Drumming is not just a skill, it's an art. It requires not only technical proficiency, but also creativity, emotion and passion. As with any art form, practice is essential to develop and refine your skills and creativity. In this blog, we provide you with practical advice and tips on how to improve your skills and techniques, and in the end have excellent performances.
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As a drummer, you know that practice is essential to improving your skills and techniques. But how do you ensure that you're making progress in the right way? While there are many resources available on the subject, one book that stands out is "Working Toward Excellence" by the fantastic percussionist, teacher and author Paul Buyer.
After my performance at the 25th Anniversary of Trommelgroep West-Nederland (TWN), Mark Reilly, former drum group leader of the United States Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, gave me this little book. It's filled with inspiring insights on how to achieve success in music, work, and life, summarized in eight important values: hunger, effort, process, quality, consistency, leadership, time, and perseverance. In this blog, we want to provide drummers with practical advice and tips on how to improve their skills and techniques, building on the foundational principles outlined in Paul Buyer's book.
Improvement is not something that happens overnight, but rather it's a result of consistent effort and dedication.
Build a solid foundation, step by step
The first recommendation is all about a gradual process of practice, patience, and perseverance. Improvement is not something that happens overnight, but rather it's a result of consistent effort and dedication. As Durant once put Aristotle’s philosophy: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." To achieve excellence in your drumming, it's important to take small steps towards improvement and avoid trying to improve too quickly.
This approach not only reduces unnecessary stress and frustration, but it also allows you to build a solid foundation of skills that will serve you well in the long run. We also mentioned this in one of our previous blogs about practicing with a metronome. Consider the example of a sculptor: they start with a block of raw material and slowly chip away at it to reveal the beauty within. Similarly, you can chip away at your weaknesses and build upon your strengths to become the best drummer you can be.
When on your way to an excellent performance, it's important to block out enough time in your schedule to really master your music and your visual appearance. Don't be afraid to repeat your music a million times to perfect your craft, and take advantage of tools like a metronome to help you stay on track. With patience and persistence, you can build a solid foundation of skills that will serve you well throughout your practicing and performances.
Visualize a large and appreciative crowd
Another effective technique that can help you in your performance is visualization. Visualization is a powerful tool that can help you mentally prepare for your performance by imagining it in vivid detail before it actually happens. Take some time before your performance to close your eyes and visualize yourself playing flawlessly. Imagine a large and appreciative crowd watching you perform, cheering you on, and feeling the energy and excitement of the moment. See yourself confidently executing each beat, stroke, and flourish with precision and ease. By visualizing a successful performance, you are essentially "rehearsing" it in your mind and programming your brain to believe that you can achieve it in real life.
By visualizing yourself performing at your best, you are creating a mental image of success that can help you achieve your goals in reality.
Visualization is not a new concept and has been used by athletes, musicians, and other performers for decades. Paul Buyer mentions it in his book as well. It is based on the principle that the mind and body are interconnected, and that the thoughts and mental images we hold in our minds can have a profound effect on our physical performance. By visualizing yourself performing at your best, you are creating a mental image of success that can help you achieve your goals in reality. With practice and persistence, you can train your mind to believe in your abilities and perform at your best.
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Physically and mentally preparing with a warm-up routine
Creating a warm-up routine is also essential. Creating a warm-up routine is not just about physical preparation, it also has a significant impact on mental readiness. The purpose of a warm-up routine is to help you transition from the distractions of everyday life into a focused state of mind for your performance. By engaging in a set sequence of warm-up tunes, you can get your mind and body in sync and develop a sense of flow. This allows you to let go any external thoughts or distractions and focus solely on your music and performance. Additionally, a warm-up routine can help to alleviate any performance anxiety, providing a sense of familiarity and comfort before the main event.
To achieve peak performance, a well-crafted warm-up routine is essential. It's no coincidence that all the top-level drum corps worldwide have highly detailed warm-up routines, playing the same sequence of tunes for every show. This process not only prepares them physically for the performance, but also mentally. Their mind gets the time to clear itself of any distractions and other thoughts, allowing them to focus solely on their performance. By following a warm-up routine, you can attain the right mindset to deliver your best performance.
The purpose of a warm-up routine is to help you transition from the distractions of everyday life into a focused state of mind for your performance.
In conclusion, drumming is not just a skill, but an art that requires technical proficiency, creativity, emotion and passion. To improve your skills and techniques as a drummer, it's important to practice consistently and gradually build a solid foundation of skills. Additionally, visualization can help you mentally prepare for your performance by imagining it in vivid detail, while creating a warm-up routine is essential to transition from everyday distractions into a focused state of mind for your performance.
These tips, based on the foundational principles outlined in Paul Buyer's book "Working Toward Excellence," can help drummers achieve success in their music and performances. With practice, persistence, and dedication, you can become the best drummer you can be and deliver outstanding performances.