How to stop being so sensitive to others' timing.

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
It really depends on the situation.

For the music I like a bit of elasticity and give and take with the time is what makes the music work, but that's not always the best solution.

Only time it was a challenge for me was when laying a fast gospel tune with a choir in a church with some distance and limited monitoring. We came to the conclusion that I would just use a click and block them out on that one song. It's a bit of risky business if mistakes are made because I will then just become the drum machine that just plays the song as it is without mercy, but with a simple song like that it worked out. Any sort of necessary interplay would be a disaster. Necessary evil.

1 hit wonder

Well-known Member
Maybe this example is more of a jazz thing? I jammed with a guitar front man recently and just discovered how wide a path he can cast on purpose. You can't really throw him, but he had me second guessing my beat on a song start. He saw my uncertainty immediately and just said one word meaning to keep doing what I started. And he kept on sonically pushing and pulling just like he intended to for the impact that he wanted to convey.
To be sure of my stuff I got super focused on the bass player's sound and hands for timing for several measures.

Those can be challenges similar to singing and playing when the cadence of each diverges. You're listening to play the song, commonly one you know but haven't played, and 1 player is improvising but not just limiting it notewise and dynamically.
I can play bass and sing Freewill by Rush because the cadence is the same. Only one vocal note sustains beyond comfort while the bassline moves on.


Junior Member
I have noticed that I struggle when other members fluctuate in time (especially singers). I am always listening and when I hear them drag, it's really hard to fight the urge to drag with. It also makes me feel insecure cause then I sound like the one that's out of time (or the one that is fluctuating). Not trying to push blame, cause I will be the first one to tell you that I am no human metronome. But I have noticed that some singers drag so much that it is hard to keep my own time.

Has anyone else dealt with this and does anyone have any advice on how I can stop being so sensitive to others' timing?

I will also add that I am used to practicing with a metronome and, right now, we can't use one as a whole band.
Maybe try to tell them to learn their lyrics by heart, my singers were always late when they were reading their cell instead of focusing to the beat and the rest of the band. I had a click and told my drummer to follow it no matter what, especially because we had drumbox for claps and some Percussions so, no way a drumbox could catch up.... It was harsh for them but I didn't give up.... And several left because: them: "my usual time of practice between 2 rehearsals in 30 mn max".... Me: "haa, per day? Not bad".... Them (3 female singers: "No no, per week".... Me: "Ha ok, so, sorry, we are not a good choice for you then".
Your first job is to keep the beat, we all follow, that's it.... Same thing for drummers who cannot play on a click, I met a lot, because "I don't like to play on backing tracks, it's cheating!!!"....


Junior Member
My band will speed up on certain songs or we count in and the guitar starts at a quicker tempo. I bring everyone back by playing a little louder on the snare with just a solid beat. No fills, just stary steady si they can lock in. I get the nod from the guys. Adrenaline gets going and its easy for a live band to just take off and play everything too fast. AS long as you play the tempo with conviction and dont chase the rest of the band, you can reign them back in.
On some songs, with my former rock band, and leader being rhe guitarist, when the guitarist was doing a riff alone after a solo, we all used to stop and to lock back in because he was not able to restart his riff on the tempo.


Junior Member
It's really good that you're aware of this and being open to finding ways around it. A lot of people don't rise to that challenge and plateau because of it... I don't think it's something that you just 'get', you just get better at with experience. Some drummers do just have it instinctively, but I think that's quite a minority to be honest. Useful things for me have been

- rhythm training - keep working on strengthening your own rhythm
- recording everything (rehearsals, gigs etc) then going back through and making notes for each tune about tempo fluctuations - you get to know your own tendencies, as well getting to appreciate the bits about your playing that you do like..
- conducting or working with conductors - their role is similar, they need to be comfortable conducting ahead or behind - implying the tempo whilst listening and showing flexibility, not an easy job with a big orchestra
- learn another instrument - then you can work with lots of different drummers. It's like research... very few drummers have perfect time
and this really helped me to realise the reality of this, and also to make other choices about what I want to sound like to others
- joining bands like pop bands where you use a click, count in the band etc
- having conversations - I got some good advice when asking John Patitucci during a masterclass about how speak to bassists about this: 'always say we and not I'

I think it's important to get outside of your perspective as a drummer.. to learn what other people in the room need from you in certain situations, and then find ways to provide that. Of course, there are endless situations and you need to show flexibility.

Great question - good luck, enjoy the journey and keep us posted!

"Joining pop bands where you use a click!!!" Yes, my band before Covid was a pop funk band, on a click roughly 75%.


Junior Member
Yes I've heard folks like these say things like how a metro messes up their "flow" and takes them out of the music.
It's not like they are technically lying. In the absence of a metronome making them look bad, they are as relaxed as they can be, even with poor timekeeping. But when a novice met user turns on a metronome they are forced to acknowledge the clicking sound as the master of everything. They must learn to obey. Never too fast, never too slow. So now they are engaging, painfully, the part of their brain that isn't relaxed and "flowing".

They react negatively because they recognize they have to go through a painful, awkward process where they must meld their musical/flow side with the brutal regularity of the click. That is if they want to measure up.
The notion of using a click is offensive to them because they recognize it's real work that has to be done.
You are correct that this is one of the very necessary skills of a professional drummer/percussionist.

Vinnie's words were apt. Many people see a metronome as their enemy. But once you can play musically and relaxed along to a dead repetitive click, you have a superpower.
Get friendly with your metronome and you will never look back.
Listen to your metronome on the quuarter note, think in your head the 1/8 or 1/16th notes and get your groove over it, it works all the time..


Active Member
Bands with good relationships, both musical and personal, start with honest conversations. Often those conversations are difficult. Even if that singer is the leader of the group I'd strongly recommend having a non-threatening conversation with them. "Hey, tonight when we were playing (song X) it felt to me like you and I were slipping out of time - how did that feel to you?" If they agree I'd immediately offer "How can I help you?" If they don't agree with what you are hearing then you can just say "Thanks for the chance to let you know what I'm experiencing in (song X)." I have found it's quite useful to rehearse these kinds of convos with someone else, first. So, this is not just theoretical BS, I had a similar problem in a band two weeks ago with a guitarist who really rushed during solos but complained that I was "super behind the beat." After rehearsal I told him those points in the songs were places where I felt like I was trying to keep him from rushing. Turns out this person is super nervous about their soloing. Fast forward to last Friday's gig... at one point we started the rushing / dragging dance, he looked over at me a smiled. We locked back in and moved on.
Excellent post! I am finally playing with a collection of people with whom I am comfortable having these conversations knowing there will be no hurt feelings. It only took me starting the band myself and selecting all the band members and telling them upfront that I am very straight forward but any and all feedback and/or criticism is only to make all of us better as a band. I am also very upfront with my own shortcomings and quick to call out myself when my timing is off. Communication is key, just as it is in all relationships.


Active Member
I have only played to a click for recording purposes. How do you go about live? Just use the same metronome app that you use for practice in some headphones? What about those songs that start with a prolonged guitar intro or acapela?

Rock Salad

Junior Member
One guy I play with uses a looper, but has a tendency to rush. We have songs with long intros and a capella, I tap the rim of my snare on quarters or give a faint two and four on the hats during these because I need him to feel like he is always playing to drumming in order to keep the parts with the looper from rushing and getting all wonky. These things would work just as well for showing where a click is.


Diamond Member
I could not imagine using a click live unless I was doing electronica type stuff

using a click live - with a bunch of people who already don't understand how to use it - would be like herding cats....