Master Any Exercise In Three Steps

There is no easy way to learn drums or any instruments. One of the questions that almost all students ask is: how to learn this particular beat or fill in the shortest amount of time possible? The answer to that question is often the answer you would expect – practice, practice, and more practice. However, efficient practicing and understanding the steps that work the best for you will often help you achieve your goal in a shorter time. Please take note that when we talk about saving time in this context, it is not to help you reduce the time you need to achieve your goals, but to reduce the times that you have to go back to rework on essential fundamentals, which you have skipped in the name of “saving time.” Today we show you what we felt has been the best approach for our playing in 3 steps. You can universally apply these steps through all levels of playing, from beginner to advanced exercises. Have fun!

Content

Getting Comfortable And Precise

When you first start learning any exercises, always start slow. You might have heard this piece of advice repeatedly from everybody, but how slow exactly is slow? Everyone has a comfortable range of tempo, and the term slow is always perceived relatively to your comfortable tempo. To a student who always starts off playing at 120bpm, 80bpm might be a drag for him. Similarly, to a student who is only comfortable at 80 bpm, slow might be 60bpm to him.

When you learn your exercises slowly, the general rule of thumb is to always go slow enough to a speed where you can execute every note with precision and comfort, no matter how complex the exercise is. The more notes there are, the slower you should go; it does not matter if you are at 40bpm, 30bpm, or even 25bpm. Go as slow as you need to play with the correct (and even) spacing while being conscious of your comfort level. If you feel like you are struggling to play certain parts consistently 20 times in a row, slow it down some more.

When you think you are comfortable with multiple repetitions, go at it some more, but this time, focus on how relaxed your muscles are when executing the strokes. If it starts to feel tense at specific points, slow it down some more. Go for it for another half an hour.

This step is the most crucial but most neglected out of all the steps. Students tend to rush through this stage to achieve their desired speed in the shortest amount of time. They don’t realize that if you do not have a strong understanding of note spacing and comfortability with the strokes (in regards to the exercise), you will not execute a clean, smooth and consistent pattern when you bring it up to speed. Yes, you will be able to play with the song or the pattern at full speed, but you will not sound clean and smooth if you do not understand where your notes go or have enough control to execute them flawlessly.

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Building Speed and Polishing

Once you are comfortable playing the exercise at a slow speed (for 20 mins straight at least), the most challenging part of your practice is now over. You should be able to approach this next step with relative ease, at least up to the speed in your comfortable range (we’ll explain more later).

The next step is to bring up the pace while hearing the spaces accurately. If you have done your first step right and enough, you should be able to progress through a good range of tempos with relative ease. Hopefully, the speed you are aiming for is within your comfortable playing range; if not, it’s time to gear up your grinding boots again!

If the speed is way out of your comfort range (15bpm or more), be prepared to spend at least a few weeks to months of constant grinding to bring your playing up to speed, including various supplementing exercises that target the groupings or techniques you are using. Speed is one of the toughest nut to crack and takes constant maintenance; consider yourself warned.

Once it’s up to speed, polish it up and take care of the execution, you are not out of the woods yet. To execute a beat/fill flawlessly requires many more repetitions than you might even consider. Continue for at least an hour a day for the next two weeks of consistent repetitions while being conscious of your muscles; the goal is to be as efficient as possible. Take note of the tone that you are producing; are they delivering the dynamics that you want? Are they flowing smoothly? These are the questions that will bring your playing to the next level.

Internalization and Development

Congratulations, you can now execute the exercise flawlessly into the song/piece you are working on. It might even just be a coordination exercise, but either way – job well done, you now have a plus one into your ever-growing book of vocabulary.

You will, however, realize that this vocabulary might never come up again in your playing ever, but don’t worry, your practice has not been for nothing. Even though not executed consciously, the vocabulary you have learned will help form into your muscle memory and help develop the control you need to execute and learn future exercises.

However, if you loved the groove/fill so much that you wish to put it into every part of everyday vocabulary, here’s what you should do. Internalize and develop the exercise by putting it into your everyday playing, trying to play different voicings out of the same exercise, expanding or replacing parts of the exercise with something you have also been exploring. It might take you weeks and months more, but once you can internalize it, it will stay with you for a long time.

Summary

There are many ways to approach learning an exercise, but try using these steps to see if it helps you be more efficient in your practice. Whichever way you decide to approach your exercises, the essential rule in learning the instrument is to remember not to cut any corners. Whatever corners you have cut now from your practice would have to be paid back in the near future. Good luck in your practice!