Productive Practice


Junior Member
In a way, I have been playing for a long time (concert band in grade school, middle school, low quality jazz band in high school). I had a kit for awhile during that time, but got rid of it. I was NEVER disciplined in my practice back then. I quit playing altogether after high school.

25 or so years later, I took drums back up. I took lessons for awhile, but my instructor was kind of disorganized and chatty. I really liked him, and I learned some good stuff, but I felt like I needed more structure.

I would like to return to lessons in awhile, but can't for a couple years with money, kids and schedule.

I practice almost daily now, but I don't feel like I'm efficient in my own method either. What approaches--both in terms of method and content--have you guys found most productive and applicable to your drumming? What resources have been most useful? How do you break down your hour? What exercises are most useful (or do you find it most useful to just phsh yourself to learn new music)?

My ultimate goal is to get good enough to do rock covers with other middle aged dufuses like myself.

60's Drummer

Senior Member
Target a weakness. Research how to strengthen it. Apply remedy - rinse and repeat. 50% of practice. Other 50% - playing the strengths - wanking off - having fun.

That's just one approach. I use the pad for hand technique - the kit for everything else.


Junior Member
I am also looking at making my practice time more efficient. I believe I tend to work on too many things at once, leaving little time for any one thing. Anyway, there are several different videos and suggestions on how to set up a practice routine. Here is one from Stephen Taylor.


Junior Member
I am also looking at making my practice time more efficient. I believe I tend to work on too many things at once, leaving little time for any one thing. Anyway, there are several different videos and suggestions on how to set up a practice routine. Here is one from Stephen Taylor.


Senior Member
Your story is almost identical to mine.

I don't have any great advice on practicing, except to encourage you to find others to play with. Solo playing will improve your technique but there's so much that can't be improved without a group setting.

A year ago I called up a local concert band and found they needed a drummer. I took the plunge. Around the same time I volunteered to play at my church and that has gone well too, again, despite what I consider amateurish skills.

I rarely have time for solo practice but playing with others has improved my drumming a lot this past year.


Senior Member
I think having a goal for each session is important. Pick a weakness, figure out exercises to work it, and go to town. Even 20 focused minutes everyday makes a difference.


Maybe pick up some books, stick control you can start working through that as a warm up and mix it up, 4 way co-ordination, progressive steps to syncopation are all good books to start working through and imrpve overal playing, you can mix it up as well so maybe one day you warm up with stick control then work on 4 way for a bit next day spend your practice working through stick control etc


Gold Member
Along with what others have said, play along to songs you would like to play or that you hear other local cover bands play. Then based on parts you are weak at, work on the technique needed. I have probably had to learn about 200 songs in the last 4 years and my weak spots in those songs defines my areas to work on.


Silver Member
How I structure my practice sessions is based on these points:

1. What are my goals as a drummer, and what progressions do I need to work on to achieve these goals?

So as an example, right now I'm working on salsa percussion and other latin-based 3- and 4-way independence. Primarily I'm working on developing true independence against a 3-2 son clave played by my left foot. I have access to good material which allows me to use good progressions to steadily build up the skill to advance to more difficult exercises.

So for example, the first exercise involves playing 1/4 notes with one other limb, while the left foot plays a continuous clave pattern. There are then other progressions to 1/8th notes, off-beat 1/4 notes, 1/16th notes on the 'e' and 'a', and so on. These exercises are designed as ostinatos, i.e., to be repeated until you're comfortable with the pattern. After that come a number of solo exercises, which are not repeated.

So, to get to my point: Pick things you want to learn, and find exercises or books which will give you progressions to achieve those goals.

2. My routine is based on what I ENJOY playing - otherwise I have very little motivation.

I've wasted a lot of my practice time trying to half-heartedly learn things that don't appeal to me but which "will make me a better drummer". I'm sure I gained some benefit out of this, but I always gained more benefit when I enjoyed what I was learning and felt the challenge was keeping things interesting and fulfilling.

3. I include technical work, including a very basic endurance/speed exercise.

I don't focus solely on developing speed, but at the end of each practice session I play 1 minute with my feet, then 1 minute with my hands, then raise the tempo by 10bpm until I'm too tired to continue. I alternate between single strokes and double strokes each day. Obviously the goal is to play 1 straight minute, but you eventually have to play shorter and shorter bursts.

4. Don't set a time limit/minimum. Some days you will be more motivated than others, or there may be limits as to how much you can mentally achieve in that practice session.

5. Write out your practice routine and try to adhere to it each day.

6. Only choose 3-4 different concepts to focus on at a time. You have a lifetime of drumming ahead of you. But that being said, don't be afraid to move on from an exercise and come back to it later. You need to give your mind time to rest and figure out what the hell just happened :)

7. Make sure you spend a good amount of time playing along to music during your practice session. The whole point in being a drummer is to be able to play music and keep time - not play exercises in a book. If you're playing music that is technically easy, focus on your dynamics, consistency, accuracy and timing. Record yourself and listen back to find your shortcomings. Pick 2-3 songs that you want to learn note-for-note (or at least near enough) and spend time on them.

I will probably keep prattling on (because that's what I do) so I'll leave it there - hopefully you'll get something useful out of this :)


"Uncle Larry"
I like focusing on just one thing only and repeating it until it's ingrained on my brain. Repetition does it for me. Also for one thing learned all the way, it has more far reaching effects than just the one thing you're working on.


Platinum Member
The single largest mistake I see with drummers and practice is that they keep doing the same things. I know countless guys who spend all their time practicing triple-strokes or double-bass drum speed or para-diddles when in fact they are already pretty good at those things, and the big issue is that they have huge glaring ability holes in most other aspects of drumming and as soon as they have to step outside their comfort zone they lose it.

TL;DR - Practice the stuff you're not good at and don't over-practice the fad of the moment. Strive to be well-rounded.