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We all have those days when you sit down at the drums and nothing seems to be going right, the playing is sloppy, and the timing is off. In the past, I would usually just chalk it up to a bad day and start over the next day. Then, I started to think about the various reasons for these bad days so I can have fewer of them. Here are my thoughts on some things you can do about bad drumming days.

 

PLAYING AND PRACTICING

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It’s helpful to take note if these bad days happen when you are practicing the drums, playing the drums, and/or both. As mentioned in Stop Wasting Your Time Practicing! (which I will quote throughout this article),
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“There is a difference between practicing your instrument and playing your instrument. Generally, the point of practicing is to improve the things you can’t play well and playing is using what you know how to do to make music.“

 

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My bad days when practicing happen when I forget the general purpose of practicing above. It’s easy to unconsciously feel something is wrong anytime we make mistakes, but they are part of how we grow and progress.
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“Having the right attitude about making mistakes when practicing will have a big effect on how fast you master your instrument.”

 

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I also have bad days when I have unrealistic expectations about how long things should take to learn. Some things take longer than others to learn and how long depends on the muscle memory you already have. The first time you execute something correctly and at speed, it’s not in your long term memory yet. How long that takes has to do with, among other factors, how consistently you practice it. It could just be that you haven’t worked on it consistently enough yet.
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“Keep a practice journal to track your progress and to keep from getting discouraged.“

 

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Another reason for my bad days is when something I am working on sounded better yesterday/last week than it does today. That can be frustrating.
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It could be because I am focused on something specific that I haven’t practiced and wasn’t focusing on previously.  Let’s take playing paradiddles for example. Let’s say you can play them in general but have never focused on each individual stroke. Then today you focus on making sure the doubles at the end are even. That can throw you off. The doubles at the end may or may not have been fine yesterday/last week, but you weren’t concentrating on them then.
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My bad days when playing usually happen when I am thinking about or playing things that need to be addressed in practice. (See all of the tips above).

 

OUTSIDE INFLUENCES

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It may be just me, but I sometimes don’t realize how much outside influences affect my drumming. Some examples of outside influences would be if you haven’t eaten enough, or if you’re really tired, or just having had an argument with someone. If you are noticing that these things are affecting your drumming, plan for them ahead of time. Take a snack with you or try to take a nap before you play.
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You can start your drumming session by calming yourself, focusing on your breathing to relax, and minimize the distractions of the day.

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ONE LAST THOUGHT
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If you record what you’re doing, you might find on play back that your bad day was not as bad as you thought. And if you find that it is as bad as you thought, I hope these tips help.