How Fast Does the Drummer Really Play in Whiplash?

Whiplash is one of my favourite movies of the last couple of years. Yeah, that’s coloured by the fact that I play drums, but even if I didn’t I’d still find the film fascinating. But back to Miles Teller and his drumming for a second.

The sadistic J.K. Simmons (LOVED him in Oz) is after Miles to play faster and faster and faster.

So here’s the question: how fast is Miles playing?  How does his strokes per minute (NOT beats per minute; that’s whole ‘nother thing) compare to the best drummers out there. Is he really playing that fast? The answer is “yes”–and “no.”

Executive summary: he’s playing fast, about 900 strokes per minute at the beginning of the film and as high as 1,282 at the end. That’s a pretty solid improvement. But if you compare Miles’ speed to the winner of the World’s Fastest Drummer competition, he’s still got a little way to go. Not much, but he needs more abuse if he’s going to be the best. This analysis comes from a site called (short for “I Was Once Again Flabbergasted”):


So by all means be impressed. The guy is good–which should make the movie all that much better for everyone.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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