How to Self-Assess Your Playing

 

How to Self-Assess Your Playing

 

2 comments on “How to Self-Assess Your Playing

  1. Andrew says:

    My MD often calls forme to drive the beat. On listening to recordings where I thought I was on the beat its often lagging notwithstanding the possibility of microphone latency (we use GoPros) how do I Push the beat is it a case of watching him and pre_empting. I noted your session discussing his role and mine and how the metronome and an agreement between MD and I can assist all good advice that has helped. I am experimenting with a visual metronome close by on my phone – as I noted the MD of a major orchestrator using one recently. Thanks again for excellent material. Andrew.

    • Hey Andrew! This can be tough. If you want, you can always send a video of your playing into help@stephensdrumshed.com and Stephen and I can take a look and let you know what we might hear. That is always the most direct way to get exact feedback. But, in general, there could be a few things going on here.

      1. Like you said, there might be a misunderstanding about the tempo you are feeling for a song, and the tempo the MD is feeling. This, as you also said, can be taken care of with the use of a metronome. That way, the met is dead on and if there is a disagreement it can be dealt with in a VERY concrete way.
      2. There might be a case where your “time feel” might need some tightening up. That is totally fine, and that is what we are ALL working to improve all day every day as drummers. If that is the case, I would check out the Timing Lesson Track: https://www.stephensdrumshed.com/improve-your-timing/ That will help you iron out any internal or external issues with your time.
      3. Every now and then, you encounter MDs giving you instruction that is expressed in a tempo related way (you need to push the timing, this groove isn’t behind the beat enough, etc) and what THEY REALLY MEAN has more to do with tone, texture, or something else. Case in point, I played for an artist that was always talking about songs needing more energy and things like that, and come to find out, all he wanted was more crash cymbals on beat 1. He just wasn’t able to articulate that was the exact thing he wanted, so we danced around it with different language for a while until I finally figured that out haha. So sometimes it takes creative interpretation to look at what they are saying and really see if they want that exact thing, or they actually want something else that they just can’t articulate because drums aren’t their first instrument.

      Whatever you do (and I’m speaking to myself here haha) try to keep an unbiased and cool head in these situations. I’ve been in sessions where a producer and I are recording the 4th or 5th take and neither of us are happy and that is when things can start to get hostile and passive aggressive. haha. Usually there is just one little confusing twist in the line of communication that has a simple fix, but it is easy to get caught up in the moment and take things personally. That is a VERY human reaction, but the more you can fight that and remain neutral, the better for everyone. Again, speaking to myself here because that is a TOUGH thing to do haha.

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