5 Ways to Improve Performance Speed
Back in the day when I was starting out as a green and fledgling NJ drummer for hire, my friends and I had a silly inside joke relating amazing drumming to the Highlander movies. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the Highlander movies, a group of immortals must fight each other to the death in order to win the prize, or “Quickening.” Each time an opponent wins a battle against their immortal foe, they behead the fallen warrior and absorb their power. They repeat this process and eliminate each other one by one, until the last person is standing. After all, “there can be only one.”
For example, Vinnie Paul (RIP), drummer of Pantera, Hell Yeah! and Damageplan, was a fantastic drummer and lived as hardcore as he played. As a drummer myself, going to a drum clinic or seeing our favorite drummer perform is one of the most exciting events to attend. Where else could we would constantly observe our idols performing solo? How else could we relish in the fantastic beats they would create right before our very eyes? Each song inspired us to improve our abilities and encouraged me personally to look inward and search for why I want to play. Then, someone would look at the person playing and exclaim, “I will battle that drummer and I will have his head and get the Quickening.”
Yes, we were absolute nerds. But immersing yourself in anything makes you better at it. I’m proud of my drummer-tastic pocket protector, thank you very much…
However, Vinnie Paul didn’t just play fast. He played extremely well and helped define a metal style that fulfilled the void metal fans of all kinds found solace: GROOVE.
1. The Need for Speed = Patience
My friends, speed isn’t everything…
Patience paramounts speed at every turn.
The process of becoming fast on your feet (and your hands) implores that you define your goals and extend your focus beyond the desire to play quickly. We must first determine the inspiration behind why you wish to be that fast. Once you determine the source of what influences you, your journey to 200 + BPM can finally begin.
In other words, don’t stop. Stay consistent. Speed requires constant maintenance. Therefore, setting up a schedule ultimately benefits you in not only acquiring your goal, but picking up a few awe inspiring skills along the way.
For example, if you’re working on blast beats or mastering one of the 40 PAS rudiments, your muscles work constantly in maintaining a specific BPM. However, when you’re in a practical setting, like performing at a show, your execution of beats, patterns and fills becomes cleaner and more pronounced. The metatarsals inside your forearm or calf muscles became reinforced with the necessary proteins that make each micro muscle stronger. Thus, enabling you, the player, as a force to be reckoned with.
Congratulations, my friend, you just upped your game.
3. Stick to What You Know… Then, Do the Opposite
As a martial artist, this sentiment rings true on many levels. If a seasoned fighter prefers orthodox guard, they understand the ins and outs of how to block, counter, cover, catch and attack with each strike. Doing the polar opposite, however, suddenly changes the game and the orthodox fighter now has to start from practically scratch.
Going from Orthodox to Southpaw is not as daunting as it sounds. Your angles change from the source, thus changing your perspective of the fight. Performing this way opens many doors you, as not just a fighter but as a human being, probably never thought of before.
For example, just once, try playing open handed instead of cross. Give it a shot. It’ll turn your brain into tapioca, but it’ll also strengthen your mind and execution of each beat.
4. Know Your Limits… and Surpass Them
I sound like a broken record, but I won’t stop saying it until it’s tattooed into the grey matter of your brain: YOU HAVE NO LIMITS. The only limits you have are the ones you set yourself.
Naturally, your life story and your upbringing often play pivotal roles in your decision making process. However, I implore you trust yourself and your instincts. Remember, you’re a grown, educated and capable individual, regardless of what past grievances you may carry with you on a daily basis. You know you’re strong and healthy enough to carry that particular kind of baggage with you. Imagine how much MORE you can handle when you replace the past negativity with positive reinforcement…
People set goals in order to prove to themselves they can surpass these self imposed limits. The same individuals also believe certain things are not possible until someone else does them…
Now, everything seems possible.
Many people came before you and I and accomplished amazing feats in the face of unfathomable adversity. These guys and gals are your neighbors, co-workers, friends, relatives, and strangers on the street. There is absolutely no difference between you and them…
5. Maintain and ENJOY Your New Abilities
Now that you’ve set your goals, let’s establish a routine to maintain them.
In my case, I’m on a weight loss kick. I saw my primary care physician and he notified me of my dangerously high cholesterol and that I’m prone to kidney stones. Sooooo, I have to change my diet, exercise more intelligently and make rest a priority. My entire routine just got turned upside down – there are literally not enough hours in the day to get these items in order…
But I learned that’s not accurate. I simply needed to prioritize my time. What matters most? What items take the longest to complete? I’ll get those huge projects out of the way first.
Here’s my take: I brush my teeth and take my medicines. Then, I do my work outs, meditations and chores in morning. Before breakfast, I fold one load of laundry and empty the dishwasher. Then, I get ready for the day. After that, I wake my children and get them ready for school. I pack my pre-made meals in my lunch box and prepare the slow cooker (I live and die by that thing!). Finally, I set up breakfast and sit down with my girls so we can hang out and be silly before they’re off to the bus.
This is all done before 8AM.
I’m not superwoman. I’m just a mother who doesn’t want to do anything when she gets home, unless it’s practicing, writing or spending valuable time with my family (not necessarily in that order).
Take into account the demands of your day. With your new found moves, you’ll withstand any attack because of your due diligence to prioritize and maintain your stellar Jedi light saber moves.
Go get ’em, Skywalker…