Is My Child Ready to Learn Drums

Is My Child Ready to Learn Drums? The Best Age to Start Drum Lessons

Is My Child Ready to Learn Drums

Not sure if your son or daughter is ready to start drum lessons? Want to know the perfect age for a child to learn drums? Here, Saint Paul, MN drum instructor  John S. explains the best way to determine if your child is ready for drum lessons…

When your child is interested in taking drum lessons, you may ask yourself: “is my child ready to learn drums?”

The short answer is there is no standard, perfect age for a child to begin music lessons. There are pros and cons to starting at a young age, but the most important thing (for both parents and teachers) is to manage expectations based on the child’s age and skill set.  Below are three important categories to evaluate when making the decision of whether or not your child is ready to learn drums.

1. Physical Development

Does your child have enough strength and coordination to hold drum sticks?  This is one of the most important questions to answer when you look into drum lessons for your child. If the answer is no, there are still a number of ways to introduce your child to rhythm, and prepare him or her to learn the full drum set further down the line.

I often use techniques like lap drumming (hands on thighs), foot tapping, or small hand drums to introduce the idea of using your limbs to create rhythm.

If the student is strong enough to hold a pair of sticks, it’s still important to manage expectations regarding his or her physical ability. It’s generally much harder for young students to control their arm and hand motions, however, learning proper stick technique habits at a young age can pay huge dividends as the student develops more strength and fine motor skills.

2. Attention Span

Many young children struggle to pay attention for long periods of time, especially when it comes to new, challenging tasks. Don’t expect a five year old to sit still and be attentive for a full one-hour drum lesson. I recommend starting young students with shorter lessons (30-45 minutes) and increasing the lesson time as your child’s skills and passion grow.

I also like to break lessons up into small activities to keep things fresh and exciting.  For example, I’ll start with ear training where I play a pattern on a drum and the child tries to mimic the same pattern. I also use techniques like dancing or watching musical performances as ways to break the monotony of sitting still behind a drum set for a long period of time.

3. Academic Skills

Like physical development and attention span, academic skills improve as your child gets older. For very young students (ages three to six), It’s important to rely less on printed music versus general ear training and hand-eye coordination skills.

Like the school classroom, it’s imperative to start a student with simple lessons, and let him or her grow at a natural pace. In other words, don’t assign extremely difficult exercises for beginners who don’t have the skill set required to complete those exercises.

After you take this criteria into consideration, ask yourself again, “is my child ready to learn drums?” You should have a better idea of your child’s capacity to learn and improve at the drum set.

Learning the drums is often compared to learning a foreign language: the earlier one starts, the more it will come naturally at a later age. That being said, it’s never too early or too late to start learning the drums, as long as you take these points into consideration.

Think your son or daughter is ready for drum lessons? Find a drum instructor near you today!  

John S

John S. is a drum and percussion instructor in Saint Paul, MN. A full-time musician and teacher, he performs with two different bands and teaches in-home and in-studio lessons. Learn more about John here!

 

 

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drum style

How To Develop Your Own Unique Drum Style

drum style

When you’re learning to play drums you will find many artists you want to emulate. This is a great way to get started, but eventually you will want to develop your own drumming style. Here, San Diego, CA drum teacher Maegan W. shares her tips to help you develop your own unique style…

When it comes to learning drums, what is style, and how do we develop our own drum style? Read on for the answers to these important questions.

When you think about any drummer who has made a name for himself (or herself), or made an impact on drumming and music as a whole, it’s usually because he stands out in some way, and has a distinct drum style that people recognize.

The most successful drummers are well known and recognized everywhere. You can figure out who is playing by the first eight bars of a song. Their sound is so well defined, that even non-drummers notice their signature sounds, fills, and style.

There’s a big difference between being inspired by other drummers, and simply copying their sound. It’s great to have musical influences, but you need to take this a step further and develop your own drum style.

We all have our individual sound and purpose. Sometimes, we’re afraid to express ourselves, so we play it safe and copy other people.  The truth is, however, once you find, develop, and express your unique voice, you will have found what makes you valuable as a drummer.

Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate drummer, these tips will help you develop your own unique drum style.

1. Listen

So how do we find our voice or sound? Believe it or not, we find it by listening. Turn off the music, and just play. Express whatever comes to you. Don’t worry about how it sounds initially, just try everything that comes to mind.

Play freely, and have fun. When you hear something you like, repeat it over and over to lock it in. This is now one of your signatures.

Really get in the zone for this process. When we connect with music in this way, something magical happens. This concept may seem weird to you, but I assure you, most of your favorite drummers do the same thing when they practice.

2. Add Your Own Twist

At this point, you’re ready to start playing with some music. Play along with a song, but also incorporate what you have discovered as your sounds and fills.

If there are fills or ideas that you have adopted from other drummers, try adding your own twist. You can take basic ideas and do simple things that completely change the way something sounds.

Remember, there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to drumming. Be creative, take chances, and try something new!

Until next time, happy drumming!

Looking for a great drum instructor in your area? Search here for drum teachers near you! 

Maegan-WMaegan 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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drummers

Practice Tips for Drummers: 3 Ways to Get Better… Fast

 drummers

When you’re learning to play drums, your main goal is always to improve. Here, Aurora, CO drum instructor Joey I. shares his tips to help you make drum practice more effective…

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there is always room to grow into an even better drummerMost drummers want to know how they can get better, fast. These three steps will help you be a better drummer.

1. Be Aware

First and foremost, you need to be aware of your strengths and your weaknesses on the drum set. Once you know your strengths and weaknesses, you know what you need to focus on in order to improve. A drum teacher can help you with this process; he or she can develop drum exercises and practice routines to help you turn your weaknesses into strengths.

2. Determine Your Goals

Set aside some time to determine your drumming goals. Whether you want to play in a touring band, play local paid gigs, or just be the best drummer you can be, it’s vital that you understand why you want to play drums. Your goals give you direction and keep you motivated to work hard and improve.

When it comes to setting the right goals, you need to be aware of your comfort zone. Take a look at this diagram which shows the different areas of your comfort zone during practice.

 

comfort zone

To find your ideal goal, always shoot for just below your absolute limit. If you always push yourself to your absolute limit, you may burn yourself out and get discouraged. By setting your goal just below your ultimate limit, you’ll ensure that your goal is reasonable and something that you can accomplish.

Beginner and intermediate drummers can use this method to practice rudiments with the “open/close/open” or “slow/fast/slow” technique. Play the rudiment very slowly, and gradually increase your speed until you reach your limit. From there, begin to slow down again. This allows your mind and body to associate the relaxed feeling of playing slow with the action of playing fast, which allows you to play faster speeds with less effort.

3. Track Your Progress

Tracking your progress is essential to helping you reach your goals. You will be able to see your improvement, and also identify specific challenges and obstacles. Make sure to share your goals with your drum teacher, so that he or she can support you and help you if you’re struggling.

These principles will help you become a better drummer, and you can also apply them to any area of your life. These concepts will help you to stay engaged and will make your practice time more productive and fun.

Joey I.

Joey I. teaches guitar, bass, drum, and music theory lessons in Aurora, CO. He has been playing music since age 12 and earned his Certificate of Recording and Production from the Berklee School of Music. Learn more about Joey here!

 

 

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drummer

You Know You’re a Drummer When… 10 Things Only Drummers Understand

you know you're a drummer when...

Besides your sweet beats, grooves, and head-turning solos, there are certain things that set drummers apart from other musicians. You know, those quirky things that only drummers understand. While your friends may get annoyed by these personality traits, we thought we should celebrate these quirks. Here, drummer and blogger Jyn Yates counts down the top 10 things only drummers understand.

Hello there, my name is Jyn Yates (@Jynyates) and I’m a professional percussionista. I have been playing and teaching music in Louisville, Kentucky for several years. As drummers, there are certain things we do that other people just don’t seem to understand. Rather than fighting it, let’s celebrate who we are as drummers with this top 10 list.

You Know You’re a  Drummer When…

 

10. Your friends know when you come over because you have your own rhythmic knock!

9. You’re constantly rocking out to your own beat, even when there’s no music!

8. You can clock the beats per minute (bpm) to almost anything.

7. You recite almost everything you read in rhythm.

6. You add drum hits to the end of everyone’s jokes.

5.  You’re never in pictures because the band puts you in the back!

4. Your car costs less than your drum kit!

3. Your parents constantly remind you that you owe them a car due to the warped dashboard where you used to practice.

2. You’re always getting noise complaints from your neighbors.

and…drum roll please!

You know you’re a drummer when…

 1.  Everybody Loves You!

Is there anything else you would add include in this list? Let us know in the comments below!

Want to find an awesome drum instructor in your area? Find a teacher near you!  

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signature sound

Develop Your Signature Sound: A 3-Step Process for Drummers

signature sound

When you’re learning to play drums, you will discover several different genres and music styles. As you progress, you will want to be able to emulate a drummer’s style, and manipulate it to make it your own. Here, Baltimore, MD drum teacher Sean M. shares his tips to help you create your own signature sound…

When it comes to drumming, there are so many different types of licks, genres, fills, and techniques. While it’s a great idea to learn to play different drum styles, most drummers want to eventually develop their own signature sound. Here’s a quick guide to help you develop your own distinctive sound.

Essentially, developing an original style means making conscious decisions about what you’re doing on the drum set. It takes a long time to learn this type of control. A drummer needs to build a good amount of skill to be able to understand all of the possibilities on drums.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean you need to be able to play every lick in every style. The goal is to familiarize yourself with different techniques, combinations, grooves, and fills. Once you are familiar with all of these possibilities, you can begin to make personalized decisions and develop your own style.

Step 1: Listen

First and foremost, you must listen. Listen to everything you can find. Listen to drummers you like, and even drummers you don’t like. Figure out which techniques you want to learn. Again, your style is all about your preferences, and you develop these preferences by listening.

Step 2: Experiment

Now it’s time to take what you’ve heard and apply it during practice. This is the time to try a lot of different things at the drum kit. Switch from matched grip to traditional grip, try using the toms to play a fill, Play a new combo. Feel free to experiment and have fun, you may discover something new that sounds great!

Step 3: Refine

Once you’ve figured out your direction, it’s time to smooth things out. Now is the time to make decisions. Use everything you’ve gained from listening, practicing, and experimenting. This is the fun part; be whatever kind of drummer you want to be!

Just like many aspects of playing drums, developing your sound doesn’t happen overnight, so remember to be patient. Repeat this three-step process, practice hard, and have fun. Before you know it, you will improve your skills and develop your own signature sound.

Looking for a great drum instructor in your area? Search here for drum teachers near you! 

Sean M.

Sean M. teaches drums, guitar, and music theory in Baltimore, MD. He is currently studying music composition at the University of Maryland. Sean has been teaching private lessons since 2011. Learn more about Sean here!

 

 

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How Often Should You Practice Drums

Learning to Play Drums: How Often You Should Practice?

How Often Should You Practice Drums

When you’re learning drums, it’s essential to practice in order to improve. Many beginner drummers wonder how often they need to practice. Here, Detroit, MI teacher Joshua J. answers this question and shares his best practice tips for drummers… 

No matter what instrument you play, you want to be the best musician you can be. Learning technique, internal time, tempo, sound quality, and dynamic contrast are some of the most essential aspects of being a good musician. The next question is how often should you practice, and for how long? First and foremost, the quantity of time doesn’t matter as much as you may think. It’s the quality of the time you spend practicing that really makes the difference.

Mental Capacity

Your level of focus should determine the amount of time you devote to practice. Prioritize your practice time based on the amount of time you have, and how many exercises you want to get through. If there are certain days where you have a more flexible schedule, you can spend additional time practicing, as long as you still feel mentally engaged. Your mental capacity and level of focus and concentration will help you determine when it’s a good time to stop.

Physical Engagement

This one is pretty simple: if your body feels tired, stop. There’s no use trying to do an exercise when your body is exhausted. A runner doesn’t just keep going when he has run 30 miles in six hours. He stops and rests his body. Overexerting yourself on the drums can lead to physical problems. If you feel worn out, you may be playing too loud, too fast, or too much. You want to feel comfortable and loose when you play. You don’t want to grip the sticks too tight or use too much force to make a sound, especially when playing loudly. You will gradually build your endurance as you continue to play, so f you’re physically tired, stop the session.

Practice Frequency

Now that we’ve discussed the length for each session, let’s talk about how often you should practice. I personally believe that it’s a good idea to not touch the instrument for at least 24 hours during the week. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need a full day off, but I think it’s healthy to take some time each day to get away from the instrument, so that your body and mind can rest. Other than that, I recommend doing some type of practice every day. This doesn’t just mean sitting at the drum set, there are several different ways to develop your skills away from the instrument.

JoJo Mayer said, “away from the instrument, there is a lot to learn.” This means there are other ways to practice and improve besides sitting at your drum set. You can develop your rhythm by singing or clapping, listen to music to learn more about the songs you want to play, or do hand exercises with or without your drum sticks. Obviously, the set time at the instrument is crucial, but after that, you still have the option to keep practicing. Listen to music on your way to school or work. Do finger and wrist exercises as you ride the bus. There are many ways to incorporate drum practice into your day.

Remember, when it comes to practice frequency and length, we are all different. My mental and physical endurance is not the same as yours. The key is to find a routine that works for you. If you only have an hour to practice, then make that the most efficient, productive hour of practice time. If that’s all the time you have, then think about what you can do to practice away from the drum set. If you have a practice pad, work on stick control. If you don’t have a pad, you can still do wrist or finger exercises.

Your drum teacher will also have some excellent recommendations about how often to practice, and what to do during practice to make the most of your time. Make your drum practice efficient and productive, but don’t forget to enjoy the process and have fun!

Joshua JJoshua J. teaches drum lessons in Detroit, MI. and is an Orchestra Fellow of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Joshua received his percussion training from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Percussion Scholarship Program, and his Bachelor of Percussion Performance from DePaul School of Music. Learn more about Joshua J. here!

 

 

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drumsticks

Drummer’s Gear Guide: Which Drum Sticks Are the Best?

drumsticks

When you’re learning to play drums there is a lot of new gear to acquire. A drum set or practice pad, and of course drum sticks. Here, Edmond, OK teacher Tracy D. explains the different types of drum sticks, and breaks down which drum sticks are the best… 

Your drum sticks are your tools of the trade, and as time goes on, you will acquire more drum sticks in your arsenal. So which drum sticks are the best? This gear guide will explore drum stick structure and application, and teach you about the most popular drum stick brands.

Materials

Drum sticks are most commonly made of wood, and different types of wood have various levels of durability and response. Oak and hickory are dense, hard woods that are hefty and durable, and they can withstand heavy force. Maple is lighter, but it’s less durable. Laminated birch is particularly dense and heavy (Zildjian’s Mike Mangini signatures), and very pleasing aesthetically (I use these sticks exclusively for the snare). Some specialty sticks are made of rosewood or persimmon, and they are for orchestral applications. AHEAD makes an aluminum stick that is very durable and shock absorbent.

Build

The taper is the grade from the body to the tip of the stick. A long, narrow taper is best for light, articulate play, as this makes the stick more back heavy. A thick taper is better for louder, more intense play, as this makes the stick more front heavy, which also maximizes rebound. A balanced, even taper makes for a good, general-purpose stick.

The tips may be made of wood, which provides a warm sound but less durability, or nylon, which provides a brighter sound with much more durability. The shape of the tips will also affect the sound. A barrel tip will be high volume, a round tip will be articulate and clear, a teardrop tip will sound warmer, an acorn tip will sound rich and thick, and an oval tip will sound well balanced.

Check out this video for a closer look at how drum sticks are made.

Brands

While there are many different brands of drum sticks, let’s take a look at some of the best, most popular brands.

Vic Firth

vic firth

Vic Firth sells a wide variety drum sticks. They have hickory drum sticks which are designed for a fuller, more pronounced sound, and specialty sticks like the Extreme series, which takes the basic diameter and build of the workhorse sticks and adds some length. If you’re shopping for a beginner, try the Vic Firth American Classic 5A Hingestix, which were made as a learning tool to help new drummers learn proper grip.

“From the very beginning, Vic Firth Company has guaranteed drummers The Perfect Pair™ — a straight pair of sticks, perfectly matched in pitch and weight, every time,” a rep from Vic Firth says. ”This concept revolutionized the market for drumsticks and catapulted Vic Firth Company into a leadership position in the industry. Outstanding quality control, new product innovations, and industry-leading sales and marketing initiatives have allowed Vic Firth to remain the choice of drummers across all musical genres worldwide.”

ProMark

Promark

ProMark makes stick sets, concert sticks, marching sticks, and marching mallets. They have a huge selection of hickory, maple, and oak drum sticks with wood and nylon tips. ProMark recently introduced their Select Balance series, which allows a drummer to choose the taper, diameter, and tip material.

“As a company comprised of drummers, ProMark by D’Addario is passionate about enhancing our players’ experience through innovation, consistency, and quality,” says ProMark product specialist Elijah Navarro. “The Promark lineup has a width breadth of offerings and is suited for the beginner and expert level player alike. With implements engineered for jazzers, funk players, and heavy metal rockers, the Promark line caters to all players and all styles.”

Vater

Vater

From old-fashioned hickory sticks to bright, color-wrapped sticks, Vater has a huge selection of products for drummers. You can get eye-catching, colorful sticks, or try the Eternal Black line for sticks that can withstand hard, tough playing. Check out the Player’s Design sticks for custom drum sticks that were derived from individual drummers.

AHEAD

AHEAD (2)

AHEAD (Advanced High Efficiency Alloy Drumsticks) sells a wide variety of sticks for every level and style drummer. Whether your goal is to increase speed or maximize your sound, you can definitely find the right pair for you. Browse through the different models and find a pair that complements your aspirations and playing style.

“AHEAD Drumsticks are designed for all types of drummers and musical styles with over 40 different models to choose from,” a rep for AHEAD says. “They last 6-10 times longer than comparable wood drumsticks with 1/2 the shock. It’s one of the only synthetic drumsticks that has superstar endorsee’s.If you play the AHEAD Drumsticks for a week, you may never go back to wood. Try them and feel the difference!”

 

Zildjian

zildjian black

Zildjian also has an artist series, along with a hickory, maple, and laminated birch series. The Anti-Vibe sticks are great to reduce vibration. The Zildjian Dip Series drum sticks are great for kids because they’re easier to grip.

These companies offer an astounding array of sticks, stick/mallet, and stick/brush combos for every conceivable application. Vic Firth and ProMark offer sticks specifically for diminutive hitters (otherwise, I recommend a 7A for younger players). Some companies also have educational sections on their sites, which is great if you want to shop around and compare brands.

Now that you know a bit about drum sticks, you can go in search of your target sound and feel!

Drummers, we want to hear from you! What are some of your favorite products? Which types of sticks do you recommend for a beginner? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Looking for a drum teacher in  your area? Find one here!

TracyD

Tracy D. teaches percussion and drum lesson in Edmond, OK, as well as online. She has been playing the drums in various bands for more than 13 years, and has also played intermittently with the OKC Community Orchestra for the past five years. Learn more about Tracy here! 

 

 

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Photo by pochacco20

AHEAD Drumsticks are designed for all types of drummers and musical styles with over 40 different models to choose from.  They last 6-10 times longer than comparable wood drumsticks with 1/2 the shock. It’s one of the only synthetic drumsticks that has superstar endorsee’s. If you play the AHEAD Drumsticks for a week, you may never go back to wood. Try them and feel the difference!”

snare drums

5 Exercises to Help You Master Snare Drum Basics

Snare Drum Basics

When you’re learning drums it’s important to develop different aspects of your style to be a better overall musician. Here, drum teacher Tracy D. breaks down the snare drum basics, to help you develop your technique… 

The snare drum is one of the main voices of the drum set.  Developing your snare drum skills will help you be a better all-around-drummer. Let’s go over anatomy, grip, and snare drum basics, and try some exercises to help you develop dexterity and dynamic control.

Anatomy

  • Shell: The shells can vary in size, and are usually made from wood or metal.
  • Heads:  The top (batter) head is coated, and the bottom (snare side) head is thin and responsive, the snares interact with the heads.
  • Snares:  Snares are usually made of metal, and they give the drum its characteristic snap when they’re engaged (throwoff/lever in the up position). Disengaging them (throwoff/lever in down position), gives the drum a tom or timbale sound.
  • Rims: The rims are the hoops on the top and bottom of the drum. They’re usually made of metal, and they secure the heads and facilitate tuning. They may be played by laying the stick across the head, and using the butt of the stick to click on the rim. You can also use the rim in conjunction with the head (the middle of stick strikes the rim—the bead of the stick strikes the head).

Grip

Matched Grip

Hold the sticks the same way with both hands (palms down) with approximately two inches of the butt protruding from the crease of the palm (under the wrist). The fulcrum (pivot point), should lie somewhere between your index finger, middle finger, and thumb. It’s important to have a loose grip for clarity of tone, and to prevent injury.

Traditional Grip

With this grip, your right hand stays the same as in matched grip, but you will turn your left hand so that your palm faces inward. The stick should be between your middle finger and your ring finger, resting on the cuticle of the ring finger, and the fleshy part should be between the thumb and index finger (the fulcrum for this grip). Your fingers lend support and aid in control, and your left arm will rotate from palm-up to palm-in to execute strokes.

Want to learn more about the different grips? Check out this article

Snare Drum Exercises

Form a “V” with the sticks and keep the beads (tips) close together. Use your fingers to play quickly or quietly, your wrists to play at a medium volume, and your arms to play at maximum volume.

Snare Drum Exercises

Exercise 1

Use the playing surface to aid in dynamic change. Use alternating sticking (RLRL).  Begin near the rim (one inch stick height).  As you crescendo, move toward the center of the drum to reach ff (12-inch height), then move back toward the rim as you decrescendo.

Exercise 2

Double stroke (metered) roll, played RRLL.

Exercise 3

This is a buzz/multiple-bounce roll; press the beads into the head slightly, in rapid succession.

Exercise 4

This is like the first exercise, but begin with the buzz roll, move to the metered roll at a louder volume, and then return to the buzz roll.

Exercise 5

This exercise is a paradiddle (RLRR-LRLL) that uses accents (>) for texture.  Keep the unaccented notes at a two-inch height and the accents at six inches.

Now that you’ve been introduced to some snare drum basics, it’s up to you to practice! Combined with, practice, drum lessons, and dedication, these exercises will help you become a better all-around drummer.

Want to take your drumming to the next level? Find a private drum teacher, and get started today!

TracyD

Tracy D. teaches percussion and drum lesson in Edmond, OK, as well as online. She has been playing the drums in various bands for more than 13 years, and has also played intermittently with the OKC Community Orchestra for the past five years. Learn more about Tracy here! 

 

 

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Photo by Ben Smith

The Best Drum Warm-Up Exercises for Practice or a Gig

3 Drum Warm-Up Exercises for Practice or a Gig

The Best Drum Warm-Up Exercises for Practice or a Gig

When you’re learning drums, it’s important to get in the right mindset before a lesson or practice. These drum warm-up routines from San Diego, CA teacher Maegan W. will help you focus, and get your body ready to play… 

The way you warm up effects the way you play. A good drum warm-up routine will keep you in shape and help you keep your skills up to speed. It will help you focus your mind, and prepare your body for an effective practice or a killer show. There are many different drum warm-up exercises, but I will share a few of my favorites. Not only will these exercises help you improve your playing, they are also easily adaptable as beats and fills.

To begin, I always stretch out my body. I usually focus on my shoulders, arms, wrists, back, and legs. I just do some gentle twists and bends to help the blood flow.

Now let’s get to the exercises.

1. Crazy 8s

This is something I saw Jojo Mayer do, and it has really helped me to improve my playing and speed. I try to do this drum warm-up everyday, but at the very least, I always do it before I play.

  1. Start with your right hand only. Play in counts of 8: R-R-R-R-R-R-R-R (that’s one). Repeat this 100 times. This will be a total of 800 strokes. This may seem like a lot, but it goes a lot quicker than you think.
  2. Repeat this with your left hand: L-L-L-L-L-L-L-L (100 times)
  3. After you have done this with each hand, alternate using both hands: R-L-R-L-R-L-R-L

This exercise is great because it forces your body to switch muscle groups, and it builds endurance and focus. It also helps you practice counting multiple ideas at once.

2. Rudiment Warm-Up

Another one of my go-to warm-up exercises is to go through the five basic rudiments in different exercises. This is effective to build focus, time and space, and dexterity.

We will take each of the five rudiments through this timing exercise. We will move from quarter notes, to eighth notes, to sixteenth notes without stopping in between. Here is what it looks like with the different patterns. Play each subdivision twice, then loop the entire pattern.

1. Single stroke – Right hand lead = R-L-R-L

1 2 3 4  1 2 3 4 (quarter notes)
R-L-R-L-R-L-R-L

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + (eighth notes)
R-L-R-L-R-L-R-L-R-L-R-L-R-L-R-L

1 e t a 2 e t a 3 e t a 4 e t a 1 e t a 2 e t a 3 e t a 4 e t a (sixteenth notes)
r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l r l

2) L-R-L-R = Single stroke – Left hand lead
c) R-R-L-L = Double stroke – Right hand lead
d) L-L-R-R = Double stroke – Left hand lead
e) R-L-R-R  L-R-L-L = Paradiddle

Play these with your metronome to keep everything in time, and keep your bass drum playing the quarter note pulse. Start slow, and gradually build speed.

3. Speed Warm-Up

This is a great drum warm-up for dynamics and speed. Pick a beat that you will play during practice or a show. Play it quietly, in slow motion. Do this for a couple minutes. Then, maintain the slow tempo while you gradually increase the volume.

Once you reach your maximum dynamic level, start to increase your tempo. Once you reach your maximum tempo, gradually bring the dynamic level back down, and maintain your top speed. This is a tough exercise, but it’s great to help you learn control. Try this with rudiments, fills, and beats.

The great thing about these exercises is that they’re adaptable. You can do a long drum warm-up or a short one, depending on your mood or how much time you have. You can focus on just one, or you can do all three. Either way, you will notice a huge difference in your playing and how you feel. Your body, fans, and band mates will thank you.

When you do these exercises before practice or a gig, you won’t need a full song to get in the zone, instead, you’ll be on point from the very first note you play.

Until next time, happy drumming!

Want to learn more ways to warm-up and improve at the drums? Taking lessons with a private instructor is a great way to get customized and personalized help on your way to becoming a drumming superstar! Sign up with a drum teacher today!

 

Maegan-WMaegan 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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3 Simple Ways to Develop Your Drum Technique

3 Easy Steps to Improve Your Drum Technique

3 Ways to Improve Drum Technique

As you progress in your drum lessons, you want to learn new songs, but you also want to learn to play with better technique. Here, Detroit, MI drum teacher Joshua J. shares his tips to help you refine your drum technique…

When you’re taking drum lessons and practicing on your own, you can make better use of your time by focusing on the things that will help you improve as a drummer. Proper form and technique are essential to improve your sound quality. While this naturally requires patience and practice, it’s not as hard as you think. Here is my three-step process to help you improve your drum technique.

1. Be Efficient

The first step is to make your movements as efficient as possible. Like most things, this is easier said than done. What is efficiency and what makes something more efficient? Efficiency means maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort. So, for our purposes, let’s say that technique is any action achieved with little to no wasted effort. From a single hit to a blast beat, the key to improving your technique is to make every movement more efficient.

To start this process, you have to understand how your body moves. When you go up to the cymbal, are you over stretching or just getting there? Is your right hand doing anything weird when your left hand plays the snare drum, or vice versa? This list can go on and on, but the question is, where is there tension? Try to slow down your movements to find when and where you feel tension, and then try to relax and eliminate the tension.

When I would play a drum set as a beginner, my left foot would tense up as I would play the low tom. When I released that tension from my foot, it made it easier to get to the low tom. When something feels difficult, take some time to figure out why it’s hard physically. Once you can identify the source of tension, you can find the solution to make it feel easier. Removing tension will improve your technique, and make you more efficient.

2. Listen and Imagine

The second step to improve drum technique is to listen. How well are you keeping time? Are your movements in the groove of the tempo? Can you play the exercises or techniques at any dynamic? Can you hear those dynamics, rhythms, or tempos before you play them? These questions can be difficult because they all concern the intangible nature of sound. We feel time with our internal clock, and it takes time to develop this skill.

The best way to practice this, is to try to hear or imagine the time in your mind. Have you ever played back a scene from a movie in your head, and you could hear the dialogue in your mind? Use the same process with drums; imagine the tempo, with a metronome and then without, and focus on really feeling it, like your own personal downbeat.

 3. Develop Your Quality of Sound

After tempo, the next step is to focus on the quality of sound. Being able to do your exercises at any dynamic will make that technique more adaptable to different situations. Remember to practice playing softly! You can always add volume later, but if you don’t practice soft, then you will never play softly.

Does your technique sound harsh or nice, soft or hard, thin or thick? Compare your sound with different adjectives or objects, and then imagine what these things sound like. This will help you develop more character in your playing. What does a truck sound like? Imagine the sound in your head, and then play that sound. What does a feather sound like? Imagine it, feel it, and play it.

When I got really serious about drums, I wanted to know how every instrument felt at any dynamic, tempo, rhythm, or note length. This forced me to imagine what it felt like to play things efficiently in different categories. At the time, I didn’t understand how my body moved. So, I started to examine how I played hand-to-hand eighth notes. I lifted each stick painfully slow. It took me at least two minutes to get from full height down to the drum, and then three minutes back up to full height, with one hand. During this time, I would ask myself, where is there tension? I focused on relieving the tension in order to make my strokes better.

Again, the key to better technique is to move more efficiently in everything you do, and hear what you do in as many styles and characteristics as possible. Patience is key. Don’t shy away from practicing slowly and softly. Push your limits. Make what you hear, feel, and do automatic, and your actions will be more efficient every time. Remove tension and make playing easier; your technique will improve and you will have more fun playing drums!

Joshua JJoshua J. teaches drum lessons in Detroit, MI. and is an Orchestra Fellow of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Joshua received his percussion training from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Percussion Scholarship Program, and his Bachelor of Percussion Performance from DePaul School of Music. Learn more about Joshua J. here!

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