For a lot of beginners, not owning a drum kit can feel like the biggest hurdle to making progress… but this doesn’t have to be the case. Here are four ideas for how we can practice drums without a kit.
1. Practice rudiments and technique with a practice pad/pillow.
Rudiments are patterns that we use to make our playing interesting, creative, and dynamic. Most importantly; rudiments make it easier for us to successfully perform parts/songs in an ergonomic and groovy way.
The drum kit is a very physical instrument, so we need to be aware and make an effort to play in a way that avoids any long-term strain or injury. This means practicing good technique.
Practicing technique without the distraction of a whole drum kit in front of you is one of the best ways to really focus on keeping technique in check and make any necessary adjustments.
You can do this at home by practicing your rudiments or the "Reading Exercises" from our free exercise booklet on some pillows.
One of the benefits to practicing rudiments and technique on a pillow (or any other soft surface around the house) is that unlike a drum kit or practice pad; it offers no rebound. This means that unlike a drum kit, the stick will not bounce back up to you and more of your muscles will be activated when practicing. This will thereby contribute to improvements in your strength and stamina for when it's time to return to the kit!
2. Listen to music.
As musicians, listening to music analytically is a great way of absorbing knowledge (even if we're not playing it!).
Here are a few things to try out at home when listening to music:
Practice counting along with the song
Listen out for any interesting parts the drummer plays that you could take inspiration from and adopt into your own playing
Listen to the drum parts from different styles of music
How do the drum parts played in one genre of music differ to the drum parts in another?
What do they do differently?
What similarities do they share?
Are these things something you'd like to apply to your own playing
Expand your knowledge of drumming by listening to a wide array of different styles!
3. Tap with your hands and feet (coordination).
(This one will feel silly at first, but it really works and can be a lot harder than you think!)
Coordination plays a huge role in drumming. Even if you don't have a drum kit at home, you can still practice and improve your coordination by tapping your hands on your lap and tapping your feet on the floor.
Next week we'll post some exercises you can use at home to work on your coordination. Beware though... coordination exercises can be real brain teasers and often feel like the first time you learned to rub your belly in a circular motion and pat your head at the same time. So don't underestimate them!
4. Research other drummers.
With the internet at our fingertips we have access to one of the biggest advantages when it comes to learning how to play drums.
Find videos of the drummers from your favourite bands and watch people who have mastered their instrument. Take note of the way they play (their technique, their setup, and what grooves and fills they like to use). This goes for concerts too! If you find yourself at a concert, watch and listen to the drummer! What can you learn from they way they do things? How can that be incorporated into your playing?
Another recommendation would be to watch or read any interviews of them online. This can be great way to learn about how that specific drummer thinks, how they grew from a beginner to where they are now, how/what they currently practice, and how they create such compelling music.
Bonus Tip: Try and find out who their influences were. Which drummers did they look up to? Why did they look up to them? What specifically did they do that was so impactful?
This will give you greater insight some of the ingredients that went into making the amazing drummer you see now. It'll also give you more drummers to research; leading you down a rabbit hole of extremely valuable information.
Hope that helps! :)