Monday, May 20, 2013

Drill: Get off

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Here’s a fun drill for you.  You’ll need something to hit, something to hit with, and a metronome and/or music track(s) to play.

I guarantee you, somewhere in the future, you’ll be soloing and you’ll realize you’re nowhere near the downbeat.  Crap!  What do you do?  A lot of people just keep going, hoping they’ll hit the groove again (but often don’t).  Others stop and try to figure out when to come in (but this makes it obvious to the audience that they’re off).  A few will do some sort of movement and use that time to hear what’s going on (clever, if you can pull it off and not look like the latter).

Ultimately, the goal is the same: get back on beat!  So here’s your drill:

1.) Solo to a steady beat
2.) Get off
3.) Get back on

So set up a beat on the metronome or play along to a song where there are steady sections (no tempo or beat shifts).  Solo for a few seconds, then go nuts.  Play “garbage”, play too fast, do whatever you need to do to be way off.  This might be easy for some of you and harder for others, but I’m sure you can all do it.  After a few seconds of that chaos, try to get back on the beat as soon as possible.

You may find that it’s easier to get back on by playing less notes at first, but try working up to a point where you can just hear where you want to be and play something more dense to get back in.

If you have a friend who can help you, this drill gets really good:

1.) Solo to a steady beat
2.) Have your friend turn the volume off
3.) After a while, have them turn it back up
4.) Get back on

This one is especially good because you will think you’re on until the beat comes back, and it's much more realistic.  If you find that you’re not off the beat, then try keeping the volume off for longer periods of time and/or try different tempos.

This can be just as much fun of a drill as it can be frustrating.  Still, finding yourself off beat and going “ha, I got you!” versus “where the hell did you go?” is hugely satisfying.  Have fun!

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