Topic: Practicing  (Read 1217 times)

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« on: March 20, 2004, 02:16 PM »
Sorry this will be a little long, but I want to explain my situation well enough where it can be understood.

I have been a drummer for a little over 10 years and have studied with several instructors. While taking lessons, I found it hard to discipline myself and concentrate on the "homework" my instructors assigned. I grew frustrated as time went on, making up excuses as to why I didnt complete my given assignments.
After about a year and a half my first instructor told me that I should stop studying with him because I wasnt up to the level that he thought I should be at. Disappointed and confused about my drumming future, I continued going through my lesson book from that instructor, trying to teach myself what we hadnt worked on yet.

I studied with two more instructors after that, in two different states. The first was a "name" player, who by chance, lived about two miles from the apartment I had moved to in the Nashville area. He was a patient, understanding person who happily answered my questions and helped me feel more confident as a drummer. He also made me feel that he was my friend and not just someone being paid for providing a service. Due to some money trouble on my part I had to leave Nashville and return home to Massachusetts.

After getting married, my wife and I moved into a house in her home state where she was attending school at the time. I looked for a new teacher and found one. He was a decent player and showed me some things, but would spend most of my lesson time playing my kit, because he lived in an apartment and couldnt set up his own.

After studying with my second instructor, a neurologist diagnosed me with A.D.H.D. (Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder: able to pay attention to a task but lose focus because they may be predominantly hyperactive-impulsive and, thus, have trouble controlling impulse and activity). This explained a lot, relating to both my middle school and high school years, as well as my inability to concentrate on my drum lesson assignments.

Now, here is where my problem lies….I was never taught how to practice or what to practice. I am being treated for A.D.H.D. and am extremely motivated to learn all I can about drumming. I have looked for instructors in my area but have been unable to find any. I have TONS of drumming resources (my old lesson books, instructional videos/DVDs, articles, etc. Im a decent player and can read fairly well. I have a good grasp on the basics and dont have much of a problem charting songs. I recently got Thomas Langs "Creative Control" instructional DVD and was inspired even more, until I couldnt figure out the best way to work on things.

Ive read Bartmans article on how to practice along with other  peoples ideas as well. Ill try coming up with a practice regimen but dont know if Im including the correct things; not sure how long to work at each individual exercise/rudiment for before moving to either a faster tempo or something else completely. Can anyone please offer me some help? I feel frustrated.  Maybe you could show me examples of your own practice schedules.

Thank you very, very much.

One more thing – you all deserve a medal for reading all the way through this!! LOL


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« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2004, 06:06 PM »
Without hearing where you're at drumming wise, I'll share what I practice based on a Bartman thread that is working for me.  

I play along with a metronome/click as much as possible and I try to set a time limit for each one because I do have time constraints (married, 3 kids).  I also try to play at different volume levels because I do have playing situations where I'm required to play soft and very loud.

I record & date all of this in a practice journal to help me remember what metronome settings I last worked on.  

1.  Warm-Up, Technical Exercises
Steve Smith Sticking Exercise from his recent DVD (singles, doubles, mix stickings) w/feathering BD on all 4's and 2&4 on HH

2.  Coordination Studies, Technique Applications
Marco Minnemanns Extreme Interdependence Book.  It's very similiar to Gary Chester's book.

3.  Styles, Grooves, Fills
Work on tunes from blues and 80s cover band that are giving me problems.  This includes experimenting with different grooves and fills.

4.  Play-Along, Jam, Warm Down
I play along with actual CD of tune and try ideas from #3.  

5.  Extra Areas that need work:
a.  Two-handed shuffles
b.  Samba Patterns
c.  Chafee Sticking Patterns
d.  Soloing for 4 bars, 8 bars, 12 bars
e.  Double Bass Patterns

If I don't have anything to work on in #3, I work on the areas in #5.


Matt Self (Gaddabout)

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« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2004, 07:13 PM »
Here's some motivation for you. I've never had a problem practicing the drums. I've done more practicing than I have playing. I guess, in some weird sense, I prefer the solitude behind my kit than playing and learning someone else's nuances.

However, about two years ago I went through a physical transformation. I *love* playing basketball and baseball (I played competitively throughout high school and college), but my health and fitness had degenerated because I hate working out. I was 5-11 and weighed in excess of 300 lbs. on my 33rd birthday. I decided to implement *some* kind of workout regiment in my life, even if I never changed my diet of Coke and fast food.

I started with a simple goal: get to the gym. If I walked in the doors and walked out, it was OK. As long as I got the gym it was OK, because I accomplished something I had rarely done in my life. Well, guilt and shame being what it is, I would usually walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes or so three to five times a week. I felt weird going to the gym and not doing anything. I felt better about myself if I did "what I could."

One month later I had lost 15 lbs. withough changing my diet and with the most minimal exercise routine. It got me excited that I *could* lose weight and get in shape.

After 10 months I had lost 95 lbs. and was buying clothes at the mall for the first time since high school. I weighed 215 lbs. I had changed my diet out of *enthusiasm*, not guilt. I went to the gym with excitement.

I haven't been that dedicated since, but I now weigh 180 lbs. and I have a simple regimen. I know how to maintain my weight because it started with a simple goal: get to the gym. It was all based on a Woody Allen quote: Showing up is 88 percent of life.

So there. Maybe, instead of worrying about some intensive practice routine, start with what you can do. If all you can do is *get* to the drum set and practice 10 minutes a day with simple rudiments, then do that. You might be surprised what you're doing next month, next year and especially five years from now.


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« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2004, 07:34 PM »
Awesome Gaddabout!!!!

I feel practice (or anything else) should be motivated by "enthusiasm" and "fun".  The "want to" vs the "have to" kind of thang.



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« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2004, 11:39 PM »

Thank you for your words of wisdom. Congratulations on your loss! (Does that sound bad? LOL)

I think I let myself get too intimidated by the amount of drumming info that's out there and what I see myself achieving in the future. I don't do it as much as I used to (maybe I'm getting better!), but I would worry about how what I was practicing would affect other aspects of playing. OR, that maybe I was practicing the wrong thing and should be working on something else completely.

I recently got The Thomas Lang "Creative Control" DVD and was blown away by his ability. I was not intimidated by it though. It's the first time where I saw a monster player and thought that with discipline I could get there too.

Thank you again for your inspiring words. I will let my wife read them also - she recently decided to lose a little weight. I thank you in advance for the inspiration she gets from reading it too.

Scheming Demon

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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2004, 07:31 AM »
Enthusiasm to learn is key.  I would suggest trying to learn something very specific instead of just a general I want to get better.  With a specific goal you can chart progress and see an actual improvement over time.  Pick something you really want to learn and are motivated to learn.

For instance, if you want to learn how to play paradiddles at 200BPM a first step would be to play them at 100BPM.  Then when that is mastered you up the speed to 120BPM or other increment.  Before you know it you will reach your goal.  

I had an epiphany a few years ago.  I take my drumming very seriously and would be extremely hard on myself if I didn't learn a particular thing I had set my sights on fast enough.  Then I said to myself.  You know what, I want to have fun playing the drums and enjoy myself.  So every time I get behind the kit to practice I make sure I play or do something that is fun to me personally.  Sometimes I'll spend an entire practice session just playing along with some of my favorite songs.  You can accomplish wonders when you're enjoying yourself and not stressing out over any perceived lack of progress.

So I would recommend making a list of all the things you really want to learn or be able to do.  If you can't set intermediate goals yourself to reach them then finding a teacher or some other way to spark the joy of learning and playing will go a long way on your personal quest to improve your drumming skills and your overall enjoyment.