Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome

Do you get imposter syndrome? It sucks, doesn’t it… Not sure what I’m talking about? It’s that deep-seated doubt in your skills, talents or achievements and the fear that people will find out you’re a fraud. It’s essentially a thought pattern, one that despite evidence that supports the opposite persists, popping up every so often. 


Why did I want to talk about imposter syndrome? Because I thought it would be interesting to share that I get it myself, and some things I do to help me combat it, which boil down to tracking our own progress, not someone else’s, over time.


Progress over time: Here’s the beginning stages of building my new purpose-built studio, where I teach and record drums for artists world-wide.


The issue

Personally, it’s hard to pinpoint where this doubt comes from for me. I’d say the idea of comparing myself to others plays a part in it. Now, I think it’s natural to compare ourselves to others, but we gotta do so in a healthy way. When the self-doubt creeps in, I start asking myself unhealthy questions such as


  • Why others seem to be doing better than I?
  • Is it because there’s something wrong with me and what I do?
  • What am I doing wrong?
  • Am I not good enough, and therefore a fraud?


These questions are of course valid! Yet it’s more to do with the angle at which we’re looking at ‘em. One point of view is that comparing oneself to others can be a great way to help us remain competitive and push ourselves to be the best we can be. However, when that perspective is negative, they’re quite frightening. And add to the vacuous nature and consumption of Social Media to the mix and you got yourself a real recipe for disaster!

Lucky for me, these thoughts are just cyclical, and I here’s a couple of things I do to help me snap out of it.


Progress over time: 4 layers of insulation means recording and teaching in the room is interruption-free!


Apples to apples

What helps me is a combination of things that are focused on reminding myself to only compare me with me over time. And I try to use calm and positivity to help ease my mind… Sounds corny, I know.


Admire and aspire

We may see someone we admire and aspire to be like, but we’re not them, never going to be them, and that’s OK. The older I get, the more I learn to accept who I am, how I am, and look to develop myself and what I do to the best of my abilities, not someone else’s.


A highlight reel

It’s also worth reminding ourselves that Social Media is just a highlight reel… It’s what happens between real life. It’s easy to get sucked into it, and in my view, can help imposter syndrome thrive.



Taking a deep breath and focusing on my breathing really calms my “monkey mind”. My old therapist taught me what he called “7:11 breathing” where you breathe in for 7 counts and out for 11 nice and slow. And if you want to take it to the next level, he said, pay attention to the point at which the air comes into your nose.


Talk about it

Speak to someone, be it a peer, your partner, family member, a therapist… Anyone whose opinion you trust, and not someone who you think is going to blow smoke up your butt!


Progress over time: with the shell complete, it was time to lay down flooring, painting the wall, and move the equipment in!


SMART goals

When thinking about this idea of comparing ourselves to ourselves over time, goal-setting comes to mind. This is something I’ve briefly discussed before, yet I wanted to go a bit more in detail because I think it’s a great tool for imposter syndrome.

Set yourself a goal that you can look back on and see how far you’ve come. However, make sure your goals aren’t unrealistic and unattainable; make ’em S.M.A.R.T goals:



What do you want to accomplish? Be clear and specific about it as otherwise you’ll lose focus in getting there. Think about what and who is involved in achieving it? Try and think of all the variables involved.



How will you measure your goal? If we’re thinking drums, for instance, it could be BPM, or perhaps how many minutes can you improvise. If like myself, you’re a business, the number of students or monthly sessions could be your metric… Just make sure it’s measurable.


Progress over time: spent a couple of days painting, and laying down wood flooring with my partner. That was fun!



Nothing wrong with shooting for the stars! However, your goal needs to be realistic, as otherwise you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. Think about how you can accomplish your goal and the work involved in doing so. Work within those parameters!



Your goal needs to be important and relevant to you. Again, what do you want to achieve! Similarly, don’t ignore the wider factors that affect relevance, such as whether it’s a worthwhile pursuit, and whether it’s the right time for you to be looking to achieve this.



This is where we come full circle… By giving ourselves a time in which to achieve our goal, we can then look back and see how much we’ve accomplished. Think about how long you want to give yourself to achieve it, and what you can do today, in a month from now, etc in order to reach your target.


Progress over time: whilst I’m still putting up panels for an optimal room sound, I’ve now started recording and teaching in there. The drums sound great!


The proof is in the pudding

This is the kind of thing that works for me in order to help me track my progress! Even if I’m not going ahead and thinking about each of these things in detail, the idea here is that when I look at where I am today, I look at where I was a year ago and where I want to be in the future. The operative concept here is I and not the chump next door. Remember: the proof is in the pudding!

4 Simple Tricks to Improve Your Drumming – FREE DOWNLOAD

4 Simple Tricks to Improve Your Drumming – FREE DOWNLOAD


Becoming a better drummer requires time, so making the most it is crucial to improve your drumming, whether it’s 15mins or 2hrs per day. Planning is the one simple, and easiest, trick to do this.

You can download the FREE “How To Get Better” Pack at the end of the article.



I’m constantly striving to become the drummer I want to be. Depending on my schedule, I generally sit down to practice for 2 hours, 5 days a week. However, since I started being more organised and focused through planning, my drumming has improved exponentially. It is the one simple, and easiest, trick to improve your drumming. It’s possibly the most overlooked, and you don’t even have to be sitting behind the kit to do it.

So, let’s have a look at these 4 simple tricks to improve your drumming.


1. Planning

Surely you’ve heard the maxim “fail to plan = plan to fail”, right? If not, you’re welcome! As previously mentioned, this is possibly the most overlooked aspect of improving your drumming.


  • Gives you a sense of direction
  • Helps you to set goals*
  • Target areas of development
  • Lets you measure and review your progress

All of these benefits surely make it worth spending a few minutes periodically going over your plan and to review and reflect on your progress and celebrate your achievements.

Bonus tip #1: keep a practice log / diary.

* Make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound)


If is so beneficial to help improve your drumming, why is it so overlooked? I don’t know, but my guess is that people perceive it’s not part of the fun; that it’s time away from playing.

Let me try to change your mind about it! Fun is involved in two significant ways:

  1. Short-term: You incorporate fun to your regular routine, for instance by playing along to songs you like, and apply some the skills you’ve been developing to these
  2. Long-term: Think that, as you become a better drummer, you’ll get to do more fun stuff down the line (i.e. play more of the songs you like / more complex songs, or play more complex grooves and fills)


Billy Rymer, one of my favourite drummers, playing through “When I Lost My Bet” by The Dillinger Escape Plan from their “One Of Us Is The Killer” album.


2. Slow 

Going slow acts like magnifying glass. The slower you go, the more you’re able to hone in on your time and develop the right motions to achieve better results. Depending on the exercise, starting at 60BPM is always a good place to start. If you want to go deep, try 40BPM.


3. Motion 

If you’re stuck with certain exercises, learn to isolate and practice motions that allow you to perform tasks faster and more accurately. Break down these movements and create lessons out of them. See Example 1 below.

Example 1 – Single Paradiddle Here, for instance, we break down a Single Paradiddle into a control exercise for down strokes and tap strokes for each hand. The aim would be to work on controlling stick in catching it at an appropriate distance from the pad / drum following the downstroke, as well as controlling rebound strokes when playing the tap strokes.

Bonus tip #2: Don’t think of this as a waste of time, developing these motions will help you and positively affect your general playing.

4. Patience

Results don’t happen over night, so be patient and enjoy the journey. Stay on the same tempo until you’re comfortable enough to increase it, doing so in increments of 2 or 5 beats per minute.

Bonus tip #3: If you don’t already have a metronome, get yourself one! I really like Tempo Advance by Frozen Ape.


I hope this has been insightful and useful. Please make sure you download the FREE “How To Get Better” Pack below to help you get organised to improve your drumming and become a better drummer.


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Is Your Attitude Stopping You Being The Best Drummer You Can Be?

Is Your Attitude Stopping You Being The Best Drummer You Can Be?

Since I started teaching drums as a full-time thing a few years ago, I started noticing that when learning or, more specifically, becoming a pupil in our adult life, students above 25y/o seem to behave a bit like children. Now, I don’t mean this in a negative way at all! In fact, I behave exactly the same way when I’ve gone to see a drum teacher. So, how can we use this to learn drums better?

What interests me about this observation is this perceived change in attitude; the shift in which we proceed to accept information from an ‘expert’ (i.e. someone who’s considerably ahead of us). We surrender our trust and our will to this person, placing ourselves in a vulnerable position, and perhaps making feel a bit like kids again.

Have you noticed this yourself perhaps as a teacher or as a student? My partner, who teaches English in an ESL school, reports this exact same behaviour of her students. Senior as they may be in age or job in their native countries, she says they behave like middle schoolers. Now, her stories revolve around immature behaviour, which isn’t the case in my experience; my focus here is a general approach to learning.

So with that in mind, how can we make the most of this (i.e. learn drums better), our rejuvenating child-like sense of learning and adventure? To me, it’s about approaching learning something new with an open mind and a disposition to change something about ourselves (i.e. learning a new skill or developing it further).

The great Dom Famularo, said it best. To him, the fountain of eternal youth was to constantly be on the cusp of learning something new. Therefore, following on from those very wise words, consciously and actively try to

  • Keep an open mind, but not just when going for a lesson; do so in picking up new information and perspectives. Even if you might not agree with it, it might enrich your knowledge

  • Take advantage, and try to impress your teacher. On one hand, learning is done for ourselves, yet it’s also motivating to hear encouraging words from your teacher

  • Work with a mate on things you’re struggling with

  • Base your learning around projects like songs you’d like to cover, for instance

Thank you for reading my blog, as usual. I hope you’ve found this useful or interesting in one way or another. I would love to know what you think; whether you like it, or think it’s rubbish!

Can Chinese Philosophy Improve Your Drum Practice?

Can Chinese Philosophy Improve Your Drum Practice?

Drum practice or Netflix?

We’ve all been there… Struggling with whether you to do some drum practice and nail those paradiddles or continue watching Netflix. Getting off the is never easy! But, why?! And could applying ancient Chinese medicine principles be the answer?

The story behind the idea

This idea came to me whilst touring with, the always awesome, Tallulah Rendall, who at the time, was studying Chinese medicine. So I started picking her brains about it. I learned that one of the governing principles of Chinese thought, culture and medicine is something called the 5 Elements Theory. And so after the tour, I decided to research this theory to see if it could be applied to help my drum practice and become a better drummer!

drum practice

5 Elements Theory

In short, the theory is a system that organises all natural phenomena into five groups. Each of these has its own meanings and implications, and include categories like seasons, climate, stages of growth and development, emotions, etc.

These groups are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation (2015), they “reflect a deep understanding of natural law, the Universal order underlying all things in our world”. Very interesting!

The theory proposes that everything is interconnected through energy. This links our mind, body, and spirit to something external in nature at an energetic level (TCMWF, 2015).

The elements are five fundamental energies in nature, which are constantly in motion. They have dynamic relationships which balance two principles:

  • Generation which nurtures and promotes growth; and

  • Control which is the restraining energy, stopping things from disproportionally developing (growing too quickly / slowly, too strong / weak)

drum practice

So what does this mean? And how can it help us practice drums?

So, ultimately, how can this help us improve our drum practice and become the best drummer we can be? Each of the 5 Elements are used to describe the state in nature or season. As I’ve summarised below, each of these has implications on our behaviour as humans (and drummers). So, perhaps we could align the principle of cyclical seasonality and the natural order of human behaviour in this context to make achieving our goals as drummers easier.


So that was quite out there, but I’m always interested in new ways of thinking to help me become a better drummer! So perhaps if we align ourselves to nature’s seasonal cycle it can help us achieve our goals by being more mindful of wider concepts that can make us more effective as people. Then again, this might resonate with you, or it might not; this may not work for everyone. Similarly “each one of us is a unique and characteristic blend of the influences of all the elements” (Acupuncture Online, 2015), yet it may serve as something to explore in your journey of becoming a better player – a new medicine for your medical drumming tool box!

If you enjoyed this and want to improve your drumming, check out my drum lessons here!

Originally published in April 2015.