As drummers, if we’ve studied at all, we’ve most likely worked with such classic books as, Stick Control, Accents & Rebounds, Syncopation, and other timeless books. Even after years of both practicing and performing, we may still be working out of those same books. Great books never really end, we just keep working at playing them better.
But playing better should only be one part of our approach. I’m the first to admit that I’m a perfectionist. I will work on things over and over (and over) until they are, at least in my mind, as close to perfect as possible. But along the way, I learned that it’s important not to get hung up on perfection. I’m not saying don’t strive for it, but just don’t get so hung up on it that it becomes a block to moving forward with your music.
For some of us, it’s easy to keep going, keep perfecting, chasing that imaginary goal of absolute perfection. But the price to that can often be losing the humanity of your playing. Technical perfection is just that: technical. At that point, you might as well just program it into a computer and have the machine play it. But perfection is often cold and sterile. This is why a lot of computerized electronic music seems to have no soul. It’s missing the deviation, the unexpected, the imperfections that give it some humanity.
The thing to strive for is a happy medium, where perfection can exist to a great degree, but it is always tempered by your humanity. Back in the 1980s, I did a lot of drum machine programming for people (I bought an EMU Drumulator when they first came out, because I wanted to learn all about programming). But quite often, I wanted to say to people who hired me, “Just let me play this on real drums, because it’ll sound and feel so much better!” But drum machines were the in thing, and I did what they payed me to do.
In the same vein, practice hard and strive for perfection, but don’t forget to give what you play some life. Don’t forget to leave some room to make it human. When drummers talk about their favorite grooves, they never talk about something a drum machine did. They talk about something a drummer did and marvel at the feel. Just remember, the groove is everything!
Articles Origin: Moving Beyond Technique