No matter what instrument you play, you want to be the best musician you can be. Learning technique, internal time, tempo, sound quality, and dynamic contrast are some of the most essential aspects of being a good musician. The next question is how often should you practice, and for how long? First and foremost, the quantity of time doesn’t matter as much as you may think. It’s the quality of the time you spend practicing that really makes the difference.
Mental Capacity: Your level of focus should determine the amount of time you devote to practice. Prioritize your practice time based on the amount of time you have, and how many exercises you want to get through. If there are certain days where you have a more flexible schedule, you can spend additional time practicing, as long as you still feel mentally engaged. Your mental capacity and level of focus and concentration will help you determine when it’s a good time to stop.
Physical Engagement: This one is pretty simple: if your body feels tired, stop. There’s no use trying to do an exercise when your body is exhausted. A runner doesn’t just keep going when he has run 30 miles in six hours. He stops and rests his body. Overexerting yourself on the drums can lead to physical problems. If you feel worn out, you may be playing too loud, too fast, or too much. You want to feel comfortable and loose when you play. You don’t want to grip the sticks too tight or use too much force to make a sound, especially when playing loudly. You will gradually build your endurance as you continue to play, so f you’re physically tired, stop the session.
Practice Frequency: Now that we’ve discussed the length for each session, let’s talk about how often you should practice. I personally believe that it’s a good idea to not touch the instrument for at least 24 hours during the week. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need a full day off, but I think it’s healthy to take some time each day to get away from the instrument, so that your body and mind can rest. Other than that, I recommend doing some type of practice every day. This doesn’t just mean sitting at the drum set, there are several different ways to develop your skills away from the instrument.
JoJo Mayer said, “away from the instrument, there is a lot to learn.” This means there are other ways to practice and improve besides sitting at your drum set. You can develop your rhythm by singing or clapping, listen to music to learn more about the songs you want to play, or do hand exercises with or without your drum sticks. Obviously, the set time at the instrument is crucial, but after that, you still have the option to keep practicing. Listen to music on your way to school or work. Do finger and wrist exercises as you ride the bus. There are many ways to incorporate drum practice into your day.
Remember, when it comes to practice frequency and length, we are all different. My mental and physical endurance is not the same as yours. The key is to find a routine that works for you. If you only have an hour to practice, then make that the most efficient, productive hour of practice time. If that’s all the time you have, then think about what you can do to practice away from the drum set. If you have a practice pad, work on stick control. If you don’t have a pad, you can still do wrist or finger exercises.
Your drum instructor will also have some excellent recommendations about how often to practice, and what to do during practice to make the most of your time. Make your practice efficient and productive, but don’t forget to enjoy the process and have fun!