Drummer ITP is designed to help you learn exceptionally accurate timing with your drum performances and become a true ‘In The Pocket’ player. The app is designed for practicing rudimental stick patterns on a drum practice pad, and uses an intelligent listening feature that allows your performance to be measured against a metronome click and given as feedback scores. You can therefore track your progress and identify which rudiments and tempos cause you most trouble with staying in time.
Drummer ITP therefore helps with improving stick speed whist maintaining timing accuracy. It also helps to identify the key tempos (in BPM = beats per minute) where your technique changes from locked wrist drum rolls to faster speeds which require you control the drumsticks in your fingers. Finding your breaking points with different stick pad rudiments will enable you to focus on the most challenging aspects of your personal stick technique and will underpin your development in all areas of drumming.
The main display shows both the rolling click waveform and the microphone readings from your performance on the practice pad, so you can easily see if you are playing ahead or behind the beat. There is also a unique accuracy indicator which shows how far ahead or behind the beat each of your hits is. The app records an ongoing measurement of accuracy and consistency of the performance, so you can practice to keep the timing indicator right in the middle of the screen and score the highest possible marks.
It’s best to use the app with wired headphones to concentrate on the click as you practice, but if you want to check how accurate it is, just turn up the volume and you’ll see it measure its own sounds to 100% accuracy – so you can see how close your scores are to that of an electronic drum machine!
Drummer ITP can be used in Manual or Rudiment mode. In Manual mode the metronome runs freely keeping a measurement of the recent performance accuracy. With a rudiment pattern active (i.e. Rudiment mode), a count in starts a 30, 60, 120 or 300 second rudiment test, the results of which become a benchmark for evaluating your performance progress over time. The app can also be used as a standalone high-precision metronome with advanced settings, allowing you to choose different pitches, volumes and intervals for the click.
To get started, we simply recommend letting the click run at 100 BPM while you play along with a standard single stroke roll (right-left-right-left…). You should see the accuracy indicator show if you are ahead or behind the beat (left side of the screen indicates ahead of the beat, right side of the screen indicates behind the beat). If you are playing pretty-well in time, the scores should get up to 90% and higher. Once you have a handle of this, then try some different tempos and have an explore of the other features in the app, which are described here in this information section.
Playing Drums ‘In The Pocket’
“No-one really knows exactly where the phrase ‘In The Pocket’ comes from…” = “No-one really knows exactly where the phrase ‘In The Pocket’ comes from, but it is used often in music and particularly with respect to drums and timing of musical performance. Most often the phrase is used when describing how tight and connected a drummer is with the rest of the band, particularly the bass player, and often refers to how close their performance is with respect to the beat of the song.
It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase:
‘the drummer plays so tight, they’re ‘IN THE POCKET of the other musicians’
So how do you learn to play ‘in the pocket’? Well, a key appreciation of timing and timing control is necessary, and often this is relevant both on the drum kit, but also with control of simple drumstick action on a snare or practice pad too. This is why many drummers use a practice pad to improve their timing and stick control, testing themselves at many different tempos (BPMs) and with a number of different stick pattern combinations, or ‘rudiments’ as we call them in the drumming world.
If you can play on a practice pad, to a metronome click, at a number of speeds and different rudiments, then you are well on the way to being an ‘in the pocket’ drummer, and your timing around the kit with grooves and fills will improve immediately. Just a little note here, it is also possible to learn to play ahead or behind the beat of the song or metronome, this is good if you have control to stay consistently just ahead of the beat or consistently just behind, of course depending on how well it fits the song and the rest of the performers in the band. Drummer ITP can help you learn this skill too!
Unfortunately, a simple metronome can only guide you towards good timing, but the Drummer ITP app actually listens, intelligently, to your performance with a practice pad and tells you how well you are doing. So you can find the tempos which you perform well at, and work on those which are more difficult for you.
Interestingly, it’s not simply a case that faster tempos are harder to play. Generally, when playing a single stroke drumroll (i.e. right-left-right-left repeated), it is very hard to do this at slow tempos, because the gap between clicks is very large and it is hard to be extremely accurate and consistent with the hit timing. As the beat speeds up, it becomes easier to get consistent and accurate timing, so we feel more comfortable at slightly higher tempos. But then if increasing the tempo further, it comes to a point where we just can’t play fast enough using the locked wrist sticking technique. At this point, to play faster, the hands need to bounce the sticks and develop a different finger technique for controlling the timing. This technique is fundamental for developing the ability to play fast and accurate, and takes time to become proficient. Thankfully Drummer ITP will help you with that, and keep a record of your performance at different speeds and rudimental patterns!
Features of the Main Drummer ITP Display
We’ve crammed a lot of features into the main display of Drummer ITP, so it’s worth understanding what each aspect is and does before diving in too deep.
Fundamentally, the app is a metronome, which plays out of the loudspeaker or headphones (we recommend using wired headphones for the best use of the app). There are two rolling sound waveforms in the middle of the screen, the upper one represents the sound of the click (metronome) output, so you can see a click waveform appear from the right-hand side of the screen every time you hear a metronome click sound.
The lower waveform shows the readings measured by the device microphone, so if you are playing a drum beat on a practice pad, it will show sound spikes for every hit you make. We recommend using a little mobile phone stand to hold your device upright near the practice pad while you play, in order for the microphone to adequately pick up the sound of your practice pad performance. Equally, avoid noisy rooms and locations, which will affect the microphone readings too.
Now, playing perfectly on the beat, we want the waveform and sound of your performance to be timed exactly with the waveform and sound of the click. You’ll see if your performance is significantly ahead or behind the beat just from the waveforms. To help with this, the indicator bars in-between the two waveforms show where each hit is in comparison to the metronome beat. If the centre bar flashes when you hit the pad, then you are perfectly in time, if ahead of the beat a bar to the right with light up, behind the beat will light a bar to the right. With the ‘Millisecond Accuracy Display’ setting switched on, each time a hit is measured, its value is also shown in the middle of the screen, which gives the actual amount of difference in milliseconds (ms); a negative number means ahead of the beat (early), a positive number means behind the beat (late) and a value of zero means exactly on the beat. So when playing, you want to keep the lights in the middle active and avoid inconsistent jumping around ahead and behind the beat.
Above the waveforms are the main scores displays for accuracy, consistency and dynamics, which are explained fully in the next sections!
The buttons at the bottom of the screen control the functionality of the app. First is the Start/Stop button, which does exactly what it says, starting and stopping the metronome from running. Next to that is an indication of the current tempo in beats per minute (BPM). The tempo can be set from slow to fast by swiping on the BPM slider below, or by pressing the + and – buttons to find exactly the tempo you are looking for.
On the right-hand side is the Rudiment Mode On/Off button. This button controls where the metronome runs in a freeform manual mode, or whether a loaded rudiment pattern is used for a timed challenge that can calculate your performance scores and keep a record of your progress and ability. We cover more about Rudiment Mode in the Rudiments and Exercises Tutorial.
Finally, at the bottom are a number of menu buttons, to access Settings, select and load Rudiments, to view your past Scores. We have a number of tutorials on each of these app sections too, which can be accessed from our main tutorials and blogs menu on this website.
Download Drummer ITP in the iPhone App Store