Over the years I’ve been asked by friends and fans and drummers what my approach is to practicing. I’ve also been asked to teach or give advice to drummers who feel stagnant and bored with their playing. These are my top 5 recommendations:
#1 SIMPLIFY….go back to just a hat kick snare and tom……youll be inspired because you dont have the usual places to throw your sticks which will change your brain’s habit of performing the same fills youve always done.
#2 Go To YOUTUBE….because there are so many cool instructional videos in all styles…jazz reggae death metal funk punk….whatever youre into…..and pick ONE(only 1) to try to learn. picking ONLY one is key because there is so much stuff on there that its overwhelming and you’ll end up distracting yourself trying to learn 10 different things at once….like the term “baby steps”, think of a baby taking his first steps. he’s not simultaneously trying to read, learn the alphabet, and get his potty training under control…it’d be impossible! so use your practice time on just one new skill.
#3 TWENTY MINUTES….commit to ONLY practicing or playing for 20 minutes a day so that you are excited to play each new day…and in that time work only on the new lick/style/fill …and then reward yourself in the last 2 minutes with playing the stuff you know(if you need to)….or reward yourself one day a week with 20 minutes of playing whatever you want
#4 START SLOW…any new technique you decide to learn, start PAINFULLY slow to the point where it doesn’t even feel like a drum beat or rhythm….there is always a tendency to want to play something fast instantly but FORCE yourself to play SLOW SLOW SLOW until it feels automatic like breathing. Every musician or martial artist or athlete started at the same place as you(the beginning) and they all started just as slow as you….so relax and enjoy this part because you’re only at the beginning once.
#5 EMBRACE THE STRUGGLE… this is the MOST important concept which i liken to the “filling of a glass of water”…learning drums or guitar or martial arts or any skill is like filling a glass full of water…its just a matter of showing up and doing it!!! and the the time spent doing it is like the water drops going into a glass…each drop represents the minute you spend struggling and even though you feel like you suck when you’re attempting a new skill, you ARE getting better and you ARE getting closer to your goal in the same way that each “drop” IS filling the glass….and it actually becomes fun to be at the bottom of that hill so to speak because you know you cant get any worse than when you started on the very first time….and gradually things will start to fall together as your body and brain learn the new technique.