The Art of Practice: An Excerpt
from "Steve Smith: Drumset
Technique/History of the U.S. Beat" (Hudson
Developing good practice skills can be an
art form in itself. What we practice and how we
practice are very important to one's development
as a musician.
What do you practice? This
will be different for everyone depending on your
stage of musical development and what you
currently need in order to move forward. Here
are some ideas and recommendations:
Practice whatever you need to do a better job on
the gigs you are currently playing. You will
have some relevant ideas to work on by
remembering what songs or feels you had trouble
with, listening to a recording of the gig or by
using feedback from the other band members.
2. I recommend studying with a good private
teacher to learn how to read music, develop good
technique, be exposed to interesting ideas and
approaches, and to get clear and instant
feedback on your progress. By studying with a
teacher you can also develop good practice
discipline because you'll need to prepare a
3. Use your practice time
to work on and develop your own ideas.
Use your practice time to learn music and
prepare for an upcoming gig, session or
5. Work on an idea that
interests you that you read about in a magazine
or that you hear someone play on a CD, a live
gig/clinic or an educational DVD/video.
How do you practice? Here are some practicing
principles I use that have helped me continue to
grow as a player.
1. Practice Every Day
with an occasional day off.
Organized and Consistent - know what you are
going to practice each day and stick to the
3. Use Patience and Take Your Time.
4. Practice Quietly and Slowly. By doing
this you gain control at many Volumes and
5. Figure out the Stickings and
Hand/Foot combinations. With this process you
gain an understanding of the information in the
idea. With Consistent, Slow and Relaxed practice
you allow the information to enter your
6. Slowly work out the
motions necessary to play the ideas and
eventually allow the motions start to "play
7. Breath slowly, relax and
use the practice as a meditation. Develop the
habit of playing relaxed, donâ€™t hold tension in
your body. Use a mirror to watch your motions.
8. Eventually "hear" the idea in your head
and allow your body to respond and play it
9. Practice with Musical
Form (e.g. 4 & 8 bar phrases, 12 bar blues, 32
bar AABA song form) , play along with CDs, and
practice both with and without a click track.
10. Warm up before the practice session,
stop when fatigued.
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