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How to: Practice the Drums When Time is Limited

May 1, 2012

drumsEvery musician knows that practice is an essential part of learning and progressing as an artist, but busy schedules and other commitments often limit music students from practicing as much as they would like.  Our instructor Jason M., who teaches drums and percussion in St. Paul, Minnesota, submitted this blog post to share his tips for how to make the most of practice when time is limited.


What Should I Practice With Limited Time?

I am often asked this question by beginning and intermediate drum students. The following is a suggestion for a ‘down and dirty’ practice regimen for folks with little time to spend at the kit.

– Practice/prepare for your gig. You have to take care of business first, so if you have a bread and butter gig (or are looking for one), make sure you are prepared.

– We can all use a little work on rudiments; even Jim Chapin practiced rudiments until his last days. Try to get in a good 10 minutes a day and mix it up on a daily basis.

– Work out some drum kit coordination issues with some exercises that force you to get out of your comfort zone. Try doing some single paradiddles with your feet and play the same thing with your hands, only at half the speed. Try that for 10 minutes and move on to something else. After a week you will have spent 70 minutes on this grueling task, but you will probably have it down (or be close to it) by then.

– Lots of folks might need a break by this time (about a half hour into practice) so you might consider listening to a song you want to learn. Check out the drums, bass, full band – then try playing along. I use a PA to accomplish this, but others might consider headphones. Either way is good, but the speakers provide a more “live” feel.

– Jam out for a few minutes to end your session. We have to stay psyched; a good “chops” session usually works well for this.

So there you have it. This practice routine will probably take the average drummer 40 to 60 minutes to complete.  It is action packed and most drummers will get something out of it.

Until next time, keep groovin’.

Jason M.

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