© 2016 by Rob Mitzner 

"DRUMSET PRACTICE TIPS" originally featured on about.com

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, optimizing your practice time is the key to improving your drumset technique. This article will discuss setup tips, snare drum warm-ups, techniques for full kit practicing, and the importance or playing along with music as elements of a successful practice session.

1) The Right Setup

 

A clean, quiet, temperature-controlled space is a crucial part of drumset practice.  While these things are sometimes out of your control, do your best reduce outside noise and always remember to wear earplugs.  Make sure all your gear is in good shape and playable, with no broken stands, heads, cymbals, or floor tom legs.   Your focus should be on making music and having fun, not worrying that your gear will crumble around you.  Take a minute to stretch your hands, legs, and back before sitting down behind the kit.  It is important to have a comfortable, supportive drum throne and set it up at the correct height, with your belt buckle lined up with the top hoop of snare drum.  Make sure your drums are tuned properly and aligned so you can reach everything comfortably without twisting your hips or reaching upwards or sideways.   Sit up straight and use your wrists, rather than your arms or shoulders. Take a deep breath and turn off that cell phone, block out the co-workers, bad drivers, social media agitators and other distractions.  Now you are ready to practice.

2) Warm Up Your Hands and Brain

 

Begin slowly with snare drum sticking exercises to warm up your hands.  If you try to play your fastest, highest intensity stuff right away, your muscles will tighten and fatigue much more quickly.  This is especially true in the wintertime when it’s cold outside and your extremities take longer to warm. This “3-2-1 Around-The-World” warm-up exercise begins on the snare and gradually progresses into a full drumset workout as you play through the 6 methods.

3) Around the Kit

 

After your hands are loose, you can begin working on drumset exercises to improve your coordination and build independence between all four limbs.  Try working with various Rock, Latin, Jazz, and African grooves played at different tempos and practice improvising within the framework of those grooves.  Whether you use a method book or not, practice with a metronome to make sure you aren’t rushing or dragging.  Focus on the most challenging material right away while your mental and physical stamina is highest, and try to diagnose and fix trouble areas rather than avoiding or skipping over them.   Sometimes your hands and feet won’t do exactly what your brain is telling them right away; try to stay focused and manage your emotions as you work though these spots.

 

4) Play Along with Music

 

The most fun and rewarding part of drumset practice is playing along with music.  It is also the best way to apply the concepts you’ve been working on and serves as an emotional and physical release at the end of your practice session.  Choose music that challenges you.  Focus on learning the groove, locking in with the bass player, following the song structure, and Create a Road Map, but most of all, enjoy what you’re doing and play with passion and purpose.

 

Having the right gear, warming up, working on four-way independence, using a metronome, and playing along with music are the some of the keys to an efficient and gratifying drumset practice session. and hit the road!