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Beginners: Improve Your Drum Practice

Jared Falk Drummer

I’ve been teaching online drum lessons over the past 10 years, and I’ve always been adamant that I will answer my own emails. To this day, that is still the same (I’m not lying, try me: jared@drumeo.com). I love connecting with my online students and helping their drumming in any way I can. I’ve manually responded to tens of thousands of messages from my online students and there always seems to be common themes that come up.

The biggest theme I’ve noticed is that most people don’t know how to practice. I’m not sure why students are having problems with this, but I definitely want to find ways I can help. Part of me thinks that I am partially responsible. With Drumeo, we provide so much information, it’s likely people don’t even know where to start. If you started watching Drumeo lessons today it would take you more than 100 days to complete all the videos if you watched 24 hours a day. (I don’t recommend this haha!)

This massive amount of information can be deceiving because students think they have to watch it all. But that’s not the reason we have so many different lessons. The reason we have so many different lessons is because there are so many different drummers who all want to learn something different. We want to help everyone!

So in this article, I want to share with you my five tips for practicing the drums and cutting through the information overload:

1) Always Go Into A Practice Routine With A Plan

I have known this for years, but it was re-enforced recently when I attended one of Benny Greb’s Master Sessions. I think Benny is an amazing drummer, but that didn’t just come to him without hard practice. I actually think he’s just damn good at practicing and being super efficient with his time, which turned him into an incredible drummer.

So before you sit down at your drums, plan out exactly what you are going to do. If you want to just play around for a bit, then at least plan that (not what you’re going to do, but the fact that you’re just going to experiment for awhile).

The point of this isn’t to make your practice routine ultra rigid, and you can still be spontaneous if you’re feeling inspired, but you need to be more intentional with what you want to accomplish with your time spent behind the kit.

2) Get Your Lesson Plan From A Professional Teacher

This isn’t some hidden pitch for Drumeo. Obviously I think Drumeo is amazing, that’s why I work my ass off every day to make the best drum lessons in the world. You can get your lesson plan from anyone who is qualified. Go get a private lesson with a local instructor, take a Skype lesson with a drummer online, or maybe you could even get some Drumeo lessons. (Hint: just click here to find the right lessons for you!)

3) Have A Balance Of Technique And Musicality

I go through phases where I become obsessed with certain things. Like when I practiced finger technique non-stop for years, or sat in a room slowly practicing the Moeller motions for days and days. I would literally not hang out with my friends so I could stay at home and practice my rudiments. I know, I know, a bit boring but I am happy I did it – well, most of it.

One big mistake I made, and still sometimes make to this day, is that I don’t balance my practice enough between technique and musicality. What point is having good technique if you have nowhere to apply it? So for me, I need to be very intentional about playing music and becoming a better musician.

Practicing technique won’t make you a better musician. Playing music will make you a better musician. Technique is easy and fun to practice because it’s quantifiable, but it’s not the end all be all with drumming. No musical director cares how fast you can play, or how good your medium full stroke roll is. So try to balance your practice between technique and musicality. (if you need more help with this just email me: jared@drumeo.com)

4) Publicly Commit To Something Hard To Do

Tell your friends, wife, brother, sister, band-mates, dry cleaners, pastor, and whoever else you can think of that you are going to do something. Ask them to hold you accountable if you want. I did this once, and I had to learn the hardest thing I’ve ever learned. (it was a Virgil Donati exercises where he plays a single paradiddle between his right hand and right foot, then a double paradiddle between his left hand and left foot).

It was crazy hard, but I’m glad I did it. You don’t have to choose something as hard as I did, but it’s really motivating to pick something and go for it. Not only is it motivating for you, but you’ll be surprised that it might give someone else a kick in the butt to be more productive!

5) Practice Drums Every Day

Of all the tips, this is the most important (maybe that means it should be number one, but oh well, let’s leave it at number five so only the hardcore drummers who read the whole article get the best tip!)

Whether you are active listening to music, tapping on your legs, or just playing on the practice pad – do something every day. Even if it’s just 10 minutes each time, it’s better than nothing.

There are no excuses for not practicing. Don’t get into the mindset that the ‘stars have to be aligned’ for you to practice on the kit. Just do something.

And remember, if you need anything just email me: jared@drumeo.com

Hi, I'm Jared Falk

Jared is the author of Successful Drumming and founder of Drumeo - an online community dedicated to the education, inspiration, and support of drummers.

13 responses to “Beginners: Improve Your Drum Practice”

  1. Scott Riegelmann says:

    Thanks again Jared you do help to motivate me, to get me off my butt and sit at my drum set, Im 50 yrs old and finding motivation is hudge for me, so Thanks Again u must surely care about all drummers I admire that greatly!! Gods Best to ur Business Jared!! Sincerely Scott R.

  2. Lillyanne Chowdhury says:

    You’re incredible! Your authenticity and attitude baffle me! Thanks for what you do, Jared.

  3. David Paul Craig says:

    I like your post and especially liked item 1–“Always Go Into A Practice Routine With A Plan.” I recently was asked to read “Wooden” by coach John Wooden, who was named Coach of the 20th Century by ESPN. I wasn’t really interested in basketball, and I couldn’t comprehend what I could learn from an “old” basketball coach, but I was very wrong. I learned about focusing on the “details” and the importance of planning for efficient practice. It’s well worth reading, and if the message isn’t clear, substitute “drumming” everywhere he writes “basketball.” 🙂
    I’m also reading “A Mind For Numbers,” which is a book about learning and teaching methods. Our brains are really good at focused learning for short periods of time, so keep the lesson plan short and concise, but, and this emphasizes a point Jared made, to implant a technique in our brain (called “chunking”), it needs a daily reminder for a period of time. In other words, when learning a new technique, detailed focused attention is initially required followed by daily practice of the technique. Working on something new everyday without reviewing yesterday’s or last week’s work, may not implant the chunk in our brain. Lots more in the book supporting Jared’s five items, but substitute “drumming” everywhere the author writes “mathematics.” :-))

  4. Rey Munda Nasol says:

    i wanna practice drums everyday…but i can only start as soon as someone donates a kit for me hehehehe…thanks in advance!

  5. Dave2423 says:

    These are practice tips I picked up from and article about Jojo Mayer. Its very simple (which I’m sure you’ll appreciate) but it also promotes practice as being meaningful, (a necessary part of any practice session).
    Yr. Friend,
    D. L. Brazelton

  6. Richard N. Buccola says:

    Jared that’s for all your dedication and hard work. It’s appreciated and I share your videos all the time. My question is about rule number 4. When doing the combinations of paradiddles, are you doing them at the same time? Or just first with your right hand and right foot and then with your left hand and left foot. I find it hard enough to do it separately, but at the same time?! Insane!! If so, can you post a video of it,doing it very slow to show us and then at what ever speed you got them up to!! Thanks!!

  7. Matthew Woolhouse says:

    Josh Kaufman has a great book out called The First 20 hours – How to learn anything Fast. I recommend reading it. Breaks down skill acquisition really well and can be applied to musicality and technique.

  8. JoeSchmoe says:

    Awesome blog Jared, thanks.

  9. Morgan Black says:

    Is having someone slap you repeatedly in the face and asking, “Was I rushing or dragging?” number 6?

  10. Colin Reynolds says:

    Hi jared…..I am working as and when time allows which I endeavour to do each day your DVD,s from you,,,and Mikes Latin DVD courses. I have found them fantastic.
    I would too like to master the foot to hand paradiddle technique which is very difficult.
    I am in an Eagles tribute band and have done two or three concerts, aspiring to be Don Henley….I do like their music I must admit….borderline of rock and Country.
    As you have said its important to play actively rather than just doing practice at home.
    I have found your instruction dvd excellent, as Mikes.
    I have had many years playing in churches with gospel music, and years ago was a solo drummer in a Boys Brigade marching band.
    I do occasionally listen to Vic Firth instruction on the internet, and they have a metronome practice of rudiments that go from slow to very fast over stages….called bronze….silver Gold, diamond….I think that too is very good for practice….
    Thank you for all you do for us all.,,and looking forward to VIP week in September . Anticipation of how I am at 68 years compared with others ability on the course,,,but it will be an experience not to be missed.
    Looking forward to seeing you all and the surroundings there.
    Best wishes

  11. Jason says:

    hi Jared i still find problems in filling in a beat…normally go off beat
    anything that can help me will appreciate

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