Recommended Practice Schedule
It is widely accepted that in order to improve in almost anything, one must practice their craft. The arts, sport or a profession, whilst almost completely different, are the same in this respect.
Learning to play the drums is no different. In order to improve, you must practice. What many fail to realise, it that the way you practice has as much, if not more, influence on your playing than how often you practice.
Students frequently sit down to practice and play the same songs, fills and grooves they always do. Perhaps they spend a few minutes improvising and in a moment of creative flair discover a new pattern that they have never used, but mostly their time is spent doing what has already been done.
The reason for this is simple: it can be difficult, without proper direction, to focus your attention to areas of your playing that are lagging. You may not have the awareness to know what areas in your playing are lacking to begin with. Lessons from a qualified drum instructor will assist in this area.
These guidelines should be used to give your practice sessions some structure.
Aim to practice 20-60 minutes at a time, 2-5 days per week.
This will obviously be heavily dictated by your goals and available free time. Use a calendar to keep track and note the time you start and stop your practice session
Warm up with rudiments
There are 40 standard rudiments and many more hybrid ones. Warming up on a pad or the snare drum will get the blood flowing and your hand-mind connection ready for what they are about to endure.
Typically practice a rudiment you are already good at and one you are struggling with. This allows you to work on speed first and coordination after.
Practice your rudiments with a metronome. Initially set the tempo at a comfortable speed, hold the rudiment for a full minute, then increase the tempo on the metronome by 5-10 beats per minute. Repeat 3-5 times until you are pushing the upper limits of your comfortable speed.
Practice grooves or fills that challenge you
Ideally these will be written down on sheet music in front of you. This should expand your drumming vocabulary. Try learning fills or grooves that challenge you. Perhaps they are different to your usual style of playing, are more advanced, or in another genre of music to what you would usually play.
Play along to music
This is why you learned an instrument in the first place! Try playing along to a backing track, Youtube clip or with others in a band.
Try putting all of the new things you have been learning into practice. Simply sit behind the kit, with or without a metronome, and see what you can produce. Learning to improvise and tell a musical story instantaneously is one of the highest joys of playing music. You can always watch some drum solo clips online to get some inspiration!
An example of a 30 minute practice session may look something like this:
Warm up/rudiments for 5 mins
Learning new grooves and fills for 10 mins
Playing along to songs for 10 mins
Improvisation practice for 5 mins
These time lengths can be altered depending on your goals and the length of your practice session.
Remember: practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect!