Here are some quick thoughts that I have had after many years of teaching and observing what works and what doesn’t with my students.
There is no way a beginner student can process and absorb ALL the information handed out over those early lessons. The co-ordination and concepts can be overwhelming. What’s more, some exercises can seem pointless and mundane when being learnt at a very basic level. I mean a ‘Single Stroke Roll’ is hardly very exciting as 8th notes at 80bpm on a practice pad! So let’s take a step back and simplify our goals and approach…
1: HAVE FUN! This seems obvious, but it’s crucial your lessons (and practice sessions) are enjoyable. It’s hard to get good at things you don’t like. You should want to practice. It can’t be a chore. If lessons aren’t enjoyable let your teacher know. After all, YOU are paying for their service. If things still aren’t happening for you… try a different teacher. (Yes, i said it!)
2: HAVE A PRACTICE ROUTINE: It may be 1 hour, 30 minutes, 10 minutes a day, 1 hour once a week, it doesn’t matter! But you need to find what works with your schedule and STICK to it. This is your time to work and improve. Make it non-negotiable DRUMS time.
3: DON’T SKIP LESSONS: Obviously things pop up… but overall it’s in your best interests to be as regular as possible. I have had students who didn’t practice over the week and therefore through guilt thought it was best to cancel the lesson to not ‘disappoint’ me. That is just digging the hole deeper!
WARNING! The following 2 tips are HIGHLY technical and i have found them to be profound. They are as close as i can see to the ‘secret’, the ‘key’, ‘shortcut’, or whatever magical drum potion there is that makes someone a very good player. Ready…? Don’t hurt yourself….
4: PRACTICE SLOW: Slow and Steady beats Fast and Sloppy everyday of the week. Remember we are trying to develop muscle memory and the ability to HEAR when our drumming is working well. Trying to run before crawling will only lead to frustration or even worse… missing out on playing for that new band because you can’t play in time! Also just quietly… having to re-learn things REALLY sucks.
5: REPETITION: This is one thing students don’t realise. The amount of time and repetition that EVERY good drummer has put into their instrument. It can look effortless and just natural when a great drummer is in full flight. This is ONLY because they have done all these movements before a thousand times. It’s very comparable to driving a car. You are making lot’s of little decisions and constant adjustments during any drive, yet it’s all second nature after years of driving. Ever get to a destination and not remember the actual journey? Yes!
JOIN A BAND: I know what your thinking… ‘But i only just started!?’. It doesn’t matter. If you can hold down a basic beat, get out there! I’m not saying audition for The Foo Fighters. But get amongst it and start playing music with people. It’s really fun and the ultimate fast track to develop your playing.