Traveling Drummer Realizations: 3 Things I Learned In Two Weeks With No Drumming
After traveling around a good chunk of the southeastern US, I sat down at my drum kit earlier this week for the first time in what must have been at least 14 days. It's nice to get out of town for a while, but being away from my instrument for that long is aggravating and - at the risk of sounding like a tool - creatively frustrating.
In the time away and then after playing for a while today, I had some realizations:
1. It's good to stay musically active, even when I'm not physically at my kit.
Being away from my drums gives me an opportunity to put more time into the mental and theory aspects of drumming. Thinking about the music I'm listening to in the car or using my turn signal as a metronome helps to keep me thinking percussively, which in turn works to keep my creativity sharp.
Some of those songs that I never quite learned start to make a lot more sense after hearing them 4 times in a row and counting out the phrasing (I'm now pretty sure the drums on "The Thief" off of The Dear Hunter's Act III are 4 or 5 measure phrases in 5/4 time). I also think about the fun double kick parts that I'd put into pop songs or NPR transition segments.
This, however, brings me to my second realization:
2. I should start taking a practice pad everywhere I go.
Getting mental practice and tapping stuff out on the steering wheel is great and helps me conceptualize new and different things, but there really is not substitute for having drumsticks in hand.
Normally, I'm a 5A kind of guy, but I try to stay open minded.
This one's pretty straightforward since this is the primary function of a practice pad, but it feeds into my biggest lesson learned:
3. My rudiments need work.
The biggest thing I notice after not begin behind a drum set for a while is that I get really sloppy. My form is off and I'm just not as precise moving around the kit, which makes sense.
This realization is one that I have periodically where I need to pull out my old rhythm books and really get back into the basics. I'm throwing a new wrinkle into my re-education this time, though: I'm working on rudiments with my feet.
For some reason, the precision and speed of my footwork suffers way more than any aspect of my drumming when I don't play for a while. I intend to fix that. I take the steady, incremental improvement approach with running, I should do the same with drumming.
On a similar traveling spree earlier this year, I learned some things about running while on the road, so maybe now I can keep everything together a little better when I'm away from my home base.
I'd love to hear from you about what difficulties you might have faced with fitness or creativity while traveling. And how have you dealt with them?