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How to Practice the Drums Quietly

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Although drums are usually not loud enough for someone who loves percussion, they can sometimes disturb your neighbors and household members whenever you practice at home. Thus, regardless of whether you play rock, funk or jazz, learning how to practice drums quietly is essential.

To help you with this aspect, the following tips explain how to complete your drumming rehearsals without testing the patience of the people around you:

  1. Get an Individual Practice Pad: Besides the fact that a good practice pad allows you to practice drums without annoying your neighbors, it can help you exercise different stick control techniques, boost muscle memory of your hands and learn the fundamentals of odd time signatures. You can find a variety of individual practice pads, which offer different feels, volumes and playing surfaces. One of the best products is the ironwood block covered with a rubber pad.
  2. Choose a Practice Pad Kit: You can also look for practice pad kits. Made from rubber-covered wooden blocks, these kits provide the same arrangement as a regular acoustic set. A great thing is that they are quiet enough to practice in an apartment. However, they can be quite loud for a roommate who is trying to watch TV or have a conversation in the same room.
  3. Look for Sound-Off Pads: Another thing you can do to practice drums quietly is to purchase a set of rubber pads or individual snare pads and place them on top of your drums and cymbals to reduce volume. You can find these pads at any music store.
  4. Use Brushes: You may also consider getting some brushes. These drumming tools permit you to play drums quietly without sacrificing your stick height to get soft sounds. Additionally, brushes make it possible for you to play with the same attack on drums as if you’re using sticks.
  5. Develop New Skills: Learning how to play the drums with a lighter touch and lower stick high is the best way to lower the volume of your practice sessions, but it’s the most difficult one. Focus on your technique, and work with a private drum teacher to master the skill.
  6. Get Thinner, Lighter and Smaller Sticks: You can practice drums quietly by simply getting thinner, lighter and smaller sticks. That way, you’re able to practice at low-velocity swings. However, this solution is appropriate only if you live in a home surrounded by landscape, which can stop the sound transmission from your living space to adjacent houses. If you’re living in an apartment, you may want to try another solution.
  7. Purchase an Electronic Kit: Electronic kits, also referred to as E-kits, are available in a wide range of designs. The nice thing about these kits is that, unlike regular acoustic kits, they have a volume knob and hundreds of sounds you can choose from. This means that you can tailor your E-kit to match any type of song you want to play, while keeping the volume down.
  8. Buy an Isolating Drum Booth: Another thing you can do to practice drums quietly is to purchase an isolating drum booth. This booth doesn’t only enclose the sound, but also absorbs it, while preventing sound transmission to neighboring areas. Since most drum booths are large enough to accommodate an acoustic kit, they are suitable for spacious apartments or houses.
  9. Tune Your Drums: Tuning your drums to a pitch lower than the natural resonance can also lower the overall volume of your acoustic kit. To lower the volume even more, you can get oil-filled drum heads and tune them to very low pitches.

By applying any of these tips, you can practice drums quietly and allow your neighbors and household members to fully enjoy the time they spend indoors.

Photo by The Hamster Factor


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Drummers Stick Together: Have Fun While You Play – With Henri Benard

learning drums

Every drummer starts out as a beginner. The ones you read about and see on stage stick with drumming and practice relentlessly to improve.  In our Drummers Stick Together series, veteran drummers share their personal stories of learning drums, developing their craft, and following their dreams!

Henri B. is a TakeLessons drum instructor in Phoenix, AZ and plays drums in the indie band, Dry River Yacht Club. Here, Henri shares his personal drumming journey as a student, teacher, and performer…

You describe yourself as a self-taught drummer, can you explain your process to teach yourself drums?

It all kind of started for me the summer of 2002, when I was living in a house with a drum kit. I had been playing percussion with some friends in various bands, and I wanted to be a kit player. So I worked every day for six hours in a hot, sweaty garage that summer, giving myself a crash course on the instrument. I learned by ear and by watching videos. I taught myself to read drum notation, and I really fell in love with the drum kit. Eventually in 2004, I bought my first Ludwig set from Milano’s Music in Mesa, Arizona. I started playing kit in bands, and never looked back.

Almost 14 years later, I’m a professional, touring drummer and drum instructor, with a sound understanding of music theory. And I still work all the time to make sure I’m getting better, as a player and an educator. I do not, however, want to undermine the power of private lessons with an instructor you can connect with. I have had a few lessons in my life, and those have proven to be critical in helping me really learn proper technique, as there was just some stuff videos couldn’t teach me properly. Any time I get stuck in my “self-taught” world, lessons still help me bust through to the next level. And the journey continues…

What were some of the challenges you faced teaching yourself?

I played clarinet growing up, so I was always playing music, but I wasn’t playing drums, formally. I just always loved drums the most. My mom always reminds me I was a “pots and pans” baby, so it has been a passion all my life. However, because of that, I struggled early in my career. I didn’t have the years experience playing as some of my peers, and it would show in my technique.

It was honestly quite embarrassing when people thought I was better than I actually was. I was stuck in my own world, and I needed new ideas and techniques to work on. That’s when I decided to seek out lessons to improve my playing in specific areas where I wasn’t performing or improving. And this is what truly took me to the next level.

You talk about your “let’s have fun while we play attitude,” why is this important for both beginner and intermediate drummers? How can drummers balance having fun with working hard and constantly improving?

I truly believe if you’re not having fun, why play? Music is meant to be fun and challenging for the soul, mind, and body. In my opinion, it’s meant to take you away from your constant state, and move you into a different realm. It’s one of the deepest connections I have with myself and life in general. So I really think it’s important to have fun with the playing, not “goofing around.” It is exciting when you’re first learning, or even as a veteran player, to be able to play a beat that was tough, or play a song you love and make those breakthroughs. If you like to play, the music and learning will be fun.

The lessons will be fun because the people in the lesson want to be there to share an experience together. And if you work hard and keep a solid routine, all the tricks that seemed tough at first will become more focused and deliberate techniques that you will have in your toolbox as a player. And that is where is the fun begins, through improvement and self-confidence from hard work. But YOU have to want it 🙂

You have a lot of experience touring with different groups, how has this changed you as a drummer, did you have to learn to play different genres and styles, or adapt to different types of personalities, bandmates, etc.?

I have been touring with several groups across North America and Europe, and every tour is different, but oddly the same. The people change, the music changes, but the van, the jokes, and the road do not. Every drive, especially if you sit in the same seat of the van, almost starts to look the same. The side views change depending on the region, but the roads and the heads in front of you always look the same, no matter what band you’re traveling with. (I don’t know about Tour Busses…YET!) Balancing personalities can be a challenge unless you’re smart, and understand how to really read your tour mates energy. Being able to read people is a HUGE part of being successful in the music industry, especially as a touring drummer. You have to know when to be there, when to shine, when to pull back, and truly know how to be a team player while you’re working with any band.

I have a love for touring and the experiences that come along with being on the road. I have had some amazing experiences and some struggles. On the whole, I would definitely say touring has changed me not only as a drummer, but as a human being. It’s like in the studio, there’s just a mode drummers are expected to be in at a professional level. And that means delivering every note, every night, right on the money! I’m thankful for these experiences, they have shown me new grooves I wasn’t playing, and taught me how be comfortable with myself. For example, I couldn’t play a shuffle to save my life eight years ago. I went touring for a year with a band where I HAD to play the shuffle, and you better believe the first couple of shows didn’t go so well.

I forced myself to learn how to play it with confidence on every note and pushed through to become a more refined musician. I kept the gig for the duration of the record because I was able to adapt and wanted to be better. Overall, I wouldn’t trade the way the last 10 years of my life have been for anything, especially since I’m not bred from a family of musicians. I am proud to say I am self-made.

How has your experience as a musician affected your approach as a teacher? Do you think you have a different perspective since you were self-taught?

My experience as a musician has affected how I teach, but it’s even deeper than that, as I had a teacher who almost killed my vibe. She was always so mean and never seemed like she wanted to be there with us (the students). It made me want to quit playing, but my mom didn’t let me. And I’m so thankful she didn’t…I don’t think I would be where I am if my mom didn’t push me to keep playing and encourage me.

Because of this, I have decided to always be a fun and patient teacher who doesn’t ever want to kill someone’s vibe. This is also the reason I stress the “fun” aspect of our lessons. Pushy, rude teachers have no business teaching, in my opinion, at least not beginners. And I don’t think I have a super different perspective, being self-taught. I still demand the most out of my students, and I make sure they’re becoming well-rounded musicians and have very structured lesson plans; I just make sure we make it fun in the process. We all start somewhere.

What is your favorite thing about being a drummer? (if you can name just one)

My favorite thing about being a drummer is watching people dance to the music I play. Period. Even during sound check, just watching the heads nod and the feet tap when the bass drum comes through, it’s just amazing. Drums control so much of the vibe, and so much of a player’s personality goes into the instrument. You’re an energy creator at the drums; you’re pushing air into the room and creating an environment that goes deep into the soul.

Plus, you get the best view in the house. You get to see everyone and everything at all times. You can just unleash the beast and let it flow, and there’s no other instrument I have ever played that brings out the animal in me like the drums.

Do you still get nervous or excited for big shows, how do you keep yourself focused and grounded?

I do get nervous before big shows and I’m always excited to play. Big shows are the best, especially as a drummer, in my opinion. I stay focused by breathing and just having fun. It’s not that I don’t take my shows seriously, but music is meant to be a release. It’s a fun job, but I always remember it’s my job and I’m there to perform and deliver what people are expecting of me, and I am expecting of myself.

At the end of the day, the energy you put out is the energy you get back from an audience. Not every big crowd is always there for you, especially for newer bands, so you have to remember to play your best every time you step out on the stage, put out your vibe, and make the room yours. Whether it be in the practice room, for a crowd of 5 or 5,000, at a festival, or in a small club, I always just trust my abilities and play with the same level of intensity. Even though live the energy is

At the end of the day, the energy you put out is the energy you get back from an audience. Not every big crowd is always there for you, especially for newer bands, so you have to remember to play your best every time you step out on the stage. Put out your vibe and make the room yours. Whether it be in the practice room, for a crowd of five or 5,000, at a festival, or in a small club, I always just trust my abilities and play with the

Even though when you play live, the energy is insurmountably greater, I still find that space in my head in the practice room, even at the big shows. And anytime I get nervous, all I have to do is go right back there and trust that I am supposed to be here; I planned on this!

What advice do you have for a drummer who is discouraged or struggling?

Stick with it and work through your struggles. When I was 25, I joined a “big band” out of Joshua Tree, California called Gram Rabbit. At the time, I was super appreciative of the opportunity to play bigger shows with bigger bands at better venues, especially being just a little guy from Phoenix. My problem was, I was forced to play with a click live, and I had never done that before. With some encouragement, I was able to play to a click live, but I never felt comfortable with it during my time in that band.

Eventually, I got cut from the band because of my timing issues in the studio, and it really hurt my confidence. I almost gave up drums and questioned if I could even keep time. But I didn’t quit. I got back on my throne and hit the garage hard, like I did when I first started playing, making sure I was dialed into that click at any tempo.

Years later, I joined a band called Peachcake. This was a band that used tracks, so I was playing to a click there, but it never bothered me in my years in Peachcake. I loved it and it gave me more confidence. We even got to play a headlining slot at Slottsfjell Music Festival in Norway in 2012.

Instead of quitting, I worked on my weaknesses to improve my all-around playing, and that lead to many more amazing opportunities. It would have been so easy to quit, but I was never about that life. I just always remember there is someone better than me, and that keeps me motivated and focused to be the best drummer I can be.


 Looking for more inspiration? Check out the personal stories in our Drummers Stick Together series!


learning drums
Henri B. teaches drums, guitar, and songwriting in Phoenix, AZ. Henri has years of experience touring with Arizona-based groups like Dry River Yacht Club, Decker, and the Sun Punchers. Learn more about Henri here!

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11 Ways to Practice Drums Without a Drum Set

practice drums

If you just started taking drum lessons, you may not be ready to invest in a full drum set. Luckily, a lack of equipment doesn’t have to hinder your progress. You can still practice and improve, you just need to be creative! Here, drum instructor Andrea I. shares 11 ways to practice drums without a drum set…

A drum set isn’t the most portable instrument, and being without one can make you feel like you can’t practice your craft. Never fear, this list is designed to help you improve your musicianship, coordination, and muscle tone. These exercises will help you in a variety of ways, and will make you better the next time you get behind a drum kit.

The best thing about these activities is that you can do them anywhere! Happy practicing!

1. Pillow Practice

No drum set? No practice pad?  No problem! The very best practice pad might just be the one you sleep on each night.

A pillow offers no bounce, so your wrist has to work to lift the stick and bring it back down. Drumming on your pillow is an ideal way to practice those rudiments.

2. Air Drumming

Air drumming, or playing on an imaginary drum set is actually another helpful way to practice drums and build muscles.

Air drumming forces you to work more muscles than playing actual drums or a practice pad.

3. Sing Your Parts

You’re a drummer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from some vocal practice!

Sing to memorize and internalize your drum parts.

 4. Recorded Music

Put on headphones, immerse yourself in the song of your choice, and listen.

Active listening involves internalizing the rhythm of the song and learning it by heart.

 5. Body Percussion

Believe it or not, the human body is a walking, talking drum set.

Use handclaps, lap slaps, foot stomps, your belly – anything to practice those parts!

 6. Bucket Practice

Do you have a five-gallon bucket?  Turn it upside down and you can get a workout on this simple drum.

Try practicing some of these drum exercises on your bucket.

 7. Practice Pad

Practice pads come in all kinds of materials, weights, and sizes. Also, there are practice pads to fit every budget.

Others come filled with gel, sand, and pretty much any kind of rubber you can imagine. If you don’t have a rubberized traditional pad, head to the kitchen, grab some pot holders, and get to get to work.

8. Hit the Floor

Of course, the linoleum, tile, carpet, and pavement around you can all be wonderful practice surfaces.

9. Heavy Sticks

Drum sticks come in a wide range of weights, and it’s beneficial to you, dear musician – to try them out!

There are sticks made of heavy metals, like iron, that will make your usual pair feel lighter than feathers.

Try out marching sticks for outdoor drum corps; playing with heavier and lighter sticks can help your musicianship without needing to be behind a drum set.

10. Percussion Grab Bag

Use whatever you can find to practice drums: spoons, hangers, jingle bells, sacks of coins, etc. Use your imagination and have fun!

When you’re a percussionist, the world offers you a great deal of instruments to rattle, hit or shake. Change up your practice by laying out tambourines, jingle bells, or even using what’s in your kitchen drawer.

11.  Apps and Online Drums

Check out your Android or Apple Store for a variety of drumming apps and practice tools. Check out Rudiment Pro, and DRUM COACH 1, for starters.

Plus, there are several websites that allow you to play digital drums. Bookmark your favorites and practice at your computer!

Need more suggestions? Here are a few more ways to practice drums away from the drum set! With so many different options, you can practice drums anytime, anywhere! Choose the method that works best for you and have fun while you practice drums!

How do you practice drums away from your drum kit? Let us know in the comments below! 

Andrea IPost Author: Andrea I.
Andrea I. is a Philadelphia-based English teacher with a lifelong obsession with drums. She has taught drums with Girls Rock Philly, a rock ‘n’ roll camp for girls, and played in various bands. She currently teaches online and in-home lessons in Philadelphia, PA. Learn more about Andrea here!

Image courtesy Dakota

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drum practice routine

3 Simple Steps to Build the Perfect Drum Practice Routine

drum practice routine

You have to practice drums if you want to improve, but how can you make your practice time more productive? Here, Rosendale NY drum instructor Alan S. shares his strategy to help you create an effective drum practice routine…

Progress does not always happen in a straight line. During my years playing drums, I’ve been through periods of quick improvement, as well as darker times of actually getting worse. I’ve also been through phases of staying at the same level: In my case, instead of a straight line, my progress looked more like a zig zig.

After going in and out of these phases, I realized what I need to do to keep improving. I figured out a way to keep my practice time well balanced, simple but consistent, and most importantly, fun and fulfilling!

To illustrate this, let’s compare a drum practice routine with a well-balanced meal…

Building a Drum Practice Routine


You know vegetables are full of vitamins and nutrients, and you should eat them because they are good for you. Even though they’re not as desirable to eat as say, a slice of chocolate cake, you should still eat them to get the nutrients you need.

With drumming, I like to think of the vegetables as the fundamentals. These are things like drum rudiments, site reading, and four-way coordination. Choose two to three of these vegetables to add to your plate, or drum practice routine.

Although these things may seem tedious, doing them every day will keep your technique in check, and these skills will come out (sometimes unexpectedly) in everything else you do on the drums.

  Pick two or three of these “vegetables” to add to your practice routine:


Next, you’ll need to add some protein. In an average meal, proteins include things like fish, steak, pork, eggs, or tofu.

When it comes to drum practice, your protein is the practice component with the most substance. What exactly do I mean by this? Well, unlike the vegetables, the protein is something that’s part of the big picture of what you want to accomplish on the drum set.

I consider working towards goals such as learning the beat to a song, transcribing, or learning a famous drum solo to be proteins. Choose two out of three to fulfill your protein portion.

  Not sure which “proteins” to add to your drum practice? Here are some great ideas:


Last but not least, everybody’s’ favorite: dessert. Translation for drummers: improvise!

Never heard of improvising? Well, here’s a quick definition: “To create or perform spontaneously or without preparation”. In other words, let go of any constraints and let your mind and body explore the drum set freely.

As you get better at improvising, you can start improvising over certain ostinato (repeated) patterns or exotic time signatures.

Remember, if you don’t behave during dinner, you won’t get any dessert!

 Save the best for last: work on these things once you have completed the protein and vegetable portions of  your drum  practice:


Beginner Drum Tips

For each food group, use the same set of exercises every day for a week, then switch to a different (slightly more advanced) set of exercises. If you get stuck, don’t fret. Try picking a slightly less challenging exercise, and master that.

drum practice routine


Learning drums takes time; patience and humility are key! Don’t expect to get better overnight. Increase your level gradually, step by step. It might not seem like you’re improving after a week or two, but that’s just because it’s a gradual process. After a few months, you’ll look back and be amazed at how far you’ve come!

Nikki DPost Author: Alan S.
Alan S. teaches drum lessons in Rosendale, NY. With a degree in jazz performance, he specializes in jazz, rock, Latin, fun, drum n’ bass, hip hop, Motown and pop drumming styles. Learn more about Alan here!

Image courtesy Darrell Miller

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bass drum technique

Boost Your Bass Drum Technique | A Guide for Beginners

bass drum technique


If you want to be a solid all-around drummer, you have to work on the individual drumming components. This means developing your snare and bass drum technique. Here, drum instructor Tracy D. offers her tips and exercises to help you improve your bass drum technique…

The bass drum is the heartbeat and backbone of your drum kit, and the bass guitar’s close friend. The bass drum also drives the marching band and adds the dramatic effect to the large concert ensemble.

Like the snare drum, there are different types of bass drums for different styles of music. Here, I will discuss bass drum technique and application.



Bass Drum Technique (on the Drum Kit)

bass drum technique

image courtesy Musician’s Friend

The bass drum is also known as the “kick” because you operate this drum with a pedal.

Different techniques can help you achieve your desired feel, volume, and rebound. While there’s usually some debate about whether heel-up or heel-down technique is preferable, each has its place.

Ideally, you should strive to be able to play with both techniques, as each method requires a shift in the balance of your body.

Bass Drum Technique Heel Up

The heel-up method is used for power, speed, and volume because you’re balanced more on your sit bones, and the weight of your leg rests on the ball of your foot.

The heel-down method is good for quieter passages, due to the weight of the leg resting on the heel.

With both of these positions, move your foot in a whipping motion, if you want instant rebound and resonance. This is different from “burying the beater,” which leaves it at rest against the bass drum head (which can muffle the sound) until the next stroke.

More advanced methods include the heel-toe (rebound arrested in the arch) and side-to-side (ball-of-foot) motions. Both are geared toward rapid-fire doubles with one foot. Both initiate a stroke and use a smooth motion to arrest the rebound and get another stroke from that move.



Double Bass Drum Technique

You may eventually decide that you want to try double bass drumming, which is a lot of fun, and allows you to play notes in rapid succession. It can also help you develop your weaker foot, which benefits your hi-hat work as well. If budget and practice space allow, you may want a configuration with two kicks, or you may prefer a double pedal. Each option presents a different feel.

You should strive for evenness and control in your strokes; you will find that your non-dominant foot will present the challenge. If you have already been playing for a while, your weaker foot will be less developed than your dominant foot.

Bass Drum Technique Video

For the following exercises, lead with your dominant foot in the bass. Once you’ve got that down, try leading with your weak foot.

Double Bass Drum Exercise 1: 95 bpm

 Double Bass Drum Exercise 2: 110 bpm

 Double Bass Drum Exercise 3: 125 bpm

Download the drum charts for these double bass drum exercises.

When playing the drum fills, think of the motion from the bass to the snare as a sort of tumbling together (rather than muscling through the notes), and your execution should become more relaxed and fluid. In the grooves, the hats are constant 8th notes, so you can use this as an anchor and play everything else in relation.

bass drum technique


You may want to try using a drop clutch (pictured). This is a clutch for your hats that uses a lever (that you can release with your stick) to drop the hats.

You can re-engage the hats by stepping firmly on the pedal. This allows you to play figures on the hats while your foot is on the bass pedal.







Concert Bass Drum Technique

bass drum technique

image courtesy Lone Star Percussion


The playing surface of this drum is so large (roughly 28″-38″ in diameter) that it requires dampening while playing, although you can let it open up completely for rolls and certain effects.

You may dampen the drum by applying constant pressure in varying degrees (depending on need/generally used for staccato notes) or pressing and releasing the head in time for a given note value. You want to be sure that you apply enough pressure to kill the sound at the end of the note.

For louder dynamics, apply less pressure for legato passages. For quieter dynamics, apply more pressure. You place your dampening hand between the beater contact point and the rim. If you’re playing at fortissimo, you will need to sweep your dampening hand across the head to suppress its motion.

For rolls, you need an extra beater, and you should have your hands diametrically placed somewhat close to either edge. Use faster, lower strokes for lower volume, and higher, slower strokes for higher volume.

Bass drum beaters vary in hardness for different effects (soft for legato/lower volume and harder for staccato/higher volume).


Marching Bass Drum Technique

The strokes on this drum, since it’s vertically aligned, are best executed with the forearms held parallel to the floor; thus allowing the mallets to be held at a 45-degree angle.

The fulcrum should be between your thumb and index finger, and your grip should be relaxed with the other fingers. This will allow the rebound to work for you and provide for much better tone, feel, and stamina.

You can learn more about how to hold drum sticks in this article and infographic.

Posture is important, so you should always keep your back straight. This will help eliminate fatigue and help you avoid potential problems with your spine.

You can improve your bass drum technique with practice and consistency. Try these exercises and find some more that you like. Grab your drum sticks and get to work. Happy drumming!

TracyDPost Author: Tracy D.
Tracy D. teaches percussion and drum lessons in Edmond, OK, as well as online. She has been playing the drums with various bands for more than 13 years. Tracy earned her Bachelor’s in Music Education from Oklahoma Christian University and has played with the OKC Community Orchestra since 2009.  Learn more about Tracy here!

Image courtesy Darryl Kanouse 

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how to play snare drum

How to Play Snare Drum: A Guide for Beginners

how to play snare drum

Want to boost your snare drum technique? Whether you want to improve your sound on your kit or play snare in a marching band, this guide from drum instructor Tracy D. covers everything you need to know about how to play snare drum…  

The snare drum is the signature voice of your kit. It’s an expressive solo instrument and an integral part of a marching band. Snare drum technique varies based on the type of music you play, but some techniques apply across the board. In addition to the exercises below, I recommend delving into a bit of solo literature, both rudimental and orchestral, as this will  help you refine your technique.

Let’s explore different types of snare drums and the techniques you can use to get the best sound from your snare.

Note: snare drum notes are usually written on the second space from the top of the staff (or, less commonly on the middle line). Sometimes, a snare part may be written on a single line.

How to Play Snare Drum for Beginners

how to play snare drum

Image courtesy Emily Mills

As a beginner, you should focus on accuracy and evenness of notes, as well as tempo and dynamic control. Get used to playing with a metronome right away; you will use this tool for the life of your playing. (There are many free metronome apps, so there’s no excuse not to have one).

Here are some exercises to get you going in the right direction.

Note: play these exercises with a right-hand lead.

how to play snare drum

How to Play Marching Snare Drum

how to play snare drum

Image courtesy H. Michael Miley

To prepare to play marching snare drum, do your research on websites and forums, and find videos of marching band performances that will inspire you to get in the shed.

If you want to play snare in a marching band, you have to acquire precision and the ability to listen closely and sync with the drummers around you.

You will also likely be required to work on the visual components of a performance (in addition to matching stick heights with your section), so you need to have your timing down.

Know your rudiments inside and out; they’re your bread and butter when it comes to playing snare in a marching band.

Make sure to practice these exercises which will help you master snare drum basics.

How to Play Snare Drum With Traditional Grip

how to play snare drum

Traditional grip was initially used to allow a snare drummer’s left hand to comfortably clear the rim of a side-slung drum. This grip is still commonly used in marching drum lines and in jazz settings.

Turn your left hand to the side, as if you’re reaching out to shake someone’s hand. Place the stick in the opening between your thumb and index finger (which will be your fulcrum), and rest the front end on the cuticle of your ring finger.

Your fingers will provide support and control, and your wrist will turn in a rotary motion to initiate the stroke. Your right hand will use the matched grip position.

Check out this article and infographic for a more in-depth look at how to hold drum sticks.

How to Play Rudiments

The rudiments are kind of like a drummer’s vocabulary. They’re used extensively in marching literature and rudimental solos/etudes. They may be used in drum set playing as well, to create some compelling and challenging grooves and fills.

The Percussive Arts Society recognizes 40 rudiments, although there are many more, including hybrids.

No matter what type of music you want to play, it’s important that you learn drum rudiments, and practice them consistently.

 Make sure you review this beginner’s guide to drum rudiments


How to Play Snare Drum Rolls

Pretty much any snare drum roll can be applied to the whole kit, however, the buzz/press roll is most characteristic to the snare. This roll requires some patience to master, as you have to work to make it sound smooth and seamless.

This video demonstrates the multiple bounce/buzz roll as well as six other essential drum rudiments.

For these roll skeletons, strive for even stick heights, unless you’re using accents or flams. Here again, you will refer to the rudiments; they’re the foundation of all drum rolls.

roll skeleton

how to play snare drum

how to play snare drum

This roll skeleton chart will help you interpret multiple bounce rolls. The rolls termed, “written” represent the norm for notation that you will encounter in literature. Those termed, “played” demonstrate the number of strokes needed to execute the fills—and those numbers vary according to tempo.

Experiment with the surface of the drum. You will have more “deadness” toward the center of the drum, but you will get plenty of volume. You can play close to the rim for quieter passages (and play over the snares to best activate them).

How to Play Snare Drum Fast

how to play snare drum

Image courtesy Gerry Dincher

Most new drummers want to be able to play fast right away, but this requires a lot of work. Fast playing is the result of plenty of repetition. It’s important to strive for accuracy first, so make sure you practice with your metronome!

Try these drum exercises to improve your speed and control.

Remember, when it comes to drums: accuracy + repetition + gradual increase in tempo = precision and speed.

Enjoy the process and be consistent and diligent; you will reap the rewards of articulate, nuanced, and powerful technique.

Whether you want to learn how to play snare drum to join a marching band or you just want to improve your skills on your kit, we hope these tips and exercises will help.

Remember, if you’re feeling stuck, drum lessons with a private instructor can help. Search here for a drum instructor near you!

TracyDPost Author: Tracy D.
Tracy D. teaches percussion and drum lessons in Edmond, OK, as well as online. She has been playing the drums with various bands for more than 13 years. Tracy earned her Bachelor’s in Music Education from Oklahoma Christian University and has played with the OKC Community Orchestra since 2009.  Learn more about Tracy here!

Featured image courtesy Brett Lessard

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drum fills

Beat the Boredom: 15 Fun Drum Fills

drum fills

It’s time for drum practice with Tracy D! Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate drummer, grab your sticks and get ready to learn these 15 drum fills…

As you continue your drum lessons  and refine your grooves, you will also want to work on your fills. Drum fills are are the glue and the flash that signal the transitions of sections in a tune (and they’re a departure from the groove). As their name implies, they fill the space in the music between transitions. They can also set a certain mood and create an excellent tension-release dynamic.

Drum fills can help you spice up your songs. They can be as simple or as complex as you please, but they should always be in the style of the tune. Sometimes, the simplest fills convey the most feeling. Here, I will explain a bit about drum fills in different categories.

Before we get into the fills, make sure you practice drum rudiments, and these drum exercises for independence and control.

For the following patterns, play three measures of time/groove before playing the fills. Make sure you can transition back into the groove. Some of the fills have doubles in the bass, so they’re good to get your foot in gear.


Drum Fills for Beginners

If you’re still new to drumming, these drum fills will help you get used to fills. Try to keep your strokes evenly spaced.  Play your kick on the quarter beat through the fills.

drum fills

Exercise 1: A full-bar fill that takes you around the kit with two 8th notes on each drum.

Exercise 2: Half-bar fill with one 8th note on each drum.

Exercise 3: This one is tricky because of the sparseness of the fill. Here, you have to be sure that you give beat four its full value; your tendency (as a beginner) may be to rush through that space.

Once you feel comfortable playing these drum fills, reverse the order of the notes, make the fills longer or shorter, and experiment with orchestration (voices).

After some practice, you will gain facility and confidence in your playing.  Be sure to use your metronome; this will keep you honest.

Looking for more easy drum fills? Try these 16th-note drum fills for beginners


Cool Drum Fills

Here are a few sweet little 16th-note fills that you may enjoy. Once you feel comfortable with these, change up your voices and stickings.

drum fills

Exercise 1: You will use some mixed stickings and play some doubles on your toms. This mix gives you plenty of time to get back to the snare. Playing the kick on the quarter beat gives a nice six over four phrasing.

Exercise 2: In this exercise you will learn to sweep laterally, and the doubles on the kick help throw you back to the snare. This fill is fun to play (when you get used to it).  Be sure that you hit with precision and that your bass notes are solid and evenly spaced.  This is also an example of a linear fill, which we will discuss below.

Exercise 3: Sweep in a vertical fashion before terminating in a run around the kit. Play the kick on the quarter beat.

These cool drum fills are fun, and they will strengthen your core if you use proper posture. The sweeping motions will provide a different way to get the rebound to work for you as you move from drum to drum. Start out slowly to establish accuracy.


Advanced Drum Fills

Once you have mastered the beginner drum fills, give these advanced drum fills a try. Depending on your level, it will take some work. Be patient with yourself and stick with it.

These add tuplets, 32nd notes, and mixed stickings. Play the kick on the quarters here, also.

drum fills

Exercise 1:  This fill has the first two beats in phrases of four within a tuplet feel, and allows a release by resolving back to six on the last two beats.  For an effect that I call “fill cleaner,” accent the last note of each beat as an exercise of its own – paying particular attention to the feel of your subordinate hand throwing that beat to your foot — then remove the accent.  You should find that your fills sound and feel more balanced.

Exercise 2: Play the 32nd notes as singles or doubles. The space between the end of beat three and the beginning of beat four is a bigger move for your core as you turn from the floor tom to the hats. Your speed on this move will dictate your tempo for the exercise.

Exercise 3: This fill uses paradiddles for beats one and two, and allows for either single or double stroke stickings in the last two beats.

Metal Drum Fills

These drum fills are two bars of fun, and they’re great for building tension.

drum fills

Exercise 1:  A fun run around the kit (play the kick on the quarters of the 2nd measure).  Start out slowly to build accuracy, and then challenge yourself to increase the tempo.

Exercise 2: Incorporates more of the bass.

 Exercise 3: this triplet-based fill  ends with a common rock feel.

Metal drum fills don’t necessarily have to be note-dense to be effective. Experiment with orchestration on these.


Linear Drum Fills

drum fills

Some more cool types of drum set fills are often called “gallops”, and they’re good examples of linear figures (no two notes played in unison). Aim for smooth, even triplets.

Use these exercises as ideas to experiment with voices and stickings. Try playing some of the notes on the rims, ride-bells, etc.

Play with your metronome! Set up subdivisions (8ths, 16ths, 32nds, tuplets) to ensure accurate note placement. Start out at a slow speed, and bump it up as you gain facility.

Once you’ve got these down, try creating your own drum fills.

Have fun! Repetition (done right) will build speed and precision that will only enhance your playing.


TracyDPost Author: Tracy D.
Tracy D. teaches percussion and drum lessons in Edmond, OK, as well as online. She has been playing the drums with various bands for more than 13 years. Tracy earned her Bachelor’s in Music Education from Oklahoma Christian University and has played with the OKC Community Orchestra since 2009.  Learn more about Tracy here!

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best drum songs

The Best Drum Songs: 10 Songs You Need to Know

best drum songs

With so many music styles and genres, it can be hard to make a list of the absolute best drum songs. Plus, everyone has their own opinions on which songs are the best. Since it’s impossible to make a definitive list of the best drum songs, drum instructor Maegan W. put together this list of 10 must-know songs. Check out the list and let us know what you think…

For this article, when I talk about the best drum songs, I’m referring to the signature songs that every drummer should know how to play. These are the songs you can always go to when you need to play a song at a gig, party, or event. These must-know drum songs also have important grooves or fills that you will use over and over in thousands of other songs. Knowing these types of grooves and fills will make learning any other song that much easier.

So here it goes…. the 10 best drum songs, or the 10 must-know songs for drummers.

*Note: I decided to use newer songs for this list. There are so many must-know classics, but those lists of drum songs are everywhere. So here’s a new-age update for the next generation of drummers.


“Lost Without You” – Robin Thicke

This song is pure soul. The groove is tricky and it’s challenging to get the feel just right. If you can master this song, you’re ready to play an R&B gig. Even if you’re a rocker, this song will help you gain dynamic control and tap into some fun, unusual rhythms.


“Love Me Like You Do” – Ellie Goulding

This is a great song to learn to add to the music, meaning you don’t have to overplay. Just play to make the song better, not to be heard or standout. This song has several breaks where you can practice your coloring (as I call it) on the different cymbals and practice your timing by coming back in right on time.

Lastly, it has a section with a half-time feel so you can work on that, too.

“Clarity”  – Our Last Night Band (Cover)

The original is great too, but this cover is epic! This drummer is amazing and super clean on his fills and grooves. The band takes it to a whole new level, and you will want to be able to play this way, too.

This song will take you through different levels of intensity and different emotions. Playing with emotion is important to get the audience to vibe with you.

“Shut Up and Dance” – Walk the Moon

This song makes you want to dance, and it’s always good to have a couple of dance songs in your back pocket. It has a disco groove in the chorus, with a nice open hi-hat splash. It also has some nice tom builds. The fills are simple and perfect for this type of music and it also has some hits in unusual places.

“Guns for Hands” – Twenty One Pilots

All of 21 Pilots’ songs have a lot of cool drum parts. In “Guns for Hands”, you will find a simple bass drum “four-on-the-floor“, with perfectly placed hi-hat accents. You will find big half-time grooves, tom grooves, and if you watch the video, you can see a high-energy performance and great visual cues that help the audience hear you.

This song also has an awesome reggae-type breakdown in the bridge.

“Up All Night” – Blink 182

All of Blink 182’s songs have awesome drum parts, thanks to the one-and-only Travis Barker. This song is one of my favorites to play. In the beginning, you have some 32nd-note hi-hat action, with some bell accents in unique places to add to the feel. It gets super heavy and has hits that you can use in many songs to come.

It features 16th-note triplet fills around the kit and nice builds. Learn all the parts to this song and you will expand your drumming vocabulary.

“Save Me” – Gotye

This song has some really cool tom grooves, with a displaced back beat. Hitting the backbeat on the “+ of 4” can be tricky, but otherwise, this song is pretty simple. You can focus on really nailing it, and gaining limb independence and control, while getting into the groove and hypnotic rhythm.

OK, I can’t resist…..the last three are classic, must-know drum songs!

“Fool in the Rain” –  Led Zeppelin

Get your half-time shuffle on; this will teach you how to shuffle with the best and can be applied in any half-time shuffle situation. Also, look out for the Latin breakdown. If you can nail it, you’ve earned your throne!

“War Pigs” – Black Sabbath

Talk about epic drum fills! Also, there are many parts to learn so it will help learn about song structure. This song is popular at any event, well maybe not at a wedding, but at almost any party. You will learn a lot by playing this song, and you can apply these skills to many other songs as you advance as a drummer.

“Grey Street”  –  Dave Matthews Band

This groove is tough to get just right. It’s a little awkward, but when it’s played right, it’s amazing! Pay close attention: there’s more to this song than just a complicated groove. The feel here is essential, so add this song to your setlist.

I hope you enjoy this list. Some of these songs are challenging, but they will make you a better drummer!

Which drum songs are on your must-know list? Let us know in the comments below! 

Post Author:
 Maegan W.
Maegan W. teaches drums, songwriting, and more in San Diego, CA. She earned a degree in Percussion from the Musician’s Institute, and has been teaching private lessons since 2004.  Learn more about Maegan here!

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types of drums

Drums Around the World |The Ultimate Guide to Different Types of Drums


If you’re interested in learning drums, you’ve probably learned a little bit about the drums that make up a drum kit. When it comes to percussion instruments, however, there are so many other types of drums. Whether you want to join a band or take on a new endeavor, here’s an intro to different types of drums from Edmond, OK teacher Tracy D

The world of drums and percussion is enormous, and it’s such an intriguing ground for exploration. This article describes various types of drums, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list, as that would be a very lengthy write-up! This article, however, will capture your interest, and perhaps prompt you to venture out and add some new sounds and instruments to your drumming adventure.


Types of Drum Sets

Let’s begin our journey on some familiar ground, and explore some different types of drum sets.

Acoustic Drum Set

You’re probably most familiar with this type of drum set, but there are lots of variations in size and configuration.

Power/Rock: These sets generally have 12, 13, and 16-inch toms, and a 22 x 18-inch bass drum. The snare may vary in size, but it’s typically 5 ½ or 6 x 14″. They have a deeper tone and more volume due to their larger sizes.

Fusion: These sets are typically sized as follows: 10, 12, and 14″ toms, with a bass of either 20 or 22 inches x 18 inches. They aren’t quite as thunderous as their rock-sized counterparts, but they allow for quicker playing due to their faster response.

Jazz Drums: These are supposed to be quick and light, and the toms usually have the same diameter as the fusion toms—but with shallower depths, and the bass drum is markedly smaller; usually 18” x 14”.

types of drums

Image courtesy Gibraltar Hardware

Some well-known brands include Gretsch, Yamaha, Ludwig, Pearl, Sonor, Mapex, DW, OCDP, Pacific, Tama, and Crush. There are also several options for variations in configuration.

Virtual and Electronic Drum Kits: Electronic drum kits give you access to an unbelievable library of sonic options. Over the years, their “brains” have become more advanced. You have a wide array of sounds with samples from top-of-the-heap kits. Additionally, you have capabilities of percussion and beyond. These kits are available in range from very basic to professional. They have the ability to work with interactive software and apps to provide everything from tutorials to packs of sounds.

E-kits are very cool and a lot of fun. If you’re interested in  buying an E-Kit, I recommend checking out Roland, Yamaha, and Alesis.

types of drums

Image courtesy bettermusic

Triggers: I would be remiss not to visit the world of triggering, which allows you to reap the benefits (feel and resonance) of your acoustic kit and the brains of the V-kit by adding triggers, which touch the heads of your drums and relay signals to a module (brain) to add to your sonic capabilities. They can be particularly handy in recording/live applications to enhance and clarify your sound or to provide backing tracks.

Auxiliary Drum Sets: These can be built to create a complete playground for the adventurous. They can include elements from the whole spectrum: drums, bells, blocks, triangles, chimes, etc. These sets can be used for solo applications or in bands, often in addition to a drum set.

types of drums

 If you want to learn more about different drum set brands, make sure to check out this gear guide on the best drum sets.

Types of Hand Drums

While hand drums are primarily played by hand, some work well with mallets or “tippers.” They come from across the globe; each type of hand drum has a distinctive pattern and playing technique.

Congas: These tall, Cuban drums are usually played in groups of two or three. Conga drums come in three different sizes: quinto (small), conga/tres dos (medium), and tumba (large).

Bongos: Bongo drums are Afro-Cuban, small, and often played in conjunction with the congas. The smaller drum is called the “macho” and the larger drum is known as the “hembra.”

types of drums

Image courtesy ArtDrum


types of drums

Image courtesy interstatemusic.com

Tabla: You can play these Indian drums with the heels of your hands and your fingertips. The small, wooden drum is called the tabla, and the larger, metal drum is called the dagga.

types of drums

Image courtesy sitarsencat.com

Frame Drums

This is actually a pretty broad family, with different types of drums from all over the world.

Pandeiro: A Brazilian instrument played with the fingers, thumbs, and palms on the head, along with the fingers/thumbs on its platinelas (jingles).


Image courtesy Pandeiro.com

Tambourine: A close cousin to the pandeiro, the tambourine is from various regions, and has smaller jingles—called zils. There is much more to playing this instrument than mot people think.

A tambourine may or may not have heads, and it may or may not be tunable. A tambourine can have single or double rows of jingles. There are many other similar drums from different parts of the world.


Image courtesy Grover Pro Percussion


Bodhran: This Irish/Celtic frame drum can be played by hand or with various types of beaters, known as tippers. Bodhran drums may or may not be tunable.


Goblet Drums: This is a family of drums that get their name from their shape. A darbuka, which hails from the Middle East, is an example of a goblet drum.

types of drums

Image courtesy Serdar Bagtir


Types of African Drums

This is another broad family of hand drums, so let’s look at some of the most well-known drums.

Djembe: The djembe is a very popular hand drum from West Africa. It may be rope-tuned or mechanically tuned (Westernized). They may have goatskin heads (shaved or not) or synthetic heads.

types of drums

Image courtesy fasoboutik.com


Talking Drum: To play the talking drum, place it under your arm and squeeze the rope while you hit the drum. Use a striker to alter the pitch.

types of drums

Image courtesy Musician’s Friend

Udu: The udu is a clay-based drum from Nigeria. Variations of the udu may have one or two chambers.

To play the udu, strike the larger hole with your palm, or use your fingers on the body.

types of drums

Image courtesy TheDrumWorks and ArtDrum

Some other African drums worth looking up are the dunun, bendir, junjung, and bougarabou.


Types of Drums in a Marching Band

 Are you in a marching band or would you like to join the band at your school? Find out what it takes with this guide to being a drum major.

Marching band drums supply the voice for the band. Here are some of the most commonly used marching band drums, they can be mounted on harnesses or stands.

Marching Snare: The marching snare drum is quite different than the snare used on the drum set. It’s much deeper and the head is made of Kevlar. The marching snare can hold very high tension.

types of drums

Image courtesy Steve Weiss Music

Multi-tenor: The multi-tenor drums come in several configurations, most commonly sets of four to six. They’re the higher pitched melodic voices of the battery and are typically played with sticks or mallets.

They may have small, tightly tuned accent drums, known as spocks or shots (among other names).

types of drums

Image courtesy Musician’s Friend

Bass Drum: The bass drums are the lowest pitched drums in the battery and come in several sizes that allow for melodic runs along the line. Each drum size is represented by its own

types of drums

Image courtesy Ed Uthman

Front Ensemble: The front ensemble/pit is stationary on the field and has a wide variety of percussion instruments like the marimba, xylophone, glock, vibes, bass drum, drum set, and timpani, as well as hand/frame drums and auxiliary instruments.

types of drums

Image courtesy Urbanlatinoradio.com

We have covered several different types of drums,  but we have still only scratched the surface of the world of percussion instruments. From drum sets, hand drums, and marching band drums, there’s something for every aspiring musician.

What types of drums do you want to learn about? Let us know in the comments below! 

TracyDPost Author: Tracy D.
Tracy D. teaches percussion and drum lessons in Edmond, OK, as well as online. She has been playing the drums with various bands for more than 13 years. Tracy earned her Bachelor’s in Music Education from Oklahoma Christian University and has played with the OKC Community Orchestra since 2009.  Learn more about Tracy here!

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Siz Destructive Beliefs

6 Destructive Beliefs That Hold Beginner Musicians Back

Siz Destructive Beliefs

Do you ever wonder how good your skills would be now if you started practicing a year ago? A question like this should motivate, not dishearten you. In this article, guest writer Elizabeth Kane will take you through six destructive beliefs you might face as you’re learning how to become a musician, and how you can overcome them…


Mind Over Matter

Your mind is a powerful tool. Your thoughts dictate just about every conscious decision you make.

Whether you’re a beginner guitarist who’s just learning how to hold your instrument or a seasoned singer who’s preparing for an important vocal audition, your thoughts can make or break your self-esteem.

Negative or self-doubting thoughts are mental poison — they can hurt your confidence and stop you from taking risks.

Risks Are Good

As you learn how to become a musician, you’ll soon understand it’s your job to take risks. It’s also your job to bring beautiful music (through passion) to an audience that craves authenticity. For this reason alone, we’ve got to put a stop to these perilous ideas that creep into our minds when we’re feeling overwhelmed.

Are you ready to face them? I’ll help you along.

Six Destructive Beliefs and How to Overcome Them


1) “If only I had…”

We think we need a particular instrument. We imagine learning from a specific teacher. We dream about having more time to practice.

Whatever it is, we have an idea that if only we had this or that, then, and only then, would we become the perfect musician.

But life doesn’t work like this.

Sure, we DO need a quality instrument, a great music teacher, and plenty of practice sessions. However, this “chasing perfection” thought pattern is holding you back from using the resources and skills you have now to become a better musician.

Instead, don’t idealize every step of the process. Take things as they come — you may be surprised by how well it all turns out.

2) “I’ll never be able to do that.”

Too many times we tell ourselves that despite everything we try, we’ll never be able to flawlessly play that piece, nail that audition, or impress that audience.

Naturally, some things do take more practice than others. You might have to work harder than you ever have before, but that doesn’t mean you won’t master the skill you desire at some point.

Think about something that’s ridiculously easy to you now: a skill, sport, or technique you’ve mastered. Remember when you didn’t know anything about it? When you barely even knew where to start?

Keep that in mind the next time a voice creeps in your head telling you there’s no way you’ll ever be able to do that. Time is all you need. Remember that patience and consistency are the keys to achieving whatever you want.

3) “If I mess up, ________ will happen…”

Let’s face reality — you’re going to make mistakes. We all do. To be great at what you do, you’re going to make a ton of mistakes.

Try to think about what you’re truly worried about.

Are you worried about someone laughing at you if you make a mistake? What happens if someone does laugh?

Write down what you’re afraid of if you make a misstep. Better yet — try it out! See what really happens when your fear manifests in real life. Overcoming stage fright is easier than you think!

4) “I’m not ready.”

It’s not easy failing, is it?

That’s what we’re really talking about when we say we’re “not ready” to give our skills a try. Failure is tough for every single one of us.

It’s terrifying.

We’ll never be truly ready to fail, no matter how much we’ve practiced, and no matter how much we’ve prepared. Trust me, there’s no giant sign that flashes across the sky saying, You’re absolutely 100% ready! There’s no way you’ll fail this time!”

But we do it anyway.

And with each moment, we defeat our insecurities, one shaky note at a time. We do this until we feel strong and proud, wondering why we were ever nervous in the first place.

5) “I can’t do that until…”

We spend too much time thinking about what we don’t have in order to achieve our goal. But with all the time and energy we spend worried about what we don’t have, we gloss over what we DO have.

What tools do you have now that will help you get closer to your goal? I’ll bet you can think of a few, even if they’re small: organization skills, persistence, optimism, imagination, etc.

Who can you go to for help when you’re struggling and facing unexpected challenges? Perhaps it’s a family member, a friend, or even a colleague. It’s important to know, especially for young musicians, that you have direct support when you need it.

What skills have you refined that will help you gather even better skills? Knowing one skill can help you learn another.

Use what you have now, right at this moment, to get to the next step. It’s not always easy and it’s certainly not always glamorous, but that’s how real growth happens: step by step.

6) “I’ll never be as good as him,” or “I’ll never play like her.”

Jealousy is a strong emotion.

When you doubt your own abilities, it’s easy to look at someone else’s highlight reel in comparison to your lousy dress rehearsals.

Everyone has someone they can compare themselves to. There will always be someone who began lessons before you did, performed a piece better than you played, and practiced more than you have.

The key is to measure where you are now to where you used to be — that’s a lot more satisfying. Staying motivated is a key to reducing anxiety during your practice and performance.

These destructive beliefs won’t go away overnight. It’ll take some practice to face these dangerous thoughts and eliminate them from your mind. Just know this — it’s definitely worth fighting for.

ElizabethKanePost Author: Elizabeth Kane
Elizabeth Kane is a music teacher who loves helping parents get the music education their child deserves. She is the creator of Practice for Parents, where she discusses what to look for in a music teacher, why kids really hate practicing, and what parents can do to guarantee their child’s success.

Photo by Alex Masters


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