We have all heard the adage “practice makes perfect”. Yet practicing without focus seldom achieves a seamless playing session. When aiming to improve drumming techniques, beginners should focus on holding their drumsticks correctly, keeping their leg and arm movements in sync, and staying on beat.
Focused practice sessions require measurable techniques of improvement. Setting benchmarks for each session allows the musician to see how much they’ve gained in one session, and hold them accountable in maintaining their own progress. Without proper planning, practice sessions may result in a waste of time.
Additionally, focusing on problematic areas during drum lessons can help musicians achieve superior results. Here are a few tips to help ensure that your practice sessions are productive.
Work On Dynamics And Notes
Strengthening your control over stroke velocity improves playing skills at various levels. Hitting with excessive or insufficient force can create a messy and chaotic sound. When pieces of your drum kit are hit without the required amount of force, certain elements may standout profoundly and drown out other sounds.
The speed curve tends to stoop downwards as you reach higher in terms of volume. In this case, as you progress to reach a high enough level, each practice session will focus on lesser objectives. Achieving a seamless tempo requires working on building a balance between the two.
One tip to amass better control over such dynamics is to explore the surface area of each element of the drum kit, hitting single strokes at low, medium, and high velocities to familiarize yourself with how each piece sounds.
Another area you can gauge is the spacing between your notes. Ideally, they should fit snuggly for a tight and clean sound. Record yourself and check for spacing issues to ensure a fluid, steady sound. For even better results, record yourself and share your practice sessions with your music teacher.
Improve Your Internal Clock
Practicing regularly to stay in-time will result in grooves falling on-key and a smooth sound. Variations in tempo or misplacement of notes are expected from you as a beginner. However, developing an internal clock with the help of a Metronome will set you on the right trajectory.
Set up a Metronome or download a smartphone app to practice grooves, tempos, paradiddles, and fills with a click track. This will teach you to play consistently within specific time frames, and bring structure to your playing sessions.
In addition, solid sticking can be achieved when counting while playing. Striking your sticks slowly to the clicks with shut eyes can build lasting muscle memory and increase your skill tenfold!
Start with lower beats per minute and progressively increase them as you learn to execute each stroke to the click. This exercise aims to achieve better stickings with cleaner and tighter fills as increase the tempo.
Practice Your Fundamentals
For a less strenuous play time, start with brushing up on your fundamentals. Improving your basic skillset improves speed and power. Rehearse smaller segments before taking on lengthier parts.
Practice your fills with pauses, and if your playing loses a clean, structured sound – relax, slow down and play with a measured hand. The aim of this exercise is to gradually build up speed, muscle memory, and power.
A great way is to practice fundamentals is on a pillow, as it is easily accessible at all times of the day (remember to observe sound curfews). This exercise warms the wrists and develops muscle strength for more comfortable and extended playing sessions.
Play Along To Real Music
You will initially lack a personal style of play; however, this can be developed by playing along to your favorite music and following the tempo of your favorite artists. As you learn the idiosyncrasies of these drummers, you can establish your own unique playing style informed by the techniques and habits these artists practiced.
It is also a good idea to drum along to various genres of music, as this can introduce you to styles of play you might have not considered otherwise. You may be surprised to find that your personal style emulates an artist or sound that you had not found compelling or pleasing prior.
Develop your skills alongside your musical taste, it is better to be evolving as an artist, as opposed to stagnant.
Having just started your musical journey, these tips, coupled with a little patience and commitment, can take you to a professional level.
For optimal progress, it is best to learn from an experienced teacher. Professional instructors can assess your skill-level and offer personalized lessons catering to your strengths and weaknesses as a drummer. They can help you along the journey towards realizing your passion for music.