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I've been self-learning to play drums over the last month and my metronome has been the most useful tool in helping me learn to play things that feel difficult to me. I managed to learn how to play consistently evenly spaced triplets by listening to how the metronome landed in relation to the triplets and making sure the 2nd beat lands evenly spaced between 2nd and 3rd beats (much better than the sloppy mess of rushing then dragging I used to do).

With the metronome, I've gotten pretty good at understanding how to fine-tune my speed if I start dragging or rushing. But I find it difficult to not drag or rush within 10 measures. I also find I can't keep a steady beat if I remove the metronome. Counting helps, but sometimes my foot pulls my counting with it (or I'm adjusting my counting without noticing to match my foot). I notice when I do lose the beat, I am tense or there's some kind of moment where I feel unsure of the beat (even though I pick it up again very quickly)

Currently I'm focusing on

  • Counting, playing a single note (e.g. kick), and keeping the metronome on at the same time
  • Keeping my counting in line with the metronome even if my foot goes off
  • Matching my foot with the counting, not the other way around
  • Using a consistent counting pattern (e.g. if I match the first count beat the measure number and cycle back to 1 after 4 measures, then I never count to 5 or cycle back after 3 measures)

Is this a good strategy? Is there something else I should keep in mind?

I've looked at some similar questions

  • Can't feel meter when playing - Describes practicing in a similar way to what I'm already doing, but for a slightly different problem (OP could not feel the start of measures)
  • What are important techniques to improve solid timing on drums - Answers here talk about establishing a personal playing style. I'm not concerned with my personal playing style, I'm concerned with learning how to play consistently
  • Keeping in time - Describes how practicing counting will eventually make things click, and how practicing trouble spots with the metronome can help make them easier.

I'm more interested in learning how to not momentarily lose the beat, and whether the strategy I've outlined will help me achieve that with enough practice.

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I am not a drummer, but I think losing the beat is something every musician comes across at one point or another.

What helped me in this situation is to not only count the full beats, but counting the subdivisions too.

When I only count like 1 2 3 4 there is so much space between the beats and thats where I stumble out of the rythm.

But if I count the subdivisions like 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and. The space becomes smaller. And if I go for 1 e and a 2 e and a 3 e and a 4 e and a its even better.

I think this is because when you start to gain speed on beat one your next reference point would be beat 2 where you will already be so much off the beat, that you can feel it which will make you feel unsure.

But if you count the subdivisions, your next reference point would be much earlier. At this point you will be not so much off the beat like wihtout subdivisions, which will allow you to adjust the rythm before you get totally off. This will happen unconsciously.

I dont know if the following makes sense, but another thing that helped me was not to think about the rythm as a static click which goes from 1 to 2 and so on like a clock, but more like a wave which is waving from 1 and goes up to the e the and and the a to the 2 and than falling down again through e, and, a until it reaches its minimum at 2 and so on. With this image in my head, trying to feel the beat felt much more naturally and less mechanic to me.

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    For your last paragraph, try mentally picturing a pendulum. Although the speed it travels at, at any given length, varies from 0 to max as it swings! – Tim May 20 at 8:54

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