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A Beginners Guide To Rock Drum Lessons
What makes a good rock drum lesson? How do you balance having fun and progressing as a musician? These are questions I am constantly being asked by my private drum students, and that I have had a hard time answering over the years. However, after talking to literally dozens of students, reviewing the topics and techniques most rock drummers deem “important”, and taking a self-evaluation of how my personal lessons go – I hope to provide answers to these questions for you here.
Balancing Fun and Progression With Drum Lessons
Let me say this right up front – the drums, and any other musical instrument, should be “fun” above all else. If you are not having fun while playing an instrument, then being a musician probably isn’t for you. Sure there will be challenging times where you really need to focus on developing a few difficult techniques, but at the end of the day – it needs to be fulfilling to you. If you aren’t having fun, it’s only a matter of time before practices become a chore, and gigs become a hassle.
However, with that said – it’s also important that you look inwards to see the value of hard work and practice. In other words, the more you practice – the more fun you can have with the new and creative beats and fills you come up with. So, there should be a challenge, but in the end you should feel the payoff. You don’t want to be constantly working and never reaping the rewards, but you also don’t want to become bored due to the limited material you are able to play.
In the end I think all true musicians feel much better having put in a good practice as opposed to jamming around on older material. It’s that constant challenge that makes playing an instrument so much fun.
Essential Elements of Rock Drumming
As I see it, there are three key things to focus on when it comes to rock drumming lessons:
- Control – with the timing of a song, and with the dynamics of your drumming.
- Independence – using the various limbs you use to play the entire drum set.
- Groove – playing the drums musically with or without a band.
These three elements really build on each other, and are a foundation to any drummers ability to play with or without a band. Therefore, I feel any drum lesson or private practice should focus on developing these essential areas of drumming. In the end, they will make you a better drummer, and allow you to play in more situations with confidence.
A Simple Rock Drum Lesson Structure
Now, if you are anything like me and the thousands of other ADD drummers in the world, you probably have a tough time focusing for an extended period of time. The solution to this is to break up your practices into different blocks. This way your drum lessons never get repetitive.
For example, I like to practice in one hour sessions 4-5 days a week. So, I make a list of all the topics and techniques I want to cover, and split them into 20 minute blocks. Then I mix and match three of those blocks to make up my one-hour practice for each day – always moving on to the next three items each time I sit down at my kit. Every few days I will restart at the top, but as long as my list isn’t divisible by three… the repetition is never exact.
It’s also important to remember the “don’t practice while you play, and don’t play while you practice” rule. Essentially what that means is… don’t try to practice a drum-related technique during a band rehearsal or performance. Take your own personal time to do that. On the flip side, don’t jam with beats you have already mastered while you should be practicing. Leave that time for technique improvement, and mastery of new beats and fills. Keep these two aspects of drumming separate, and you will continue to develop as a musician while having fun along the way!