It's Monday evening. You just had a long day at work or school after a busy weekend.
All you feel like doing is watching Netflix or reading a book... But you have this niggling feeling in the back of your head, saying 'I should practice'...
Should you? Why practice?
The answer lies in another question: do you want to be a better drummer and musician? If you do, read on...
No one is great at anything overnight, without effort and practice. Talent is a given thing, and sure, we all have some talent for certain things. How much talent you have for music is not something you have much control over.
What you do have control over, is your actions: how much you practice and how you practice.
Remember when you were 4 or 5 years old and you were learning to write your first letters? How clumsy and difficult it was just to spell your name? You would be writing out clumsy rows of the letter 'a' for what seemed like hours...
A few years later, you could write sentences... Four years later, you could write a small story... 10 years later you could write essays, compose poems, write original song lyrics and be creative and communicate emotions with your written words!
All that would not have happened if you didn't learn and practice for years how to write you ABCs...
It's the same with drumming and learning any other instrument, whether you start at age 4, 14 or 40 or 84. You can learn to do anything, all it takes is patience and years of practice.
For drummers, the strokes are the letters, the rudiments are your words,
When you practise something new over and over again, new connections form in your brain. Some independence exercises can appear extremely difficult at first. This is because there are no connections in your brain to tell your body to execute that movement.
The only way to grown new connections (synapses) in your brain is to keep trying and not to give up. Pick something you are really struggling with and try just 5 minutes a day, but every day, for at least 2 weeks. Comment below if this made a difference.
As a rule of thumb, a very new and difficult thing today (say a difficult drum beat/fill combination) will take about 3 months to properly embed and become natural and automatic.
Keeping trying something new and difficult is Deliberate Practice. It will make you a better player overtime. The strokes will become automatic until your body plays them naturally, with very little thought or effort.
Bashing out a song you can already play is fun, but not Deliberate Practice. It will help you play the same song better, and embed the skills you currently have, but it will not teach you new things, even if you play that same song for years.
Of course, it's also important to just sit and play whatever you feel like, improvise, create a new 'story' from the ‘words’ you already have! And play with people as much as you can, to learn to listen and create great 'stories' together.
So the message of this 'story' is, if you want to get better, just 30 minutes of Deliberate Practice a day will go a long way. Be patient, get addicted to practising and enjoy the journey!
Kate G. Swann, Planet drum student and performer
Read more about Deliberate Practice: