There are 3 main ways of practicing: With a metronome, with a CD or MP3 player, and with a band or musician. These are all important ways of practicing that you should keep balanced, as seen in this graph:
I know that this is a highly detailed and sophisticated graph, but the point is that you need balance in your practice routine.
You need a healthy amount of practice:
• Live/With a Band: As in, with a band, a guitarist, or even another drummer (Never rule that option out!). Whatever you can find. This is really important if you plan on playing shows…or anywhere in public, and I certainly hope you do! Playing with another musician will help you get a feel for being in control of the tempo. It’ll also work out any kinks that you wouldn’t want happening at a gig. I know it might be hard to find someone to drum with. I wouldn’t be writing this if a band director hadn’t needed someone to play drumset at pep sessions 4 years ago. Just ask around and put yourself out there, you never know who might be looking.
• With a Metronome: I’ll be honest, I hate metronomes. They’re obnoxious. But I force myself to practice with them. Why? Because they give the beat! Metronomes will help you grasp the concept of tempo much better than practicing with a band will. If you play along to a met, you’ll become more used to keeping a steady beat. Which is a big job of yours, right?
• With a CD/MP3 Player: This is how I began drumming (along to Meg White & Torry Castellano, yo!). Find a good set of headphones first. Ear buds won’t let you hear your music well enough, you’ll need something heavier than that. Make sure the cord is long enough for your flailing. Obviously, short cords can become a problem. Be sure that what you drum to isn’t too easy. Have a nice mix of slow, fast, easy, and hard songs of all genres. Even if you can’t play a song all the way through, put it in the mix. That way you’ll have something to work on and up to. If you are using your MP3 player, make a playlist exclusively for drumming.
http://www.metronomeonline.com/ – This is a free online metronome. Highly recommended.
http://accessories.musiciansfriend.com/product/Vic-Firth-Single-Sided-Practice-Pad?sku=447605#new – If you’re interested in buying a decent drum pad, for a more quiet practice session, this is a nice one.
Next week: The Importance of a Beat.
Be sure to follow me (@girlbeatsdrums) and TomTom (@tomtommag) on Twitter, if you haven’t already.
i would kill for a collection of three mixes– beginner, intermediate, and advanced– with good drum-along songs to practice to.