How to practice Drums?
How to practice Drums?
The way HOW someone practices is essential for the learning progress. You often hear the statement: “I’m just not talented enough for a musical instrument”. And YES, in my opinion there is such a thing as talent, but this is a vastly overrated aspect that only partially influences a musician’s progress. I think there are different kinds of musical talent. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and I would also count skills like sustained focus and high ambition as talents. More on this topic in my blog article: Do I have enough talent to learn drums? Of course, there is also exceptional talent and when you see 4 year old prodigies on YouTube it can be frustrating and it can easily make you think you just aren’t talented enough. But is that a reason that should stop someone from learning an instrument and even becoming a professional musician? I don’t think so, because the goal should be to have fun making music, and with proper practice everyone will really make progress and be able to reach a professional level.
The Learning Curve
The learning curve when learning the instrument is very steep at the beginning. You can make rapid progress, but the longer you play an instrument, the flatter the curve becomes. Over time it will become more and more difficult to make further progress. Jojo Mayer, one of the world’s best drummers, compares learning an instrument to climbing a stairway. In the beginning, the stair steps are very small and you make quick progress. Over time, however, the stair steps get higher and higher and it becomes more strenuous to master the next step. Every now and then you skip smaller steps and you have to go back a few steps to master the next harder steps. But at some point you’re faced with a wall and just can’t get any further. In reality, it’s just the next stair step. But how do you overcome this hurdle? By expanding your foundation. This is similar to building a tower. In the beginning the tower is 10 meters high but how to build it 100 meters high? By expanding the foundation. This means, for example, learning new techniques or other musical styles. As the tower gets taller, you can see further into the distance, broadening your horizons, whereupon you can discover new material for another foundation to reach the next stair step.
How much should you Practice?
Basically, it is important to practice regularly. Practicing 15 minutes every day is much better than an hour once a week. If you play the instrument regularly, you will learn faster. But the quality of the practice is just as important. You should practice what you can’t do yet and not what already works well. This can be uncomfortable and frustrating, but ultimately the fastest progress is made by constantly working on the weak points.
More is More or Less is More? Quality vs. Quantity
Of course, quantity also plays an important role. Even if you practice focused for 15 minutes each day, someone who practices the same thing for 2 hours a day will make significantly more progress. It ultimately depends on the individual goal you want to achieve. Do you just want to learn to play a few songs, play concerts with a band, learn many styles or just specialize in one style, become a hobby musician or become a professional musician with a degree in music? Therefore, purposeful practice is extremely important. It is very helpful to set short-term and long-term goals. As a drum teacher, I will support you in the best possible way and work with you to set individual goals in drum lessons. Logically, the amount of time required to achieve these goals is completely different depending on your situation. No matter how long you practice, you should always get the most out of your available time.
How should Kids Practice?
The younger kids are, the more parents should support the child in practicing. First of all, it is important to create a pleasant practice atmosphere, which means you should create a place to practice where you are not distracted and do not disturb others. Also see my article on: How can I play drums in an apartment?. The parents should be present at least occasionally during the drum lessons and practice regularly with the child at home and support them in doing so. This mainly affects children under the age of 9. Later the children become more and more independent and less support is needed. Parental support plays an essential role in development and motivation in learning the instrument.
Efficient practice requires constant self-reflection. Especially nowadays it has become very easy to film yourself or even to create audio recordings. This is possible with any smartphone and the slow-motion function when filming can also be very revealing in the analysis. You can analyze these recordings on three levels:
Acoustic – How does it sound?
Visual – How does it look?
Emotional – How does it feel? (Am I tense?, Is it exhausting?, Does it hurt?)
The filming takes a little time and maybe also effort at the beginning, but the effort is worth it and can be very eye-opening.
Practice what you can´t do yet!
It’s much more enjoyable to play what you’re already good at, but when it comes to efficient practice, you should focus on the things you’re not good at. Practice so that you are challenged, but don’t overdo it so that you lose confidence to achieve goals. Create notes about your goals and progress. This will help you to track your progress.
Practice Slow and do lots of Repetitions!
Isolate particularly difficult parts and practice them at a very slow tempo so that you can understand the movements better. Repeat the isolated part until it feels completely natural. If you have to interupt every second or third rep, slow down further and simplify the exercise if necessary. Only when the movement feels completely natural you can increase the Tempo. A lot of drummers just practice things too fast from the start and then get frustrated when they can’t do it right away. A metronome is also very helpful here to stay in the right tempo!
The Way you practice is the Way you will Play!
Aside from what you practice, the mindset of practice is just as important. While practicing, the subconscious also observes and programs one’s own state of mind. Your mindset of practice will not only determine the quality of your progress, but will also follow you onto the stage. So try to have fun while practicing. If you’re too stressed, take a break and find time to balance and play the drums. Always practice how you want to perform! It is also very important to always know why you are practicing something, so always have a goal in mind. Therefore, as mentioned above, always practice goal-oriented and not hour-oriented!
Practicing can be thought of as growing a plant. You can’t force it to grow, you can only water and care for a plant regularly. So, while practicing, challenge yourself, but be patient and have fun!
Finally, I would like to share a video with the world-famous Austrian drummer Thomas Lang, in which he talks about his rules of practice:
About the author:
Mag.art. Florian Stöger
- IGP – Jazz drums/percussion instrumental studies at the university of music and performing arts in Vienna. Jazz drum lessons with Manfred Krenmair, Prof. Fritz Ozmec and Prof. Mario Lackner, classical percussion lessons with Prof. Oliver Madas.
- Guest Student at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles/Hollywood.
- Private lessons and Masterclasses with: Thomas Lang, Jojo Mayer, Bernard Galane, Dave Elitch, Gorden Campbell.
- Many years of teaching expierience: Drum teacher at the Musik- und Kunstschule Waidhofen an der Ybbs, VHS Heiligenstadt and Borg Krems an der Donau. Since 2020 Drum I am the drum teacher at Borg St. Pölten.
- Many concerts with Coverbands und songwriters different musical styles.
- Teacher at the Vienna Drum School