Thursday, 28 May 2015

Your practicing is missing the mark: Practice drums smarter – And hit your goals faster!

Sometimes it seems like meaningful progress takes forever. After starting out quickly on an instrument, many people hit a point where each small improvement takes a large investment of time, and it can be frustrating! For drummers, this often happens when trying to master some advanced coordination, which requires as much mental practice as physical. Or it could be that you’re trying to reach a higher speed goal on a rudiment and it seems like the brakes are always on… Here are some tips to help you break some barriers, go around other problems, and avoid frustration while practicing. #1 Break the exercise down into smaller parts. Very often we find ourselves going over and over the same phrase without success, and getting tripped up in the same place each time. It really helps to hone in on the exact thing that’s causing the problem… even down to a single note. Come up with a way of repeating just the small fraction of a bar that is causing the issue. Once you can repeat it comfortably, add the next beat. Then add the rest of the bar, and so on. This is a much more focused and effective way of solving a problem rather than continuously bashing away at a long passage. #2 Practice slowly and use your metronome as a tool. It’s surprising how often the speed you’re practicing your material becomes an issue, especially when you’re learning something new. Your metronome is an essential and helpful tool in your development. First of all, think of the metronome as another musician in the room who has great time. Then you just play with the other musician, rather than trying to keep up with your metronome. Music isn’t a race, and there is no reward for pure speed, especially at the expense of phrasing, intonation, and accuracy. Besides, practicing slowly is actually a lot harder than practicing fast! How is that possible, you ask? For drummers, each sound you make is actually quite short, because drums have a strong attack and a quick decay. So there is a lot more space in between each note when you’re playing slower – there’s a lot more room for inaccuracy. If you can make your exercise groove and flow at 40 bpm, you will have achieved a deeper level of understanding of the motions involved in making each note. Then you can gradually increase the speed on your metronome by 3 or 4 bpm until you reach your goal. #3 Try not to stop and start continuously. Many of us feel the urge to stop and yell every time we make a mistake during our practice. However, this just increases the level of frustration! It can also often prevent you from getting to the other side of the mistake, which is where the cause of the problem can often be found… and besides, when you make a mistake on one drum, there’s no reason you can’t keep your other limbs going and fix [...]

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