If you want to learn to play the drums, the best thing you can do for yourself is to practice, regularly. You can take lessons for years but if you don’t put in the time to practice, you’ll never, ever get better. Malcolm Gladwell referred to the “10,000 hour rule” in his 2008 book Outliers, stating that a requirement for success in any field is to perform a task repeatedly for 10,000 hours. As a well-rehearsed drummer, I can say that that’s about when I went from being just “ok” to being really proficient and on par with other professionals.
That said, maintaining your practice schedule is just as important, as my drumming chops have diminished greatly since I entered the workforce. In school, it’s easy to manage a musical schedule, but afterwards you need work – HARD – to make time. Here are some ideas to help you become the best drummer you can be. Some or all may be helpful, so try them out and see what works for you. If you find yourself stopping, try a different tactic.
STICK TO A REGULAR SCHEDULE
This is the most obvious approach to keeping up your discipline. It didn’t work well for me, but for people with an especially busy schedule, it’s the way they make sure it happens. If you need to, put it in your calendar, sync to your phone, set an alarm, etc.
I’ve done a lot of my practicing in front of a TV. I’d just be sitting doing nothing anyway, so why not lay down some phat beatz while I’m at it? Maybe it’s not TV for you. Maybe it’s smoking, reading, using a treadmill, waiting for your project to render/compile/upload. You should always be moving those wrists.
DON’T TAKE LONG-TERM BREAKS
Often times life changes bring about new schedules and priorities. This is fine, normal, and often really, really challenging. Family, relationships, kids, work, moving, can all consume your time in ways you never imagined, and you may find your sticks start to collect dust. You need to keep drumming. More often than not, it will actually relieve stress, not create more. By practicing with a band, even once a week during hectic, crazy times in my life, I kept my sanity, my practice momentum, and it gave me consistency I didn’t really have elsewhere.