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We interact with hundreds of drummers each week. Whether it happens while having conversations with the Drumeo community or giving feedback on member videos, we notice many of the same issues coming up when drummers are practicing or playing live.

Have you been making any of these 12 mistakes? Here are the recurring issues we see a lot, and how you can get past them:

1. Not practicing a healthy drumming diet (of theory and technique)

If you’ve been hitting a ceiling in your playing, one thing that could be causing that is just your technical or theory boundaries. Learning the basics of movement, grip, rebound, sight reading, kit setup, playing with a metronome, and other foundational concepts could have a huge effect on your ability to learn new things.

2. Becoming obsessed only with things you can measure

Music is an art form. It isn’t supposed to always be measured in its quality or quantity. The quality is subjective. You could be a technical magician on the drum set but not entice anyone to listen to your drumming. If you can play 16th notes at 300 BPM, does that mean you’re a good musician? It means you can go fast on the drums, but it isn’t an indication of your ability to play music. Balance practicing both technique and musicality.

3. Trying to buy results

Money spent does not equal a better drummer. It’s ‘shelf help’.
There is no correlation between how much a drummer spends on their education and their actual skill level. Information as it relates to drumming (which requires skill and knowledge) is useless without action. Get the right information and the right support and surround yourself with a positive and motivating community – then start practicing!

4. Thinking you don’t need a teacher

Many drummers think they can just teach themselves. While there’s nothing wrong with learning from online videos – many people find success doing it this way – imagine your results and progress if you also had a teacher to give you personalized feedback. We do this a lot in our Student Focus section where students send in a video and we send them video feedback. Combine private lessons and online sites to know if you’re on the right track.

5. Thinking you don’t need to know how to read sheet music

Would you want to know how to talk but not how to read? Why not be able to do both? You don’t need to become a virtuoso at sight reading, but knowing the basics can help you quickly memorize new drumming vocabulary and make it easy to share ideas with other musicians.

6. Practicing for fewer long sessions instead of more short sessions

It’s better to practice in more 20-60 minute blocks than fewer 2-3 hour blocks. After a two hour practice session you’re more likely to have diminishing returns…plus it can be challenging to fit long rehearsals into a busy schedule.

7. Putting yourself down

Some drummers – especially adult students – use self-deprecation to protect themselves. Maybe it’s because adults have less time to practice than young drummers, so it can take longer to achieve our goals. If you’re feeling self-conscious, practice hard, put in the time, and try to get comfortable with the result you’re getting.

8. Trying to buy your way to a good sounding kit

The following are factors that go into making drums sound good: the room, the drumheads, the tuning, the sticks, the drummer, the recording gear, and so on. It isn’t typically the shell quality (even though that can make a difference). In a blind test, you probably wouldn’t be able to identify a $500 kit from a $5000 kit over 50% of the time. Drum quality is just one part of the equation. Focus on dynamic limb independence, tuning, room treatment, and staying loose so the drums resonate freely when struck.

9. Trying to learn too much at once

‘Pigeonholes are the ones stuffed with cash’, as they say in business. It’s also true of learning. Don’t try to learn too many things at one time. Niche down, focusing on one thing at a time before you move on to the next thing. You’ll learn more quickly. For example, choose three songs, two techniques, and/or a few new beats. Only move on when you can play them off the cuff, because this means the vocabulary has become a part of your sound and feel.

10. Rushing drum fills

Many drummers speed up their fills – you aren’t alone! Focus on playing with a metronome while you practice your fills, and try it at different tempos so you don’t just get comfortable in one zone.

Here’s a useful tip for better fills from Benny Greb.

11. Practicing primarily on an electric kit and expecting the results to translate to an acoustic kit

Do skills developed on an electronic kit transfer to a traditional acoustic kit? They don’t. They have a different rebound and the pads may be set up at a different distance than a snare and toms, and you may not be used to learning how to play with dynamics.

If you do practice on an electric kit, get a good one that responds to how hard or soft you’re playing. If you know you’re going to be playing both electric and acoustic drums, set up the kits as similarly as possible so you can easily go back and forth between them. There are also some newer electric models where the toms have a more natural feeling. When you hit the last pad (floor tom), you want that stick to sink into the head, not bounce off like it’s jumping on a trampoline!

12. Practicing showmanship over groove

Many people think learning stick tricks make you a good drummer. They’ll only make non-drummers think you’re a good drummer until they hear you play with a band and your feel is bad.

You should only do stick tricks once you’ve locked in the groove and it doesn’t take away from your playing. Then add in the flair and the crowd will love you even more.


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