Have you ever worried that not having access to a drum set would prevent you from learning to play? Think again – there are actually plenty of drum exercises that you can do without a drum set or a pair of drum sticks! And even if you do have a drum set, these exercises can be very helpful in learning basic rhythm patterns and paradiddles – especially if you need to practice quietly. Continue reading and check out some of these exercises, if you want to perfect your drumming techniques (and maybe pick up a few new ones) without a drum set - or the risk of disturbing your neighbors.
1. Build Strength on Your Weak Side
Unless you’re ambidextrous, you naturally favor either your right or left side. With some instruments this isn’t really a problem, but with drumming you need to be able to work your weaker side for both your hands and feet. Your weaker side will likely get tired sooner, so it’s important to build strength on this side to keep up your stamina when practicing and performing. Otherwise, you risk negatively impacting your drumming, since it’s harder to stay balanced. Try simple things like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, or when watching the TV try to raise your weak leg up and down slowly in series of reps to help build strength and mobility.
2. Listen to the Greats
Drumming is a musical art form like no other; when you play a drum set you’re really playing 10 or more percussion instruments at once. While some popular music these days is pretty simplistic (and repetitive, in some cases), it’s important to listen to a variety of music styles to help culture your musical ear and introduce you to new styles. Try listening to music that uses irregular time signatures or different grooves, like reggae, to really train your ear. With each song you listen to, you’ll be improving your ability to discern different drumming within just a few beats.
3. Use a Metronome
Drum exercises don’t necessarily require any accessories, but a good one to invest in is a metronome. Traditional or electronic ones are equally effective. You can use a metronome when working with a practice pad or even by simply clapping or tapping along to its pace – as the metronome clicks, tap out rolls or fills. This will help make sure your rolls stay in time when you do sit down at your drum set. Your muscle memory, built up from working with a metronome, will also help your timing when you play.
4. Focus On Your Feet
When practicing, don’t always allow your hands to do the work; your feet are just as important when it comes to playing the drums. If you don’t have pedals at home, tapping your feet in time to a metronome or recorded music is a great alternative. If you’re just starting out, watch your tapping to see if you only bring your heel down in time to the music. If you do, try making your whole foot come down in a tap, which will help you prepare for new techniques. Once you’ve perfected this method, you can move on to alternately tapping your toe and heel to achieve the heel-toe technique, and add double kicks to your repertoire of skills.
5. Keep in Time
If you’re stuck in the car and want to use your time productively for drum exercises, simply turn on the radio and tap along in time with the music. You can check your ability to keep pace by turning the the radio down for 30 to 40 seconds, and then back up to see if you’re still keeping the right time. As you keep practicing, increase the time you turn the radio down to make it more challenging.
Working without drums, or even a pair of sticks, can help make you become a better drummer and improve your skills. Once you’re in front of a drum set, these few drum exercises will help you be your best.
Photo by Caitee Smith