Any time we play, whether in performance, rehearsal or drum practise, it is always best to aim for a position that supports good posture and will not create unnecessary tension. This ensures that all angles and movements have the best chance of being reproduced in performance, making it much faster to establish a strong, consistent playing style. In-turn, this will lead to an optimal learning curve in getting to your desired aims much sooner with minimal positional interruption.
When we perform, we usually stand, and so ultimately the best drum practise position is a standing one. Additionally, when you stand, the angles you use to drum with are usually better matched to the natural shape and movement your body optimally needs to be most efficient.
A drum stand provides the benefit of being able to adjust your playing surface to be comfortable, at just the right height for you, and you can even put your pad on a slight angle to replicate the angle of the playing surface of a drum.
There are also other benefits to doing your drum practise standing rather than sitting. Sitting for long periods of time can be bad for your health so if you have been sitting down all day, change things up when you get home by doing your practise in a standing position. Keep in mind that standing for long periods can also have negative effects. Just like everything, moderation is key.
If you do not have a drum stand, sitting at a table is the next best option. However, there are a few important things you need to consider when sitting down to practise at a table.
The optimal height of your playing surface is slightly below your belly button. Since the standard height relationship between a chair and table is designed around the optimal height for writing and eating, which is with the tabletop a few centimetres above your belly button, it makes sitting at a table to drum an issue as the height difference is too great. Either the table needs to be lower, or the chair needs to be higher.
If you happen to have an adjustable height stool or chair, then raise it up so that the table height matches the optimal playing height in relationship with your body, that is, with the playing surface slightly below your belly button. Be sure to raise the level of your seat so that you are not “reaching up” to your pad.
Over time, if you are playing at a height that is higher than your optimal playing height, you will create unwanted stress and tension in your arms, shoulders, neck and back which will lead to headaches and poor body posture. You will also be restricting your playing by producing unnecessary distractions and creating a negative effect on your playing technique.
TIP 1: Many chairs are designed to be stacked on top of each other for storage which makes them perfect for use while drumming. Simply stack them until you have your required height. Be careful though as sometimes stacked chairs can be a little unstable as they are not really meant to be sat on when stacked! If you are a young drummer, get an adult to help you and make sure your “chair stack” is safe to sit on.
TIP 2: At band practise, if there is not enough room around the tables for the pipers and the drummers, the pipers can sit or stand in a semicircle without the tables. If they are still playing from sheet music, they can use music stands. Then the snare drummers will be able to fit onto the tables which are needed for practice pads. Remember to use an adjustable height stool or to stack your chairs. The pipers usually don’t like having to stand at the start but after a while, they get to like it as they are better able to “lock in” and focus on tight playing.
When it comes to practising, it is best to use a drum stand with your practice pad or drum on the stand whenever you can.
We’d love to hear from you – how do you optimise your practise? Do you use a drum stand or have you found a suitable sitting arrangement at a table? Have you tried both standing and sitting? Which do you prefer and why? Let us know in the comments below!