In the next two columns I am going to ask 30 questions on drumming and give a short answer. I will ask 15 questions per column.
The point of this is for you to answer these questions yourself. It may seem a useless exercise but it can be thought provoking as well as teach you a little about yourself and your drumming. My answers are not the correct answers as there are no correct answers. The conclusions you draw from the answers will help you with your drumming. If you are not a drummer, try asking yourself 30 questions regarding your vocation or about who you are.
The answers can be scary. Have fun.
1. Do you ever practice in front of a mirror?
Practicing in front of a mirror can be very helpful. Do not use it to see how cool you are or practicing posing. Posing is for guitar players. Look at yourself to work on your technique and playing position. Notice if your strokes are uniform and both hands are at the same height. Look to see if you are playing with good posture as well as if your sitting height is correct. Make sure to see if your feet are positioned correctly on your pedals.
2. Do you fake styles or are you confident in your ability to play all styles?
We all have faked a style of drumming that we were not familiar with. The fact is if you are faking a style, most people can tell.
You might think you are fooling people but you are not. The best way to combat this problem is take the time to be versed in every style of drumming. Be well rounded in your genre. Most drummers find a style they are naturally great at and those type of gigs seem to come their way. If you learn and become proficient in all styles it shows in all aspects of your drumming. Different styles teach you different coordination and open your mind to ideas that otherwise would not be apparent if you did not learn certain styles. Not only is it beneficial to learn different styles, it is fun and opens you up
to several different gigs you might otherwise not be considered for.
3. Do you set up your drums in the same way every time?
Lets hope that you do set them up the same way every time. It amazes me how many drummers do not. If you have practiced with your drums at certain heights and your cymbals at certain levels why would you change it the next time you have to set them up.
Inconsistency with heights and lengths away from you will result in poor execution. Take the time to develop a system of marking your drums so that your drums will be set up the same every time. Use a permanent marker to mark heights on your stands.
Learn what the best way to have your drums set that benefits you and keep it that way.
4. Are you disciplined in your practicing?
Being disciplined in your practicing is very important. Sure it is fun to practice random beats or play to records. This can be beneficial but it does not maximize your time. Create a practice routine that encompasses all aspects of drumming. Create a chart and keep track of what you are practicing. Set goals for yourself and stick to it.
When your regimented practice becomes boring or mundane then play to some records or play something random. Practice of course is not always fun but the results from a disciplined practice routine are invaluable. It helps you become a great drummer which leads to great gigs. Great gigs are a ton of fun.
5. Do you play for yourself or for the music?
I have discussed this before but I thought I would bring it up again. Please play for the music. Playing for yourself is absolutely the wrong way to go about being a drummer. Drums in a band situation are there to provide the backbone.
If you are playing for yourself you are not supporting anything. All you are doing is ruining the music which is what you are trying to create. If your ego needs to be on display or you have to show how cool you are, then become a guitar player. Then you can hang out with all of the other musical egomaniacs that exist. For you guitar players I say that tongue in cheek, so relax.
6. Do you practice your feet as much as your hands?
Most drummers practice their hands quite a bit more than their feet. I think with the advent and popularity of double bass drum pedals this has decreased over the last couple of decades. Make sure you practice your feet at least 30 per cent of your practice time. Do the same patterns you practice with your hands with your feet. Make sure to develop your feet muscles as you would your arm muscles. Train your mind so that your feet are as flexible as your hands.
If you are old school and double bass drumming seems a bit over the top, get over it. There are many uses for double bass drumming that can be utilized tastefully if you just work on it and do not overplay. Double bass drumming is not just for metal anymore.