How to practice drums
So, everyone knows that the more you practice – the better you get. However, it is very important to remember that HOW you practice will determine how long it takes for you to get better and this applies to all musicians.
Always, always, always use a Metronome
I can’t stress this point enough. Practicing with a metronome is by far the most effective form of practice – especially for drummers. Remember, the drummer’s main role is to keep the time and most of the other band members will depend on your ability to do this consistently. The only way you are going to develop this skill is by practicing with a metronome. This skill is even more important for drummers who do not play with a click on the live set. You need to be so used to the click that when it’s not there, you still here it. In ‘The Next Step‘ drum DVD, Dave Weckl refers to this as “developing an internal clock”.
When starting out, it is going to be tough to stay on the click but keep at it and you will see your drumming improving at a good pace. The idea is to make sure that all your hits (start with the simplest of beats) are spot on the click. Some drum modules like Roland V-drums will visually display this for you but if you’ve got a hear for music, it’s pretty easy to know when you are lagging behind or running ahead.
Practice at different tempos
Most church services include a set of fast paced songs followed by a few slow songs. Making
the transition can be quite tricky if you don’t play with a click on the live set because if you think about it; how can you possibly judge the tempo of “Jesus at the Centre” @ 74bpm after you’ve just played Hillsong’s “Running” @ 140bpm? It is almost impossible to be completely accurate without a metronome. Hence, you find that every time you do a song, it’s a little different – as the previous song influences the next song’s tempo. Scary uh? My suggestion; GET A CLICK! It will completely change the worship experience for you and the church and ensure consistency. We currently use the Boss DB-90 at Rivers Church Durban. With the click coming through all musician’s in ear monitors, this brings the band together and ensures a tight sound. However, until you get that implemented – practice at 140bpm and then change to 74bpm and try to keep it spot on the click. This is not easy so if you struggle at first, don’t worry – you’re on your way to becoming a better drummer.
Watch out for Past Success
I once heard a quote which said something about the biggest threat to future success being past success. It’s kind of where you achieve a goal, become complacent and think that you’ve arrived. It happens all the time with drummers. We learn a new beat or drum fill and for the next 6 months, whenever we get behind the kit, that is all we do. Why? Because we feel a sense of achievement and progress when we play it or we want others to hear what we can now do. It’s okay to do this every now and then but be careful not to get stuck here.
Most of us need a little bit of external inspiration to keep us going and there is plenty of that available. Check out drummers on YouTube or some of the DVDs I recommended – these will definitely inspire you to practice something new and improve your drumming. Also, be on the look out for drum workshops and events happening in your area and make the effort to be there – you will learn at least one new thing just by listening to other drummers play.
More is More
When it comes to practice, the more time you set aside, the greater the benefits. Create a schedule if you have to but just be consistent in your approach to get better. Practice as often as you can. It is far better to practice 1hour everyday compared to 5hours every Saturday. Keep pushing yourself to do more, try more and learn more. If you want it bad enough – you can be just as good (if not better) as the drummers you currently look up to. It’s literally in your hands.