Is my progress on the slow side?

Thinkwriter

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New to this forum, people have been helpful and encouraging so thanks. New to drumming, relatively speaking.

I'm a bedroom musician and intermediate-level guitarist. Bought my cheap Alesis late 2017. I practice pretty consistently and bought a minimalist kit (hihat, bass, snare) recently to up my feel for actual drums.

Last year I bought an Adam Tumarino lesson pack for his song Shake It Off. I've been slowly but surely going through the parts of the song. I've memorized 95% of it, but actually making the parts sound right is taking forever. Following most people's advice, I start the bpm slow and bump the speed only when comfortable, and I isolate troublesome parts like 32nd notes and off-note accents. At the rate I'm going, I surmise I'd be able to master it in another two years.

Is the pace too slow? It's okay if that's the case; I just want to know if it is. I have work and I take care of my 3 year old son, but I play drums every chance I get (10-30 min 3-6 times a day). I don't mind the process, just want to manage my expectations. The goal is to get from beginner to intermediate, right?

I have to add I practice a few things on the side sometimes. I bought 8020 Drummer's $5 lesson, and it's great.
 

Rock Salad

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I'm just starting out too. I listened to the song, and a couple years from cold beginner to playing that song well doesn't seem slow to me.
 

2mm2

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I’m also a beginner drummer, I just start 4/5 years ago, But my personal opinion it’s that I’m going quite slowly... maybe because I don’t have enough time to practice or I’m not good enough, but for sure we are going forward!!!!
Some drummers are improving faster than others but IMO it’s a kind of personal challenge just practice and a lot of patience!!! Sometimes you just love drums and next day you hate it hahahaha that’s progresión
 

thin shell

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Everybody is different and will grow as a drummer at a different rate. I will say however that the more you practice, the faster you will improve. I don't know if there is any science behind it but I would tend to think spending 30 in one session would be better than three 10 minute sessions. It takes me some time to get warmed up and 10 minutes at a time wouldn't work well for me. Drumming involves altering your brain to make all four limbs work in ways that is a little unnatural. It takes a lot of time and repetition to make those modifications and master everything required to play well. It really never stops if you have the desire to be great.

If you are memorizing the song note for note then I find listening to the song a lot helps, even when doing something else. Memorization is a skill just like a rudiment and you have to work at it. Some people are naturally better at memorization than others but you have to work at it to get it to your best level.

I am not familiar with that drummer but watched the Meinl video of him playing and it's not a particular difficult song, there is a lot of subtlety and technique as well as a lot of changes to make it a challenge, especially for a newer player. It's got a good feel without being overly complicated for the music.

Are you recording yourself in any way to critique yourself? That is always a good thing to do because our perception while playing can very different than reality.

You also need to make sure that you have all the tools necessary to play any given song. If there is something that you are struggling with then that tool needs work so focus on building that skill. Especially if you have limited time to practice.

Also don't discount practicing simpler songs and getting them down pat. If you haven't built the skills to master simpler songs, you will have a harder time with more complicated material. Drumming is like building a house. You have to have a good solid foundation and build from there.
 

bigbonzo

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Everybody is different and will grow as a drummer at a different rate. I will say however that the more you practice, the faster you will improve. I don't know if there is any science behind it but I would tend to think spending 30 in one session would be better than three 10 minute sessions. It takes me some time to get warmed up and 10 minutes at a time wouldn't work well for me. Drumming involves altering your brain to make all four limbs work in ways that is a little unnatural. It takes a lot of time and repetition to make those modifications and master everything required to play well. It really never stops if you have the desire to be great.
This. I remember when I used to practice a minimum of an hour a day. Though, that was when I had less day to day responsibilities. But, you need to put in practice time at longer periods of time, if you are able.
 

NYFrank

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Doesn't matter.
All that matters is - are you enjoying the journey, and, are you putting in the work/time commensurate with your goals. Beyond that, thinking about your pace relative to any other individual on the planet - is wasted energy.

Enjoy.
 

Tama CW

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To get the most out of practice, you need to work on what you're not good at. So be critical of yourself. Memorizing someone else's playing note for note is a challenging exercise....especially in developing your 'reading' skills. But I think the excessive amount of time to do that is better serviced doing regular practice routines. Time on the rubber pad is important in developing the feel and speed in your hands. Whenever I did daily pad practice sessions of at least 30 min for a week, I always improved my kit playing by the end of that week....even if I avoided the kit all week. If I'm copying someone else I try to limit it to the basic beat or groove they are laying down. Getting every single nuance and stroke in fills isn't always optimizing your time. Every time I sit down at the kit there is a "force" that tries to steer me to a "comfort" zone of things I tend to be good at playing. You have to break out of that multiple times per session. Try things that are uncomfortable every session. They will be easier the next session.
 

Thinkwriter

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Doesn't matter.
All that matters is - are you enjoying the journey, and, are you putting in the work/time commensurate with your goals. Beyond that, thinking about your pace relative to any other individual on the planet - is wasted energy.

Enjoy.
I am. I find playing, for lack of better word, meditative. I am just a little curious what others' experiences are and get impatient at times. Another thing, much with anything music-related in my life, I have no well defined goals.

But you're right, it's about the journey. Just wanna share mine with people who'd gone (is going) through the same.
 

Thinkwriter

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T
Everybody is different and will grow as a drummer at a different rate. I will say however that the more you practice, the faster you will improve. I don't know if there is any science behind it but I would tend to think spending 30 in one session would be better than three 10 minute sessions. It takes me some time to get warmed up and 10 minutes at a time wouldn't work well for me. Drumming involves altering your brain to make all four limbs work in ways that is a little unnatural. It takes a lot of time and repetition to make those modifications and master everything required to play well. It really never stops if you have the desire to be great.

If you are memorizing the song note for note then I find listening to the song a lot helps, even when doing something else. Memorization is a skill just like a rudiment and you have to work at it. Some people are naturally better at memorization than others but you have to work at it to get it to your best level.

I am not familiar with that drummer but watched the Meinl video of him playing and it's not a particular difficult song, there is a lot of subtlety and technique as well as a lot of changes to make it a challenge, especially for a newer player. It's got a good feel without being overly complicated for the music.

Are you recording yourself in any way to critique yourself? That is always a good thing to do because our perception while playing can very different than reality.

You also need to make sure that you have all the tools necessary to play any given song. If there is something that you are struggling with then that tool needs work so focus on building that skill. Especially if you have limited time to practice.

Also don't discount practicing simpler songs and getting them down pat. If you haven't built the skills to master simpler songs, you will have a harder time with more complicated material. Drumming is like building a house. You have to have a good solid foundation and build from there.
Appreciate your input! I have tried recording myself just recently. I didn't do it before despite hearing such advice because I must've been really awful I knew what didn't sound right, what I was having trouble with (weak hand, consecutive bass hits, etc.)

But, yes, recording gives me an idea where I'm dragging and rushing, things I never notice real-time. I'll do that more often.

About practice time, I get to do 30m-1h a few times a week. I just get my workout every chance I get. That's why it's mostly 10 min cause that's what I can squeeze in before I'm needed elsewhere.
 

Thinkwriter

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To get the most out of practice, you need to work on what you're not good at. So be critical of yourself. Memorizing someone else's playing note for note is a challenging exercise....especially in developing your 'reading' skills. But I think the excessive amount of time to do that is better serviced doing regular practice routines. Time on the rubber pad is important in developing the feel and speed in your hands. Whenever I did daily pad practice sessions of at least 30 min for a week, I always improved my kit playing by the end of that week....even if I avoided the kit all week. If I'm copying someone else I try to limit it to the basic beat or groove they are laying down. Getting every single nuance and stroke in fills isn't always optimizing your time. Every time I sit down at the kit there is a "force" that tries to steer me to a "comfort" zone of things I tend to be good at playing. You have to break out of that multiple times per session. Try things that are uncomfortable every session. They will be easier the next session.
There's something similar to that doing-something-uncomfortable idea I've been meaning to try. Perhaps it's time to give it a whirl.

About this song I've been learning though - - I must've not been clear - - I bought it as a lesson pack. I like that there's structure in what I'm doing. And I figured, just with guitar or bass, I get the most out of doing things project-based. Also the investment (small as the amount is) helps you commit to it more.

Not sure what I'm trying to say. But yeah it's a good idea optimizing my time with something more basic. Been holding off breaking out the practice pad.
 
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Tornado

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I wasn't familiar with the song you were talking about, so I went to watch it. If you don't have a firm grasp on your rudiments, especially the 5 stroke roll, you're going to have a hard time with that. From the couple of minutes I watched, the whole song seems to be a 5 stroke roll and ghost note exercise. I would say that if you are estimating 2 years to learn to play that song note for note, it doesn't indicate that you are progressing too slowly. It indicates that you aren't ready for it and your time would be better spent doing other things. It's not hard, unless it's hard for you. Figure out what makes it hard for you, master those things, then it's not hard.

Now, beyond just being able to play it. To be able to play it like him is a completely different thing than just playing the right notes. Adam Tumarino is a very polished drummer and he plays with the finesse and control you just aren't going to have as a beginner. Once again, that's not necessarily a problem of rate of progress, that's more of a problem with unrealistic expectations. That's the part that takes a lot of time.
 
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Thinkwriter

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I wasn't familiar with the song you were talking about, so I went to watch it. If you don't have a firm grasp on your rudiments, especially the 5 strike roll, you're going to have a hard time with that. From the couple of minutes I watched, the whole song seems to be a 5 stroke roll and ghost note exercise. I would say that if you are estimating 2 years to learn to play that song note for note, it doesn't indicate that you are progressing too slowly. It indicates that you aren't ready for it and your time would be better spent doing other things. It's not hard, unless it's hard for you. Figure out what makes it hard for you, master those things, then it's not hard.

Now, beyond just being able to play it. To be able to play it like him is a completely different thing than just playing the right notes. Adam Tumarino is a very polished drummer and he plays with the finesse and control you just aren't going to have as a beginner. Once again, that's not necessarily a problem of rate of progress, that's more of a problem with unrealistic expectations. That's the part that takes a lot of time.
Thanks! I've never thought about it that way. I don't know if I ever wished I could play it like Adam. I just want to be able to play it decently, if that makes sense.
 

GiveMeYourSmallestSticks!

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Haven't listened to the song, but if it's true that so much of it is based on 5 stroke rolls and playing ghost notes, spending more time on your rudiments, stick control and ambidexterity on a practice pad will give you a better shot of playing it well. You could practice those fundamentals for a month, and it would likely make the song far easier to understand and play well within a shorter timeframe than the two years you mentioned.

I'm a self taught drummer, partially because we didn't have all of the amazing youtube content currently available when I was learning, and partially because as a precocious teenager I just wanted to play songs rather than practice rudiments. I learned by playing along to Led Zeppelin, figuring if I could approximate what Bonham was doing I'd be in decent shape. I learned so much by trying to figure out what different drummers were doing, and trying to replicate it. That said, there were serious gaps in my technique and my ability to understand exactly what they were doing (Bonham's triplet fills, for instance), and I tended to avoid or leave out the more complex parts. I also had great difficulty playing anything but those tunes, and found it near impossible to apply those skills in new and more original ways. It has only been with time (and wisdom?), as well as an increased interest in different types of music beyond RAWK that I've gone back to the practice pad and found the value in practicing my rudiments and technique.

Someone mentioned it earlier, but I began to fall into the rut of playing what I already knew how to, or whatever I was comfortable with or enjoyed playing the most. It made practice fun, but it also made me stagnate. Being able to play those Zeppelin tunes felt good, and was impressive to others who heard me, but it gave me a false sense of confidence. Going back to my rudiments and trying my hand at other types of music from around the world took that confidence away and seriously humbled me. It made me painfully aware of my deficits, but gave me many new things to aspire to. Playing with other musicians rather than playing along to a track also provided new inspiration and challenges, and showed me the limits of my previous approach.

If I could make a suggestion, it would be to develop the skills needed for the song, but not just by practicing the song. This will help you to hone in on the muscle memory and the skill itself, and to spread out and find other ways to apply the same skill in a variety of contexts. That way you're not learning a song (>), but a set of drumming skills (<). You'll master the song much sooner, and have a skill set that can be applied in broader contexts in the future.
 

Lazmo

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Firstly, wouldn’t hold off breaking out the practice pad. When I’m learning something new, it is nearly always on my pad setup. I don’t have to subject the household to hearing me go over something endlessly until it is sorted. And if you get it sounding good on pads, it gonna be awesome on a kit. Pads are great

Secondly, I’d get a teacher. Your teacher can look at what you are doing and steer you in the right direction. You don’t have to stay with one either, shop around, see who you connect with and helps you the most.
 

Thinkwriter

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Haven't listened to the song, but if it's true that so much of it is based on 5 stroke rolls and playing ghost notes, spending more time on your rudiments, stick control and ambidexterity on a practice pad will give you a better shot of playing it well. You could practice those fundamentals for a month, and it would likely make the song far easier to understand and play well within a shorter timeframe than the two years you mentioned.

I'm a self taught drummer, partially because we didn't have all of the amazing youtube content currently available when I was learning, and partially because as a precocious teenager I just wanted to play songs rather than practice rudiments. I learned by playing along to Led Zeppelin, figuring if I could approximate what Bonham was doing I'd be in decent shape. I learned so much by trying to figure out what different drummers were doing, and trying to replicate it. That said, there were serious gaps in my technique and my ability to understand exactly what they were doing (Bonham's triplet fills, for instance), and I tended to avoid or leave out the more complex parts. I also had great difficulty playing anything but those tunes, and found it near impossible to apply those skills in new and more original ways. It has only been with time (and wisdom?), as well as an increased interest in different types of music beyond RAWK that I've gone back to the practice pad and found the value in practicing my rudiments and technique.

Someone mentioned it earlier, but I began to fall into the rut of playing what I already knew how to, or whatever I was comfortable with or enjoyed playing the most. It made practice fun, but it also made me stagnate. Being able to play those Zeppelin tunes felt good, and was impressive to others who heard me, but it gave me a false sense of confidence. Going back to my rudiments and trying my hand at other types of music from around the world took that confidence away and seriously humbled me. It made me painfully aware of my deficits, but gave me many new things to aspire to. Playing with other musicians rather than playing along to a track also provided new inspiration and challenges, and showed me the limits of my previous approach.

If I could make a suggestion, it would be to develop the skills needed for the song, but not just by practicing the song. This will help you to hone in on the muscle memory and the skill itself, and to spread out and find other ways to apply the same skill in a variety of contexts. That way you're not learning a song (>), but a set of drumming skills (<). You'll master the song much sooner, and have a skill set that can be applied in broader contexts in the future.
I'm happy to report I've some progress since I last read the responses here. I kind of took to heart people's advice especially the taking longer practice takes. Lockdown had me sitting on my kit 3-4 hours. I now know the entire song and had bumped up the speed to 82% the original tempo. Now I'm taking my time getting comfortable with the parts; no reason to hurry.

Yep, the six-stroke rolls are nasty and I see it'd be brutal getting it down pat. I really want to get to play with other musicians and I know how that could accelerate my progress, but tbh it's hard finding other people who'd be willing to take time off their schedules.
 

Old Drummer

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Yeah, I just googled the song, listened to a bit of it, and wondered why the heck any beginning drummer would even try to play it lick for lick.

Actually, I don't know why any advanced drummer would bother to learn it lick for lick. I suppose some driven conservatory student might accept the challenge of copying the drumming as an exercise, but it would be one grueling exercise.

It's not that the drumming is terribly difficult. It's not easy, but it's not that difficult. The issue is rather that the guy is doing lots of different stuff in darn near every measure. Were I to play the song, I'd get a feel for the basic beat and the overall song, then play it my way. I wouldn't copy this drumming exactly or want to.

My recommendation is to forget this lesson pack or whatever it is and focus instead on more basic drumming in more basic drumming songs. Memorizing this guy's playing in this song would be torture. Of course, if you actually memorized it and could play it, you'd be well on your way to being a great drummer, but it's a hard way to reach that goal.
 

Thinkwriter

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Firstly, wouldn’t hold off breaking out the practice pad. When I’m learning something new, it is nearly always on my pad setup. I don’t have to subject the household to hearing me go over something endlessly until it is sorted. And if you get it sounding good on pads, it gonna be awesome on a kit. Pads are great

Secondly, I’d get a teacher. Your teacher can look at what you are doing and steer you in the right direction. You don’t have to stay with one either, shop around, see who you connect with and helps you the most.
The teacher thing I plan on doing. As a guitarist helping friends learn the instrument, I'm raring to get input from someone who actually knows how to play drums and critique me in person. Just got derailed with losing my job and all because of this pandemic thing.
 

Thinkwriter

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Yeah, I just googled the song, listened to a bit of it, and wondered why the heck any beginning drummer would even try to play it lick for lick.

Actually, I don't know why any advanced drummer would bother to learn it lick for lick. I suppose some driven conservatory student might accept the challenge of copying the drumming as an exercise, but it would be one grueling exercise.

It's not that the drumming is terribly difficult. It's not easy, but it's not that difficult. The issue is rather that the guy is doing lots of different stuff in darn near every measure. Were I to play the song, I'd get a feel for the basic beat and the overall song, then play it my way. I wouldn't copy this drumming exactly or want to.

My recommendation is to forget this lesson pack or whatever it is and focus instead on more basic drumming in more basic drumming songs. Memorizing this guy's playing in this song would be torture. Of course, if you actually memorized it and could play it, you'd be well on your way to being a great drummer, but it's a hard way to reach that goal.
Basic songs I honestly didn't like doing. I tried a few with simple beats and it got boring really quick. My frustration was when I tried incorporating licks and fills--ones I painstaking learned from YT videos that I thought sounded cool--into these but it didn't feel right or they sounded out of place or forced. I agree though that I need to take on songs and make my own versions of them that sound good to me.

I figured instead of "winging it" I try something with an explanation. Also I like the clear-cut and the structured.
 

Old Drummer

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My frustration was when I tried incorporating licks and fills--ones I painstaking learned from YT videos that I thought sounded cool--into these but it didn't feel right or they sounded out of place or forced.
Interesting. With a very small exception, I don't remember ever practicing licks and fills. The very small exception is that when I first started out, I do remember initially practicing the "roll around the drums," just four 16th notes on each drum to make my way around them. (BTW, this isn't a bad fill.) After that, gosh, I just played whatever felt right and never thought about it.

What you're doing reminds me of when I was a kid taking lessons and my teacher kept handing me steadily more difficult snare drum solos to learn. (My lessons were only on the snare.) I'd look at the new one, see it dense with black ink, and groan over how impossible it was to sightread. It was then a matter of taking it slow, measure by measure, until a few months later I'd win a trophy playing it in a contest. Although there was zero direct transfer between those solos and the playing I subsequently did, learning those solos probably did prepare my hands to play all kinds of different things later.

I can't therefore say that your approach is misguided. It might be the correct approach. Although I very briefly gave drum lessons years ago, I didn't like it and don't consider myself a good teacher. Good luck.
 

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