Practice TipsTomás Howie Drumming Web
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Practice Tips Archive 1

   Practicing technique, independence, ambidexterity, etc is all great. But, let's not forget DYNAMICS. Take whatever exercise you are working on and try playing different dynamic, or volume, levels. Try playing something as QUIET AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN. Be honest and ask yourself can I play this any quieter? When many of my drum students are having difficulty executing a pattern, I have them play it as quiet as they can and they usually can pull it off. I believe the reason that this concept works is that bringing down the volume forces you to relax and that is essential when playing the drums or any other musical instrument for that matter. Great site Thomas!!!!!!!

   These tips I got from Peter Erskine. Yes, all time Jazzer Peter Erskine. All this came directly from an email reply.

   "The BEST way to learn anything related to music is to ... well, we all want to keep "getting better," and the way to do that in music has always been to 1) practice 2) LISTEN to as much music as possible 3) PLAY as much as possible (in a variety of contexts and settings) 4) PLAY some more, and 5) LISTEN, and 6) PRACTICE!

   PATIENCE and PERSEVERANCE are necessary virtues here.

   So ... PLAY! and LISTEN!"

   Practice infront of a mirror and make sure you are symetrical. This is good for marching percussion and for trying to get both hands to sound even. Also make sure your sticks are going straight up and down. They are basic and simple but improve skills greatly. In fact, I think I'll go practice in front of a mirror.

   When I talk to people, they always start saying "Man. You must be a great drummer since you're in the school band." They say this because many of the kids in school start off learning rudiments and then apply it to the drumset when they get on one. I suggest learning the "Great 26 Rudiments" and then use them. Once you get accustomed to them, try learning harder rudiments by adding flams and ruffs in odd places. Then move the rudiments over the drums. My drum instructor teaches this and it has worked tremendously on my technique.



   I started playing 2 years ago, and sometimes became overwhelmed thinking about all the exercises I needed to do to gain monstrous chops. What I was not consciously thinking about was the most important in improving my drumming - TIME. Sounds basic but sometimes we take it for granted. Make the metronome your best friend when practicing alone. Playing a basic steady, hypnotic groove with the clicker then eventually moving to fills will tighten your beats like mad. (All of us could use a little tightening at every level.) What helped my fills were instead of cramming in as many notes as possible, was to lay back and leave notes out (really listening to the "clicks" as I came out of the fill). Practice the fills using only the bass/snare/HH before moving to the rest of the kit. Once I became comfortable laying grooves down to a metronome, quality of band practices improved and more heads bobbed during gigs. Simplicity is key! So when working on dynamics, chops, technique, musicality, etc.- don't forget to exercise TIME!

   This FUN exercise helps me warm up; it also puts me in the feel for where my tom drums are and where all those other tones, crashes,splashes,rings,cloks,and other multiple sounds hang out on the setup around me.

   Really this gives me a feel for the drum kit that is in front of me. I like to know where my sounds are located. I like to reach them quick also. This seems to help. With a single roll, double, a tripple, or even a paradiddle, a single roll sounds wicked cool with some speed to it. I start at the snare and roll to the highest tom frist and then back to the snare, then roll to the next tom then back to the snare, so on and again around to each drum on the full drum kit. Always returning to the snare. The "SNARE" mother ship of the fleet. Rolling on the cymbals and off the hhat also,its fun! Getting intimate with the set. You do this and you may sometime mabe play in the dark!!

   I'm sure most of you know, and Drum - bop dink/ tat/ tat/tat bop/dink/tat/tat bing/boom bop bop bop dink/ tat/tat/tat. DO this often, rolling from the leftside of the drum kit from tom to the next tom, then rolling from the rightside of the kit from tom to tom. Reverse it, rightside to the leftside. If you don't do this already, try it! This is a great way to gain speed, quickness, and memory to the where abouts, and locations of the many boo-bonic sounds all around you!

   These sounds, tones, vibrations, who knows what else? They are Here, there, and everywhere! All the sounds you can create!

   BUT OF COURSE You know and I know It's real man "Your soul" when it breaks lose, this beat, a rhythm, it runs around the body all the way through to your feet, to your hands and then falls into your jummpy sticks. Then your hoppin, your heads aswing'ing, U begin to ride, roll, pound, hit, strike, tap, nail,s lash, and bash. Hit the crash and then the splash! Get down on your fatdaddy skins, with feelings!


   Squirming on that stool!

   Well, I hope This gives something or mabe somebody some insight on something

   Love= To DRUM DRUMS DRUMMING! Seeya must GO To DRUM ON..........................

    Patrick Orourke

   Sit on a plain black stool. Sit up straight. Drum from your wrists not elbows. Practice Practice Practice!

   The best way to practice, is to go on the net, look for different drumming excercises, and practice each excercise for 30-45 minutes (or until you've got it down cold).

   I used to think playing along to CD on which my favourite drummers played was great - until I heard myself becoming a clone. I don't particularly like classical music, but put on a classical CD and play along. At first it will be almost impossible, but once you get the hang of the music, it's amazing what it'll do for your style. The key thing is that YOU are the one creating the beat. Obviously, you need to have a certain level of skill before doing this (learning to walk before you run and all that).

   The way I started drumming, was a local band needed a drummer, so I didnt think it looked to hard (I was dead wrong). But to get better pratice whatever you like but once you have gotten better go back to basics to perfect the stantard stuff. The more you practice the standard stuff, the more you will see a difference in more advanced drumming, also to the people who wrote: Playing with a Guitarist helps for timing, Listen to a CD for better skills and Be open minded. Those are all very good tips.

   Well the best way to start anything is to practice on your bed or pillows. And when you're on the set, start with a simple base beat, then slowly coordinate the hi-hat or the side crash (for clearer sound) and later the snare. It's always best to get a hi-hat beat automatically run through your wrist so you can try diferent styles with the snare.

   Well If I had drums, I would Listen to the cd and try to match it.

   A really useful thing I have found to do is to put on a CD, or listen to the radio or even the television, and whenever any music comes on, just try playing nice, steady double strokes. The slower the music is in tempo the better, because it really makes you think about the steadiness of your playing. You will find that by doing this, even if you're not really thinking about it at the time, your time-keeping will improve immeasurably, and you'll feel much more confident when playing that your groove is really solid and tight. It will also improve your double strokes, and you'll find you can play them far more quickly, while still maintaining tightness.

   When I sit behind my kit it's usually for at least an hour. I split up my time between three or four excercises to make it interesting. I start of by popping a cd in the cd player and playing along to a couple songs that are not too demanding. Then I'll move into some of my excercise books. Im studying in George Wallace Stone's "Stick Control" and Rick Mattingly's "Creative Timekeeping." The latter is really challenging for me since I've only been playing about a year, and makes me think a lot about what I'm doing. When I'm done with about 20 minutes in each book, its back to cds. I love to play along to favorite tunes, it keeps it interesting. After a few cds, the headphones are off. I use a boombox to record the next 20 minutes or so where it's just me jamming and soloing around the kit. When I'm done, I take the tape to my room where I listen for good and bad stuff to work on the next day.

   I usually warm up and learn a great deal by putting on headphones and popping in a cd. You will get the most benefit out of putting in a cd of a great drummer (A hard one). At first listen to his rhythm and try to mimic every detail of it. It will help you to learn new licks and the lessons are unlimited. The more variety you have in your drummers the more is added to your individual style. This is basically how I have learned how to play drums. Also I have found playing with a guitarist helps your timing alot! Hope this helps.

   After learning all the 26 American rudiments, I made my own rudiments by combining two or more of the 26 rudiments to produce an unusual and challenging exercise. For instance, by combining a double stoke roll with a paradiddle I came up with what I call a six stroke interchange (I'm not good at naming things).

   Bill Bruford (my hero) also uses this concept. The drum duet B'Boom was thought up by Bill at the hotel that he and Pat Mostelotto were staying at. Although B'Boom is basically 16th notes with an odd accent pattern played in 7/4 time, the concept remains the same. Do not limit yourself to just practicing what others have written, be an inovator and expand your limits by thinking up stuff on your own. I suggest starting by writting an unusual sticking and or accent pattern AWAY from your drums and sticks. If you try to what you play then you are doing it all wrong. Write before you play in order to find something that you have trouble playing. Good Luck!


   Don't practice! Make each and every moment on the set a spiritual quest. The chops/techniques will come..

   I've seen alot of drummers these days that have played for many years and are still playing the exact same thing they did ten years ago. The key to becoming a better drummer is to practice won't you can't do on the set. So many drummers like to play what they like or what sounds good or whatever they're comfortable with. Practice rudiments, grooves, styles that you don't know and be open-minded about everything!

   Here's somthing to get you bass drum foot loose. Take off the spring on your bass mallet and with either heel up or down practice letting the mallet head bounce off the bass head. Go thru all note values at a Slow tempo till you can do it without reaching down to lift the mallet off the head. Then move up the tempo till you feel tired then stop. Start real slow 40 bpm or so. Have fun; and it shows you Don't need double pedals ust good tecnique, ala J.Bonham. Have fun. Aloha:)

   I like to warm-up using various sticking combinations of singles, doubles, triplets and paradiddles on the snare drum and then around the kit. Most importantly when I do these I use a metronome of some sort (Tama Rhythm Watch or Metrophones). I will vary the beats per minute..gradually increasing them but always trying to stay smoothe and in-time.

   I like doing flam patterns using flam taps and swiss flams. I think of the approach as playing continuous 16th notes, with flams as the accented notes. This involves working out sticking patterns that are easier for me to write on staff paper than here now. But, for example, consider the pattern dotted eighth, sixteenth tied to eighth, eighth.

   Play this right swiss flam, right swiss flam, right flam tap and then invert the pattern and play it left lead.

   It is actually very natural.

   Once you get this one and understand the concept, you can come up with a million combinations to convey other accent patterns.

   When you get a feel for this try it over a HH and bass drum ostenato like.

   That is HH on &'s Bass drum on dotted eighth, sixteenth tied to eight, eighth. You'll take care of coordination and chops at the same time.

   Practice on a pillow! Yes, a pillow. Work on speed drills and/or rudiments on a pillow (or any really soft surface that doesn't rebound the sticks well). You'll be amazed at how fast your hands can move once you get back on the set. (You'll also be amazed at how fast your muscles tire when you're playing on a pillow!)

   When learning a rudiment, don't try playing every part all at once (hi-hat, base drum, snare drum). The reason why is first of all, no beginner can learn a rudiment their first time and by playing every thing at once, you only make it harder. I suggest getting the beat of the hi-hat with the base drum because they're are really like a tempo in some way. After you've accomplished that, it becomes really easy adding in the snare drum part.

   Use all your idle moments during the day to memorize and practice the dull boring routines. My favorite place to practice is on the sofa, while watching a great HBO movie. When it is time to play drums, I prefer to kick butt, using and adapting the licks that were perfected while watching TV.

   Warm up on the set. Nothing formal, just mess around for 10 minutes, play a favorite song, whatever. This will help you get loose and relaxed, which is very important. Next, hit your rudiments for 15 minutes. Your goal here is to focus on clean technique, not speed. Speed is easy, once you've got the technique down. Next, pick up a copy of Stick Control, by George Lawrence Stone. This book is great, you wouldn't believe how much it does for your set playing. Playing should be an end in and of itself, but don't overlook its ability to relieve tension and to focus your thoughts. As a student, I find that regular "Jam breaks" help me to "defrag" my mind, and re-focus on what I need to get done. This also makes it easier for me to fit in practice time.

   I practice all the grooves with the bass player, at the same time. After that I take the bass and play the same groove on the bass. In this way you can feel all the groove, not only the drums. Every drummer have to play another instrument, too. In my opinion this the way to the MUSIC.

   Sorry for my poor english.

   Don't know if I'm allowed to submit a tip because I gave up playing drums about 20 years ago, but anyway...

   I often used to practice with heavy miltary sticks. Then, when you switch to lighter sticks for performance, everything seems so much easier.

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