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Old 01-05-2013, 06:07 PM   #1
DavidPartay
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Speed for the slow learner :P

I'm sure many of you may remember how much trouble I've had building some speed over the years.

Well, funnily enough, over the last two weeks I've gone from 'barely comfortable' at 180, to doing full bars of singles with hands feet at 240.

I won't say it has been 'one or two steps' to make the progress. I think a lot of the gains have to do with my being mentally prepared for the speed for years. This is an important part of learning - and part of the reason I've been able to develop other abilities in the meantime. You need to already "know" how to play what you want to play, whether it's speed or 4 way coordination, or even just making the dynamics of a straight rock beat exactly right.

There are a few foundational things that I know have made a difference:

1. I started working on French grip. I had put this off for so long because I was having so much trouble with it. Turns out that forcing myself to develop it was the #1 key to fixing my left hand's poor technique

2. Develop GOOD technique. Anyone who says "just hit the drum" probably started off with better technique than I did. For years, I felt like with my left hand I was 'pushing' the stick into the head with the fulcrum of my grip. Another thing I discovered was I was holding the stick too high. This is something that I fixed a while ago, but the speed still didn't reliably kick in. So, as far as I'm concerned, technique is CRUCIAL, as it can make or break your speed and endurance gains (I started drumming in 1997... for perspective)

3. Find a warmup exercise, and play it EVERY DAY, no matter how late or tired you are. I've been having serious issues with motivation over the last few months (having been 'over' being unable to play the music I like), but 2 or 3 weeks ago I decided I would do my warmup exercise at the very least, every day, regardless of how tired I am or how late it is. This is important as I have a fairly tight schedule some days.


SO.

On to the meaty bits, assuming all the above are covered.

Frank is aware that I was playing around with a software drumometer for a while, but it turned out that it was under-sensing my kick pad trigger, and over-sensing my hands. I use a Roland V-drums kit with mesh pads for snare + toms, and a rubber pad for the kick. So, this disheartened me to the point (being a perfectionist I felt robbed) that I stopped doing this one altogether, because I knew I couldn't rely on the numbers I was pulling.

I developed my warmup exercise as purely that. Basically, on my V-drums (snare + 3 toms, in standard positions) - 8 strokes per drum, descending, and then ascending back up again. Lead hand changes after I feel I've done it enough. Then 7 strokes per drum. Then 6, etc., all the way down to 2 strokes per drum where I start doing a 3 stroke turnaround at the floor tom and snare to change the lead hand on the way back the other direction (A little thing Virgil showed us at a clinic).

While I'm doing this, I play simultaneous singles with my feet. The #1 goal with this exercise is purely relaxation. The #2 goal is to play it as fast as possible with good technique. So it essentially becomes an endurance exercise and a drill to hammer muscle memory into shape.

After that, I do my double stroke exercise. Basically, starting at 60bpm, I play 8th triplets for 4 bars, then 16ths, then quintuplet 16ths, triplet 16ths, septuplets, and then 32nd notes for 8 bars. Raise the tempo by 5 and repeat, until I reach a speed where I'm getting sloppy, in which case I stop. Then, repeat with feet. With feet I've it's important to aim for maximum volume, especially at the slower speeds. Fast double strokes with feet are the one thing I've ever excelled at, at least when I've worked on them . I used to have a killer right foot in my punk rock days, and just recently I discovered I'm at least as fast now (minimum 220). My left foot varies between 140-200 depending on how I feel that day.


After that comes the single stroke speed building exercise, which was inspired by this video of George Kollias:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nq5kFw1g-5I

I have adopted a similar idea in my own way. I start around 170, raising the bpm by 5 or so, but I stay at each tempo until I'm happy with how I feel playing several bars in a row with hands and feet, depending on the speed. For example, throughout the 170-200 range I was able to play blast beat variations, but 200-220-ish I couldn't keep them in time so played easier variations (usually with alternating singles), and by the time I got to 235 (which was the new record today) I just started aiming to play full single bars of 16th notes (landing on the downbeat of the next bar) with hands and feet. I did the same at 240, but at 245 my limbs had had enough . I don't really keep track of how long I spend at each tempo, I just change up when I feel it's the right time.

With this exercise the rest periods are absolutely important - they help you relax and 'reset' physically and mentally for the next go. It's the same principal as high intensity interval training in the fitness world - short sets at high intensity followed by shorter breaks, with the goal being maximum output. It's known to be very effective.

So, that's really about it. Needless to say I've been blown away by my progress but I believe the only reason I have been able to get so far in the 2 weeks is because I've finally overcome the physical barriers - mentally I've been able to 'understand' the speed for several years. Now it's just a matter of building up the endurance using the exercises I'm working with.

And also, thanks to cranking out what to me are speeds that I've been wanting to play for years, my motivation has returned. This is a good thing .

I hope that if there's anyone else out there struggling with building speed that this has been an inspiration or a help. I've tried a million other strategies, but none of them has ever been as effective as what I'm doing now - so maybe my strategy will work for you.

You should also play music at your fastest comfortable speed (so if you max out at say, 240, aim to play music at between 180-210 depending on what you feel your stamina is like) - NOT at your maximum speed, where your technique starts to fall apart. The songs are the opportunity to cement your muscle memory (ie. central nervous system development) and forces you to apply the speed in ways that you may not necessarily do naturally, or throughout the speed exercise.

Also, if there's anyone out there who is about to start ranting about how speed isn't everything... Please don't. Seriously. My playing has been crippled due to lack of speed, the last 12 years (yes, really) have been immensively frustrating and disheartening, even to the point where I started thinking I was just physically incapable of building up speed. All drummers should be able to play comfortably about 200bpm, so that everything else just works. I could barely play comfortably at 170, and it was evident whenever I had to play anything faster than 140 - maximum speed vs. comfortable speed.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:50 PM   #2
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Guys, a small clarification/advice required from you'll.....
Been doing double bass exercises from Virgil's book with speed variations from 130bpm to 180bpm. I practice for about an hour at a stretch.
But somewhere half way through the hour long practice, i tend to get a subtle yet nagging pain in the left portion of my hip - just above my left leg.

Is this meant to be and am I to continue working on building those muscles? Or is it bad technique and am I doing something wrong?

This pain does not exist whatsoever on my right.
The pain also only lasts while i'm playing the double bass pedal and kind of slowly disappears once i stop playing.
Please help me with this issue.
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Old 01-18-2013, 04:41 AM   #3
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Maybe you can compare your left to your right leg, perhaps playing in front of a mirror.
Does the pain occur during anything else or just double bass drumming?
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:14 AM   #4
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No the pain happens only when I'm playing the double bass.
I generally use my left leg extensively while playing the ride cymbal but have never got the pain before. I've been working on the double pedal for about 8 months now I a serious and disciplined manner. It's been about a week or so since I've finally got a feel for the pedals and my practices are going in a positive direction.
However this pain is a concern. Like I said, the pain develops when I'm doing a double bass exercise and will gradually die down in about 10 minutes after I stop.
I'm not sure if some under developed muscles are being worked or some muscle getting pulled or getting damaged due to my playing.
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:42 PM   #5
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Watch your movements in a mirror for a few days then! Place a bassdrum, hihat and
snare in front of a mirror and practice your double bass that way!
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:05 PM   #6
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I'm using a bunch of practice pads.... so i guess it'll just be moving a mirror in front of me.... lol.... will get back to you after i've worked this out....
Thanx.
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:58 PM   #7
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are there any other drummers here who've had a similar issue in the past or are facing it currently?
in what was(s) have you'll dealt with?
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Old 01-22-2013, 11:42 AM   #8
DavidPartay
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It sounds like it could be a problem with tightness or tenderness in your hip capsule. When you say a 'slight' pain, is it more like a dull ache?

A few things to keep in mind:

1. Ensure you have your knees facing outwards, to keep your hips 'open'. This way you maximise the mobility of your hips and utilise the muscles and joint correctly. The reason this is point #1 is that it's possible you have your secondary pedal set too far inward, in order to have better reach to your hihats. A solution to this (which I have also used in the past, until I got a pedal-mounted cowbell) is to move the slave pedal to the outside of the hihat, that way you get the best of both worlds.

2. It's possible that you have tightness in your hip capsule, a good stretch for this can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTMYVwRihiU - I would start off gently and work out if you find any 'spots' that feel painful while doing the stretch, it would be a good tell as to whether or not there is an underlying issue.

3. It could be a muscular imbalance, the best way to check this is to look at your posture and see or feel if anything looks 'wrong', so whether you lean to one side or another, have knees turned too far inwards or outwards, etc. It's worth doing research on if you feel you might have a deeper issue.

Hope this helps!
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:54 AM   #9
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Thanks for taking time off and suggesting various tips and methods to deal with the issue at hand David. Yes, the pain is a dull ache if anything. Not severe or acute. But i know it's there and i'm paranoid!! Lol. That's just me i guess.
I've presently started practicing with a mirror in front of me. I've also started sitting upright rather than slouching, something I was doing in a small way prior to using the mirror. I have corrected this but it will require some getting used to as well.
The pain had reduced though. Not sure if it's because of alteration in sitting posture or if my muscles have gotten used to the idea of me playing double bass.
Will keep updating you'll with further news about the same.
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Old 01-25-2013, 02:30 PM   #10
DavidPartay
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Good to hear that there is progress being made

A dull ache usually (from my experience) indicates a muscular issue, rather than ligaments, tendons or nerves. So, these tend to be the easiest to fix

Keep doing what you're doing! Posture adjustment does take time - I've spent probably about 10 months fixing an issue with my back, I think it's just about come good now. Not a bad effort for a postural issue I've had since about 1993, when I was about 9 years old! A pity it took so long for me to work out how much of a problem it was
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Old 02-18-2013, 11:18 PM   #11
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Hey guys. A quick update on things at the moment.
The pain in my hips has completely died down. I may occasionally feel the hip being worked if i do a double bass exercise at a speed I'm still getting used to. But it vanishes few minutes post bring the exercise to a stop .
However, a new issue has come my way and is slowing down the progress. It is in the form of a pain in my left knee. More than a pain, my knee feels very sore. It's been a week now. I've stopped the double bass work and have been focusing on some hand exercises just to give the knee some time to recuperate.
The soreness has decreased almost entirely currently. It occasionally turns up extremely faintly when i walk, particularly on the stair. I'm sure it's the double bass drumming which caused it but not sure why. As the knee pain has died down, I plan to get back to my my pedal work again.

Request those who have experienced a similar issue and others who have got something to say or add to help out as much as they can. Thanks.
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Old 02-26-2013, 12:38 AM   #12
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How come nobody's got any words of wisdom to share??
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Old 02-26-2013, 10:54 AM   #13
DavidPartay
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Well, the forum's not that busy, to be honest :P

But in my opinion, you would be much better off seeing a good physio. I don't think this is the sort of problem you can reliably get a diagnosis about from some Internet stranger

It could a number of issues - tight or loose quads, hams or glutes, injured tendons or ligaments, torn cartilage... So you are definitely best off seeing an expert in person!
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Old 02-26-2013, 02:47 PM   #14
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Yes, this board isn't too alive anymore...

I second what David says, don't know anything more about it...
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Old 03-09-2013, 03:27 PM   #15
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Well let's make it alive again then! hehe we're the hell is ICM LoL!
that guy is a 100% speed demon from day one LoL!

Anyway as for me I'm back to basic...yeah I'm playing all my favorite tracks when I was
just a total noob starting with those Cure songs haha love it using those multitracks coming from those games people extracted them so we can play along minus the drummer hehe.

Hope Virgil would release some few more multi's for us or minus drums play alongs.

Back to topic...or not...
For speed sake, christ forget about it! LoL! you'll get better gigs in the real world just
playing very faithful basic drum beats...ok sorry for the rant. There's like a tons of
speed demons and chops drummers out there doing clinics or just showing it all off
at youtube. Songwriting and better drum composition should be the next step for the maturing drummer hehe. Better have a very swinging groovy feel than just playing squares....yeah speed
drummers sounds like their just playing a bunch of squares in all sizes and no real musical impact.
ok rants done.
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