Learning Drums

Why Do Drummers Make Weird Faces?

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Drummers are the unrecognized heroes of music bands. From their technical skills to their passion, the importance of these musicians in their ensemble is unquestionable. But they’re also famous for expressing emotions differently, leading to funny, animated faces. 

However, most drummers are unaware of these uncontrolled movements, called movement coordination patterns, and may pull weird faces for many reasons. For instance, it may be because they can feel the music as they play or they feel the strain of exertive performances. 

In this article, we discuss in-depth the underlying reasons why drummers make weird faces during performances and if you can stop them:

Why Drummers Make Funny Faces while Playing 

An insightful study by the American Psychological Association reveals that there’s a strong link between facial expressions and raw emotions. As drummers are the driving force behind a song, it’s natural for them to feel a deep connection with the beats. 

Getting the feel of the music allows the drummer to move fluidly between different parts of the instrument and ensures the rest of the band knows when it’s their part of the song. However, moving in sync with the music can cause eccentric movements and the buildup of adrenaline, leading to weird faces.

Besides concentration, drummers may pull a funny face due to physical exertion or overcoming their pain barrier. 

Reasons Drummers Make Strange Faces—Being a Drummer is a Physical Endeavor 

Playing drums is an exciting yet exhausting task, regardless of whether you’re performing for 5 minutes or an hour. So, it’s no surprise that it’s more than music that makes drummers pull funny faces.

Let’s dive deep into the seven reasons why a drummer might make a weird face:

Too Engrossed In Their Music

Drummers say they give these weird facial expressions because they feel each rhythm and beat. However, almost all strange faces drummers make root from a single emotion: joy.

They may feel one with the music and groove to the beat, and the way the song sounds might reflect on their faces. Other drummers may shut their eyes to get into the vibe and connect with their music. This way, they lose connectivity and awareness of what’s happening around them. 

Since they’re unaware of the audience, they might not give a second thought to their facial expression.

Using Your Body’s Entire Energy

Unlike most instruments, drums require multiple limbs working simultaneously. It could be a leg and an arm, both arms, one arm, or all four of them!

Now imagine shifting from one part of the instrument to another and doing this for over an hour. Sounds tough, right? 

Since the drummer’s body exceeds its limits multiple times due to continuous rapid movements, they cope with the rigorous motions by making particular faces- thus, you see drummers pulling weird facial expressions.

Concentrating on the Beat

Another reason for these funny facial expressions is concentration. Each musician has a unique method of expressing emotions when concentrating, which often appear as strange faces for most drummers.

Therefore, when drummers play a complex solo they’ve spent hours memorizing, they may make a particular facial expression when ensuring they nail their part.

Sometimes, drummers may animatedly move their mouths while concentrating on the beat.

Overcoming Pain Barriers 

If a band scores the headliner slot, the drummer will have to perform for one to hours. While there might be small water breaks, it’s common for bands to play songs consecutively.

Think of the exertion the drummer’s body undergoes while executing tricky solos and ensuring fluidity in songs. Now it’s not hard to imagine why drummers pull funny faces while performing!

Keeping the Audience Engaged 

Some drummers may make odd facial expressions while playing to entertain their audience. However, a proficient drummer makes playing the instrument look effortless, doesn’t look strained, and executes technical rhythm without breaking a sweat!

If you notice a drummer pulling weird faces while performing live, chances are, they’re entertaining and engaging their audience to keep them excited. 

Despite being positioned near the backstage, drummers are central to a band, whether live or during recording. 

They can send the adrenaline pumping and energy surging through the crowd through their beats and facial expressions.

Enjoying Their Time

While having fun, we tend to express it with our facial expressions. The same is true while playing a sport, watching a movie, or playing an instrument.

Drum kits are among the most exciting instruments, allowing you to channel your energy to create upbeat and beautiful beats. Many people may also find it therapeutic to play the drums to manage their daily stresses. 

So, if you see a drummer pulling a strange face, it might be because they’re enjoying their time! On the other hand, it may cause a natural smile or movement in parts of their face like we all do when we feel joy. 

Besides, drumming, like other physical activities, releases endorphins and dopamine, which makes us happier. 

Listening to Other Musicians

As a drummer, you must ensure fluidity between different beat parts to keep the music going. It also lets the rest of the band know when to come in and out during the song. 

Therefore, among the top abilities of a drummer is paying attention to other band members during an album recording or live performance. Since drummers must set the song’s tempo, they must listen to other band members and keep a metronome. 

The drummer may make weird faces to show their appreciation for their guitarist, bassist, or lead singer’s performance, or they might be displaying the joy of nailing every beat! What’s more, the drummer may tune into their band members while playing a music style they’re not accustomed to, leading to weird facial expressions.

Can You Train Yourself Out of Making the “Drum Face?”

If you habitually make weird faces while performing and feel self-conscious, you must understand that everyone has a unique playing style. Many famous drummers, including Mick Fleetwood and Josh Dun, are known for pulling strange facial expressions, and it’s part of their personality!

However, if you feel that you cannot enjoy drumming due to those weird faces that you make, worry not! You can train yourself not to make strange faces. Here’s how:

Steps to Train Yourself Out of Making Strange Faces

There are remedies if you want to eliminate your silly drumming face! Those faces are mannerisms or movement coordination patterns. It does not matter what kind of face you want to make while playing drums. 

The most crucial element is having the correct coordination pattern for years when you first learned a pattern, such as a paradiddle.

You will be stimulating the nervous system, and as a result, you will produce facial expressions that are as essential to the paradiddle as the hand motions. You must learn synchronization repeatedly, but this time without faces. Then, if you make faces, it’ll be solely out of desire instead of possessing it.

Play something simple that doesn’t require much focus if you are motivated to learn how to quit that tendency. Play it repeatedly while progressively accelerating the speed. Continue doing this while trying to make a face with force. Steadily work on that and make an effort to maintain your composure.

But remember: Take care not to exert yourself so much that your happy, positive attitude becomes tiredness and pain. Having fun while continuing to pursue what you love is crucial!

Can You Learn To Stop Making Weird Faces While Drumming?

You can easily quit the habit if you feel self-conscious about making weird faces when playing the drum. First, however, you must understand that making strange faces when playing drums is a unique characteristic of drummers, and the audience enjoys it when drummers make such faces. 

But, if you think that making such faces will cause distraction when you play drums and stop you from enjoying the music, you can plan on using different methods to stop this habit. In your practice room, you can place a mirror in front of your drumming kit to know the type of faces you make while you play drums. 

Once you watch yourself play, you will find ways to stop this habit. With time and practice, you will eventually get rid of making weird faces when playing drums. 

Weird Drum Faces vs. No Drum Face

When talking about weird faces when playing drums, one always considers if it is wise even to stop this habit. Since it is a characteristic of drummers, quitting it might make the entire drumming routine boring. 

However, you must first evaluate if the habit bothers you so much that you intend to eliminate it. For example, when beginners start playing, they sometimes focus more on making weird faces than playing music. That is one of the reasons people often plan to get rid of this habit. 

Since playing drums includes making faces, it is crucial to understand the effects it would have on you and the audience when you stop it. 

Playing drums with no poker faces, smiles, growls, raised eyebrows, or emotions would eventually make the entire experience boring. However, on the other hand, squinting eyes, chaotic mouths, and ridiculous facial movements will only end up in sarcastic laughs. 

That is why it is critical to understand the facial expressions you must give when playing drums. Remember, zero facial expressions mean the audience will not enjoy a theatrical experience when attending such events. 

The Bottom Line—Every Drummer Is Unique

Drumming is challenging, both mentally and physically. It requires speed, control, skill, and mental focus. That is why the audience sees concentration on the drummers’ faces when playing drums. 

Pulling weird faces may seem strange at first. However, it is natural for drummers because it is their way to show the feel of the music and help them perform to the music. 

Since every drummer is unique, they will have different strange faces to engage audiences. That is why there are innumerable valid reasons why drummers enjoy pulling such faces.

Nick Cesarz

Nick is a drummer, percussionist, and blogger from Milwaukee, WI. He toured extensively with Vinyl Theatre, opening up for acts like twenty one pilots, Panic! at the Disco, and more. Now no longer touring, his passion lies in gear and playing the kit as much as time allows.

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