When learning a new drum score, there are a series of common practice hurdles that you may have to overcome. Perhaps there’s a new rudiment or phrase that you’ve never played before, or maybe you keep getting distracted by the things around you. Whatever the case, here are some of my tips to help you around the most common practice hurdles.
If you’re playing a new rudiment or phrase for the first time, repetition is the best thing for it. For example, try the 10 Pennies exercise, a great exercise one of my tutors, Dean Hall, introduced to me to use when learning anything new. Simply take 10 coins (dollars, cents, pennies etc.) and place them on the left (or right, it doesn’t really matter) of your drum pad. Then play the rudiment or phrase through once and if you get it perfectly right, then move one coin over to the right hand side. If you get the next one perfect, move another coin. If you get the next one wrong, move all the coins back to the left. Keep repeating the rudiment or phrase until you have all ten coins moved across to the right, meaning you have played it perfectly 10 times in a row! By doing this, it encourages you to work the rudiment or phrase to perfection. By the time you get all ten coins to the other side, you’ll be playing it perfectly. Here is a quote I think sums this up brilliantly:
Another problem I have personally faced in the past, is forgetting whether I’ve repeated a part or not. I remember when I was playing the 3/4 Massed Bands (each part repeated 4 times) and I couldn’t remember how many times I’d repeated it. One way to overcome this is to play with a piper, if you don’t have access to a piper, play with another drummer, and if you don’t have access to any of those, find a recording on YouTube. Alternately, you can record yourself and listen back to see where you’re getting lost and focus on that part.
If you’re getting distracted by the things around you, such as people, TV, video games, phones etc. Try moving to a quieter place to practice and just work away at your drumming there. I have found myself moving around my house trying to find a quiet place to drum. If your phone is the distraction, turn it off and put it somewhere where you won’t be tempted to reach for it.
One of the worst problems you can come across when practicing a tune, particularly a solo piece, is learning it wrong, perfecting it wrong and memorising it wrong. It means you have to completely change the way you’ve played it before and it’s hard to change it when it’s in your muscle memory. A way to overcome this is recording it and playing it back to yourself. This means you can pick out the parts where it’s not right and concentrate on correcting them, before they are set in your muscle memory. If you have a video or audio recording of someone else playing it correctly, then you can also use that as a reference.
|• Tricky rudiments and phrases||Try the 10 pennies exercise mentioned above
|• Memory (forgetting where you are up to)||Play along with a piper, another drummer, or a recording. Pay particular attention and focus to the place in the score where you tend to get lost
|• Getting distracted||Remove distractions like mobile phones and change your environment by finding a quiet place to practice
|• Fixing practiced mistakes||Utilise recordings, either of yourself playing it correctly or of someone else, to play along with. Use a recording of the piping tune to make sure your score fits correctly
I’d love to hear from you. Have you tried any of the above solutions to get over these common practice hurdles? What other hurdles have you faced when practicing? How did you overcome them? Let me know in the comments below!
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