Relaxing while drumming

MuzZle

New member
Hi everybody, I have a question. I have been playing drums for about 9 years now and am pretty proficient at it. I am an all around very educated drummer, I started off playing back in the day with my rudiments and then went to grooves, then different styles like Jazz and latin and poly-rhythmic beats. Through all these years, however, one major problem for me has been that I am very stiff when I play. I always have trouble relaxing when I play, my beats and grooves sound good, but I can tell when I listen to my own recordings and I believe that me being tense is affecting the sound of my drumming. i was wondering if anybody else has/had this problem and what they do to alleviate it? I drum with my wrists and fingers and my body still tenses up, ahhh! Help!
 

bloodshotneo

New member
I' too have been playing nine years and the best way I found to relaxe while drumming is too Learn to relax while drumming. like right now just put you arms by your side and let them set there dont even move just let them set. Now when you go to your drum try the exact same thing and just say hit the snare or something slow but be AS RELAXED AS POSSIBLE. Then try your other hand. and then after that try alittle faster. but know this. That no Matter how fast you play you can never TOTALLY relax it's impossible. you think about it . you move you use muscle. So basically to relax as much as you can start slow and see what your limit is. Exercising works bc if you have more muscle then it's easier to perform task. But also it's good to build what's called twitch muscles the one's you know where you can move alot faster than normal. they are built by things like taking those exercise stretch bands and Holding your arms and legs in a position. I hope you know what im talking about. But n e way I play alot of Prog. Death metal ( DRUMMING ) that's it. and metal and bits of other stuff here and there. so overall Im pretty relaxed but never totally
 

Mxpxdude189

New member
maybe you get nervous when you play? i don't know, I used to be really nervous when I started playing shows with everyone staring at me and stuff. But then i said to myself, "These people are here to see you, so you better be awesome and put on a good show." I tell myself that whenever i start to get nervous, and it mentally helps me relax and just have fun. Maybe you're focusing TOO much on technique to actually play. I try to use KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) on some songs, because they don't need all this technical business. Maybe just a flam or something simple with a nice backbeat. When it comes down to it, it's about enjoying yourself. When i mess up at live shows, me and my bass player just kind of laugh about it (even though messing up is always bad). I hope this kind of helps...
 

infiznitch

New member
Moeller technique!! use it man, believe me it will change the way you drum. Moeller technique on the kit will help you play for longer periods of time, help you maximize you kit's volume without putting unnecessary streess on your heads, cymbals, sticks, and most importantly your hands. plus ... it just looks so much cooler live than playing stiff!! Go find some videos on youtube or just buy an instructional video, i know they have one at www.moellertechnique.com or just try google
 

fuzionman

New member
take a deep breath, keep your hands loose. let the stick do the work. and yes, moeller technique is very, very useful.
 

RogersDrummer

New member
I've been playing drums for over 10 years now, and the big thing that has helped me relax on stage is just to simply close my eyes. Thats it.

If you mean stiffness in your overall technique, thats a different story. It's just a matter of learning to play looser. The configuration that your drums are setup in can have a great effect on how stiff or loose you play.

Take a look at Dave Weckel's new video. His style is all about loseness and relaxation. If you position your drums and cymbals at a near distance, and you sit a certain way, you can achieve this. If things are too far away, or the angles are too far off, it can cause you to play more frantically.

The Moeller technique is nice, but keep in mind, there are many efficiant ways to hold the sticks. I play traditional, and i use mostly my fingers. I do not use the Moeller technique at all, but I'm still able to play pretty loosely. Its just a matter of not tensing up your muscles too much, if not at all.

Also, take a look at Billy Cobham. He is a fantastic powerful drummer, with a truckload of energy, yet he still plays loosely.
 

drum_bum

New member
iv only been drumming for 4 or so years and find i just get tense before gigs.Although i figure that,if practice has gone well previous to the gig,you know the songs off the top of your head and dont need to think about them and are confident,then just let the groove flow.

maybe a beverage or 2 might help an all..lol.
 

Kendizzle_

New member
Pardon my cliche, but you really do have to get to a point where you "feel the music." Zoning out helps a lot too...
When I first joined my current band, I was stiff as a board b/c I was scared crapless that I would screw up... But when we finally locked in, I was able to let loose...

Energy drinks are nice too... lol
 

will_1

New member
I find there are many aspects to playing in a relaxed way. kit set-up as mentioned earlier, technique etc. Its really important to consider your posture to. I have recently been having lessons in alexander technique (looking at ways of using your body more efficiently, posture etc). I'm now alot more aware of tension not just when playing, but when doing other every day things. I really reccomend
it because it may not be something to do with your technique at all or only partly technique related. If there's tension in your shoulders, neck, back or wherever, the chances are you'll tense up when you play. I've also found using heavier drumsticks helps because the stick provides some extra volume, so you're not forcing alot of volume out of a lighter stick and you're working bigger muscle groups as well. I'm currently using vic firth american classic rock sticks. Although I have a relaxed technique, i have suffered from RSI and using heavier sticks has helped because a) easier to grip cos they're fatter b) the muscle thing i already mentioned c) they require less effort to use (even though that might sound strange) and i use to play with really open fulcrums which got a bit tense when playing loud, so i close them bit more now and that has helped alot.
 

EKoolaidsDrummer

New member
Well, if you know the material youre playing that alone should "help" you to relax....

Just keep in mind a couple of things.....

1. PLAY the drums......
Key word "play" - meaning this should be FUN!!!!!!!

2. Before you go on. Loosely flail your arms about.. Do a "wave" motion with the arms like the "Break dancers" used to...
(This may seem goofy to some but trust me it works....) Key word here - LOOSE - meaning NO TENSION your joints and muscles, FINGERS should be loose...

3. PRACTICE being relaxed.... SOunds weird but it's true, how you practice is how you execute.... Exaggerate wrist movement and elbow movement.

4. Keep your shoulders DOWN.....Back Straight!!!!!!!

5. Get a back rest on your throne......

6. Set up your kit so aid you in not using so much arm when you play....
(Get Modern Drummer festival 2000 and listen to Billy Ward talk about making you kit your allie...) Or watch your favortie drummer and study how he/she sits and move accroding to his/her setup

Just PLAY....
 

Gaddabout

New member
MuzZle":1sbjyqu0 said:
Hi everybody, I have a question. I have been playing drums for about 9 years now and am pretty proficient at it. I am an all around very educated drummer, I started off playing back in the day with my rudiments and then went to grooves, then different styles like Jazz and latin and poly-rhythmic beats. Through all these years, however, one major problem for me has been that I am very stiff when I play. I always have trouble relaxing when I play, my beats and grooves sound good, but I can tell when I listen to my own recordings and I believe that me being tense is affecting the sound of my drumming. i was wondering if anybody else has/had this problem and what they do to alleviate it? I drum with my wrists and fingers and my body still tenses up, ahhh! Help!
Did you by chance start out playing on pillows and learn the rudiments by stroking each note right down to the grace note on flams? This was my experience and I had to unlearn a lot of that stuff when I moved to drum set.

The biggest thing to help me was changing the way I gripped my sticks and focusing on finger control. My first change was to stop stroking with the wrist. I started using more forearm, and I actually learned a proper fulcrum point so the stick could pivot independent of my wrist and arm motions.

Once you learn that, the trick is to learn how to use inertia so the stick is doing the bulk of the work for you. This is not only going to change how you play, you are likely to get better tone out of the drums.

Finger control methods, such as Moeller, have been attacked because a lot of guys who are considered "masters" have little power. But the truth is you can actually get MORE power once you learn the proper arm techniques and what real stick heights are. Just ask Matt Smith, who's on this forum and has great finger technique. Kenny Aronoff is possibly the LOUDEST most POWERFUL drummer in the business, and everything he does comes from finger control and Moeller technique. He can play at insane volumes for hours and hours and not get tired, because he's really not working that hard. He's manipulating the stick to make it work for him. Another guy to watch on TV is Max Weinberg.
 

broozer

New member
what most need to remember about gig, if you're stiff from being nervous, is that IT'S JUST A GIG. not to say it's not important, but in the grand scheme of things, and if you end up playing your whole life, then you will play thousands of gigs. so don't get nervous about one gig that might just be at some hole in the wall with 10 people there.

that being said be sure to play your ass off at every show. :D for the younger crowd here i would not suggest relying on alcohol or other substances to relax. you need to learn how to relax without those things before you get dependant on them to do so. i usually have a glass of scotch or rum and a cigar before a gig, but i NEVER have alot to drink during the gig. playing drunk will not get you far in this business (this ain't the 70's anymore).

bruce
 

NEMESYSdrummer

New member
GREAT topic!!!

For me, the technique comes first, because no one relaxes if they're about to play nonsense in front of a lot of people! Haha! However, I don't think that's your issue because you sound practiced and educated.

My experience, and not necessarily my advice, but what works for me, is to simply listen and soak in the environment. Live the music quarter-note to quarter-note, not verse-to-chorus or even song-to-song. For me, that's when I will speed up or, worse, mess-up a part entirely. To not get ahead of myself and concentrate on the NOW is crucial for the relaxation.

It's very easy to make the mistake of "white-knuckling" the parts with the idea that if I just will the parts, they'll get played well. For me, to think that way is the road to immediate discomfort. It's a total mind-set for me, not so much a matter of technique or whatever.

I will say this: The way I set up my kit is a pretty big deal too. The ergonomics need to be thought-out or I'm going to constantly approach physical discomfort regardless of my mind-set, which will obviously affect my ability to relax.

So, in the end, for me, listening and embracing the song is #1. I let the song go inside of me and almost possess me and ride the wave quarter-note to quarter-note. When I do that, I realize that I'm not caring what anyone thinks because I KNOW it's working for me, and that's all that matters! I'm open for improvement, but I like what I have.

A hippy response, I know, but that's what works for me and I'm sticking to it! 8)

JIMBO -- NEMESYS -- DRUMS

PS: You WILL mess up! Just write the mistakes off; don't carry the shame through the entire set. And, NEVER show your disgust through mannerisms or whatever, because the crowd doesn't notice YOUR mistakes at least half the time! :D
 

DrummerforCSD

New member
The way I relax while playing is by getting into the song. If it's a song I like (which it usually is or I wouldn't be playing it) I start kinda bobbing my head and rocking side to side on my throne. That usually helps me. I call it Drum Dancing :D
 

RogersDrummer

New member
Whether you use the Moeller technique, or the Gruber stick controll method, or wrists and fingers etc...it comes down to how you look upon it mentally. thats the ultimate deciding factor. Relaxation is a mindset. It takes pracice like anything else. Meditation might help, try doing that before you play.
 

huijibo

New member
Just have a mess around man. lol its well good to just throw ur body around the place.

Like u watch travis barker hes moves around the kit great. He does little jumps to the toms and such.

Throwing ur body round loosens it up...u can also get more power in strokes and its more fun. Like try really head banging to some rock or or kinda dancing to jazz etc.
 

huijibo

New member
Just have a mess around man. lol its well good to just throw ur body around the place.

Like u watch travis barker hes moves around the kit great. He does little jumps to the toms and such.

Throwing ur body round loosens it up...u can also get more power in strokes and its more fun. Like try really head banging to some rock or or kinda dancing with your backside to jazz etc.
 

MrMcFetus

New member
I guess I'll just tell you what I do, I might be repeating some stuff, but I'm to lazy to read the rest of the posts.
First of is your kit. What I do to help me play (I also play Jazz, latin, funk and genres like that) is to make sure that my kit is very compact and high up. I'm talking about the bottom your hats maybe 9 inches away from the top of the snare which is also in line with the lowest point in my rack toms. My ride cymbal is so close that I can't use half of my floor tom, and I can reach EVERYTHING without having to straighten out my arms.
one more thing you can do is, and I think this is something only my drum teacher taught me, is to let the music play for you. Yes, hit the drum and all that, but have the music lead you. It's really hard to describe over the internet, but if you just feel the music, you might relax a little bit.
 
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