X

Making Practice Count

Have you ever considered the process of practice as a technique? In simple terms it is the way we all practice that determines our skill level and our ability to grasp new concepts and ideas. Just like we think of parts of our playing as techniques, practice is also a technique in itself and is one that forms the basis of all of our progress as a player.

With this in mind let's take a look at an introduction to my mini series of articles on this topic.

Setting up a practice space

One of the largest difficulties of all is to dedicate to regular practice sessions. One way of helping with this is to set up a specific space with all the tools that you need to focus the attention on practicing. The area will obviously depend on how much space is available but here are some ideas of what to include:

  1.  Your drum kit
  2.  A metronome, (with easy adjustment of tempos, subdivisions and time signatures).
  3.  Pens, pencils and erasers
  4.  Music manuscript and plain/lined paper
  5.  A suitably large, sturdy music stand
  6.  A CD/Minidisc/Tape/Mp3 player with both speakers and headphones
  7.  Any required soundproofing material
  8.  Earplugs

As listed above, earplugs are very important to remember whilst playing on an acoustic drum kit. Particularly in a small room where sound will bounce off the walls and easily cause serious long-term hearing problems. One tip is to get hold of some protective headphones similar to those that construction workers use. These can be more comfortable to wear over long periods of time.

Layout is down to personal preference and the dimensions of the space. A couple of obvious points to remember is to locate the audio controls and metronome close to you and to ensure the music stand is in easy reach and not obstructing the movement of any cymbals.

When it comes to choosing the type of kit to practice on there are 3 main choices:

  1.  Muffled acoustic kit / silent practice kit
  2.  Unmuffled acoustic kit
  3.  Electronic kit - such as the Roland TD series kits or the Yamaha DTX/DTXtremes.

Of course the ideal solution would be to play a normal acoustic kit as you would in a live performance situation. However for a lot of us this is not a realistic option simply due to the noise. Practice kits, muffling pads and electronic kits are all options to consider. Prices vary considerably. When considering an investment into this kind of gear, remember the concept of considering practice as an important technique. Investing time and money into practice will help form the basis of your ability to progress. If you need help choosing between an acoustic and electronic kit you can find a barrage of views, opinions and information all over drum forums on the web.

Setting up a dedicated practice space can subconsciously increase our motivation to practice regularly. Bringing together all you need, around your kit will create an environment where you can concentrate on your playing.

Remember the famous advice: It is so much better to practice regularly for short amounts of time rather then playing for long periods infrequently.

This is all due to our natural concentration spans. I will be looking further into these sorts of practice methods in my next article. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me, my website and email addresses are listed below.

Cheers,

Nick Polley

Discuss this article in our Music Forum.

About Nick Polley

Nick Polley is an experienced theatre drummer and plays in both bands and musicals. He is currently a Music Degree student at the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) in Guildford, UK. After graduation Nick intends to offer tuition and work as a professional session/theatre player. More information can be found on his website.

ACM website

Nick Polley Home Page

Contact Nick Polley