Most of us are unaware of our physical habits from our daily life that carry over when play drums.We all have ways we physically respond to everything that happens in our daily life.
It’s unconscious for the most part and habitual as well.
When we sit down (or stand ) to play drums we are often repeating physical ways of movement that are related to other things we do in life. To emotional inputs.
That is to say, for better or worse we bring who we are and how we physically react and respond to things and situations emotionally and physically in our lives to the drum when we play. For example, people that tighten up as a response to tense situations will tighten up when they play unless corrected. Say the rhythms starts to go faster and they are not ready, or used to it. Maybe there is fear of not being able to hang or perform. The response will be to contract.
Those of us who try to force things physically, a jam door that won’t open, force a key in the door or whatever will try to force their drumming when learning and play too hard. Those that try to wiggle the key and be patient will often be patient learners. What I am saying is we bring who we are, and how we react physically and emotionally to the drum.
Since emotions play a big part of how we react to situations in life physically, this happens when drumming as well. I am explaining this for students and teachers as well.
Because if you are wondering why your student keeps raising his hand to high and pounding the drum incorrectly its because of muscle memory related to other things in his life. This is how she or he habitually responds. “Good” students or those who learn quickly and easily often have developed ways and means of dealing with other aspects of their life, and their physical actions as well. It’s all related.
The “pounder” student will often have a physical way of dealing with situations as I have already mentioned. Maybe he or she has found they can muscle their way through obstacles. By realizing this simple fact and understanding this we can then take the necessary steps to create the change to correct the playing problems. We therefore have to fid what our tendencies are, recognize them and find ways and means of correcting these things if they are effecting our learning process and or holding us back.
This is also why some people do not learn the drums despite having the desire. They are stuck in old habits and not able to break out because they have not learned or practiced the techniques to break the habits.
If you or a student are the forceful or tightening type you need to be doing fluidity exercises, not exercise that tighten you up or make you tense, like playing as fast and as loud as you can. However we are out of balance, we need to do the opposite training to balance the deficiency. We want to counteract. If you are not hitting the drum hard enough then we need to do exercises to build up your power. If you can’t play fast then you need to irk on wind sprints. If you can only play fast or one speed then you need to practice playing at different speeds. And so on and so fourth.
The interesting thing is that unless you realize this or someone points it out even if you practice for hours a day it may not help you improve at drumming if you are doing the wrong exercise.
Most of do the wrong exercises naturally because our tendency is to do what is comfortable or familiar. So a person who is playing to tense might still be practicing and being tense as that is their tendency and habit.
i have a student who is very attentive and understands everything I explain in class. I tell him to breathe, to relax, to leave space when he solos. To build up into his solo. To tell a story. He does fine in class, when I am there. But when I observe him playing at a drum circle and also on video tapes I see that as soon as he puts on the dry to play, as soon as he touches the drum, something happens like he is hypnotized. Everything goes out the window. And he starts to solo, rapid fire.
This is because he is going back to muscle memory as he does not practice the techniques at home, he practices what is comfortable. If this person was to practice the techniques and exercises I showed him then he can retrain his muscle memory. In yoga they show you ways to be flexible and strong at the same time. They show you how your posture is sometimes bad and how to correct it. They give you an awareness to bring to your daily life of how to hold your body in everyday situations. This awareness can deeply effect us in profound ways and also help to change how e react to situations.
Many of us don’t realize we are slumping when we play.Our posture might be tilted or we might be doing things unconsciously that are not correct. If you don’t have a teacher and sen if you do, try to watch yourself play in the mirror and see if you can “self correct”. It will help you immensely.
Its these simple corrections that can create big changes in our playing. By setting your intention and coming up with a game plan it is relatively easy to change your physical habits when playing drums. I leave notes on my Ksink Ksink (metal fins) mounted to my drum i can see when I play that say, “breathe” (as I sometimes hold my breath), play 50% less notes (as i often over play), relax (as I sometimes get tense) and in the largest letters,”HAVE FUN”!