Whats the main difference between a drummer who’s been playing live on stage for decades and one that hasn’t?
Confidence is that difference.
Problem is, it takes a long long time to accumulate.
What if there was a way or a strategy you could use to fast-track your way to being a really confident drummer?
Well, that’s exactly what I’m gonna show you today.
I was thinking the other night while I was playing my gig, that in the last 10 years (which is how long I’ve been doing this same gig six nights a week, all year long) how my drumming has changed.
Well obviously a lot’s changed and improved but there is one area in particular that really stood out and that’s my confidence.
I was thinking I’ve got no worries whatsoever not only in this song but the entire gig. And not only in the entire gig, but the entire styles and the types of songs we play.
I now can confidently play any song or style that we play in my band, especially compared to before, with absolutely zero worry, zero distractions and I know exactly what can happen and how to pull it all off.
Whilst thinking this to myself, I was thinking that it’s mostly in the past few years that my confidence has really accelerated compared to before.
I started drumming in my teens and started drumming on stage probably in my early 20s, so I’ve been on stage for a long time. But in the past 10 years and especially in the past few years, my confidence has really improved a lot faster than it used to.
I’ve been trying to figure out in my mind how I actually achieved this and I think I know how.
First of all, let’s try and define what confidence actually is.
What does the word confidence mean?
Confidence is your ability to perform or pull off a certain action, drumbeat, fill or whatever and know that you are going to pull it off great and everything is going to be fine.
So in other words, you are confident that you can perform a certain song or drumbeat and that it will go as planned.
Also, confidence is your ability to understand that if things go wrong you can be fine with it because you know how to solve the problem.
In other words, you know that you can play a certain song, for example, and you know that if you mess up at any point, you can fix the problem really easy.
That is basically what confidence is.
So how do we get there?
Well of course, you can just spend years and years playing on stage and after decades be confident.
Or…what if there is a way we can fast-track your confidence growing skills!
Wanna know what it is?
Then read on my drumming friend… read on.
So how do we go about gaining confidence then?
Repetition is obviously a huge, huge factor.
The more you repeat something the more confident you become in your ability to perform that thing correctly.
Be it a drumbeat, or even driving a car for example. Anything you repeat enough times will give you the confidence that you can do it okay.
Plus, every time you make a mistake you will learn how to fix those mistakes and you will become confident in your ability to fix any mistakes again in the future.
In terms of repetition, just practicing isn’t always enough.
It has to be deliberate practice.
If you just jam away on your drum kit to a bunch of songs, you can improve and in time you get more confident.
But if you deliberately concentrate on one aspect of your drumming with all your power, you will definitely achieve confidence much faster in that area.
Just think about how everybody is born without knowing how to walk or talk.
When you see a baby trying to walk, they try to stand-up, are wobbling about all over the place, but they don’t focus on anything else. They just completely focus on trying to stand up, trying to balance and trying to put 1 foot in front of the other.
Eventually, we all learn to walk.
Talking is a very similar example. A baby will start to say words, concentrate and try to imitate what they hear.
Eventually, we all learn to talk.
So even though things can feel and look difficult at first, if we focus on one thing, that really gets us to our goal faster.
Problems arise when you sit down to practice and you don’t focus.
In other words, you just sit down and you play along to songs, and then you start to get bored and you think of that paradiddle rhythm you learned the other day, but you only practice that for a few minutes, and then you decide to work on your double stroke roll, and then you decide to practice that awesome double bass drum beat that you heard…
So you flutter around from thing to thing but with a severe lack of focus. Yes, you can get better and you get more confident, but it can take a long, long time.
Another problem can arise when we practice stuff that we don’t even use later on.
Again, you might learn some really fancy lick and you might spend hours and hours working on it, but then you never actually use it during a live performance or on a recording. Because you don’t use it, it can waste away and then you forget how to perform it.
You don’t get any more confidence or any more freedom, so basically you just wasted that practice time on something you’ll never need.
If your goal is to play live on stage and you never practice things you need on stage, that’s definitely gonna be a problem. It’s going to take you a long, long time to get confident with playing on stage because every time you get on stage, all the stuff you practiced was more for YouTube, or for playing along just for fun.
When you do get on stage, if you haven’t practiced stage specific things you need, it’s going to take you years and years to get confident playing with other musicians.
Speaking of other musicians…
Jamming is really important.
Again, if we just practice alone all the time and almost no time with other musicians, guess what? No-confidence because you’re not used to jamming!
And last but definitely not least is your environment.
If all you do is practice in a practice room, in your bedroom, or in your basement… when you get on stage surrounded by other people with a strange sound, strange lights… guess what? No-confidence because you haven’t been there enough!
Okay. So how do we solve this problem and how do we supercharge your confidence?
This is what you do.
First of all, you have to have a solid practice routine with all the things you are absolutely sure you are going to need and none of the stuff you’re not going to need.
Maybe your goal isn’t to play on stage. Maybe it’s to do a studio recording or maybe it’s to be a YouTube star.
Whatever it is, you’ve got to have the exercises and the songs and the things you need, laid out to reach your goal.
If it’s to play on stage, then you need a series of solid drum beats in different styles. The styles that your band performs.
If you’re in a cover band like me, you need a solid variation of almost every style of beat you can think of. Well, almost all of them anyway, because you never know when you’re going to need it.
You need a very solid tempo and it’s something you have to deliberately work on.
Yes, it’s something that can come with time, you can develop tempo over time but if you actually focus on purpose… guess what? It’s gonna come so much sooner and along with it is gonna come the confidence.
Apart from beats and styles, you need to lay out the exact techniques you should be working on to fit your style/goal.
Again, if you play on stage, there are certain techniques you absolutely have to master in order to be confident. Like, for example, the pulse technique to keep a steady tempo.
What are the core fundamental beats and fills you have to master so you can play in a certain style?
One really important thing I like to do is if you are playing let’s say a particular style, you’re playing heavy metal for example, I would get a bunch of heavy metal songs that represent the style and then I would play through them all paying attention to how it feels. It’s a great idea to record yourself here too so you can analyze it later.
You’ve got to be really diligent in your analysis and you’ve got to find your weakness in each song.
So if you find you are fine with playing a double bass drum beat, then cross that off the list. No problem.
If you find that when you change to the ride, you have trouble going from the hi-hat to the ride while keeping the double bass going, for example, then write that down as a weakness.
If you tend to speed up or slow down when you’re doing a fill, write that down as a weakness.
So basically go through songs in your style or songs that are going to get you towards your goal.
At the end of the day, we are playing music. And music is made up of songs, not just drum solos.
Examine your style and play through the songs to figure out what your weaknesses are.
Write them down and that is gonna be your focus for the next few weeks or few months.
If there are certain techniques, beats or fills that you’re really good at… stop doing them! Because you’re already good at them, you’re already confident with them too.
Doing them over and over again is not going to serve you anymore.
What we need to do is find a weakness, work on it until it’s strong and at the same level as your strengths. This way you become a much more balanced drummer and your confidence in all areas becomes much stronger.
Don’t forget to jam as much as possible.
Grab a bunch of friends or your bandmates and just start playing.
If you are going to be doing live gigs with certain songs, go through the songs.
Don’t use a click unless you intend to use one on stage, although I would recommend against that in general but that’s another topic.
Make sure you all pay attention to your weaknesses.
Write them down so then you know what you can work on later, both as a band and individuals.
In general, jamming with other musicians is really important because the more you do it, the more confident you become at playing with other musicians.
And last but not least, definitely try and replicate your stage environment.
Place the speakers like on your stage, try and get some lights and get everything looking and feeling the way it will on stage. This way you will build your confidence on stage, much, much sooner.
If you want to learn more about the importance of replicating your stage environment for practice, I have a detailed video lesson with footage from my actual gig showing the difference in sound and how to practice for it.
Click the button below to learn more.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “practice makes perfect”, but I prefer the phrase “practice makes permanent”.
The more you do something, the more ingrained it becomes in your brain and the more confident you become doing that one thing.
In other words, if you want to supercharge your confidence and get there faster, then you’ve got to deliberately focus and work on the key skills and the key things that you will need to be confident on stage.
Stop doing all the stuff you just have loads of fun with because you’re really good at it and start finding your weaknesses.
Seek out and focus on those things.
Really simplify everything and distill it down to what is the core foundation of what you’re trying to do.
If you want to play AC/DC songs, in that case, you will need a solid 4×4 beat and by solid I mean that doesn’t have a wobbly tempo, or doesn’t lose tempo when you go in and out fills. Beats that don’t overcrowd the music and that are congruent with the style you’re trying to play.
And the same goes for other styles.
Each style, each goal has a series of core foundations you have to be really good at.
The way to become confident faster is to just do the things that form the foundation of what you are going to need when you play on stage.
If you focus on those things, let’s say for two months… if for the two months you eliminate everything in your practice routine that isn’t getting you towards that goal of playing on stage, then in two months time you can play a live gig and your confidence will feel completely different.
One of the worst things we can do to our confidence on stage is when we decide to “try stuff”.
Let’s say you’re on stage playing live, and you think to yourself: “I’ll just give that fill I learned the other day a quick try. I didn’t work on it enough yet, but I might pull it off if I try it”.
And you also might think that “it can’t hurt to try” right?
Well, yes it can hurt!
If you just give something a “try”, it’s going to fail almost for sure.
And when it does, now you feel embarrassed and this feeling will actually hurt your confidence. Because now when you play on stage, you will remember messing up and feel less confident than before.
So yes, it can hurt to just randomly try stuff.
You’ve got to focus on what really matters, what you really need to reach your goal.
So to recap, for a couple of months, take everything out of your practice routine that you’re really good at and have loads of fun with because you can already do well, find your weaknesses, work on them and make sure they are getting you towards your goal of playing on stage and your confidence will be so much better in so much little time.
That’s the way you supercharge your confidence.
Good luck and I’ll see you on stage 🙂