Practice- To book or not to book

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
As a preface, I have been studying for most of my seven years on the drums with a variety of tools, but mainly using various books. I have worked my way up through the standards (Stick Control, Portraits in Rhythm) and am now focusing on some more complicated stuff like Gary Chester's The New Breed and John Riley's awesome bop books.

So, essentially I spend 70% of my practice time (1-4 hours per day) on books and the other 30% on things like creative soloing, playing along with tunes, etc.

This was all going well, until I went to clinics in Cleveland with Mr. Dave Weckl, who mentioned that books aren't always the best route. I would never argue with his expert opinion, but I was just a little confused. I guess my question is, if not books, then how else should I go about this?

I understand that there are infinite possibilities for what I can practice. But I feel that just aimlessly messing around without the guidance of books will lead me nowhere. Also, I hear stories of professionals practicing 6-8 hours a day. If they're not using books, how do they efficiently use their time?

Any tips would be awesome. I do take lessons and my big goal here is just to learn as much as possible and be the best I can. Thanks everyone.
I'm late to the party on this one, so I apologize if I say something that's already been said. Books are good, but playing and being creative is also good. Playing with others is even better.

I think the other part Mr. Weckl didn't really mention in your quote is that you need to be out there listening to others and knowing what others are doing. Read any interview of any jazz great and they all pretty much have the same stories of standing outside the club to hear so-and-so because they were too young to get in. They were consuming the great players and internalizing what they did. All we ever do is emulate the greats, and you have to have that inside too.

Another way to look at your situation is by asking yourself what the end result is. I would think it's obvious that playing music with others is the career. Or better yet, you being the man hiring the band because it's your name out there. How much do books, other than providing you with exercises to practice and master, play into this endgame? This is where the internalization of the greats would come into play. You'd also be thinking about the business end of making music for a living too. If you can't play with and for a band, you're dead in the water. If you can play with and for a band, then how do you get it out there to create a product people will want to buy? These are two very different things - perhaps beyond your scope at the moment - but the process becomes much clearer once you know what your end result is. And that's completely up to you.

Good luck!


Platinum Member
I use books that I find key, such as stick control, conversations in clave, new breed, advanced techniques, art of bop.
I also split my time and take parts of songs that I really want to learn and put them on loop on my DAW. I mainly do this to facilitate learning fills/phrases that I like. Sometimes I slow down the tempo of the original audio file so that I can better hear the individual hits.
I do this for maybe 3/4 hours during the day. I find any longer than this and I really lose focus as to what it is I'm wanting to learn. I also make sure to take breaks every 20-30 mins. I used to practice for upwards of 8 hours, and after a while I just felt like taking an axe to my kit.

I spend most of my time (evenings) playing with bands/musicians.


Gold Member
Books are great since they take you out of your comfort zone and make you play things you normally wouldn't. It sounds like you're on the right path doing 70% books and 30% everything else in your practice time.