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DRUMMING

The Perfect Practice Hour: 4 Areas Of Focus

By August 7, 2019May 31st, 2022No Comments6 min read

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9_STCa-vus[/embedyt]

 

I’ve written about the 3MRP (3 minute rule protocol) which is all about firing the drumming neurons in your brain DAILY, keeping them fresh, alive, and always growing. Even if you practice a small amount but do it consistently, the 1% wins will stack up over time! By giving yourself a 3 minute daily minimum rule protocol to follow, this takes away the friction of any excuses not to practice. Who can’t find 3 minutes in the day?! This gets us past any resistance that may prevent us from practicing consistently, like ‘I don’t have enough time’, so you can get there daily. Life will still get in the way and we all miss occasional days, but the goal is the practice a lot more on days than off days. The magic is that once you START playing you will gain energy, have fun, and most always go past the 3 minute minimum and end up playing a lot longer than you thought. Over time, this adds up to massive results!

But what about the days when you DO get that perfect pristine hour to dedicate to your craft? What do you focus on? This hour can easily be whittled away by not knowing what to focus on, getting distracted, playing what you already know and meandering off the path of your vision. This is when motivation doesn’t work. I’ve had many times of being so fired up and inspired, and by the time I get to the drums I try to take on too much at once, or go into a practice without an effective plan.

One of our mantras with the LTR method is that ‘there is no right or wrong, only consequences to all that you do’, so try different systems and see what results you get. Treat yourself as the ultimate life experiment! Measure your progress in 12 week blocks, treating each 12 weeks as a year in itself. We can so easily over estimate what we can do in a year! A year seems like almost unlimited time, that is until December comes. I use a practice journal to keep myself clear on this. Try the model below, see what works and mold it to your own connection with your instrument, which is a different journey for everyone. Use what works, and discard the rest. This model is not static but malleable … you can try it in a different order, or focus more or less on certain areas as your goals shift over time. This model is only a GUIDE for you to express your best self through your drums!

 

INTUITION (TAP INTO FLOW) | What’s the first thing you can play on the drums, RIGHT NOW straight from the gut? What’s in your soul to express right at this moment? Can you tell a short story through the drums with clarity and emotion? By doing this for 2 or 3 minutes trying not to think but to just PLAY from intuition is a great way to start your practice and connect to your instrument. This mimics real life expression; just like a language you want to speak from the heart in real time authentically and clearly. I like to record myself telling this short story on the drums, and when I listen back it always reveals specific areas to focus on, like clarity, dynamics, time, simplicity, beginnings and endings, and creativity.

BODY (STACK UP THE REPS) | Drums are very physical. You are an athlete! This part of the practice is the exercises you are doing to serve your greater goal. Your sound on the drums is created by MOTION, and for movements to be done automatically we want to program the most efficient ones into our muscle memory. This is conditioning your muscles to serve you when you need them in the moment. By expressing our ideas and thinking as little as possible we can drop into flow states when drumming, entering THE ZONE at will.

MIND (STRETCH TO THE EDGES) | This is the part of the practice that takes EFFORT. The dichotomy is that when you actually play in a flow state you’re not really thinking about it, just like when you walk or speak. But to get there, to EARN this flow state on the drums, it takes zooming way in and painstakingly working out the finer details of the challenge. There’s not way around it, this is HARD WORK. That’s why we call it ‘the no fun zone’! Greatness lies in the DETAILS; it takes patience to slowly smooth out all the wrinkles, and also to leave behind anything that is not serving you. I call this THE NO FUN ZONE because it’s accepting that this is the part of the practice you’re going to have to ’embrace the suck’. It’s GOOD to be uncomfortable, because you are stretching yourself into the unknown. You WILL feel like you don’t know what you’re doing because you’re a beginner fumbling through it, and you WON’T sound good. Many people are fearful to go deep into this section of their practice because you have to face what you are NOT good at. But this is true practice because everything you are good at today, was once unfamiliar and painful.

HEART (THE REWARD OF FUN, CELEBRATE THE WIN!) | Now it’s time to celebrate! You’ve EARNED this. This section of the practice is for YOU. Reward yourself! We don’t ‘work’ drums, we PLAY drums! This is your chance to run in the playground and have fun! I notice many of my adult students sometimes have a challenge with this, to live out that childlike side of themselves and let loose. Don’t neglect this part of your practice! Tap into the joy of WHY you chose to play this instrument. You’re done the hard work for today, so just like when we started the practice we also don’t want to think in this section. Just JAM!

 

How much to put in each area? That depends. When I’ve been through some challenging times and needed a lift from the drums, I’ve had entire practices of ‘heart’ where I just jam and celebrate playing my favorite music. If I’m working on a big project with a deadline, I need to do mostly ‘mind’ work. If I’m in a highly creative space I’m mostly playing in the ‘intuition’ pocket. If I’m trying to delegate a new movement to muscle memory, I dedicate a lot of time to doing reps in the ‘body’ space. Remember, the drums are there for YOU, in any way you need them to be. the goal is to practice for LONGEVITY. Here is a rough guide of where to start for a practice session covering all four areas in one hour.

 

INTUITION (FLOW) | 15% (about 10 minutes)
* short solo
* explore your ideas
* play what you’re feeling RIGHT NOW in the moment
* don’t ‘think’ but just PLAY, tapping into your ideas in the moment

BODY (REPS) | 30% (about 20 minutes)
* rudiments
* exercises
* use the mirror, ficus on MOTION
* you already know it, just not 100% (YET)

MIND (STRETCH) | 40% (about 25 minutes)
* books
* song deconstruction
* anything truly CHALLENGING
* go to your edges and embrace the suck, enter THE NO FUN ZONE

HEART (CELEBRATE) | 15% (about 10 minutes)
* jam to your favorite songs!
* celebrate your love of the instrument!
* get out of your head and into the MOVEMENT and play just like a kid!
* let loose and jam, CELEBRATE THE WIN!

There is no one right way for everyone. Even when you’ve found a balance that works for you, expect that it will be constantly changing as you evolve. Keep it fluid, keep it open, CHALLENGE yourself, and have FUN learning and playing drums!

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