Having a good routine is a critical component of learning any instrument, and the drums are no different. If you want to progress as a drummer, you will not only need a drumming practice routine, but you will need one that helps you thrive. It is not enough to just sit down and start practicing.
However, with a little patience and some thorough planning, you can have a great drumming routine that will help you progress. Read on to discover how to create a drumming practice routine that helps you thrive.
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It is hard to find time to practice. However, if it is something you love, there is always time available somewhere. Yet, when you are strapped for time, you start practicing just five minutes here and five minutes there without any true direction.
Practicing without any clear direction will not help you. Many drummers put on a song they like and try to play along. While there is nothing wrong with this, it is not the best way to learn, nor is it a good way to grow as a drummer. You will eventually reach a point where there are certain techniques you just do not know how to master.
Without a drumming routine that will have you thrive you will notice:
- Certain techniques are not getting easier. If you do not practice properly then certain techniques will not progress. You will find that over time they are not improving.
- You play the same set of songs. Over time, without a proper drumming routine, you will notice that you are playing the same songs and never expanding your repertoire. It is difficult to learn new songs when your skills are not growing the way they should.
- You make the same mistakes. You can play a song many times, but if you are not practicing properly, you will make the same mistakes each time you play it. A proper drumming routine will mitigate these mistakes and, with time, make them disappear.
When you practice in a disorderly way, you are not creating good habits that you can rely on. Instead, you allow yourself to make the same mistakes over and over again. This will stop you from progressing in your drumming career.
It does not matter if it is a hobby or something more serious. You need to develop discipline and good habits to grow as a drummer. Remember, the drummer is the timekeeper of a band. It is your job to keep the time for everyone else. Discipline is key.
So, what do you need to have a successful drumming routine? There are a few steps you can follow to thrive in your drumming practice.
- Pick the right environment
- Create a list of goals
- Create a daily list of exercises
- Be Consistent
- Have a support system
- Track your progress
- Create your own grooves
When you follow these steps you will be able to create a drumming practice routine that will fit into your busy schedule. You will develop good habits that you can carry with you as you progress. But what does each step require, and why are they important?
You need to begin by picking the right environment in which to play. When you are practicing you want to make sure all distractions are kept to a minimum. Many practice areas are loaded with unnecessary distractions.
For example, if your practice area is loaded with posters, furniture, and other items that take up space, you are giving yourself a claustrophobic space. These things can distract you. Your practice routine should focus you on developing new skills while perfecting old ones. Distractions will only hinder you.
The best environment for practicing will be a simple one. The fewer distractions the better. Moreover, you will also want to have as much natural lighting as possible. Artificial lights can negatively affect you. This does not mean you cannot use them, but if you can get an area with a window, this is best.
The temperature will also affect your playing. In the summer months, make sure to have a fan or something else to help regulate the air in the room. When it is too hot, you will feel its effects.
The next step is to create a list of goals. You need to know what you want to accomplish before you can accomplish them.
For example, perhaps you want to learn a specific drum fill, or you want to learn a polyrhythm. You should mark these down. Create a short list. If you put too many goals at once you risk becoming overwhelmed.
It is most beneficial to have small sections of goals. You can focus more of your energy on these goals. By doing this, you make it much more manageable. When you have a manageable set of goals you are more likely to complete them.
It is also important to set dates for these goals. While these “deadlines” are not strict, they will keep your schedule focused and running smoothly. When you do not have dates associated with your goals, it can be easy to push them off.
For a drumming routine to be successful and to help you thrive, it needs to be structured.
You have found the right space for your drumming practice, and you have created a list of personal goals with dates you want to accomplish them. Now what?
You need to create a daily list of exercises. These exercises are what will allow you to accomplish the goals you wrote down earlier. Some examples of exercises you can implement are:
- Bass drum exercises. You need to build strength in your feet when you are playing drums. Including bass drum exercises are important not to forget.
- Posture exercises. You may have bad posture and not realize it. Good posture is needed for good drumming. Choose a song you already know by heart, and analyze your posture during the song. You want good posture, but you also want to be relaxed. This is where your best playing will shine through.
- Weak hand exercises. This refers to your less dominant hand. A good way to exercise this is to play a song leading with your weak hand. This will, over time, build strength in your less dominant hand. When both hands are strong, you will have an easier time learning techniques and building stamina.
- Rudiments. Rudiments can get overlooked, but they should not be. Rudiments are simple patterns you practice. There are many rudiments. These patterns serve as the basis for more complex drumming, and they will benefit your playing greatly.
- Timing exercises. It is important to keep a good time as a drummer. You should practice your timing by playing with a metronome. Using a metronome will help you keep the tempo of a song consistent. If you play too fast or too slow the rest of the band will follow.
- Odd Time Signature Exercises. Regardless of what your primary music is, you are likely to come across an odd time signature occasionally. These are important to know, so incorporating them into your routine is beneficial.
- Play different types of music. Even if you only play jazz or you only play rock, you should practice across genres. It will make you a well-rounded drummer, and it will also introduce you to techniques you can carry over to your preferred genre.
You can create your daily exercise list in a notebook or on your computer, and you can check them off each day. You should also put the times you are practicing each exercise in your logbook. You want to practice at least 10 minutes for each item, though over time you can build this length up.
You must be consistent with your practice. If you are not consistent then nothing you learn will be able to “stick.” Consistency is key. If you skip a day, you do not have to worry, but you will notice it the next day.
A routine is a habit. It will give you muscle memory. A consistent drumming routine will help you thrive.
To remain consistent with your drumming routine, you need to create a realistic schedule. As mentioned, do not overwhelm yourself. It is tempting to want to tackle every element of your routine right away. Who does not want to play at a top-level right away? However, if you want to be the best drummer you can be, you need to take it slow.
Practice every day. Stick to your exercises and stay focused on your goals. Make sure you schedule enough time every day, too. If you can only practice for fifteen minutes, that is fine, but you should aim for a bit more. Around twenty minutes is a good goal to have. Take breaks and split it up if you have to. You can do multiple sessions a day.
The main idea of consistency is to build upon what you have learned. By being consistent, you ensure that you retain new skills and improve on old ones.
Drumming may be your passion, but sometimes finding the motivation to keep practicing can be difficult. It happens all the time. You are practicing each day, but a day comes where you just do not feel like practicing.
Having a support system will help with this. If you have friends who are also drummers, connect with them. Talk to them about your practice routines. They may share helpful tips with you, and you can share with them some of your tips, too. Motivate each other. If you see your friends practicing regularly, you will want to, too.
If you do not have friends who drum, that is okay. There is a multitude of online forums and groups dedicated to drumming. Join one of them and stay updated with other people’s progress.
One of the best ways to stay motivated is to feel that you are not alone. And you are not. Many others are doing the same thing as you. Use that support system. You can also turn to your family and your friends. Tell them what you are going to do. When you tell them precisely what you are doing you will be more likely to follow through.
Additionally, set up milestones where you can show someone what you have learned. This will keep you motivated because you will have something to look forward to. Moreover, you will have an audience that is counting on you. Having an audience, even if it is a small one, can help you a lot.
As you progress through your drum practices, it is important to track what you are accomplishing. This has several benefits. It will keep you motivated because you will see how much you have already done.
Tracking your progress is a great way to focus on yourself. By seeing what you have done, you will know when you need to move on.
Many times, it feels like you are not progressing at all. This is because a proper drumming practice routine that helps you thrive is done in small, incremental steps. You are learning and excelling in small portions. If you do not keep track of your progress, you may easily forget what you have done.
Take a look at what you have done and take note of it. After a while, your list will continue to grow. Reference this sheet often. Make sure you continue to practice the skills you have already excelled at. You need to keep them fresh if you want to keep them at all.
While a great practice routine requires discipline and adherence to specific exercises that will strengthen your playing, you should not forget about your creative abilities.
While free playing time should be kept to a minimum, it should not be eliminated. You can finish every session with five minutes of creating new patterns and grooves. Not only is this fun to do, but it is beneficial to your progress as a drummer.
Creating your own grooves is a great way to implement the skills you are learning. You are using the skills you have obtained in a creative, and practical way. If you just learned a polyrhythm, for example, try and create a groove with it. See what happens.
The more you learn the more you can do. Think of a drum solo. How many techniques are included in one drum solo? Many. You can incorporate several techniques you have learned into your personal patterns. Additionally, it is a great way to practice them. When you create the pattern yourself you are more likely to remember the techniques used to make them.
To have an effective drumming practice routine, there is certain equipment you should have on hand. While some of these tools are optional, it is a good idea to have all of them if you want to continue to get better.
Being a good drummer does not mean only having a high-quality drum set is all you need. Remember, it does not matter how great your drum set is if you do not know how to play it properly.
Some of the equipment you can consider for your drumming practice routine include:
- Practice pads. Practice pads are a must if you live in an apartment or you live with other people. Stand-alone practice pads are pads you can practice on. They will not make any loud sounds. Some have headphone jacks so you can hear what the drum would sound like. The idea is to bring the sound level down.
- Metronome. As mentioned earlier, a metronome is a great tool to have on hand to practice your time-keeping skills. The metronome is a class musician’s tool and for good reason. It will allow you to remain consistent throughout your playing.
- Earplugs. Drums are loud. They can hurt your ears, especially when you play for long periods. You want to invest in a quality pair of earplugs to protect your hearing. The last thing you want is tinnitus. There are many earplugs specifically made for musicians.
- Music Stand. It is a good idea to get a music stand for your sheet music or practice books. It is easy to think you will not need one, but it will help a lot because it will keep your posture upright as you look out at the music. Additionally, it will keep your area organized.
- Sound system. One aspect of good practice is playing along with music. You will not always have others to play with, so you need a good sound system to play accompanying music on.
- Soundproofing equipment. You may decide you want to soundproof your practice room. While this is not necessary, it is something you can consider. Soundproofing your practice room, if you can, will allow you to bypass the practice pads entirely.
- A comfortable seat. This one may seem obvious, but the chair you use to play on is very important. An uncomfortable chair can affect both your posture and your playing. You want to be relaxed when you play drums. An uncomfortable chair will keep your body tense, which will show in your playing.
How to Create a Drumming Practice Routine – Final Thoughts
Familiarize yourself with any equipment you get for your practice routine. You can even schedule a practice session where you do just that. Once you know how best to combine all these elements, you will be able to utilize them properly.