One of the most useful things I’ve been told from my teachers is that if you are going to do something, do something right. Yea, it’s cheesy—but as I was completing a marathon 19 hours of rehearsal this weekend, it came to mind as being oh so relevant in this activity.
How much time do you spend practicing exercises and music? Fundamentals and technique? Marching and playing? And you spend most of those countless hours because you love drumming and you love the marching activity. But you also do it because you want to be good. But that does not mean that the more time you spend, the better you get. It’s all about practicing and rehearsing smarter. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
The next time you leave rehearsal with a list of things to improve, think about how you can practice the right way.
Here are a few tips:
Walk Before You Run
That applies to everyone across the percussion section. You have to play rudiments well before putting them into challenging music. You have to play the beats slow in order to play them fast. You have to play quad parts on one drum in order to play them around the drums. You have to master good cymbal crash technique before you can expect to play an exercise well.
Practice the Important Stuff
Wow, this one is so hard for drummers. Yea, working on the coolest “next great rudiment” is a lot of fun, but is it helping the girls and guys in your drum line get better? Always keep pushing your rudiment vocabulary, but when you have a limited amount of time, I bet anything you’ll see more benefit from working on tap heights.
Get More Feedback
Practice with a friend, or in a crunch, in front of a mirror. It will help keep you honest and highlight mistakes. And the sooner you hone in on the important things that are sticking out, the more effective your practice will be.
If you are going to commit to practicing, commit to practicing effectively.
About the Author
Lane Armey is the battery percussion coordinator for Homestead High School in Cupertino, Calif. During the past 10 years, he has worked with various groups including Northwestern University and the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps.