Break it Down – Having trouble learning a drum groove that involves all 4 limbs? Try breaking the beat down into its individual parts for each arm/leg. Pick 2 limbs and play those parts. After you can play that no problem, add another part of the groove. Breaking a beat down and then building it back up piece by piece can help you lean even the most complicated drumming patterns.
Practice Frequency > Duration – Many drummers ask about what the “best” practice schedule is. There is no perfect practice schedule and not everyone has the same available time to play. Practice frequency is more important than the total amount of time spent behind your kit. Try to play every day, even if you can only play 10 min or so. The repetition is very beneficial for your muscle memory. Practicing every day for 15 min will help you more than practicing 10 hours straight twice a month.
Now I’m not saying you should only practice for 15 min at a time. Practicing for over an hour in duration is beneficial as it will build muscle mass and increase endurance. If you cant fit in a long practice session, try to sit down and play for just a couple minuets. If you practice every day, I guarantee by the end of the week you will feel more comfortable and at ease playing your kit than when you started.
Bass Drum Head – If you are going to cut a hole in your bass drum resonant head remember that this will affect the sound of your bass drum. The larger the hole, the larger the impact on the sound will be. Anything larger than 7″ will sound like there is no head at all.
Know a Golfer? – You can use an old golf club bag to carry your cymbal stands and other hardware.
New Drum Heads – New drum heads will stretch out shortly after being mounted on your drums. Keep this in mind that you probably have to tighten them back up after a couple hours. You may want to tune new heads slightly higher than your ideal pitch at first to anticipate this initial stretching.
Spring Stretching – Over time, the spring on your bass drum pedal will stretch out. Keep this in mind as at some point you will probably have to adjust the tension.
Equipment Maintenance – You should oil your springs and lugs from time to time. They can get packed with dirt and dust and prevent your stands, pedals, and drum gear from working its best.
Videotape Yourself Playing – Watching a video of yourself playing drums can allow you to observe your posture and technique. You can also look at the placement of the elements in your kit to make sure you are not reaching too far for anything as you play.
It can be fun to add some showmanship to your playing by twirling your sticks or doing some other flashy drum tricks. There is nothing wrong with adding some more entertainment into your gigs. There are many different tricks or techniques that can really help you put on a show for you audience. Check out this video of a cool drum stick trick where you juggle as you play!
Use a Carpet – One way to make the set up of you drum set easier is to use a carpet or rug as a guide. Mark the carpet with tape or a marker in the locations where your bass drum sits, the feet for your floor toms, and any other hardware. Bring that carpet with you to your show, and follow the guide to your perfect setup.
Transcribe Music – Listen to music and try to pick out the drum groove. Listen to what sounds you hear and try to determine the drummers set up and what drums they have in their kit. Write down the pattern for each drum you hear. This will help train your ear and increase your ability to figure out drum beats on the fly.
Challenge Yourself – Don’t be afraid to try something new or difficult. If you only practice things you are already good at, you will not get any better. Just remember to start out slow and gradually increase tempo as you get more comfortable.
Proper placement of all the elements in a drummers kit is very imporant as it determines how easy it will be to play the kit, and affects the endurance of the drummer. It is best to try to keep all of your toms and cymbals at the same angle, so your wrist does not need to change positions when playing different drums. The height of the drums is also very important. When striking any element in your kit, you arm should as close to a neutral as possible position. Your arm should be relaxed, your neck should not be tense, and you should not have to reach too far to hit any object in the drum set. Any unnecessary strain on your muscles is wasted energy and will make you tired faster.
The style of music a drummer plays can affect their ideal drum set setup. The drums and cymbals that are used the most often should be the easiest to reach for the drummer. When first setting up my drum set, I like to start out with the snare and hi-hat, as these are the two things I use the most. After that I start positioning the mounted toms, then floor toms. For the cymbals, try to position the ones you use most frequently in front of you. Less often used cymbals and other percussion instruments can be fit in to any spaces you find and on the sides. What is great about drumming is that there is no “correct” position for the drums in your kit. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different setups to see what feels the most comfortable for you.
Warm Up – Before starting a practice session or a show, make sure to warm up. Play some rudiments and work your way around the kit. If you are going to play a show, bring a practice pad with you to warm up on offstage. This will help you loosen up your arms and wrists and start the blood flowing in your limbs. When you start to play on your kit, you want to be as relaxed as possible. Any tension will make it more difficult to play and will tire you out faster.
Protect your Ears – Wear earplugs. As you most likely already know, drums are quite loud. It is important to protect your ears from the constant bombardment of loud noises.
Have Extra Drum Keys – Buy a couple extra and keep them in different places. Wear one on your neck on a piece of string. Keep one in your stick bag. You never know when you will need to do some adjustments on your kit. If you only have one key and you cant find it when needed, that can be a huge problem.
One of most important parts of drumming technique is using correct drumming posture. Having the correct posture can make you sound better and have more consistency. With correct posture, you can play faster and easier, with less effort. Here are some tips to help you keep proper drumming posture when at your set.
It is important to have your body in a relaxed, neutral position when you sit down. One aspect of this is sitting at the correct height. The height of your throne not only affects the angle of your arms hitting the drums, but also how much force you will use with your feet on the pedals. Whats important is that your leg is in a neutral position, ready to strike the pedal when you are sitting down. Your leg should be parallel or slope slightly down towards the floor. If you find that your are lacking the power you want in your kicks, you should lower your seat some.
Another aspect of correct drumming posture is sitting up straight. It may sound stupid, but sitting up straight while playing the drums is very important. If you watch any professional drummer, they sit up straight at their kit. Slouching while playing for extended periods will only put unnecessary strain on your lower back. It may feel unnatural at first, but if you focus on sitting up straight every time you play it will soon become second nature.
Relax your arms, shoulders, and hands. If you feel as if your straining to keep your arms up, lower your drums down some. Try to keep the angle your wrist makes with each drum consistent throughout your set. Your arms should be in a neutral position with your elbows not too far or too close to your sides. If you reduce the energy it takes your body to play your drums, by practicing proper posture, you will become better at playing. You will feel more comfortable at your set as you play, and your body will feel better afterward.
Expand your Music – Don’t be afraid to listen and play to other types of music. If you only listen to the same kind of music all the time, then you will start sound like it. It is best to expand your range of music styles. If you expose yourself to many different kinds of drum beats, you can create your own personal style using what your learn from other types of music.
Slow Down! – Just as babies learn to crawl before they walk, the key to drumming is to slow it down first and then increase speed. When learning a new groove, start out at a slow tempo and focus on consistent tones from each drum and hitting each drum at the correct time. After you are comfortable playing slow, the pattern will be in your head and you can then speed it up easily.
Practice Patterns without Sticks – You do not need your kit or even sticks with a practice pad to practice your groves. Tap out the patterns on your legs when listening to music on the bus or while watching TV. Doing so will strengthen your muscle memory and make it easier to reproduce those patterns on your kit.
Twirling a drum stick while playing is part of the showmanship skills that many drummers posses. Drumstick spinning is one way that a drummer can add some style to their playing during a show. Most other common instruments in a band are easily maneuverable. This lets other musicians such as guitarists and singers move around the stage or dance to the music. Because as a drummer you are stuck sitting down at your drum set, you are more limited in what movement is possible during a show. Spinning or twirling drumsticks while playing a groove is one way for a drummer to get more creative on their drum set and show off a little for the crowd. This video teaches you two different ways to spin your drumsticks.