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Practice Tips Archive 5

   When working on rudiments, particularly with a lazy hand (usually your left) on a practice pad, I find it very important to use only perfictly matched sticks (I use alloy Ahead brand sticks for this reason). If you are being frustrated by triplets that allways seem to lag or single stroke rolls that seem to bunch try looking at your sticks. The differance in tone of sticks can be percieved by the ear as a differance in tempo and nothing is worse than banging your head on a wall trying to unlearn somthing you've learned wrong. Stay in the pocket.

   When you`re playing with your group you must not forget to listen to what the other is playing.. Many drummers only listening to themselves. You can also do this by listening to cd`s.....

   I think that a good practice aid is to have a study rota/timetable. It helps, in the sense that it keeps you organised. My timetable is very varied from day-to-day, and it deals with everything: from Rudiments to Reading, from co-ordination to concentration. Even although I break my schedule up every day, there are some things that I always do.

   These are:

    1. Hand Work: For this I play through different parts of George Stone's book Stick Control in front of the mirror in my mom's room. I use a metronome and play at various tempos and dynamic levels. (Time taken:45 mins-1 hour)
    2. Feet Work: Again for this I use Stick Control mainly. The way I approach this is to play time with my hands (leading with either hand) and play the patterns with my feet at the same time. I also like to test my endurance by holding out mainly single stroke, and inverted double stroke rolls with my feet (again leading with either foot). When doing this I take care not to strain and tense my muscles in my legs, because remember, speed and endurance comes from being RELAXED! (Time taken: 45 mins-1hour)
    3. Click Work: Basically what I do here is to put on my metronome and just play!! I like do go way out as far as I can and try to come back in on beat 1 again. Another thing I do is to just play grooves for the length of a song, about 3 or 4 minutes (or 10 in the case of Dream Theater) with NO FILLS. I try to play the groove with as much feel and conviction as possible. If done right, this is quite a hard thing to do! Time taken (30-45 mins)

   Remember, about this and ANY practice tip: Each tip is only of that drummer's opinion and might not work for you. But through trial and error, hopefully you will find some which suit YOU!!

   Good Luck and HAPPY DRUMMING

   Play a drum roll or rudiment. Look at your right hand. Look at your left hand. You might notice your right hand looks and sounds a lot better than your left hand (if youre right handed). Try copying your right hand with your left. Copy the way you hold your stick as well as how your wrist moves. One thing I have done to try and catch up is to do 16th notes with my left hand while holding my arm with my right. This works out your wrist muscles more than your arm muscles and you left hand will gradually get stronger, and sticking will get easier.

  Not only have rudiment wrist excerises, but stretching excerises so that your wrist won't be as tight and also so your rolls will be open.

   I have found that placing crashes on odd notes such as e or and of a measure is cool, or you know just place crashes in places where you wouldn't normally put one. I used to just use crashes for finishing off a nice fill or just to be the fill itself. I have come to realize that the places you can fit crashes, splashes or any kind of cymbal are endless and should be explored.

   I have found that music such as jazz or funk has inspired this because the first time I ever heard jazz I was thinking, "man the fills are out of this world," and I knew I had to learn this stuff. Remember all you hard core rock fans out there that anything like Rudiments or any kind of sticking patterns can be applied to rock and tremendously improve your chops. If you have never listened to jazz, give it a try and you might stumble on to a fantastic fill you have no idea how to do but it sounds really cool.

   So remember have fun and keep an open mind on things!!

    Matthew Kidson

   Two stick(y) tips for you.

   If you find that you're breaking a lot of sticks while practising and on a tight budget, tape up the stick from the top of your hand to just before the tip with masking tape [I use electrical tape - Ed.], the tape will get banged but your sticks will remain in pretty good shape making them last longer. Note : This does make your sticks heavier, but it feels really good and you are more in control when you play without the tape on!

   And if you find you're having trouble keeping your sticks in your hands, (they keep flying around or dropping), take the same masking tape and wrap it around where you hold the stick so the sticky side is on your hand. This will give you a bit of extra added grip, and there'll be less fights during band practice.

   Enjoy your drumming and the rest of this great site!!!

   My teacher told be this one.

   Set your metronome at around 60. Start playing quarter notes on the snare. Then eights, then triplets, then 16ths, then 5's (tricky!) 6's....up to 10's and back. The hardest part is going from on to another without stopping. If you get it smooth, you can make great fills using 5's or 7's. It builds huge tension and sounds great!

    Dave Berman

   This isn't really a tip; it's just a little thing that I do. Say you're practicing for about half an hour a day, right. You would practice whatever for the first fifteen minutes. Then for the remaining fifteen minutes just continually play, non stop, and every minute change the pattern that you are playing. When doing this it's best not to play stuff to difficult: just take it easy. Hhint: if you stop for some reason then you must start again, this is good for discipline.)

   What I find useful is listen to your favourite song, it doesent even matter if theirs drumming in it. Put it on loud and just play what you feel. It really works to help your ability to play different styles.

    Russell McAdoo

   While warming up and practicing paradidles on my pad (which is actually placed on top of my snare drum), I've found very challenging doing the same sticking patterns with my feet. It means RRLLL, LLRR, RLRRLRLL. You can also create your own "sticking" patterns to be aplied to the feet. I use this to develop independence and stamina for double bass drumming.


   Do this exercise one hand at a time. DO NOT count aloud and control the stick at all times. Start out slow, then get faster

        (8)               (7)           (6)        (5)    (ETC...) Then switch Hand
>                 >              >            >          >       >        >     >  >

> = Accent
X = Note


   I've been playing for a few years now, I've never really had lessons, I taught myself, but I also play the piano and guitar and other stuff. The thing I've found most useful to getting better and more creative on the drums was when I had one hour-long lesson on jazz drumming. I was just taught a few little things that are done in jazz drumming, and I found that these things can be incorporated very effectively into songs for my band, and we play kind of rock/metal style.

   Another drummer I noticed does this, but he's obviously learnt jazz drums fairly extensively, is Steve Hewitt from Placebo, and the drummer Placebo had on their first album also, but I can't remember his name right now..listen out for it!

   Also these jazz techniques are great for when you're just sitting behind the drums and just playing blindly to yourself, they really allow for creativity. I'm a great fan of this personally, obviously it'll vary from drummer to drummer, but I think any drummer who's managed to get themselves stuck in a rut would find this extremely useful for clambering out of it.

   Here are three things that I've discovered, by-and-by

   Firstly, go to your nearest music shop and buy a blank sheet music booklet. Late at night, when the folks are in a torpor and the neighbors would get furious, write out whatever comes into your head. Just scribble it down - it doesn't need to look nice. Whenever you feel like it, get out on the set and play it through - refine it, destroy it, whatever you prefer. This will not only greatly enhance your reading abilities, but help you figure out exactly what kind of things go through the ol' head.

   Secondly, go back to that same store and pick up some classical music. This stuff has survived for over one thousand years for a very simple reason - it's damn good. Start out with Mozart or something else simple - and nevermind the fiduciary aspects, it's cheap - and put your own lines to it. This really solidifies what you can - and can't - do, and helps out on that ever-popular creativity facet.

   Thirdly, a little note for the all-hallowed "individuality" idea that we all scream about. Go back to the store - again, I know - and yank out any CD's with these drummers on board Danny Carey (Tool), Carter Beauford (Dave Matthews Band), Chad Sexton (311), Neil Peart (Rush), and Tim Alexander (Primus). These guys - though Alexander's not with a band right now - are the masters of modern, prevalent drumming, regardless of what anyone (besides me, of course) tells you. Take these little masterworks and listen to them until you've got them completely ingrained and entrammeled in your memory, and then go play them - make sure you've got them out. Then - here's the fun part - take one that you exceptionally enjoy, and start with it. Get the feel and pull of the thing, and then trash it. Play out your own ideas - but with the same song still in your head. Take what these guys have done and completely ignore (and abstain from) it - you'll be amazed at what you can do with simply having them around to lead you down this ornately wound path. I usually do this whenever I get bored with/sick of my rudiments and things, viz., every five minutes or so. Oh well.

   Here is a great warmup that a teacher showed me. Play 16th notes on the snare- 1 E + A 2 E + A. Then do that on the kick with one foot only! Repeat that once more. Then go onto 1 E + A then do the same with the kick, then repeat. Then do 1 E, then that on the kick, then repeat.

   I know you probably have no idea what I just tried to explain, but its really great. Play a quick 16th note roll on the snare then try doing it with your kick foot. Trust me its great.

   I would have to say that the best way to improve your playing is by putting your clicker at any speed, play as many different chops on the same beat and altering the speed of the metronome. Try to keep focused and sit straight. Then, try to play the grooves with your leading hand on the snare and the other hand on the HH. This is great for developing ambidexterilty. Also, listen to as many styles of music because this will help you build your style and give you ideas for fills or chops.

   I've got two tips for those who need them. Experienced drummers have probably heard this one, but they are both pretty good, so here they are.

   I play a single pedal, although both of these techniques work best (as far as ive seen) on a double. First off, there is a trick that some like to call a double bass drumroll. It sounds impossible, but its a lot easier (if you practice) than it would seem. When you hit your kick pedal(s), hit them with your heel first, then your toe, as though you were walking on it. Heel-toe, heel-toe. If you do this correctly, then you should get two bass pounds out of one kick. Cool, eh? If you've a double, then do this with alternating feet over and over, and practice smoothing it out. It will sound like a slow drumroll. (This is best with solos... I've never found a place for them in standard beats.)

   Next, this one I believe is an oldie but goodie, and works with just a tidge of practice. Hit your bass drum before any cymbal crash after any fill. (Fill, quick bass, cymbal). This is best with a double unless you have a really fast ankle with a really fast single, but it can be done. You will be suprised at how much more thorough this makes your fills sound.

   My only other advice is get a good teacher, and practice those rudiments. I know as well as anyone that they are boring, annoying, monotinous, etc. but they do wonders on any techinique, be it jazz to Top 40. Also, pick up a book called "The Working Drummer" by Rick Van Horn...its got lots of valuable tips on how to survive as a highly booked drummer. Have fun!

   One word-Practice!! Practicing is the only way to get your drumming skill to go anywhere. But when you practice, try to play new things and be creative. Work with difficult stuff as much as you can, and everything will seem a lot easier.

    Dan L.

   Try taking any old basic groove or practice pattern and just try flipping roles between your limbs! Try basic bossa nova for example, and swap the right hand pattern with your right foot. After that, left foot, right hand and so on. Fiddle a lot with paradiddles and jazz/funk grooves this way too. It worked wonders for me!

   A good way to make your left hand as strong as your right hand is easy. Practice with your left hand only doing eighth notes and quarter notes. Do this for about a week. After that time, you will notice that when you start playing, you will be able to start drum fills with your left hand just as easily as your right. This works well for set drummers, but it works even better for Marching Band snare and quad players.

    David "DR. BEAT" Branham

   Hi. I´m writing from Venezuela. I´ve been playing for 5 years; I´m 20 years old right now. Ifound out the a good practice tip is: what ever you do with your hands, do it with your feet, even if you don´t play a double pedal, do everything. Every busy thing: rest, accents, syncopations, rudiments, flams; do it all. And practice SLOWLY first, then increase speed. Remenber more important than speed is accuracy and play even. Bye and keep drumming.

   Besides being the best at what you do, you always have room to be better, especially when it comes to music. No one mentioned the fact of how long it took them to get to where they are now. I'm not talk'n about years, but hours!! I found that three to four hours a day,three to four days a week to be tremendously effective. Some can't afford that much time, some can. What price are you willing to pay to be the B E S T !!!!

    Gambriel Beasley

   Greatest tip for strengthening your foot speed (I just discovered this today): tighten the spring or setting of the bass to resist your foot more than you are used to playing at. After becoming familiar with this setting, loosen the spring a little. Your speed will be increased. This is an easy way to improve your bass pedal skills. If I keep doing this I won't have any need for a double-bass pedal!

   Well, I am only 16 and have been playing for about a year and a half, but I actually do have at least one practice tip for drummers. Listening to fast music like Pennywise inspired me to try my hardest, and it payed off. This past few weeks I have been trying to use one foot on double-bass songs, like the "experts" do. It's hard, but I'm getting there. When I took my first lesson (I only took around 6), I didn't know a thing about drumming, and I still don't know the slightest thing about reading music or any of that technical stuff.

   All I can say is I love drumming, and until my hands form callouses, I'll just have to play until my fingers bleed.

   TIP- Try moving around the drums so that they are closer together. This lets you play faster, but don't smash your fingers on the rims. Ah, and try to lean into or away from the kick-drum to strengthen your foot speed. And just have fun like me.

   Keep your hands relaxed when playing fast; if your hands are all tensed up they can't move as fast....practice makes perfect; rock on!

    Ryan Wakeling

   Well I've not been playin' very be 10 months now but I've found that certainly expanding my horizons has been to listen to all sorts of different types of music and once you find stuff you like try playing along to it.

   Also try playing with something other than your hi-hat or ride. I've always used them and when I want a different sound for say a bridge or middle eight of a song I find it difficult to come up with something imaginative on the toms. I use the excuse of having to play right handed when I normally play left handed but right footed bass. Most people don't have this excuse though (it's pretty pathetic anyway) so try it you can get some really thunderous sounds or something spacy and airy!

   Don't be too content sitting at the back all the time either make sure you get a little chance to show off what you can do somewhere in the set. It need not bee too long or complicated either I once did a simple 4/4 on the toms then 8/4, then a single stroke roll round the kit and people were genuinly impressed. Most of them have no idea so just try it!

   Ok, I have been playing for over 10 years - almost 20, really. I mainly play metal, but I can hop into most anything. I've never taken lessons or studied. Worst of all I know almost none of the typical drummers jargon. I couldn't tell you a triple from a coke can.

   BUT, that has never stopped me from being able to play. I have always found that if you can visualize it in your head - the beat, what drums are being hit - you can actually learn a song or beat before you even get near you kit. Of course you still have to physically work it out, but you should have a very good idea.

   Another really bizarre tip is to try to make the drums sounds with your mouth while subconsiously making note of the number of beats and timing. I know this sounds wierd, but I've done it a long time and can listen to a beat or pattern or roll, and without consiously knowing the number of beats in it still do it exactly right. Of course it you walk around in public playing the human beatbox you may get wierd looks but....

   Best overall thing Ican tell you is don't count, don't think, don't become a machine. Feel what your doing. Don't sit and play thinking , ok its 10 beats on snare then llr r ll on the tom, etc. Play the music as a whole, feel the beat; feel the count. It would be better to play something 98% correct and not even be able to say how many times you hit the snare on that last roll, than to be 100% correct but have your mind overburdened with counting beats and what hand went where. Music is an abstract creative art form, not a lesson in algebraic equations. Anyone can learn to count, but not everyone can blindly feel. Play with feeling, not robotics.

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