Want to know how to play drums faster? When you’re learning to play drums, it’s not always easy to increase the tempo without sacrificing sound quality. Here, San Diego, CA drum teacher Maegan W. shares her tips to help you play drums faster…
Every drummer wants to know how to play drums faster. Even beginners have a natural tendency to try to play as fast as possible, even at the risk of sound quality.
The bottom line is that it takes time to acquire speed. There are no quick fixes. While there are no shortcuts to developing speed, there are proven methods that you can practice that will help you double, triple, and even quadruple your speed in a relatively short amount of time.
The goal is to gain control, not just speed. When you use this method, you will develop a deep understanding of exactly where each and every note belongs, so that your playing will be fast and clean. Remember, no one cares how fast you can play if it sounds sloppy.
Ready to get to it? Here’s how to play drums faster.
1. Focus on One Thing at a Time
Where exactly do you want to develop your speed? Is it a beat, a fill, a rudiment? Pick one thing and start there. If it’s a song you’re trying to learn, break it down section by section. Take each beat or groove, each fill, and each transition, (going from one section to the next) and then apply the next four steps.
2. Define Your Ideal Speed
As humans, we work best with specific goals and numbers. If we don’t know where we’re going, we won’t know how to get there. If you’re learning a song, figure out the tempo and add 10 to 15 beats per minute (bpm) to find your goal speed. If it’s a rudiment or fill, figure out the top speed where it sounds the best.
3. Use a Metronome
Grab your best friend—yep, you guessed it—your metronome. .The metronome can be your worst enemy if you try to avoid it, but if you make peace with it early on, it will a very effective tool. If you’re not sure how to use a metronome during practice, this article can help.
Take your goal tempo, and cut it in half. This will be your starting point. Start here even if you think you can play faster than this tempo. It’s very important to play in slow motion. This allows you to learn the patterns and develop muscle memory, so that when you increase your speed, it will be automatic. Don’t increase your speed until you can play flawlessly at the current tempo.
4. Add Speed Slowly
When you’re ready to increase your speed, do it in increments of five or 10 bpms at a time. This is the secret most people don’t know, but it requires patience to execute. It’s important to enjoy this process. If this feels like torture, you won’t progress as fast. Give yourself time to gradually work up to each tempo.
5. Keep Going
Once you reach your goal tempo, it’s time to push the limits. Play at least 10 to 15 bpms faster than your goal speed. This will make your goal speed feel slower and easier to play. This will also help you if you plan to play live or with other people. During a performance, you tend to play faster because of the excitement and energy, so it’s always good to be able to play a little bit faster than the original speed.
This is the most effective and efficient method I have found to learn new material and play drums faster. This may seem time consuming, but it will actually save you time in the long run. Remember to trust the process. It sounds sloppy when you try to play something fast before you’re ready.
Try these practice strategies, and let me know if they work for you (you can leave a comment below). Remember to be patient. At first, it may be difficult to control the urge to pick up the pace, but if you stick with it, you’ll be able to play faster, and master any beat, fill, or rudiment.
Until next time, happy drumming!
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!
Photo by G.Arands