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7 Habits For Consistent Practice!

Sometimes maintaining a consistent practice routine can be a challenge. The thought of practice is tedious to some, but absolutely essential in order to improve. So while we’ve been given some government-sanctioned time at home, here’s 7 tips to build a consistent practice routine

1. Find A Room/Area AWAY From Everyone Else
We’re in the position where we need to stay at home. That cuts off many of us from going to dedicated, and often times bespoke practice facilities. In my opinion, you shouldn’t always have to leave the house to get at least some basic practice in. With that said, drums aren’t the quietist so unless you’re fortunate enough to have a garage, large garden shed or Batcave that no one but you and Alfred know about, the spare room will have to do!

Those of you who think you can just sit in the living room with a practice pad watching the TV with the family and think no one will mind…have you ever actually TRIED it? Let me tell you from experience, not ideal at all. Best to just be in a separate room completely void of any and all distractions…

2. Remove Distractions
“I’ll just stick the TV on while I practice”, “I’ll just set the metronome up on my phone”, “Is that Janice with her top off out the back again?”…sound familiar? Poor Janice, and your poor eyes. Distractions are all around us. You’re probably reading this blog as a distraction from doing something else right now, perhaps even practicing! #irony. If you are, GET BACK TO PRACTICING, if not, read on…

Once you’ve found an area to turn into a practice space, it’s probably best to remove any and all potential distractions from the room while you’re in there. In my opinion, the second the TV goes on, unless it’s for a video lesson…it’s game over for efficient practice. Next thing you know you’re 5 episodes deep into Killing Eve and not once have your sticks met your hands, and despite the show being excellent, it’s not good for your practice routine. If you’re using a metronome, try to use one separate from you phone. It’s a test of discipline to remove yourself from the world for 20-30 minutes. Yes, only 20-30 minutes of practice. Which leads us too…

3. Don’t Over-Practice
There’s numerous tales from drumming legends about practicing “for 8 hours a day”. I’m sorry, but that’s always seemed highly unrealistic. That unrealistic expectation is probably what puts most drummers off practicing in the first place. The concentration level would need to be god-tier for anyone to get any form of productive practice for 8 hours a day.

Let’s put this in perspective: If you work a standard 9am-5pm day job, that’s an 8 hour shift. After you go home you’re then supposed to spend 8 hours practicing? That’s now 16 hours of a 24 hour day, add in the sleep for exactly 8 hours and that’s our day done. Rinse and repeat. Oh and by the way, that’s all before you’ve factored in small things like eating, bathroom breaks, social events and actually gigging. Or does gigging count as practice time? See, CONFUSING AND MISLEADING.

I guarantee you’d get more efficient and consistent practice limiting it to just 20-30 minutes per practice session. The theory being that you’ll be more focused and likely achieve consistent results during this short burst of practice. This structure is quicker, easier to maintain and allows you to actually have a life! Speaking of structure…

4. Have A Goal In Mind (And Stick To It!)
Just because you’re limiting your practice to 20-30 minutes doesn’t necessarily mean you spend the opening 15 minutes playing a drum solo, despite how ground-breaking and artsy you think it might be. Have a clear idea of what you want to practice before you even enter the practice room. This helps keep your mind focused on one task instead of aimlessly hitting drums for half an hour.

In those situations, you’ll notoriously find something you really want to practice with only 5 minutes left before dinner is ready or a family member crashes the party. I’d suggest sitting for 5 minutes before entering the room and write down one or two ideas or get some inspiration by watching your favourite players. Stick to those! By doing this you’ll not only learn something new much quicker, but you’ll also improve your practice discipline. It even helps if you practice at the same time of day each time. Actually, I’m making that it’s own point…

5. When You Practice, Practice At The Same Time
Choose a time of day that works for EVERYONE, particularly if you’re going to be loud but especially if you want to be consistent. Pick a window of time and use that same window every time you go to practice, this helps get you into that routine so that eventually, you’ll automatically go to practice based on muscle memory alone! It could be 4pm, 8am or exactly 3:05pm, whichever time you know you can sit without distractions in your practice space and get 20-30 minutes of solid practice. Now, say you’ve found a perfect place and time, but now the material is putting you off practice…

6. Change It Up!
Simple as that. If you constantly sit down for 20-30 minutes and just play paradiddles all the time, you’re going to get bored pretty quick! Change it up regularly. Wrap your head around an interesting polyrhythms or a fancy ostinato pattern. Figure out that outrageous fill that will absolutely get you fired from a gig, why not? It doesn’t matter as long as it’s something to keep practice interesting for you.

With that said, don’t expect to sit down and shred every idea or pattern like Eric Moore within the first 10 minutes. The things you practice shouldn’t sound perfect right away, that’s why it’s called practice. Learning complex rhythms or odd sticking patterns can be a challenge to even the pro players, which is why the last tip is arguably the most important.

7. TAKE A BREAK!
I like to compare playing drums with going to the gym, as I feel the two have a lot in common. You wouldn’t, and probably shouldn’t, go to the gym every single day. Your body needs time to recover from the physical strain you put it under. Overwork yourself and you become burnt out and end up not exercising at all, which isn’t great for your physical or mental state. The same thing happens with drums. Your brain needs time to absorb all this new information you’re throwing at it, sometimes that takes time. In short: TAKE A GOD DAMN BREAK!

Your subconsciousness is a powerful area of the mind, think of it like your brains “production crew”. It’s capable of rendering copious amounts of information without you even having to think about it. So, as counter-intuitive as it might seem, you’ll actually do the processing of those polyrhythms while you’re doing the gardening or in the shower or even on your days off from practice…you just don’t realise it. It’s why I personally only practice 4 days out of 7 for 30 minutes. That roughly works out as 120 minutes of practice a week, which is 480 minutes a month. Guess what? That’s the same amount of practice time as you’d get if you tried to do the unrealistic 8 hours a day. By spreading this across a month, you’ll actually make noticeable improvements. You also won’t feel like a failure!

Remember, we play the drums because we enjoy it. Practice shouldn’t feel like a chore, so do it in short sustainable bursts in your own space, away from distractions and structured on clear, achievable goals. If you’re in need of some quiet practice, we have plenty of tools to assist you! In the words of Spock, “it’s only logical”…

One thought on “7 Habits For Consistent Practice!

  1. Sandy says:

    I was told similar things more than sixty years ago and regret to this day not taking it on board and , as a result did not make the grade. I still played semi pro and made a few bob, but always felt I should have done better.
    My advice to any youngster is to take that advice and stick with it, practice often for short spells and practice slowly, as slow as you can, and the speed will come later, believe me it will happen, practice at snails pace, and the results will amaze you. GO FOR IT.

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