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Thread: What should I be practicing?

  1. #1

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    Default What should I be practicing?

    I've been playing drums off and on for about two years mow between going tp school 18 hours a week ontop of working 25 hours a week. With limited time to practice, what should I be doing? Like what is daily drum ritual for you when u practice each day? How does practicing that make you better? For all of you self-taught drummers, what videos do you look up when looking for things to practice?

  2. #2

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    Default Re: What should I be practicing?

    Look for videos and online lessons (Drum Chat has good ones) that emphasize good technique and teach the rudiments. It's never too late to start at square one and get the basics down tight. Even seasoned drummers (pros and ones that have been playing years) always practice rudiments and basics.

    Think of it as a building process. The basics (rudiments and technique) are the footings. You have to have good strong, solid footings to build on. From there you establish your foundation (building accuracy and speed on that footing). Then you do your framing, using the footing and foundation to support that (framing would be the basic beats that use the technique and rudiments).

    There are some good members on here that also teach privately that will probably give you more detailed and solid advise.

    Remember through all the practicing HAVE FUN and DO NOT give up.
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  3. #3

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    What are your weak points in drumming?
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    Play along to some songs, you may get a bit bored if you just do rudiments all the time, I play with a metronome for about 20 mins a day doing various things, beats, doubles, triplets etc, then play along to songs or practice new ones the bands doing. Get in a band if you can, that'll bring you on too.
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  5. #5

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    Default Re: What should I be practicing?

    Rudiments. I know it's not sexy and doesn't sound like much fun, but, necessary.


  6. #6

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    Rudiments. If your going to be playing a double pedal rudiments, on the feet can absolutely work wonders, too. For some reason many double pedal players don't look beyond practicing a single stroke roll.
    Above all, make sure your technique is solid at a comfortable tempo before speeding up.

  7. #7

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    Back when I still practiced I would take a song that I liked and sit down behind the kit and learn it note for note beat for beat. I started out way way back with Beatles songs, then Grand Funk Railroad, then Zeppelin, Deep Purple and eventually I got good enough to cover some ELP, Yes and Rush Songs, that's when my drumming went to the next level.

    At age 17 I stared playing out in bands. This is when I noticed a huge improvement in my drumming. Playing 4 nights a week, practicing with the band in the afternoons, a lot of time logged behind the kit.

    I did take lessons for two months, My teacher was Joe Smith , he later went on to play drums for the country band Sawyer Brown. He taught me odd time and off beat accents and stuff. Then I was good to go.

    I never practiced the rudiments, just couldn't do it, it bored me to tears. Play to songs and you will develop stamina and a great sense of timing. If there is something you can't figure out on your own, seek out a good teacher for a bit. Other then that just sit behind your kit and play, that's all I've done for years. I don't practice anything now , I just play whatever comes into my head. I can spend hours just playing my kit, no music just me, love it.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by npyyz View Post
    back when i still practiced i would take a song that i liked and sit down behind the kit and learn it note for note beat for beat. I started out way way back with beatles songs, then grand funk railroad, then zeppelin, deep purple and eventually i got good enough to cover some elp, yes and rush songs, that's when my drumming went to the next level.

    At age 17 i stared playing out in bands. This is when i noticed a huge improvement in my drumming. Playing 4 nights a week, practicing with the band in the afternoons, a lot of time logged behind the kit.

    I did take lessons for two months, my teacher was joe smith , he later went on to play drums for the country band sawyer brown. He taught me odd time and off beat accents and stuff. Then i was good to go.

    I never practiced the rudiments, just couldn't do it, it bored me to tears. Play to songs and you will develop stamina and a great sense of timing. If there is something you can't figure out on your own, seek out a good teacher for a bit. Other then that just sit behind your kit and play, that's all i've done for years. I don't practice anything now , i just play whatever comes into my head. I can spend hours just playing my kit, no music just me, love it.
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  9. #9

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    time feels and drumset control should always come before rudiments ,imho ... no question , your band'll care far more about your time than your flamdragamacuediddles

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by stanhandler View Post
    time feels and drumset control should always come before rudiments ,imho ... no question , your band'll care far more about your time than your flamdragamacuediddles
    No question about that! I would add practice every different basic rock beat you can find, mixed with blues beats and some reggae. Learning rudiments helps stick control and later, technical aspects if you want to be known for that. But your band will not recognize the paradiddles done with feet and hand combos...
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by TK187 View Post
    With limited time to practice, what should I be doing?
    It's all about putting priority first. Your priorities should be your greatest weaknesses relative to your immediate needs. For example, if you want to play in a top 40 band, take a top 40 song and play along with it. Whatever you struggle with (could be intros or 2 bar fills or playing certain beats, etc.), that should be your first priority. Keep doing this and you will consistently practice logically and effectively, knocking out the most important things one by one and quickly getting closer to your goals.

    Along the way, "always" work on singles, doubles and combinations of those on the practice pad. You can never work on your hands too much. The more time you put in, the better you will be.

    Good luck!


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  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Russ View Post
    What are your weak points in drumming?
    I struggle with counting and playing, keeping time confuses me when I think about and actually "try" to do it. I can usually keep time better when I'm not thinking and just going off of feel. I guess everything in my drumming is feel, I don't read notation(although I could when it comes to practice books and such, and counting while playing just mixes me up and makes me sloppy once I start to think.

    All of these posts have given me some sort of guidance and I thank you guys! But how long should I be practicing each day? And I mean actually practicing and not just jamming haha. While I love to jam, I feel like I need to become better first in order to jam to more music.

    I may finally be able to fit some actual practice time in now that I'm on winter break and I'm sooo close to buying my new Alesis DM10 studio kit so I can really practice day and night!

    Also I'm not sure if I should really be concerned with the topic of soloing ATM in my short career but there must be some things I can do to enhance my creativity and ability to put together a tight drum solo! I've not "successfully" pulled one out in a jam session before and I really want to change that. Any tips for the beginning soloist?

  13. #13

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    Learn to read drum music, play and count at the same time - this will help you learn to hold things in mind without getting sloppy - you've answered the question yourself.

    Here's a 3 minute lesson on how to read drum music:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBcY3-4sp0U

    Try also:

    'http://drumnuts.com/LESSONS/How-To-Read-Drum-Music.php'

    The reason that counting screws you up and makes you sloppy is because you haven't expanded your working memory WM, or your immediate musical consciousness, by reading and holding many notes in mind all at once 'while counting'. Once you start reading and holding notes in mind, and counting aloud, your memory for musical notes (measures, really) will improve, as will your capacity for counting (because the capacity of your WM has improved). The brain is a computational muscle - reading music exercises that muscle. The fact is, humans are lazy, and we avoid the hard jobs like counting (I know I do) because it takes energy to work that muscle. But after the muscle is 'worked' properly (as with some effort), it is 'more'. And this is what is meant by the term 'expansion' of consciousness. We do things 'explicitly' (aloud, and effortful) until the procedure becomes 'implicit' (silent, and automatic).

    Take a guy like Mike Johnson - it is fascinating to hear him speak because, he does what linguists call 'phonological recoding' of drum sounds - he takes his mouth and makes the sound that the drum makes. So he speaks 'drum'. Why is that significant? It is significant because he is working 'more' of the brain than those who do not use phonological recoding. And if you use more of the brain, the brain more easily 'gets it'.

    Counting is a motor output, not a sensory input (or feeling). So, if you use your hands to play (verb), and your mouth to count (verb), then the sentence you are constructing with your hands and mouth will 'work' more of the brain than a sentence constructed without counting. And without counting, of course, you have no count, so you're musically a little 'lost' compared to the drummer who has kept count.

    Speaking the time (and knowing (speaking) the count) is learning to speak 'drum'. When I practice, I am counting out loud now, because I know that my count is relevant. Some drummers, like Levon Helm, can keep track of the time, and sing the lyrics, at the same time, and not let one interfere with the other, and he was a creative drummer - worth copying.

    Oh and one more thing: If you're going to use the brain, you need sugars (the primary fuel) so basically 'nutrition'. So eat a good breakfast and your brain will be fueled properly for the task. If you're not eating a good breakfast, or hungry, your brain won't work as well, and it'll get sloppy fast.

    You and me are not ready to solo, bro. Sorry. A solo is an artistic expression, based upon an interpretation of the literal form (the notes and the count), like a 'poetry' (from Leonard Bernstein's Harvard lectures 2 and 3, Syntax and Semantics) that comes with mastery or 'fluency' with the language. We're not fluent yet.
    Last edited by Rickkus; 12-10-2012 at 10:59 AM.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by TK187 View Post
    I struggle with counting and playing, keeping time confuses me when I think about and actually "try" to do it. I can usually keep time better when I'm not thinking and just going off of feel. I guess everything in my drumming is feel, I don't read notation(although I could when it comes to practice books and such, and counting while playing just mixes me up and makes me sloppy once I start to think.

    All of these posts have given me some sort of guidance and I thank you guys! But how long should I be practicing each day? And I mean actually practicing and not just jamming haha. While I love to jam, I feel like I need to become better first in order to jam to more music.

    I may finally be able to fit some actual practice time in now that I'm on winter break and I'm sooo close to buying my new Alesis DM10 studio kit so I can really practice day and night!

    Also I'm not sure if I should really be concerned with the topic of soloing ATM in my short career but there must be some things I can do to enhance my creativity and ability to put together a tight drum solo! I've not "successfully" pulled one out in a jam session before and I really want to change that. Any tips for the beginning soloist?
    After going through all of this, I'd say the first thing you should do is figure out a game plan. Get some structure. You go from "struggle with counting and playing" to "Any tips for the beginning soloist?"

    There's is lot's of good advice here (even if it does cover a really wide spectrum of opinion), but, none of it is going to do you any good if you don't have a plan or structure for your learning process. I still say you can't build a good house without a sturdy foundation (read: learn your rudements). That's just me. Do what you want, but at least have a roadmap.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by inthpktplayer View Post
    After going through all of this, I'd say the first thing you should do is figure out a game plan. Get some structure. You go from "struggle with counting and playing" to "Any tips for the beginning soloist?"

    There's is lot's of good advice here (even if it does cover a really wide spectrum of opinion), but, none of it is going to do you any good if you don't have a plan or structure for your learning process. I still say you can't build a good house without a sturdy foundation (read: learn your rudements). That's just me. Do what you want, but at least have a roadmap.

    I agree with everything inthpktplayer said.

    Drum Rudiments are the foundation of everything you will do in drumming, including solos.

    As for solos. I've taken tons of them in my life, yet I couldn't tell you what goes into making a good solo. I know or have seen a lot of really good drummers that have never taken a solo. Some drummers can play with their band, play great time, hit all the right fills, and keep the flow of the music going, but are lost when it comes to taking a solo.

    When you are taking a solo, there is nothing up there but you and the drums. Buddy Rich could take 20 minute solos, Mel Lewis, a superb big band drummer, rarely, if ever, took a solo, it wasn't his style. You have to have confidence in your playing, and a little ego doesn't hurt.

  16. #16

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    Pretty much what a few others have stated here. I'm sorta a bit old-school in the sense that I started with the rudiments and a practice pad before I got onto the snare drum, then onto the kit at high school, but maybe I was kinda lucky in that I fell in love with rudimental drumming straightaway (courtesy of my first drum teacher who had come from Canada and was teaching us drumline stuff). Of course, playing in bands later on, at first in high school and then afterwards certainly helped with the whole aspect of timekeeping (plus the fact that I went to private lessons with a few different teachers afterwards). But having that rudimental knowledge really does help, because it comes into play a lot whether I'm working something from a recording, a book or transcribing stuff for myself or students.

    Most days if I have a spare hour in the morning I'll warm up with a number of exercises on a practice pad (even if the coffee is brewing up, I'll have the pad on the kitchen counter and tap through at least one exercise or two whilst I'm waiting), then do some reading exercises through a number of books - Stick Control, Ted Reed's Syncopation, Sight Reading by Alex Pertout or whatever I'll be working a bit through in that week (whilst my brain is relatively fresh), then look at say a particular thing that is keeping me practicing on the kit....maybe say left hand lead on the hi-hat that I'm trying to get comfortable with, for instance.

    Then if say I've done some lessons later that morning or day, and I need something that is a bit of a "left-of-centre-brain-break" I might do something really different....one thing might be putting on a jazz ballad recording and playing brushes with that. Or to play along with a challenging tune that might have time signature or tempo changes. Or leave all that and focus on any of the percussion instruments that I need to practice (especially with the tuned percussion stuff such as the marimba and vibraphone....that is a whole different 'world' altogether, believe me). But whatever it is, I'm always working and improving on something that will make me a better and more diverse player.

    Quote Originally Posted by NPYYZ View Post
    I did take lessons for two months, My teacher was Joe Smith , he later went on to play drums for the country band Sawyer Brown. He taught me odd time and off beat accents and stuff. Then I was good to go.
    Hey man.....no way! I might live out here, way away from the U.S. music scene, but I read about Joe Smith years back in an issue of Modern Drummer about drummers touring on the road, and Joe was one of those interviewed.....he seems like such a nice guy! You're lucky that you did a little bit of study with him, he sounds like he certainly has his theory and technique together. How is he as a teacher overall?
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