own unique signature on it.
Playing fast is not just physical; there is a huge mental side to it as well. There are also dynamics that come into play. For example, if you play slightly softer when you speed up, it helps the muscles relax into it instead of increasing tension. There is an endless world of rhythmic possibilities out there. Why limit yourself to what feels comfortable and safe?
For me, much of drumming and percussion is not just about the feel and energy of rhythms; it is also equally about fundamental rhythm concepts. It does not mean you have to get heady or spend your life studying rhythmical mathematical concepts. You just need to learn the basic principles of drumming and time.
"There is an endless world of rhythmic possibilities out there.Why limit yourself to what feels comfortable and safe?"
Be it straight time or odd time or various different types of swing; there are basic underlying principles that apply to all types of drumming. If you want to become a better drummer, dig in, let it get ugly, and get comfortable being uncomfortable!
For an extra boost, check out the video from Crossfit Athlete, Khan Porter
Film by Etienne Rouleau
For more inspiring videos visit www.fearlessmotivation.com
Michael Pluznick is a world renowned percussionist with over 35 years of playing, performing, teaching, and recording experience across the globe. His award winning music CD's are available on iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon. For more info visit: www.michaelpluznick.com