For those of you are brand spanking new to simpledrummer.com, I’d like to introduce myself to you. My name is Kevin Mendes. I won’t get into a long-winded life-story here, but I will tell you that I have been playing the drums for most of my life now. I have also been teaching other drummers for 15 years. Over the years, I’ve thought about my drumming origins a lot. This has helped me steer my drumming students in a good direction. I put this kind of thought into all of the lessons I design for simpledrummer.com. I’d like to share with you a few simple practice tips that will help you feel more motivated to practice. The more motivated you are, the more you will accomplish in your practice time.
#1: Keep Your Expectations in Check
When practicing, we often place expectations on ourselves that are far too big for the present moment. (Complete an entire lesson or learn an entire song for example). That can easily make you feel like you’re never getting to the top of the practice mountain. By taking smaller steps at a time in our practicing, we get a feeling of success and accomplishment more often. This can fuel our motivation to learn more. I call these little victories. Like a real mountain climber, your success depends on your attention to each step of the way and NOT on reaching the summit. All it takes is a little adjustment of our own expectations to help keep us motivated and feeling as though we are making progress.
In your practice time, a little victory could be learning a new groove, a drum fill or maybe playing something you’ve already learned at a faster tempo. Make it ONE thing that is small and achievable in a short amount of time. Chances are, you’ll want another little victory and then another and then “oooh, I have 5 more minutes to get another one in there”. Low and behold, it starts a chain reaction. By the end of your practice time, you’ll feel a tremendous amount of success. This will only make your next practice session arrive sooner.
#2: Frequency is the Key
Never turn down a practice session because you think it is not enough time. If you aim for 1-2 hours normally, don’t let that stop you from taking the 15 minutes that you have today. Practicing is most effective when it is frequent. Besides, most of us don’t have 1-2 hours of free time on a daily basis. If that’s your standard, then you’ll likely only have 1 practice day every week or two. But when you accept that any amount of practice time is worth it, then you will likely have 5-6 practice days every week. Some will be longer and some will be shorter, but overall, it will amount to much more than one, longer session.
#3: Variety is the Spice Of Life
Try not to spend all of your time on one topic, unless your practice time is short (20mins or less). As a general guideline, I try to cover three topics each time I sit down to play. They are usually (but not always), technique or rudiments, groove playing, fills or other rhythmic ideas. If I have one of those days with nowhere to be and spend a lot of time practicing, then I might include a few more topics. Practicing with this approach will help to make you a well-balanced drummer.
#4: Start a Practice Log/Journal
Staying organized is important. You don’t want to waste the first 10 minutes of your practicing wondering what to work on. Keep a simple notebook by your drums and get in the habit of writing down what you worked on. This will help you balance your time so that you don’t spend all of it on one thing. By seeing you what you have worked on recently, you can see the areas that get the most practice and the least practice time. You can also write down some of your goals for the near future. Simply writing them down will help you to achieve them.
It’s important to dedicate at least half of your time to focused practice on a lesson or specific topic. You don’t want to spend all of your time playing and jamming things you are already good at. This way you get some time spent on developing your skills, instead of spending all of your time being creative and that will lead to greater progress overall. Making notes about your practice goals is so important in fact, that I built in a custom notepad for every member at simpledrummer.com to use in their own way. If you are a member, you will find this tool in the My Notes tab in your Dashboard area. If you are not a member you can sign up here.
#5: Make Your Environment Comfortable
If you have your drums setup in a basement or a small rehearsal space with blank walls, then its only a matter of time before you will want to escape that lonely environment. Adding a lamp or two, a few posters or pictures of your heroes can make your environment more enjoyable. If you spend some of your time listening to music, consider having a cozy chair to sit in. These added comforts will make your practice time feel more enjoyable and you will likely be motivated to stay in your space longer.
Having a comfortable practice space will increase your motivation and result in more time being spent at the drums. For more tips on enhancing your practice space, read this article.
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