Today I would like to discuss a challenge that I struggle with from time to time. I call it “treading water.” This happens when you find yourself in a rut, unable to learn anything new while relying too heavily on things that you already know. It literally stops you in your tracks and stifles growth. This happens more often than I like to admit and interferes greatly with my practice sessions. I am not alone. The problem is that we question our abilities and expect too much too soon. Instead of rising to the challenge and practicing until we have the necessary chops and muscle memory we are impatient and not willing to put in the time. This results in us referring back to what we can do instead of working on what we can’t do. Lately, I have caught myself frequently treading water. This has spread from the pad to the drum set and has resulted in a lack of development and disappointment. Here are some common exercises that I’ve come upon used to curb this problem:
- Meditate. Take a deep breath, relax and remind yourself that you are here to learn.
- Keep a diary next to your drum set where you can record what works and what doesn’t.
- Have conversations with yourself. Ask the right question and you’ll get an honest answer. Can I do this? What do I need to do in order to do this?
- It’s all cerebral, stuck in your head. Remind yourself of this and think through it.
- Be willing to sound bad. If you sound good all the time, you’re not learning anything new.
- Switch it up. Play music from a genre you don’t usually play, use a different grip, rearrange your drum set configuration. These changes will make things seem fresh.
- Talk to other drummers. Seek advice from your peers. They may have some helpful suggestions.
- Start slow. Really slow. Build up speed as you begin to grasp it.
- Take a break and go for a walk. This is a great way to curb your frustration.
- Know your limitations and strive to reduce them. It’s well worth it
Whenever you feel you’re stuck in a rut, look within to see where you’re not being totally true to yourself. By using these tips, you’ll be able to reconnect and push past treading water.