24 Awesome Drum Practice Tips
Hopefully you will find these helpful!
1-5 The Approach Attitude
1. Construct a vision of what you want to be like as a drummer. This is a great first step to take. Think of the answer to the question, “if you had unlimited drumming skills, what would your playing look and sound like?” Pretend your vision is real and experience it as fully as possible, because this will help you clarify your goals and will give you some more specific ideas to work towards.
2. Plan to enjoy all your practicing. Visualize your successful results before you start, and get ready to have fun. Plan to see improvements from each practice session, and plan to enjoy focusing without distraction.
3. Have patience! Patience is just a decision to be comfortable with the given circumstances.
‘Impatience’ is simply a word for anxiety or tension that you create for yourself, based on resisting circumstances or wanting something to happen sooner than it does. Anxiety and tension do not help anything. Learn to control your emotions; patience is just a decision to stay calm. You can be calm and still take any appropriate actions you need to.
Practicing on the drums involves a lot of repetition and maintaining focus. Be ready for this and enjoy it with patience!
4. Stay motivated, committed, and excited. Remember that you are building skills that lead to having more fun on the drumset. The more you enjoy your work, the faster your progress!
5. Think strategically. Consider your goals, and identify the skills that will lead you there. Start by working on those, and focus on the ‘weakest links’ that have the most room for improvement.
Also be strategic about developing your drumming vocabulary- be choosy about the musical ideas you let repeat and how often you repeat them. Craft your sound by repeating the elements you like until they are part of your innate style.
6-11 The Physical Drumming Machine
6. Relax thoroughly, and use stable posture and balance. Be calm and attentive. Keep relaxing as much as possible while you play a pattern. This will help you allow its speed to increase, and it will also allow you to play the pattern more expressively.
Most obstacles you encounter have a lot to do with rigidity or tightness; the more you relax and be patient, the more you will improve, as a general rule.
7. For drummers, practice is often a sport requiring workouts. Drumming skills can include speed, control, endurance, and power, and developing those qualities means paying attention to the art of exercise.
Generally a guideline to follow for using an exercise to build muscle: find the line between comfort and discomfort, cross it slightly, and repeat whatever you’re doing enough to maintain some muscle discomfort for a minute or two. Immediately stretch out for a couple minutes. Repeat this procedure a few times…
Know your body and don’t be afraid to work hard!
8. Warm up your body and mind before practicing. There is typically a huge difference in a drummer’s mental and physical capacity, between being ‘cold’ and being ‘warmed up’. Especially make sure to warm up if your goal is to strengthen muscles or gain speed or endurance.
The best approach I know: Exercise your whole body for a few minutes to get your breathing and blood moving, and then stretch a little. Use this as a meditative practice, or also spend at least a few minutes doing sitting or walking meditation. Then do some physical drumming exercises with all of your limbs, individually and/or in various combinations, until you have reached a point of feeling the physical exertion. Stretch your drumming muscles thoroughly, relax a minute or two, and you should basically be ready to perform at your top mental and physical capacity.
9. Always stretch your drumming muscles before, during and after using workouts on them. Loose muscle fibers twitch faster and have lots more endurance. Workouts plus stretching will lead you to rapid increases in your abilities, whereas workouts alone may not yield as rapid progress.
10. Make sure to use ideal posture, techniques, and movements when you are building physical habits (muscle memory). Whatever ‘body use’ you practice will solidify with repetition, so establish your basic physical foundation BEFORE developing your speed, power, control, or advanced techniques.
This is important because efficient positioning and movements influence your performance drastically, and can make or break your ability to play with control, speed, and power.
11. Try to balance your right and left sides. Your abilities will benefit remarkably from the even standing of your ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ sides, especially since a lot of drumming involves their cooperation (as in, alternating strokes).
Ambidexterity is not that hard, once you fully ‘activate’ your non-dominant limbs… but even if you don’t feel a need to become ambidextrous, any practice in that direction will yield great results.
12-20 The Perfect Practicing Recipe
12. Practice with attention. Where the mind goes, your progress follows… and it won’t if you’re distracted internally or externally. The amount of time you spend practicing with full attention on some detail or other of your practice is the amount of time you are actually improving.
Don’t waste time by ‘practicing’ without focusing, because your body will just fall back to doing what it is accustomed to, and you won’t be changing or improving anything.
13. Focus on the qualities of your playing. Use high standards for the sound of your drumming… and pay attention to your volume consistency, your rhythm / timing consistency, your physical position and movement quality, your emotive / mood quality, etc.
To monitor these, use your senses of feel, sight, sound, instinct… all observation angles. Try to notice the most subtle variances in your sound.
14. Try to virtually hear and feel each pattern before you play it.
Imagine what it would feel like to be someone who is very good at playing the pattern fast, under control, and while staying relaxed… This method sets up your brain’s familiarity with the playing experience you want.
Furthermore, since thoughts and actions are related and codependent, it is possible to practice physical actions with only thought, and actually increase physical skills with only visualization.
15. To avoid ever getting stuck in the material you’re practicing: First, zero in on very small fragments at a time, and rehearse each one till it’s comfortable. Then merge a couple at a time together, and rehearse those. Gradually merge and rehearse more fragments until you are able to play the entire exercise without interruption.
16. Build muscle memory with any pattern you are practicing, so you can execute it without concentrating on it or making mistakes.
First, start slow to learn the exercise, playing very carefully without strict timing, and just pay attention to how it feels and sounds. Then, experience playing the pattern while repeating it enough times to establish some muscle memory for it. Play slowly and carefully enough to use your highest quality playing.
Building muscle memory is more like an endurance challenge than a race, so relax and see how many consecutive repetitions you can execute perfectly, to get the best and quickest results.
17. Remember, “mind before actions.” Take the time to be totally aware of what a movement is going to be before you make it.
Human psychological function is basic- the more you repeat something, the more you get used to it (this includes mistakes). Practice is simply a means of programming yourself, through repetitions of an action / thought sequence. If you program yourself carefully and effectively, with enough repetition, it works. You can change your abilities rapidly if you want, and craft yourself into any type of drummer you want to be!
Begin very slowly, focus and execute perfectly. Repeat carefully. It doesn’t matter to your body’s process of building physical memory how fast a pattern goes- it’s only a matter of how many correct consecutive repetitions you can make while focusing attention on the pattern.
So, ALWAYS stay at a speed where you are in control of correct execution!
“An amateur rehearses until
they can do something right.
An expert rehearses until
they cannot make a mistake.”
Take pauses whenever necessary, to keep your mind before your actions, and do not allow mistakes. Practicing is not meant to be a game that challenges you, remember, it is a process of intentionally programming your body and mind. Be careful and deliberate.
Mistakes in your practicing are about as valuable as stammering while you speak (and the two actions probably have a lot in common). If you practice like that often, you’ll get used to playing that way. The only frustrations you encounter ultimately come from doing what you don’t intend, which largely comes from careless and attention-less movements that your brain isn’t keeping up with.
18. Memorize what you’re working on, and look away from the music on the page as soon as you can. Where your eyes go, your attention follows… especially if your eyes find something readable or interpretable, because you will automatically (subconsciously) begin to process whatever it is. This will distract you from the experience of playing, which is necessary for building physical memory.
Instead of reading music, concentrate on how the exercise sequence feels, which helps your body learn it faster.
19. Get to know each exercise, and what it takes to make improvement on it. Experiment with the volume and tempo, as well as where you choose to place your focus, in order to dial in the right level of difficulty for that exercise.
20. Try playing patterns at many tempos and volumes, to ensure that you can use each pattern across a wide range of conditions.
To increase your speed with a pattern, the best rough guideline is to start at your maximum in-control tempo, and repeat the pattern many times, increasing the tempo slightly between each round. Playing slowly is also a challenge for your control, and will demand the use of other skills and effort.. don’t skip this challenge, because it will help you build some valuable control skills.
For each speed, spend some time at very high and very low volumes, as well as the territory in between. There will be very different challenges at each stage. Here are some resources that may help with the tempo and volume aspects of your practicing:
Tempo Vs. Volume Graph – Download PDF
Tempo Spiral – Download PDF
21-24 Random Tricks
21. If something is out of balance, bring it out of balance the opposite way before trying to center it.
For example, if you are playing a certain note late consistently, and it has become a habit to do so, then exaggerate fixing it by learning to play it early. Practice playing it early until that placement is easy, and then try playing it exactly on time. You may have to alternate playing early, late, and on-time until you feel total control over the note’s placement.
22. Sometimes it is necessary or helpful to include a backswing (or ‘pre-stroke’ positioning) into the sequence you are practicing.
At least, check for any abrupt last-minute backswings that delay your timing when you try to speed a pattern up… and reprogram that movement, with rehearsal, to happen earlier so that all your movements are fluid at fast tempos as well as slow tempos.
23. If you’re trying to play something with several layers of rhythm, and the coordination is challenging for you, try this: play and rehearse each layer, one at a time. Then rehearse every possible combination of two layers at a time, then (if applicable) each combination of three layers at a time. Now try all the layers together.
24. Set up a practice area for yourself, and make it comfortable and inviting as well as efficient and organized. Keep in mind you will be likely to practice more if you have an enjoyable location to do so.
Include a place for food / drink, phone, towel, etc. A mirror is excellent to use, and gives amazing feedback. A video camera will also teach you volumes that you might not expect. You need a practice pad of some kind on a stand of appropriate height, and a drum stool of an appropriate height. The positions of these are important for the sake of your foot positioning, your upper body / arm positioning, and your posture. If you are in a place where you can be loud, include your drumset in this location.
Then, make sure you also have a good place for literature and your other practice materials. You should include a metronome, good quality sticks for the drumset, and a few different sizes of clean, fresh, not-abused-by-the-drumset sticks to use for your practice pad. Optionally, provide something for your feet to hit (ideally Hansenfutz pedals, which are a blast to use and will build your technique in a way that will be effective on drumset pedals).
Hope this helps! Have fun.
50% Off “How To Play Drums: The Ultimate Guide”!
50% Off “How To Play Drums: The Ultimate Guide”!
Ready to take off with your skills in a hurry? Get started now with the help of this ebook! To purchase the book for $10 instead of $20, just use code PDNx55hp at checkout! Download Now