This blog entry
from Scott is taken from his forthcoming book
The Drum Lesson Manual. "Like" Scott's
Strunk Drum Studio Facebook page and
he'll let you know when the book is available!
With everything you practice you should know why you are playing it and your goal. I'm always amazed at how easy it is to just play and go on auto-pilot. Before you start playing know how the music should sound in tempo, the technique required, the sticking etc. Then figure out where you are now and practice until you have filled in the space between where you are now and your goal. Keep going to you get that goal, be patience, it will happen!
Awareness and Detachment.
Many times when we play and practice music there are one or two areas that give us trouble. We usually become overly aware of these areas. This is a major problem! This makes us lose sight of the big picture. Now of course you may need to break the trouble areas down and work out the problem until you become comfortable many times in a row. Always be aware of how you sound as you are playing, after all, we are making music! Detaching your thoughts from the one problem will help you be aware of all the important things that you should have established as your goals. This usually helps you get through the trouble quicker.
Practice in Phrases.
Practice everything in phrases: 4,8,12,16,32 bar phrases. Once you understand and can play something, put it in a phrase. Decide the length of the phrase and count the bars as you play. This is a great way to get used to keeping track of a phrase as you play. By doing this you well eventually be able to feel the phrase. Why is playing in phrases so important? Most music is written in phrases. We are here to play drums in music so we must learn not only to practice notes, beats and fills but also to play them in phrases. Rudiments, sticking, exercises, beats, fills, all these ideas could and should be played in phrases instead of just playing them individually.
There is nothing better as a practice tool then hearing a recording of your self. It's very easy to play something and think you sound ok and in reality you do not! The best way is to hear the truth! When you hear a recording of your self you hear what worked and what didn't, what felt good or didn't. If you hear a problem it's easier to fix it. For example, you wouldn't have a true idea of how you look unless you used a mirror. The playback of the recording is the mirror of your drumming. Almost every time I have recorded a student for the first time they realized they did not sound as good as they had thought. Recording your self can help the time you spend practicing be more efficient with immediate, honest, feedback.
Practice performing correctly the first time.
If you find yourself saying, “I played better at home”, it may be time to rethink how you practice. Practice with the mindset of playing correctly the first time you play. Practicing over and over again is important, but at some point you need to be aware that you know how to play what you are trying to play. When you know you have it, go on to something else, then come back to what you were working on. Treat it like a performance! Put your self under the pressure to play the music correctly the first time you try. By practicing under pressure you will feel comfortable in more situations than just at home.
Don't always practice on a pad.
After working out music on a pad, you need to play it on a drum as well. No matter how real a pad may feel, the drum will feel different. Most pads bounce much more than a drum. Also, obviously a drum is louder! Beginning students especially should be aware of how hard they are hitting a pad; the volume of a snare is 10 times louder.
Two questions to ask yourself when you are playing.
(these questions will help you be aware of how you are playing.)
Am I playing what I am supposed to be playing correctly and in tempo?
If you can honestly and confidently answer “yes” then proceed to question 2.
How does it sound and feel?
This should expose any inconsistencies or lack of feel or musicality. Remember it is possible to play something correctly and in tempo and it still may not sound good.