I titled this post as “Practicing, pt. 2” because it’s a follow-up (and somewhat of a rephrasing) of an earlier post on the topic of practicing. I mentioned difficulty quite a bit in the previous post on practicing, and after some thinking about the specific issue of difficulty on the drumset, I’ve come up with a theory that seems accurate, and has been quite helpful to me. Here it is in tenet-argument form:

1) Anything that you could possibly dream up to play on the drumset is either impossible, or difficult. Only those two options exist. And…

2) Difficulty is subjective. Things that some drummers think are difficult are easy for other drummers, and something that you think is difficult now might not be in a few months. Therefore…

3) Difficulty is really just a mask for unfamiliarity. Difficulty itself doesn’t exist – it’s a mirage. And…

4) Becoming familiar with something just takes time. Hours spent wrestling with an idea or pattern will take it from being unfamiliar and make it familiar. As the transition from unfamiliar to familiar takes place, the difficulty will evaporate. Therefore…

5) It is only a matter of time before you can play whatever you want. As long as the idea/pattern isn’t impossible, you need only to put in the time and effort to become familiar with it and you will soon be playing it.

This may seem like a fancy way to say the old mantra of “practice makes perfect,” but it has helped me a lot in that it casts a positive light on everyone’s potential. For the longest time I would see another drummer play something, and think to myself, “I’ll never be able to do that.” Well, if another drummer is doing it, then that obviously rules out the option that the thing is impossible, and, according to the above argument, I just need to remind myself that I can someday play that idea/pattern if I put in enough time and effort to get familiar with it. This turns the viewing of an incredible drummer playing a very difficult thing into motivation for practicing, instead of a demoralizing reminder of how “not good” I may think I am.

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