It would take every finger on the cast of Whiplash to tally up the number of reasons my students have claimed they were unable to practice between lessons. OK, fine… I get it. Drums aren’t the end all be all for EVERYONE. Sometimes I guess the geometry homework or taxes take priority. However, I think this goes beyond not having time to practice. Often times, young drummers aren’t sure where to start. You’re welcome in advance… I’m about to save you.
Set a schedule: This is helpful for drumming and also life. With tools like Google Calendar, it has become very easy to make, keep, and change your schedule as needed. This way, you know school is from 9:00 to 3:00, the big math test is Friday, Lacrosse practice is Tuesday at 6:00, and Real Housewives is on at (come on, really?). Once you figure out the priorities of your week, you then know the holes, or…. opportunities. Keeping a schedule is a discipline but one that has worked wonders for my efficiency on and off the drums.
Decide your level of commitment: Is this a hobby? Is it your career? Knowing how seriously you take your commitment to drumming will allow you to decide how much time you want to invest each day towards practicing. There isn’t exactly a rule but you will begin to notice what works for you. If you simply aren’t practicing ever and can’t really force yourself to, have fun with it at your leisure but you’ve probably accepted you won’t see much progress. If you aren’t practicing but are trying to make more time for it, try starting with 15 minutes a day. You can clear 15 minutes to practice every day if you really want to. If you have serious goals for yourself, its imperative that you decide what those goals are worth and how much time you are able to devote to setting yourself up for success.
Know what to practice: This depends on your objectives. No matter what styles you are most proficient in, all drummers will benefit from consistently practicing the following: stick control, metronome work, hand/foot coordination, dynamics, rudiments, and technique. When you are invested in developing competence in specific styles, that is a conversation you need to have with an educated drum teacher. If you are seeking drum lessons in philadelphia or via skype, let me help you with this.
Discover the magic number: Rather than writing an ambiguous article without any real milestones, consider the following depending on which category you fit into:
- Hobbyist with other priorities – Start with 15 minutes a day. Try to make more time if your heart desires.
- Hobbyist with some free time – 30 minutes a day. If you have more time, see what happens when you strive for an hour.
- Drum Student – If you are invested in your development, in school for music, or taking lessons to accomplish a goal, an hour a day is your minimum. 2 hours a day is sufficient to truly see some results.
- Perfectionist – These are the students who are extremely committed to drumming success. This means you are studying several disciplines and seeking improvement in a variety of areas. There is no possible way you can improve your stick control, rudiments, afro-cuban competence, jazz timing, speed, song lists, and transcribe Elvin Jones cuts in less than 3 hours a day. If you don’t have 3 hours a day to put into this, you probably don’t fall into this category.
- Professional – Drumming is your life. As much as I love drumming, I admittedly don’t fall into this category. These are people touring, working with multiple bands, doing session work, producing, teaching, and have probably experienced several failed relationships because those sweet DWs in your basement are the true love of your life. While the 9 to 5ers are working, you should be too. This is a 6-8 hour a day commitment in addition to the necessary networking and business initiatives that must be kept up with.
While there isn’t a perfect science, there are definitely ways to structure your practice routine to set yourself up for success, whatever that means for you. Please contact me if you need any assistance in this department.