Mak­ing the most of your prac­tice time

Rhythm - - FEATURE -

Whilst be­ing aware that there’s no sub­sti­tute for fo­cused prac­tice, most of us are un­able to ded­i­cate as much time as we’d like to it. So with prac­tice time at a pre­mium, just how can we max­imise our progress dur­ing those valu­able min­utes and hours?.

The first golden rule of prac­tis­ing is to prac­tise the things we can’t do. Sounds ob­vi­ous, right? But how many of us sit there play­ing things we can al­ready play, per­haps jam­ming along to mu­sic or re­gur­gi­tat­ing our favourite licks? In short, if you’re sound­ing re­ally good in your prac­tice time you’re prob­a­bly not re­ally prac­tis­ing. This is the place for mis­takes, for the slow chal­leng­ing chip­ping away at tech­ni­cal is­sues and ul­ti­mately for your progress to­wards be­com­ing a bet­ter drum­mer.

So prac­tice time is our chance to ad­dress our weak points. But what are they? And what should we be prac­tis­ing? Well, only you can be the judge of that (or your teacher of course) but if prac­tis­ing com­plex rhyth­mic or co­or­di­na­tion ex­er­cises is tak­ing prece­dence over ad­dress­ing is­sues you might have play­ing to a click, then it might be worth giv­ing some thought to pri­ori­tis­ing what you work on, plac­ing es­sen­tial skills at the top of the list and ideas you’re in­ter­ested in de­vel­op­ing fur­ther down. Do­ing this with our own play­ing re­quires ob­jec­tiv­ity and hon­esty but will ul­ti­mately speed up your tran­si­tion into be­ing the kind of drum­mer other mu­si­cians want to play with.

Prob­a­bly the se­cond most im­por­tant el­e­ment of prac­tis­ing is know­ing what it is you’re there to prac­tise. Again, this might sound ob­vi­ous in a gen­eral way, but what spe­cific things are you work­ing on to­day? Know­ing this be­fore start­ing to play can help to avoid mind­less noodling around the kit and helps main­tain fo­cus and ul­ti­mately pro­gres­sion. And these ar­eas should be worked on con­sis­tently, un­til you can ac­cess the idea im­me­di­ately, with lit­tle or no ef­fort, at which point it can be re­placed by a new chal­lenge.

Fi­nally how much prac­tise should we do? Well the easy an­swer has to be as much as is en­joy­able, but ideally it would be a rea­son­ably con­sis­tent amount through­out the week. This way our brains as­sim­i­late the new in­for­ma­tion more quickly as op­posed to do­ing one marathon prac­tice ses­sion one day a week. And whilst hear­ing sto­ries of top drum­mers prac­tis­ing 10 hours a day might make us feel that the 20 min­utes we have avail­able isn’t worth it, it’s sim­ply not the case. Con­sis­tent fo­cused prac­tice, no mat­ter if rel­a­tively short, will al­ways give re­sults.

With this more struc­tured ap­proach to prac­tis­ing un­der­way do still af­ford your­self some ‘me time’ at the kit. Per­haps at the end of each ses­sion, just to let off steam. You may also find that af­ter some fo­cused prac­tise that the free­dom to play what you like is more lib­er­at­ing and more creative ideas start to come to the sur­face than be­fore. And en­joy it! Prac­tis­ing should be a pos­i­tive process and a self-per­pet­u­at­ing one that feeds it­self, leav­ing you look­ing for­ward to the next day’s prac­tice, know­ing that you’re grad­u­ally inch­ing closer to be­com­ing the best drum­mer you can be.

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