Practice drumming pad

5th August 2009 – 8.38 pm

Unlike learning a foreign language or playing the guitar I am not disheartened when the task of learning to drum becomes difficult, but challenged. I want to push myself to accomplish more complex patterns and achieve increasing levels of competence. I think this is partly because of the excellent tool in learning to drum that Guitar Hero: World Tour is offering me. There are plenty of interesting songs to play along to, which have vivid scores and progressive difficulty levels, with no page turning required, and an interactive practice mode that allows for the speed of play to be adjusted either almost to a stop, to help get limbs working as desired through conscious effort, or only a little slower than normal to memorise patterns and sections of songs.

Never the less, there is still technique to learn and I am painfully aware of my left hand being nowhere near as under my control as my right. The stick in the right hand feels comfortable and secure, whereas that in my left often looks like it is trying to escape whenever I hit the snare. My rolls also lack a certain consistency, another fault I attribue to my weak left hand. It isn't convenient to set-up the fake plastic drum kit to practice outside of the game, and without the electronically augmented game sounds the fake plastic thomps are sufficiently loud and unlike that of a drum that they discourage casual practice. But there is a solution.

In a continuing bid to take Guitar Hero drumming too seriously I pop in to Denmark Street on a trip in to London, or Musictown as it could be called if musical instruments were an immigrant race. I pick one of the shops that doesn't deal exclusively with guitars and am guided by a sign downstairs, away from the real musicians to the drum section. I feel a bit of a fraud asking for a practice drum pad, but I know that is more my lack of confidence surfacing rather than the truth, so I do my best to ignore the feeling as the assistant hands me a pair of sticks to test the two practice pads he has for sale. I have never liked trying instruments in shops where there are potentially competent players around, and I feign having to carry my shopping bag as a reason to try the pads with only one stick. I know I shouldn't worry, music shop assistants have only ever been helpful in all my experience, but my shyness remains a problem.

Trying both practice pads, one cheap, one slightly more expensive, the difference between them is startlingly obvious even to me. Having a quick rap on the more expensive pad gives good feel and bounce as I pretend I know what I'm looking for, but moving over to the cheaper pad immediately feels like I am hitting nothing more than a block of plastic. I don't need to continue past the initial couple of strikes, knowing that I could simply hit a hardback book to get the same experience as the cheaper pad, and gladly hand over the more expensive practice pad to buy. I even get a couple of minor tips from the assistant, for which I am grateful.

I can now work on my sticking technique whilst watching TV, or waiting for my ship to cross the galaxy in EVE Online, able to monitor what both hands are doing instead of focussing on the stream of notes scrolling down the TV screen. I can switch between improving my right hand technique and trying to get my left hand to copy it better, without worrying about missing beats, matching speeds, or displeasing a virtual audience. I know I will spending some time working on my rolls, working to increase their speed whilst remaining smooth, and I will continue to show progress in drumming ability.

  1. One Response to “Practice drumming pad”

  2. "In a continuing bid to take Guitar Hero drumming too seriously I pop in to Denmark Street on a trip in to London, or Musictown as it could be called if musical instruments were an immigrant race"

    Oh won't you take me to, ah-Musictown.

    Splendid imagery!

    By Melmoth on Aug 6, 2009

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