Thursday, August 27, 2009

Practicing Rudiments


There's no getting around it...I hate practicing my rudiments. I know, I know, I'm a disgrace to the drumming community. I've just never been real enthused about sitting at a practice pad for hours on end going from slow to fast to slow over, and over, and over, and over...

That's a bad problem to have...the basic rudiments are kinda've like our alphabet. They help with chops, technique, flow, groove, technicality...they were designed as some of the most common stickings that drummers used. We NEED to know them.

I went through a whole semester in college where I focused heavily on my practice pad and working the rudiments...and hated it. It was boring to me. Some love it, I didn't.

So what to do? Well, I turned to the reason I started playing the drums...music...

1) Grab your practice pad and pick out the rudiment you're currently working on or the one that needs the most work.

2) Pick 3-5 of your favorite songs (You'll need to be mindful of the tempos...)

3) Press play on your iPod or cd player or Zune or whatever and go to town. Start by playing the rudiment in 8th notes on the verse. When you get to the chorus, play it in sixteenths, when it goes to the bridge, play it in sextuplets, and so forth. Try playing the verses super soft and the chorus super loud...try a slow crescendo through the bridge from soft to loud...use your imagination!

The end goal is to play the rudiment within the time signature of the song in as many subdivisions and dynamic ranges as possible. Traditionally when you work on your rudiments, you go from slow to fast to slow...doing this allows you to play the rudiment at any speed. It's boring though, and I hate boring practice.

Using actual songs to work the rudiments works on a few different areas: You work the sticking of the rudiment and get it down cold, playing it in the different subdivisions of the beat within the song allows you to work on several speeds as well as train your mind to move seemlessly within the parameters of the tune, playing to music helps your musical senses, and most of all...you never even know you're practicing! We all got into music to play music we love (at least I hope that's why you got into it), so why not find ways to do just that no matter what you're practicing?

After you've got the rudiment down pat and can go in and out of the different subdivisions, take it one step further...sing the song. It doesn't have to be a Grammy winning vocal performance, just work on saying the lyrics in time. Why? Well, I believe in 6 way coordination in drumming...2 hands, 2 feet, your mouth, and your mind (which has to keep constant track of the other 5). Singing allows you to begin to put the rudiment on autopilot so you can focus on the musical issues at hand instead of the technical side of it.

When you've accomplished all of the above on the practice pad, move it all to the kit. Come up with a cool application of the rudiment on the kit and play to the song again, repeating all of the steps above. The possibilities are endless!

Yes, you should still practice rudiments the traditional way...but break out of the status quo way of thinking about your practice and get creative! Creativity never hurt anyone, unless they didn't utilize it...then it can be crippling.

6 comments:

Keith said...

Great post... I've been looking for something to help me with being bored while practicing rudiments. This looks like it just might do the trick.

Audiyo said...

@Keith...Thanks for the compliment! Seriously though, I don't know if anyone has hated practicing those things as much as I have...although now I rather enjoy it. The music really helped me out with it.

Also, you run a great blog yourself!

Manfred Feser-Lampe said...

Hello Stephen, thank you for many ideas and videos ....
I just practicing rudiments also for many years as you describe it here. It is really great .... and my students love it too .... but I think the most important thing is, that the rudiments be played as it should be .... that is actually use in a musical context...
Your output is amazing ...
i love it ...
thanks Manfred from Germany

tony burdge said...

Hi stephen i like your concept as regards playing rudiments to music,but most songs being in 4/4 signature surely if sextuplets were being played wouldnt that get out of synchronizing to a said tune.
Thanks anyway ANTHONY BURDGE drumshed student

Sean said...

Thanks man! Way better that way than with the practice pad alone.

Sean said...

Thanks man! Way better that way than with the practice pad alone.

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