It’s important for beginner drummers to learn how to practice drums effectively. Here, music teacher Tracy D. shares her tips to help you plan a more effective, productive drum practice.
How to practice drums may seem like a simple question. When you’re learning drums, however, practice is the single most critical component of your development, and it’s vital that you have an effective practice method. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your practice time.
1. Have a Plan
If you’re not prepared, chances are you’ll end up playing a few familiar grooves and then get bored and quit. A plan will help you set goals and focus on steady, measurable improvement. Focus on the specific skills you want to improve, and create a schedule to meet your goals.
Here’s an example:
- Five minute warm-up for hand/foot speed
- 10 minute style practice. Work on your favorite style or try something new
- 25 minute dexterity practice
- 5 to 10 minutes of exploration
This is a basic outline to give you an idea of the process. You can adjust this to suit your needs. Try something new each session. This will challenge you and help you stay motivated.
2. Be Consistent
Consistency will ensure steady growth. On busy days, make every effort to carve out practice time, even if it’s only 15 minutes. If you can, practice when you feel alert and energetic.
3. Use a Metronome
The metronome, or “Governor” as I like to call it, is your friend. It helps you build a solid sense of time, ensure proper note placement, and track your progress (in terms of increased tempo). There are lots of free or inexpensive metronome apps. I suggest working out your groove/exercise before using the metronome; this will alleviate frustration. Speed will naturally follow repetition. Accuracy should be your primary concern.
4. Isolate Trouble Spots
If you encounter a tricky or challenging pattern, work on it until you improve your accuracy. Then, work the pattern back into the music and smooth it out. Isolate, refine, reintegrate.
5. Find Your Inspiration
There’s a world of inspiration at your fingertips with YouTube, drum solo videos, and drum websites. Take advantage of these resources and stay motivated by watching different drummers (young and old, male and female). Be creative with your search; you never know what you’ll find.
6. Play Along With Your Favorite Songs
This will help develop your accuracy and style. It will also be an indispensable tool if you choose to play in a cover band. Practicing with your favorite songs will also sharpen your ears and strengthen your understanding of song forms.
As you become more familiar with drum set notation, sketch out musical ideas and work on writing the drum parts that you hear in songs. This will sharpen your listening, reading, and creativity.
8. Take a Break
If you get frustrated, take a break from your structured practice and just groove. This will relieve the tension and help you refocus.
9. Just Play
You should have a better understanding of how to practice drums, so this is your chance to let go and show off those skills that you’ve been practicing. These tips will help you practice between drum lessons; feel free to experiment and explore, but most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!
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!
Photo by mike rushmore