Practice is something we all need and at times neglect, for one reason or another. Life can be hectic, and it steals not only our time, but our energy and our enthusiasm. To combat this, we need to come up with a plan and a routine and then stick to it! If you want to progress as a drummer, then you must devote time to develop your skills and add to your arsenal of beats, fills, rudiments and techniques.
Get a diary.
Write down available days and times that you can practice and figure out how much time you can spend at each session. Also figure out if this will be on the kit or a practice pad. The pad is great for practising late at night if you don’t want to disturb anyone, but the snare will feel differently and should not be ignored. Whatever you practice on the pad, make sure you leave time to repeat it on the snare.
Book these times out in your diary and stick to it! (Pun intended). If you want to see progress, then the only time you should deviate from this routine is holiday times or an emergency. Being a drummer is like (or in fact is) being self-employed. There is no boss to tell you when to get working, you must do it yourself.
Make a list of what you want to achieve.
Write down four things you want to achieve as a player. This could be a new rudiment, a song, a drum solo, a new time signature or improving on your sight reading. Then split these into two lists, what will be done on your pad or your kit.
Set up a realistic practice routine.
Make up a table that you can list your goals on and track your progress. One way of tracking your progress is to use a metronome to keep a note of what speeds you start and end with. Remember that when you’re working with a metronome, find the speed where you begin to tense up (or what you are practising starts to fall apart) and then dial back 10 BPM (beats per minute). Practice at that speed for a bit and allow it all to settle ensuring you are relaxed, and you find it easy to play and keep in time. Your focus should be on accuracy, relaxing and keeping in time. You’ll find that if you use this method, you’ll be able to play it faster without stressing yourself or constantly making mistakes.
Keep a Record
Get some kind of journal, either electronic or paper so you can keep track of your progress. Make a note of any increase in your BPM for each task and watch it increase over the weeks. Note down your achievements and any kind of breakthrough you have. It’s easy to feel like you’re not making much headway and keeping track of your progress will help you to see that your are moving in the right direction.
Warm up and finish with something you are good at.
Always give yourself time to warm up. It’s important with any physical activity to warm up. It will also give you the chance to run through your Root Rhythms (see article on root rhythms) and get your wrists moving with singles and doubles. This is the root of everything you play so it’s a good discipline to get these ticking over in your mind and with your hands before you start.
Finishing on a high is always a good way to end your practice. The last thing you want to do is finish when you are struggling with something so give yourself a break and have some fun for the last 5 minutes.
Something to think about.
1 Always give yourself attainable goals!
2 Never try and take on something that’s too complex for you.
3 Avoid disappointing yourself by sticking to the plan and achieving what you set out to do.
4 Everybody has good days and bad days and playing drums is no different, especially when you are practising. Whatever you do, do not walk away from the bad days, press in and persevere.
5 If you stick to the plan and the timetable you will see progress. So, get your routine figured out and make a start today!
Happy drumming folks!