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Keeping tempos from rushing when SUPER EXCITED

Tornado

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Breathe. Keep in your head, "don't rush". Write that on a drum head where you'll always see it. Think to yourself, "I'm too cool to get there too soon". Or "I'm too cool to get excited about that fill I've been working on". There's all kinds of mental things you can do until this isn't a problem. Count 1,2,3,4 in your head or under your breath. Our counting time is almost invariably better in time than our hands. I had (have?) a tendency to play in front of the pulse, but someone told me to try letting it drag me along. That was just a mental cue that kept me from being so in front of it, which can lead to speeding up. I think an awareness of how bad it sounds goes a long way too. Like, one of the things drummers tend to speed up on are parts where things build up (e.g. going into a chorus) and knowing how much it takes the wind out of the sails of the song keeps you from doing it. Speeding up on exciting parts can really kill the tension that you're building up to. I have to really watch myself sometimes.
 

bigbeat

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I use a Roktempo. It's like the speedometer in your car-it tells you how fast you're going. To get the correct tempo in my head before a song I tap on it lightly until it reads out the tempo I want. That (or a small metronome) will give you the correct tempo.
 

Erik

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Whatever tool you use, use it every time you play. Rehearsals/gigs/practice. I use a Tempometer... I don't think they are in business anymore, but you can see it on my snare. It is my speed o meter, and it does read in bpm. Sometimes I have to take out my ghost notes to get a solid read of 2 & 4, but I love this thing. Over time you will learn where you rush... I tend to rush mid-tempo songs and drag slow ones.
 

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John DeChristopher

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Some really great comments and advice here. I can't add much. I'll just say from personal experience, breathing is so important and helpful. Not to drop names, but Steve Gadd gave me that bit of advice years ago and it's very helpful. And relax. If you're feeling excited, get your heart rate down to a relaxed rate. Count the tempo in your head and think about the vocal.

Keeping great time (not perfect, but great time) is both the hardest and most important job we drummers have. I by no means have perfect time and I obsess over it probably more than anything these days. And that (obsession) can get in your head. It still does some nights.

I was using an app called Tempo for every gig and although it was helpful, I started to become dependent on it, to the point where I felt I couldn't play without it. My bandmates encouraged me to stop using it, which I've done. I write our set lists and include the BPM for each song, but now I use the BPM as a reference, rather than using the Tempo app for every song and looking at my phone most of the time. I'll sometimes use the Tempo app to help me zone in on the right tempo to count off the song, but I don't rely on it for the entire song.

And it's ok if the tempo moves a little during the song. The key is not starting it too fast. I've found by writing the BPM for each song, when going from a song that's say 125 BPM to 100 BPM, seeing that slower BPM for the next song helps keep me honest. Even if I don't play it at a perfect 100 BPM, my mind registers that it's significantly slower than the previous song and I'm consciously aware of not playing it too fast.

But as many have already said, it starts with developing good time. Practicing with a metronome or click track, playing along to records, focusing on playing good time ahead of playing fills or trying to play fast. The things we think are cool, but not what you get hired for.

And you're right - alcohol and drugs will only worsen your ability to keep good time. Been there and done that... Good luck!
 

rsmittee

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Forgive me, I've posted this before, but it seems appropriate for this thread. Schulman gives us a great method for improving internal time. I've been working on it regularly the past few weeks, and I'm already noticing a difference. The "Rhythm Course" starts around 3:30 min in.

 

Talktotommy

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Maybe I’m on the other side here, and I don’t like sloppy tempo within a song, but… I don’t want to hear the same song played exactly the same at the same tempo every time it’s played. I like different versions that have different feel, tempo, etc. depending on the crowd/mood.
 

vintagedrummersweden

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Some really great comments and advice here. I can't add much. I'll just say from personal experience, breathing is so important and helpful. Not to drop names, but Steve Gadd gave me that bit of advice years ago and it's very helpful. And relax. If you're feeling excited, get your heart rate down to a relaxed rate. Count the tempo in your head and think about the vocal.

Keeping great time (not perfect, but great time) is both the hardest and most important job we drummers have. I by no means have perfect time and I obsess over it probably more than anything these days. And that (obsession) can get in your head. It still does some nights.

I was using an app called Tempo for every gig and although it was helpful, I started to become dependent on it, to the point where I felt I couldn't play without it. My bandmates encouraged me to stop using it, which I've done. I write our set lists and include the BPM for each song, but now I use the BPM as a reference, rather than using the Tempo app for every song and looking at my phone most of the time. I'll sometimes use the Tempo app to help me zone in on the right tempo to count off the song, but I don't rely on it for the entire song.

And it's ok if the tempo moves a little during the song. The key is not starting it too fast. I've found by writing the BPM for each song, when going from a song that's say 125 BPM to 100 BPM, seeing that slower BPM for the next song helps keep me honest. Even if I don't play it at a perfect 100 BPM, my mind registers that it's significantly slower than the previous song and I'm consciously aware of not playing it too fast.

But as many have already said, it starts with developing good time. Practicing with a metronome or click track, playing along to records, focusing on playing good time ahead of playing fills or trying to play fast. The things we think are cool, but not what you get hired for.

And you're right - alcohol and drugs will only worsen your ability to keep good time. Been there and done that... Good luck!
I think it was Greg Bissonette who told the story from the Buddy Rich show he did with mr Gadd: when he was warming up, playing different stuff and getting all warmed up - Gadd just sat there clicking his sticks.
When asked what he was doing he just answered something like "I'm getting the tempo for the first song".

Also, when listening to old live recordings with Benny Goodman trio and quartet, one of the most fun things is when Gene drives the band and really gets into it, and the songs start rushing. To me that's great playing - the feeling of excitement shining through!
 

RIDDIM

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Bigger gigs with more people = heightened adrenaline and excitement, which, if not handled right = faster tempos.

My band played a bigger gig (for us) this past weekend and I was SO JACKED. We all were. But the tempos got way out of control and I feel like a terrible drummer right now.

Pros who have played some bigger live gigs, how do you keep from jacking up the tempos when you're excited? (not click track - I won't roll that way - not open to alcohol or drug use as a solution either)...

Any advice? Thanks
This has happened to me a few times over the years. Listening to the playbacks is humbling. I think it comes down to awareness.

We can't change history, but realizing where we tend to go off the rails is a good start. Hearing yourself do so can be instructional.
Since I started recording most gigs/rehearsals, this happens to me much less.

It may help to run Live BPM (or use a Beat Bug or similar device) while you're playing; it's not perfect, but it'll give you a general idea of where the tempo is. It may shift a bit during very busy parts, but it should revert to the starting tempo when things get sparser. And if you start and end at the same time, maybe you haven't lost the plot entirely.

I hope this helps.
 
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KevinD

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Lots of good advice here in terms of various tech aids that will help out.

I'm going to bet that the drummer is NOT the only one in the band that is getting pulled into the energy... BUT I'm afraid that in most case everyone will look at the drummer to "step up" and make sure that things are harnessed a bit.

#1 though... get a firm grip on the start tempos for the set list... I would practice counting them off and then playing 4-8 bars into the song on your own, then check your tempo. You may uncover some issues by doing that. You may even be surprised that you end up faster than your reference tempo after a few bars.
If anything, that will make you aware of any possible trouble spots, such as getting, and later maintaining the correct tempo from a blinking light (even the apps with pendulum types of displays) which is harder that one might think to transfer a visual cue to your brain and then hands. For me it was a learning experience, AND (*edit to add** I should say that even after a lot of focus on the visual thing, it is something that I don't think I'm great at... I continually revisit it to stay fluid in that respect.) .. so that may be something that should be tested and addressed if needed.

As mentioned above... it is a good idea to get some space in between songs so that the band can reset on the tempo thing.

Even with the great tools that are available today, I do agree with others here that one needs to develop a certain level of detachment when playing in those high adrenaline situations.
Take a look at some videos of Steve Gadd or Gavin Harrison (Bruford comes to mind as well) the songs are often seen cooking along but they remain loose and laid back, providing a solid foundation, yet still driving things..Overall, they are just back there smoothly chugging along.
It is very easy, almost natural to get caught up in the adrenaline but that is one of the things I believe that is part of the "behind the curtain" thing that we do... we maintain the energy and the experience for the audience, yet keep the actual integrity of the song intact..

One thing that has been useful to me is to practice relaxed breathing exercises. I think I first read a Roy Burns MD column about it years and years ago, then Billy Ward covered that in one of his great videos. For me it helped quite a bit... It may take a while to get the hang of it, but I think it is worth trying. (you can good a number of different breathing exercises)

Most of all though, one thing that helps problems like this is just plain gigging time as a unit. If you were playing say, two shows a day for an extended period of time (like on a cruise ship or something) I would bet that the tempo issues would right themselves after 3-4 gigs... Everyone generally settles in by then.. So on the flip side it is a challenge when your band only gigs once to twice a month...

That just makes it more important for the drummer to make sure the engine runs smoothly.
 
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Polska

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I also wrote "breathe" and "focus" on my snare head as a reminder. We get caught up in the moment. Realizing it's happening is key. Then refocus, and slowly bring the tempo back down. If it can't be done on that song, at least you are now aware and can make adjustments to the next one. At the least I also recommend click practice on your own. You'll eventually get a feeling for tempos, and then even if they aren't spot-on, you can keep them in control.
 

rsmittee

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The hard part is reeling it in mid-song. I usually wait for a change like verse to chorus, or coming out of a solo, etc. where I can use a fill or feel change to disguise the tempo change a bit so it's not so noticeable to the audience, and not as jarring to the band.
 

Azoth

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Bigger gigs with more people = heightened adrenaline and excitement, which, if not handled right = faster tempos.

My band played a bigger gig (for us) this past weekend and I was SO JACKED. We all were. But the tempos got way out of control and I feel like a terrible drummer right now.

Pros who have played some bigger live gigs, how do you keep from jacking up the tempos when you're excited? (not click track - I won't roll that way - not open to alcohol or drug use as a solution either)...

Any advice? Thanks
i had a show recently where I knew right off the bat I counted off too fast. I actually preferred the song at a higher tempo, but after, the singer laughed and said, "I could barely sing the lyrics!" He was a good sport about it, but yeah adrenaline can be a bitch. Many pros use a click. It's not my favorite way to play, but some bands require it and it's a good skill to have. Once you get it down to where it's "there" but you're not focusing on it, it can be pretty fun. You can relax and do what you do, at the same time knowing you are all in check (for the most part).
 

BennyK

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Keep it simple . When I try to squeeze five pounds of peanuts into a four pounf bag , things get crowded and when they get crowded they can speed up . Nobody in the audience really cares about graces notes or clever independence on the bell of your ride . Lock onto who ever in your band is steady and together anchor an andrenalin overdose .

Even after counting off a song the tempo may be different than what you're accustomed to in the studio or rehearsal room . Let the trajectory happen naturally and nail the comfort zone .

These are suggestions if you feel somethings off . Maybe its OK and you don't know it . I used to assume the worst on those big stages where the band was spread out like a soccer team . Monitor mix is decisive , eye contact and confirmation too .
 
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CherryClassic

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If your lucky enough to have a good bass player you guys have to look at each other then lock in together. Dragging it back down to normal is hard but if you two can work it back some it want be noticeable. May not be able to go back to normal but anything will help. Then prior to the next song take a deep breath and start the next song with the two of you locking in. That concentration will help getting your mind off the jitters.

Now that works for my style of music, if your a hard rocker that may not be so easy to do, I don't know.

sherm
 

drumflyer

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Next best thing (actually better than)to a click.
 


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