Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How to Practice Part I

1. Always practice with a purpose
Make sure you know why you’re practicing the things you intend to practice, and avoid mindlessly repeating exercises or routines that have no particular goal.

2. Use a metronome
Just about everybody’s sense of time can be improved, so working with a metronome is always appropriate. I suggest using it perhaps a quarter to a third of the time -- it’s equally important that you don’t get dependent on it.

3. Practice what you’re not good at
If you do something well and comfortably, there’s not much point in having it on your practice schedule. Stick with new stuff and the things that are giving you trouble.

4. Keep up on the basics
Spend some time polishing the ‘meat & potatoes’ -- doubles, singles, buzz rolls, basic grooves … the stuff you use all the time.

5. Practice ‘SMART’
Specific: Know what it is that you’re working on. Write it down.
Measurable: Have a solid objective and write it down, e.g. “To work through all of the ‘Zen of Disco Drumming’ book in six weeks.” You either get there or you don’t.
Achievable: It has to be something that’s humanly possible in the amount of time you have. To set a goal of being as fast as Barret Deems or Derrick Roddy in a week and a half is not realistic. Dream big, but set your immediate targets where they can be reached.
Relevant: How does it fit into the grand scheme? Will the technique you intend to work on make you a better drummer and musician or is it just ‘busy work’?
Time Framed: This applies to both time spent and when it’s to be accomplished: “I will practice my basic rock beats every day, 5 minutes each, for one month.”
6. Practice stuff that’s useful
As Buddy Rich said, “Why practice something you’re not going to use?” ‘Nuff said.

7. Practice stuff that’s hard
Working on difficult material will actually spill over into other areas. After working on the ‘next-to-impossible’ for a bit, the extremely hard becomes almost easy by comparison.

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