No Motivation: How can I pick myself back up?

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  • #37886
    Matthew
    Participant

    Hi people,

    I’ve been with the shed for just under a year now- but not sure if this is the correct forum to post this.

    I have been suffering from a real lack of enthusiasm for drumming lately. I have reached a certain point where I can play certain genres (like rock and funk), half decently, but I keep getting demotivated when I think of how much better I should be at this point (having been playing for 4 years), and how I should have spent that time diversifying my playing style.

    Auditioning for a band recently may have triggered this feeling, as I  just couldn’t come up with decent parts for the jams in the latter part of the session, which were a lot more proggy/jazzy in nature. I seemed to have drastically overestimated my own ability and I kind of felt like a fraud somewhat; surely an actual drummer can adapt to any style that comes their way, even just somewhat intuitively?

    I would really appreciate any advice on how to get that spark back, at times when you really just feel like you don’t have the motivation to reach that ‘next level’ and really challenge yourself to become better?

    Matthew

     

    #37894
    Grant
    Keymaster

    Hey Matthew!

    First off, this is definitely the right place for you to share this struggle. All of us in the SDS family have faced a time like this in the past and have had to work through it in our own way. The first thought that comes to mind…I’ve definitely been there too. In fact I was there pretty recently. I was hired to play a gig for someone, and it did not go as planned AT. ALL. I wasn’t given a lot of information that I should have had for the gig and it definitely showed. Afterwards, I felt like I should never have been hired if I couldn’t knock it out of the park like I wanted to. I started thinking about all the other things I shouldn’t be trying to do with drums and that I should just give up certain aspects of my career. After a few days of thinking and sleeping on the idea. I decided to not let one experience dictate the rest of my drumming career. I failed. Doesn’t mean I’m going to fail again. And even if I do, I’m not going to stop trying until I succeed.

    Second thought, it sounds like the second part of your audition was “jamming” with the band. This is an interesting concept that you really don’t see very often unless you’re auditioning for a member focused band. Meaning it’s a 4 or 5 piece band and they want everyone heavily involved in every step of the process…writing, doing merch, book keeping etc. It definitely sucks to go to an audition and do anything but crush it, even if the audition was “fine”, it still doesn’t feel good unless you absolutely knock it out of the park, so I completely understand why you are frustrated that jamming with the band didn’t go as well as you wanted.

    I  would try to analyze the entire audition (not just what didn’t go well) but every part of it. If you were expected to learn songs, and you did learn the songs well and did a good job, then awesome, you don’t need to work on getting better at learning music. If you were expected to be social and get along with the band at the audition in person, and you did that well, then awesome, you don’t need to work on being better at socializing in a high pressure environment.

    It’s pretty dangerous to just focus on one aspect of an audition when there’s literally dozens and dozens of aspects when it comes to auditions. Sure, the jamming didn’t go well. A good way to get better at that is making yourself jam with people, if you have literally never had to sit down, and write a part on the spot to someone’s guitar riff than you absolutely cannot expect yourself to be good at it in an audition, where everyone is analyzing you, and you’re nervous.

    To sum it up, I’m sure you did much better than you feel like you did. Your hardest critique is yourself. Take what aspects of the audition that didn’t go well, and make those your goals. Stephen has loads of lessons on playing with a bass player / other musicians in general. He will be weighing in on this question over the next few days and give you his perspective (which is very valuable and will probably make you feel 100% motivated again). Hang in there man. Growing is tough, but it only comes through hard situations.

    #37896
    Marcus
    Moderator

    Matthew, the good news is that if you are feeling the way you are….you are on the right path. Check this out.  There are a few different levels we progress through as players.  First is the unconscious incompetent level  (we suck and we have no clue that we suck).  That’s okay.  That is when we first get that kit and are just happy to bang around on it and make noise and as far as we are concerned, we are the best drummer that ever lived….total fantasy land and totally okay…as long as we don’t stay there.  Then we move to conscious incompetent.  We become aware that we have some work to do.  So we put in the time.  We learn we grow.  Then we move to conscious competence. We know we can play, but it takes concentration and effort…and sometimes we get thrown into a situation where we realize we still have some learning to do (sound familiar)?  The problem is that if we don’t recognize this as  a stage of development, we can take a situation like your audition and  misinterpret it as a failure or a confirmation that we are incompetent or a fraud….which we are not….we are just growing players.  The next and final stage is the unconscious competent stage.  This is where we perform the skill and don’t even have to think about it any more.  If I asked you to play 1/8th notes on the hats, 2 and 4 on snare and 1 and 3 on kick, I bet you could do that without thinking.  So in that area of your drumming,  you are unconscious competent.  So you are not a fraud and you are not incompetent.  You are a drummer and a human.  We are constantly developing, evolving and growing as drummers and as people.  We grow the most when we are uncomfortable.  Sometimes when we get uncomfortable, we want to shy away from the challenge (that looks a lot like a lack of motivation many times) for various reasons….usually it is fear….fear that we can’t achieve what we are after or fear of judgement from others.  But that is all just noise.  The mind navigates the body.  What you put in your brain is what you will achieve, but not without work.  You have to believe you can accomplish whatever it is you are wanting and you have to do the work to get there.  One final thought. Most of us can’t just adapt to any style that comes there way if they haven’t prepared to do so.  There are big name players out there who work in one or two genres and openly admit they don’t play other styles.  If you want to be a drummer who can play any style, I think that is awesome.  But I also know you will have to spend some serious time working on all those styles as well.  So don’t beat yourself up. If you want to stretch out and learn prog, jazz, afro-cuban or whatever…go for it.  You can totally achieve it. You just have to believe in yourself and put in the work to learn the styles.  In closing, instead of being demotivated by an audition that you didn’t feel good about, let that be your catapult to launch your next endeavor.  If you hadn’t taken that audition, you might not have learned where you need to go next.

    #37902
    Stephen
    Keymaster

    Sounds like you are completely normal ;^)

    Seriously…this is a regular cycle that happens with me. And instead of looking at the situation that you feel triggered this…the jams you couldn’t come up with parts to…as a negative thing (i.e. I’m no good, I should be able to do this, etc. and so forth), look at them as a positive. That experience has just shown you weak areas. Areas that you can now make goals for and work towards. I was a jazz studies major in college. If I got a gig next week playing jazz, I would have to spend A LOT of time woodshedding my jazz over the next few days. Because I’m rusty. And I spent 4 years of my life focused on that style.

    It is very normal to not be able to perform in a style that you have never performed in before. It is very easy for me to be bad at West African drumming…because I’ve never spent extensive time learning West African rhythms. They’re foreign to me. That doesn’t make me a bad drummer. That makes me normal. How can you be expected to speak a language you have never spoken?

    So instead of giving in to the drama that that experience has created in your mind (it does the same for me), lets set about making a plan to fix it.

    Sit down with pencil and paper away from the drums. Decide what the issue was that triggered this…dig in to it…and then come up with 2-3 areas that you need to focus on. If there are more than that, list them in order of importance. You will only work on the first 2-3. The rest will wait until you’re done with those. Then, we need to find the material to get you there. I’m happy to help you with that. Once you have that material, we cut it up in to manageable goals, stick those goals on a calendar, develop  a daily practice time and routine, and then show up when we said we would. You work on the material you said you needed to, at the times during the day you said you would, you keep a practice journal of your sessions, and IGNORE everything else. If you make a plan like that and stick to it, you will be light years ahead of where you are now in 3 months. But if we spend that time wallowing in the fact that you had a failure (they’re good for you because they trigger these types of things), then you will be in the same place you are now in 3 months.

    I get it…I have war stories that would make you CRINGE. Massive mistakes made in very public places. But I always took it to the pencil and paper. I decided why that happened. Made a plan to combat it so it never happened again.

    This is a normal part of the process. It is very real, we should recognize the emotions, and then we should deal with them. Don’t allow them to dictate your success or failure.

    So what I’m saying is this…get up, brush yourself off, and get to work. You’re too good of a player to let this sideline you.

    Let me know how I can help and I’m there with you my friend.

    #37905
    Matthew
    Participant

    Joshua, Marcus and Stephen, thanks all so much for leaving such genuine and thoughtful responses.

    I see where you are all coming from, it’s important to interpret every  ‘failure’ as a lesson to learn from rather than the massive catastrophe that I thought it was. I think I just felt extra bad about it because it had been a while since I had such a setback.  Stephen, I love your point about not expecting to speak a language that you haven’t practised before, its an incredibly fitting analogy and something I didn’t really think about in all honesty. In terms of next steps I think that’s a great idea to set out exactly what I should focus on:

    1. Watching the relevant content to deepen my understanding and then actually practising jamming with other players/bassists for the purpose of improving in this area, I am currently at university so I’m sure I can seek someone out who is up for this, I just want to make any future jams as useful as possible. Any extra tips/ guidance as to where to start here would be super appreciated.

    2.  Kind of links to the above, but upon reflection, I feel I need to have a greater fill vocabulary that isn’t as rock-centric, which will help me become more adaptable to other styles in the long run, so I will check out the relevant lessons.

    3. Work through the first jazz track, to make sure I can at least be truly efficient at the basics (people say jazz is great anyway for developing independence etc).

    I actually feel that with a targeted plan, it is possible to make something truly positive out of this. Thanks again

  • Author
    Posts
  • #37886

    Matthew
    Participant
    • Offline

    Hi people,

    I’ve been with the shed for just under a year now- but not sure if this is the correct forum to post this.

    I have been suffering from a real lack of enthusiasm for drumming lately. I have reached a certain point where I can play certain genres (like rock and funk), half decently, but I keep getting demotivated when I think of how much better I should be at this point (having been playing for 4 years), and how I should have spent that time diversifying my playing style.

    Auditioning for a band recently may have triggered this feeling, as I  just couldn’t come up with decent parts for the jams in the latter part of the session, which were a lot more proggy/jazzy in nature. I seemed to have drastically overestimated my own ability and I kind of felt like a fraud somewhat; surely an actual drummer can adapt to any style that comes their way, even just somewhat intuitively?

    I would really appreciate any advice on how to get that spark back, at times when you really just feel like you don’t have the motivation to reach that ‘next level’ and really challenge yourself to become better?

    Matthew

     

    #37894

    Grant
    Keymaster
    • Offline

    Hey Matthew!

    First off, this is definitely the right place for you to share this struggle. All of us in the SDS family have faced a time like this in the past and have had to work through it in our own way. The first thought that comes to mind…I’ve definitely been there too. In fact I was there pretty recently. I was hired to play a gig for someone, and it did not go as planned AT. ALL. I wasn’t given a lot of information that I should have had for the gig and it definitely showed. Afterwards, I felt like I should never have been hired if I couldn’t knock it out of the park like I wanted to. I started thinking about all the other things I shouldn’t be trying to do with drums and that I should just give up certain aspects of my career. After a few days of thinking and sleeping on the idea. I decided to not let one experience dictate the rest of my drumming career. I failed. Doesn’t mean I’m going to fail again. And even if I do, I’m not going to stop trying until I succeed.

    Second thought, it sounds like the second part of your audition was “jamming” with the band. This is an interesting concept that you really don’t see very often unless you’re auditioning for a member focused band. Meaning it’s a 4 or 5 piece band and they want everyone heavily involved in every step of the process…writing, doing merch, book keeping etc. It definitely sucks to go to an audition and do anything but crush it, even if the audition was “fine”, it still doesn’t feel good unless you absolutely knock it out of the park, so I completely understand why you are frustrated that jamming with the band didn’t go as well as you wanted.

    I  would try to analyze the entire audition (not just what didn’t go well) but every part of it. If you were expected to learn songs, and you did learn the songs well and did a good job, then awesome, you don’t need to work on getting better at learning music. If you were expected to be social and get along with the band at the audition in person, and you did that well, then awesome, you don’t need to work on being better at socializing in a high pressure environment.

    It’s pretty dangerous to just focus on one aspect of an audition when there’s literally dozens and dozens of aspects when it comes to auditions. Sure, the jamming didn’t go well. A good way to get better at that is making yourself jam with people, if you have literally never had to sit down, and write a part on the spot to someone’s guitar riff than you absolutely cannot expect yourself to be good at it in an audition, where everyone is analyzing you, and you’re nervous.

    To sum it up, I’m sure you did much better than you feel like you did. Your hardest critique is yourself. Take what aspects of the audition that didn’t go well, and make those your goals. Stephen has loads of lessons on playing with a bass player / other musicians in general. He will be weighing in on this question over the next few days and give you his perspective (which is very valuable and will probably make you feel 100% motivated again). Hang in there man. Growing is tough, but it only comes through hard situations.

    #37896

    Marcus
    Moderator
    • Offline

    Matthew, the good news is that if you are feeling the way you are….you are on the right path. Check this out.  There are a few different levels we progress through as players.  First is the unconscious incompetent level  (we suck and we have no clue that we suck).  That’s okay.  That is when we first get that kit and are just happy to bang around on it and make noise and as far as we are concerned, we are the best drummer that ever lived….total fantasy land and totally okay…as long as we don’t stay there.  Then we move to conscious incompetent.  We become aware that we have some work to do.  So we put in the time.  We learn we grow.  Then we move to conscious competence. We know we can play, but it takes concentration and effort…and sometimes we get thrown into a situation where we realize we still have some learning to do (sound familiar)?  The problem is that if we don’t recognize this as  a stage of development, we can take a situation like your audition and  misinterpret it as a failure or a confirmation that we are incompetent or a fraud….which we are not….we are just growing players.  The next and final stage is the unconscious competent stage.  This is where we perform the skill and don’t even have to think about it any more.  If I asked you to play 1/8th notes on the hats, 2 and 4 on snare and 1 and 3 on kick, I bet you could do that without thinking.  So in that area of your drumming,  you are unconscious competent.  So you are not a fraud and you are not incompetent.  You are a drummer and a human.  We are constantly developing, evolving and growing as drummers and as people.  We grow the most when we are uncomfortable.  Sometimes when we get uncomfortable, we want to shy away from the challenge (that looks a lot like a lack of motivation many times) for various reasons….usually it is fear….fear that we can’t achieve what we are after or fear of judgement from others.  But that is all just noise.  The mind navigates the body.  What you put in your brain is what you will achieve, but not without work.  You have to believe you can accomplish whatever it is you are wanting and you have to do the work to get there.  One final thought. Most of us can’t just adapt to any style that comes there way if they haven’t prepared to do so.  There are big name players out there who work in one or two genres and openly admit they don’t play other styles.  If you want to be a drummer who can play any style, I think that is awesome.  But I also know you will have to spend some serious time working on all those styles as well.  So don’t beat yourself up. If you want to stretch out and learn prog, jazz, afro-cuban or whatever…go for it.  You can totally achieve it. You just have to believe in yourself and put in the work to learn the styles.  In closing, instead of being demotivated by an audition that you didn’t feel good about, let that be your catapult to launch your next endeavor.  If you hadn’t taken that audition, you might not have learned where you need to go next.

    #37902

    Stephen
    Keymaster
    • Offline

    Sounds like you are completely normal ;^)

    Seriously…this is a regular cycle that happens with me. And instead of looking at the situation that you feel triggered this…the jams you couldn’t come up with parts to…as a negative thing (i.e. I’m no good, I should be able to do this, etc. and so forth), look at them as a positive. That experience has just shown you weak areas. Areas that you can now make goals for and work towards. I was a jazz studies major in college. If I got a gig next week playing jazz, I would have to spend A LOT of time woodshedding my jazz over the next few days. Because I’m rusty. And I spent 4 years of my life focused on that style.

    It is very normal to not be able to perform in a style that you have never performed in before. It is very easy for me to be bad at West African drumming…because I’ve never spent extensive time learning West African rhythms. They’re foreign to me. That doesn’t make me a bad drummer. That makes me normal. How can you be expected to speak a language you have never spoken?

    So instead of giving in to the drama that that experience has created in your mind (it does the same for me), lets set about making a plan to fix it.

    Sit down with pencil and paper away from the drums. Decide what the issue was that triggered this…dig in to it…and then come up with 2-3 areas that you need to focus on. If there are more than that, list them in order of importance. You will only work on the first 2-3. The rest will wait until you’re done with those. Then, we need to find the material to get you there. I’m happy to help you with that. Once you have that material, we cut it up in to manageable goals, stick those goals on a calendar, develop  a daily practice time and routine, and then show up when we said we would. You work on the material you said you needed to, at the times during the day you said you would, you keep a practice journal of your sessions, and IGNORE everything else. If you make a plan like that and stick to it, you will be light years ahead of where you are now in 3 months. But if we spend that time wallowing in the fact that you had a failure (they’re good for you because they trigger these types of things), then you will be in the same place you are now in 3 months.

    I get it…I have war stories that would make you CRINGE. Massive mistakes made in very public places. But I always took it to the pencil and paper. I decided why that happened. Made a plan to combat it so it never happened again.

    This is a normal part of the process. It is very real, we should recognize the emotions, and then we should deal with them. Don’t allow them to dictate your success or failure.

    So what I’m saying is this…get up, brush yourself off, and get to work. You’re too good of a player to let this sideline you.

    Let me know how I can help and I’m there with you my friend.

    #37905

    Matthew
    Participant
    • Offline

    Joshua, Marcus and Stephen, thanks all so much for leaving such genuine and thoughtful responses.

    I see where you are all coming from, it’s important to interpret every  ‘failure’ as a lesson to learn from rather than the massive catastrophe that I thought it was. I think I just felt extra bad about it because it had been a while since I had such a setback.  Stephen, I love your point about not expecting to speak a language that you haven’t practised before, its an incredibly fitting analogy and something I didn’t really think about in all honesty. In terms of next steps I think that’s a great idea to set out exactly what I should focus on:

    1. Watching the relevant content to deepen my understanding and then actually practising jamming with other players/bassists for the purpose of improving in this area, I am currently at university so I’m sure I can seek someone out who is up for this, I just want to make any future jams as useful as possible. Any extra tips/ guidance as to where to start here would be super appreciated.

    2.  Kind of links to the above, but upon reflection, I feel I need to have a greater fill vocabulary that isn’t as rock-centric, which will help me become more adaptable to other styles in the long run, so I will check out the relevant lessons.

    3. Work through the first jazz track, to make sure I can at least be truly efficient at the basics (people say jazz is great anyway for developing independence etc).

    I actually feel that with a targeted plan, it is possible to make something truly positive out of this. Thanks again

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