Many drummers are familiar with Tommy Igoe these days. (If not, please google him.) Tommy’s father was Sonny Igoe — maybe not a household name, but very influential back in the day. Tommy has credited his father’s method of teaching as the basis of his popular DVD, “Great Hands for a Lifetime.”
When Sonny was asked to name the most important elements of being a good drummer, he answered, “time, taste and touch.” We all strive to play a nice smooth double stroke roll, single strokes, paradiddles, etc. In addition to those ideas, how many of us spend as much effort on time, taste and touch? I, for one, have gone through phases where I was too focused on playing fast (e.g.) and not focused enough on making music. The more that my focus changed, the better I sounded and the more work I seemed to get.
Here is what I try: I work on my time by practicing with a click — not always on every beat. I study drummers who seem to always be playing for the music, and interjecting tastefully. Lastly, part of my practice routine is done without earplugs. In the pursuit of developing a nice touch, I play softly, yet strongly.
Please try it, and let me know how it goes!