A typical goal for any musician, whatever your proficiency level, is to make it to the next level with your instrument. Drums and percussion are the foundation of most bands and ensembles, so the skills you possess can benefit the whole group. Keeping the rhythm and adding a unique element is the goal for drummers. So how do you do it? What habits do you need to add to your practice time? Most importantly, what drum techniques will help you get there? Here are six techniques that can help you improve your individual drumming skills and overall musicianship:
1) Mind over matter – A common theme that connects the best musicians is confidence. Were you born to play? You better believe that, because your mind, motivation, and determination are what are going to get you on your way! The first technique you need to employ in your skill set, then, is the unwavering belief that you are going to succeed on drums.
2) Practice, hard work, and more practice – This could be interpreted as a habit, but also think of it as a technique. To master anything, you have to practice it every day. Even if you can only dedicate 15 minutes a day, that’s still 15 more minutes of experience than you had before. Keep in mind the more time you set aside for your craft, the faster you can achieve your goals and become a better drummer. The best in the business put in plenty of hard work, effort, and practice – they also know that you never stop learning.
3) Physically prepare – Drumming is hard work. Bodies twist and bounce; arms, feet, and legs are in constant motion; and when you’re performing or practicing, it can be physically exhausting! Think of yourself in training. Like any good marathoner, building your muscle foundation is essential to improving and going the distance. Think of it as an endurance training for drums. The more efficient your muscles are, the longer you can practice and play, and the closer you’ll be to getting to the next level with your drumming.
4) Play well with others – It’s one thing to play at home on your own, but it’s another to play with others. Working with a group of musicians helps you learn many important drum techniques. For example, it will help you focus and learn to tune in to what others are doing. You’ll learn the delicate skill of playing as a unit, a key to becoming a successful drummer, as well as being part of a successful band. Plus, if you’re regularly playing with amazing and talented musicians, you might be motivated to up your game, as well!
5) Improve each individual drum technique – Whatever route you want to go musically, it can be helpful to learn the individual techniques of each type of drum. Think snare technique, bass drum technique, and so on. Start with drumming basics, and then build upon it. The better you get, the more you can work on developing your own signature style. There are also plenty of online resources out there — videos, blogs, books, forums, etc. Musicians tend to be a friendly group willing to share the keys to their success. Take the advice from others and formulate it into your own success. The basics are there for a reason; once you master them, you can go in almost any direction you want.
6) Try different styles of drumming – The beauty of drumming is that there are so many different styles you can learn! For some cultures, drumming is a way of expressing spiritual beauty. Each style and culture offers new techniques to try and perfect. Some styles require your hands and feet, while others involve sticks, brushes, brooms, or pedals. There are cymbals, chimes, cowbells, and Djembes. The world of drumming is vast. In the end, whether you want to be a heavy metal drummer or play Latin styles, the more you know, the better!
The opportunities to improve and learn new drum techniques are practically endless. Arm yourself with a drum pad, metronome, practice space and time, some challenging music, and a drum teacher to guide you along – above all else, remember to have fun!
Photo by Elliot Bennett