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I've started playing drums, while I have extensive music background in piano, and know how to play beats, the problem I'm finding is I am consistently playing slightly late to the beat.

I worked this out using Yamaha DTX 450K electric drum kit Training Mode Rhythm Gate feature, which mutes any hits that are not in time with metronome, and lets you know if it is early or late to the beat, about 30% of my hits are out of time.

The worst part is even very simple beats like hitting hi hat or snare only in 1/4 notes at 80 BPM I am still struggling to consistently stay on the beat. In my mind I feel like I'm hitting in time with the click track, but the audio is different story.

My current approach is to just continue practicing like this until I get it right, and making adjustments. And it is gradually improving, but I wonder if there is something else to think about to help hitting drums in time.

  • Do you have a recording of your playing for us to diagnose it? – Gra Aug 15 '17 at 16:19
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Why do we all have to embrace all this technology as if it's manna from heaven! It may depend on the percentage of error window. In other words, how early or late your beat is, being picked up by the software. Maybe it's too critical.

Drummers can and do play on the beat, or early, or late - on purpose. It seems you're using eyes more than ears (looking at readouts?) to solve the problem - which may not be as big as you think. Use tracks instead. Play along to the radio, cd, etc. instead.Mute the sound for a couple of bars, carry on playing, check if you're still in time when the mute's off.

And if you listen very critically to a lot of tracks, you'll become aware that they are actually not spot on in their timing - unless you're talking electronic type music. Musicians will fluctuate very slightly, often imperceptibly, but your software will probably pick that up. Is it a bad thing? Matter of choice!

Playing quietly (yes, some drummers can and do) is good, as the stick control is better - no need to lift too high, meaning latency is reduced.

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Dancing may be the key. Are you a good dancer? Do you know people who can dance well? Try to improve your dancing and the timing will follow!

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This is a really interesting question and I think it's fantastic that your aiming to play so in the pocket. However remember that even the very best players have a discrepancy between their beat and the click. If we all played exactly on the beat all the time, we'd be robots and music would begin to sound robotic.

Every drummer has their own sound and part of that is how they interpret the beat. Some drummers play very ahead of the beat while others play more behind the beat. If you are playing behind the beat and you really want to fix that aspect of your playing, I think your idea of just perseverance and being aware of it in the end will bear fruit. Your sense of time is something that takes a long time to develop and there really isn't a quick fix as I'm sure you know.

Also think about how you're using the metronome. If you're playing along to the metronome playing on every beat you'll become dependent on the metronome to keep you in time, rather than improving your own sense of time. Try reducing the metronome so you just hear beat 1 and 3, or just beat 1, or just beat 1 of every other bar. Then try displacing that click so you just hear beat 2 etc. This will improve your own sense of time over longer periods of time (speeding up from one section to the next).

Keep with it and you'll get there.

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Have you ever played piano against a click track and listened to the playback?

The problem may simply be the strangeness of playing with a click track and checking the recorded result.

I have noticed with my playing (and my brother who has much better timing than me has the same experience) that it's hard to get used to synchronizing with a click track. And the out of synch seems to mostly be noticeable upon listening to playback. When recording there is a tendency to feel like you are playing in time.

The solution seems to be practicing with the click track and getting a feel to compensate your timing to match a cold, robotic device that will never, ever react to the slight changes in your human tempo. You may be playing with expressive sensitivity to the tempo, but the robot doesn't care. "You will be assimilated." :-)

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Most humans have a built-in metronome; this feature attaches to the base of the unit that when walked upon produces a bipedal rhythm over which other beats can be timed (sing them, clap, whatever). Bonus: exercise and enhanced blood flow to the brain.

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