Are you currently finding percussion practice tedious?
It’s not good enough to just practice for a longer time. You have to practice much better. More effectively. And within our ‘Beginner’s Guide To Learning Percussion’, we will provide you with all the techniques you need to practice the percussion much better.
Established Percussion Practice Suggestions You Have To Know
Practice. If you do it regularly enough, you’ll become excellent. Everybody knows this. So why is practice so difficult?
Motivation is essential. Without motivation, you will not push yourself to go back to the instrument every single day. How do you get motivated?
By winning. Yes, that is what I said. Winning. You’re in constant competition with yourself, and whenever things go perfectly, you are feeling like you are winning. When you’re within this state of mind, it’s very easy to practice. It’s the circle of life – winning much more gives you much more motivation, which means you practice a lot more. Practising more usually means you win more, so it will give you much more motivation. Which goes on and on exponentially.
Therefore if it’s that easy, how come practice still so difficult?
The answer? Because it’s not that simple! Just practising isn’t good enough. You can practice for three hours per day but not improve.
If it’s not the amount of practice that puts you on top of the circle of life, just what does?
The level of quality.
Practising for fifteen minutes every day, concentrated, use good quality practice is a lot more beneficial than ten hours of unfocused, ‘auto-pilot’ practice.
So you simply need top-quality practice so that you can leap aboard the circle of life train?
You wish! It is never that easy. Put together quantity and quality, and you’ll finally become a first-class passenger.
Read on to see how to get your first-class ticket, and ways to stay on the train so long as you want…
Structure Your Percussion Practice
What is the advised duration of practice?
15 to 20 minutes is a great starting point, and in all likelihood no longer than 45 minutes each time. After this length of time, all of us humans have a tendency to zone out – and therefore the practising will become much less successful. As a rule of thumb, once you really feel your focus waning, quit. Become proud that you simply showed up to your practice session, and don’t get worried how much time you practice for.
How frequently should you practice the percussion?
This one is an easy answer – practice every day. Like that, you’ll transform your percussion practice into a routine. A short concentrated regular practice is much more useful than twice every week for one hour at the same time. And keep in mind, if perhaps you’re pondering “but how can I spare the time to do 20 minutes each day? !? ” – just take some of your time and effort from social media over to the percussion. We all do, after all, dedicate on average 142 minutes on social media daily!
What days should you be practicing?
It will make no significant difference when you practice, just simply provided that you do the practice. Experiment with building a preset schedule for yourself as opposed to simply being ad-hok. Notice which solutions are best, and stick to it.
Percussion Practice Top Tips
1. Get rid of All Distractions
This really is your time and energy, therefore you absolutely don’t need anyone disturbing you. So make sure you turn off your tablet pc, laptop, watch, and even more importantly cell phone, to get as concentrated as you possibly can.
2. Be Sure You're Relaxed
As you’ll be playing for hours and many years to come, it’s really vital that you are comfy. The more comfortable you are, the better you’ll perform. Anxiety is usually our foe, and so keep it away from your practice area.
3. Set Yourself Goals
Focus on an end result. And to accomplish this, you’ll really need to set yourself a number of targets. ‘Mini-Goals’ can be better than one huge goal…
Perhaps Monday you’ll learn the 1st 12 bars/measures. Then Tuesday you’ll learn the next 12. Wednesday can be the difficult bit in the middle. Thursday might be reminding yourself of all things you’ve learnt until now, and Friday may be trying to play the portions with no sheet music (from memory). Whatever you have to do, set up your aims on paper and then make them happen. And whenever you achieve your ultimate goal, celebrate! I recommend an excellent bottle of red…
4. Say Hi To Bad Habits
No-one is perfect the 1st time. Consciously be aware that until you’ve repeated a section a couple of times, you’ll make a few mistakes. Become as methodical as possible resolving these errors, because if you don’t, you’ll uncover bad habits begin to sneak in.
So if you find a terrible habit – say hello to it. Recognize it’s there, and crush the little blighter before it’s too late…
Comparable rules apply for working with your technique. Put in the tricky, accurate work at first – and you’ll save a huge amount of time at a later date.
5. Don't Drive Blind
Have you ever been driving a vehicle, and suddenly found that you can’t recall the previous 30 minutes? Or been on a trip which lasts hours, but you are only able to remember particular sections? This is what I call being on ‘auto-pilot’. It is exactly what we have to steer clear of during practice.
If you practice much the same way each time, your improvement will slow down, your motivation will shrink, and the percussion will turn out a chore. You can actually combat this little annoying fact by changing your practice techniques.
There are lots of options. Shut your eyes to perform. Try out performing the piece of music backwards. Consider standing up or being seated. Play whilst wearing headphones. Play every little thing quietly, or even loudly. This list goes on and on. Invention is the name of the game, and whatever you decide and do, don’t become bored!
6. You Are The Most effective Teacher
We have a good reason many of us go to school; and it’s because we learn best when we have a teacher standing over us, motivating us to advance. But unless you are the Founder of Microsoft, you’re extremely unlikely to be able to afford to pay for a teacher 365 days of the year. Will it matter? Absolutely not! You are your own instructor – and you come totally free!
For starters, learn to listen. So many people forget to actively listen, yet it’s the easiest way to enhance your playing.
Next, together with the magic of modern technology, it’s now easier than ever to record your playing. So get your smartphone out, record, and critique yourself.
And even when the world’s most wealthy people wanted to retain the services of my own personal coach, they couldn’t afford to pay for it!
7. Start At The End
You read a book, you find page one. It’s totally normal. You perform a piece of music, you start at the start. Once more, absolutely normal. But for the purpose of practising, it’s not recommended. You’ll wind up being phenomenally great at the first few notes, and pretty awful at the rest. So change it up. Begin at the end, or maybe halfway through. Then the next day, select another different place to start your practice. But whatever you do, don’t always begin at the start!
8. Don't Always Play The Simple Sections
We are all interested in the path of least resistance. In music, that means enjoying the straightforward parts. When we find an uncomplicated bit that sounds great, we tend to play it over and over again. The issue with this is that we don’t develop. It’s actually a dreadful practice strategy. So ignore the straightforward bits, and concentrate on the parts that you’ll have to work hard at.
Now, look at this rationally. If you decide to consciously select what needs much more practice, it would be the difficult part. Correct? That needs more love and consideration. The simple part will look after itself.
Go on then! Discover those challenging areas…
9. Enjoy Yourself With Something New
Sight-reading is a great exercise to round off your practice with. There is no pressure to perfect the piece, and it can be a great deal of fun too! In addition, it means that you can test your percussion playing skills on an entirely different piece – and even a different style of music.
10. Keeping The Flow
The metronome is there as your buddy, not foe. So use and get to like it.
For sections which can be really fast and hard, the metronome can be an excellent device. Set it at a nice and easy tempo, which you can have fun playing the segment flawlessly. Then every single day, notch up the speed by a little. Gradually, you’ll end up being at performance speed, and it should truly feel as comfortable as whenever you began at a slower speed.
Added bonus Word of advice: For faster areas, try and get comfortable performing the tricky parts ten percent faster than you will need – like this, after you get back to the speed you want to perform it at, it should actually feel nice and effortless!
11. Establish Rewards
Did you notice in point number 3 that I mentioned a reward? Well, I do believe it’s very important I’m mentioning it twice! Make sure you reward yourself…
Exercises are sometimes boring. We have to do them when we do sports to warm-up, and playing the percussion is absolutely a sport for your hands (and mind). There are many different exercises that strengthen your wrists and fingers, but the main ones are:
Yes, I know they can be more boring than watching a politician talking about Brexit – but they are important. And they do their job well. So yes, you do need to do them!
‘Developing Dexterity For Snare Drum’ is a book full of technical exercises geared towards developing a strong technical foundation.
‘Modern School For Snare Drum’ is a summary of Goldenbergs’ teaching experiences aimed at a more advanced player. Not only is it full of studies but also how the snare drum is integrated in the orchestra with excerpts from famous works.
Tuned Percussion Jump Practice
If you really analyse your mistakes, you’ll find one of the significant issues with playing tuned percussion is jumping. No, not like on a trampoline. Your mallets, jumping from one note to another.
In the process of moving to a different location on the instrument, it’s highly probable that you’ll land slightly in the wrong place. If this happens, you can create wrong notes in your beautifully exquisite and divine playing.
So how can we eliminate these mistakes? By practising our jumping.
Try putting a colourful duster next to the note you are jumping to as a bright visual ‘This Way’ sign to where you are going. Or practice really slowly and instead of letting your mallets bounce straight off the note, play a ‘dead stroke’ (leaving your mallet on the note for much longer) which can help your muscle memory. That way, when I came to that difficult mallet position movement in the piece, my muscle memory would take over, and all would be right in the world again!
Always strive to produce the best tone, whatever you are practising. This will be 50% technique and 50% where you strike the drum. Find the sweet spot on each drum and play a simple warm-up before practising your pieces.
Tuning the drums is also a very important skill as a timpanist. This, of course, can also be practised! Take a note from the piano or use a tuning fork and have a go at singing that note, then adjust the pedal/tension rods until you have matched it.
Percussion Practice Bonus Tips
1. Make An Effort To Stay Consistent
Your brain learns every time you choose to do new things. It produces a neuron, like a very little branch of a tree. Every time you repeat the EXACT same thing, with absolutely no differentiation, that branch gets a little stronger. If you do the task enough times, in precisely the same way, that branch becomes a strong arm. This is basically the factor where your mind and body can just do a thing ‘without thinking about it’.
On the other hand, whenever you alter a little something, a whole new branch is created. When you play the same passage of music four times, and each time you start using a different fingering or are not completely consistent, you’re producing four branches.
So what is the issue with that? A branch functions much like a path your brain walks down. It needs to decide on one of the options you’ve created. The issue is that rather than one solid choice, you have many weak possibilities. This just confuses your wobbly gel of a brain and slows the processing time right down. The effect is often a mistake.
So don’t leave things to chance. Be consistent. Discover stuff slowly and correctly. And try to play things properly again and again.
2. Recommended Reading
Here are some great books that really helped me when I was starting out and I regularly recommend them to students to this day.
Music Practice: The Musician’s Guide to Practicing and Mastering your Instrument like a professional
I also highly recommend you include How to Read Music in 30 Days in your must-read list. If haven’t already read our guide on How To Read Sheet Music, then do check that out as well.
Percussion Practice - Summary
Should you have figured out one important thing because of this webpage, it ought to be:
Practice is the most essential thing with studying a musical instrument. Do not leave it to chance. Create a practice procedure. Mix it up. Print off this web page and continue referring to it. And remember to treat yourself…
About the Author
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