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Timing problems

Practicing with a click.

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This question isn't directed to ANY particular "PRo" drummer.I've been told by 3 different musicians (2 drummersx 1 guitarist) that i have a "timing" problem.The guitarist who plays with 2nd drummer has been known to have timing problems of his own due to his use of smoking MJ,

The 1st drummer mentioned this in reference to a party i attended&played at which i did get stoned,

Which occured over 20yrs ago!,

So OF COURSE my timing was off then (btw i no longer partake of ANY drug, i rarely drink also).My question is:HOW do i tell IF my timing is actually "off" (i.e. behind/ontop of or before the beat?).In my younger youth i didn't pay attention to what my drum teachers advised&wanted me to practice, i.e i NEVER EVER played along to&with a "click".Btw the 2nd drummer possibly has a hidden agenda as he left one of the guitarist's bands&knew i was after his gig in both bands,

My other question pertaining to practicing with a "click" is WHAT&HOW to practice for a complete novice,

Thank you all for both reading my long-winded question &for your assistance,advice&help.

Edited by B60S70SWLBL2002PW, 20 February 2017 - 06:59 PM.

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Record your playing.  You can detect all kinds of things about your playing, both good and bad, by listening closely afterward.  


Ps. I'm no pro by any stretch (lol) but I have many years of gigging experience

Edited by purist, 23 February 2017 - 09:05 AM.

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Live BPM (mobile phone app) is a great tool to use as well, set up a click and follow along. I use this when playing live and I see where I tend to push and pull, generally going into or coming out of a fill, dynamic changes, etc. Its hard sometimes to tell where you're at in regards to the beat while you're playing. I record myself as mentioned above and when playing live I listen close to the other players, my bass player and I tend to communicate very well.


I'm no "pro" either, but I have been playing live (paid gigs) for years and teaching private lessons as well. I think I can speak for most of us and say we all have "timing issues", its something people work on constantly. Its also very subjective as some people prefer not to play like a time clock, I believe music needs to breathe and depending on your style you may want, or not want to be like a human metronome. I shoot to be as steady as possible with no major issues, fluctuation in the beat a few BPM really isn't going to be noticed by the average listener.

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    Just Shuffling along

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I lost my first gig due to timing issues.... bought a beat bug which at the time was advertised in Modern Drummer and made by the guy at LT lug lock out of his home I think.... was before internet etc.  had to send him a check etc...blah blah blah


Anyway that was 1992,  I've used some type of device live and for practice since.  Went from the original beat bug to Tempo Ref (also made by LT Lug Lock) to the LiveBPM app that "Bum" reference above.   Really will help with timing and also in my case it points out to the rest of the band that maybe they are the problem.



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  Really will help with timing and also in my case it points out to the rest of the band that maybe they are the problem.


Great point blueshadow.  If you are not solid with your timing it is easy for others in the band to take you off course if they are rushing or dragging.  Many times other musicians in the band have never played with a metronome so they have tempo issues, but ultimately it's the drummer that takes the brunt of the blame for fluctuations.  Timing is everyone's responsibility not just the drummers.  If I'm constantly pulling the reigns back or pulling someone along it gets to be too much of a job and usually won't last.  Rant over...carry on.

Edited by ludslingerwig, 23 February 2017 - 08:13 PM.

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I'd emphasize two suggestions already made here:


1) Use a drum machine/metronome whenever you practice.


After a while you will begin to get very comfortable playing with (not to) that other drummer (the machine) that happens to have perfect time.
You will be able to push and pull a bit (playing on top, behind, or dead-on) against the click without loosing the overall tempo.


2) Record yourself


I recommend recording yourself practicing and on live gigs. Like they say, the recording doesn't lie.
It's hard, if not impossible, to listen to yourself critically while you're 'in the moment'.


Here's a little exercise you can do to improve your internal time while you're away from the drums:


While you're driving (or at any time really) and listening to a song you know - sing and/or tap along.

Now, turn down the volume but keep the singing/tapping going.

Start out with maybe a 4-8 measure span of silence and then turn the volume back up.

Are you right with the song? Ahead of the song? Behind the song?

This little exercise can help you focus in on your natural timing tendencies.

The more you do this - increase the amount of time you leave the volume down.


I hope this helps.


Billy G.

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I struggled with this with a band I was in (and got fired from over "timing issues"), and to a lesser extent now with some guys who are a bit more laid back, so now I am my own worst critic.


IMO, there are two kinds of timing - tempo; how steady you can keep a beat, and accuracy (or micro-timing); how on top of the beat you are and how precise your fills are.


A great tempo trainer than is also fun is a collection called "The Test of Time" from drumfun.com. The song plays, you play along, then the song drops out entirely for a few beats, a measure, or even more. The challenge is to continue laying down the groove until the song starts back up and see how accurate your groove really was. It makes you really concentrate on finding what I call your Inner Gadd - that part of your brain that knows exactly where every hit belongs and trusting yourself to put it there.


For me, I find my accuracy improves when I can discipline myself to practice my fills slowly, with a metronome, and at an even dynamic. You have to develop a really critical ear, and teach yourself to analyze whether you are rushing or dragging your fills.


I'm sure you can find much more useful advice from a good teacher. If you can afford the money and time, it would behoove you to seek one out.

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Find some of your favorite bands and play along,this is a great practice for conditioning yourself to prevent rushing and being consistent with your playing,also don't get to amped up with adrenaline and learn how to breath and relax,this is very essential for live playing and you may just get flack from your band for playing too slow but if you play covers play a tune with them then put in the song by the artist and compare the tempos.this works!!!
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I'd definitely second BillyGoodness's recommendation about recording yourself.  I'll occasionally take video on my phone of myself playing and I can both see and hear my weak spots when practicing.


Another thing to do if you find a cheap or free drum machine/metronome on your phone or computer,  make a really long bar, like 64 beats and only fill the first half with clicks.  Then you're free on the second half and if your timing is right, you'll land right back onto the click when it comes around on the 1 again.  So 32 clicks to get the tempo and then 32 rests to hold the tempo on your own.

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Most of the tracks I play to are in Pro Tools.

Live and in studio.

So I am used to the Pro Tools click all the time.

If you do any recording, make some tracks or loops and just play to the click.

Do this for 2 years.

It becomes natural.

In the meantime, use your iPhone.

Download Ludwig metronome app.

Plug in some headphones or buds.

Start the app, choose a tempo, Start the click and count your band in.

Your the boss.

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