I’ve played the drums since I was five, but it was not until many years into private lessons that I realized what practicing really was. As far as I was concerned, sitting down and just banging away was going to make me a great musician. While that isn’t completely false, it’s not completely true. I like to define practice as working on something I can’t do and improving how I do it.
When I practice, I like to spend half of my time working on fundamentals and the other half playing along with music or a metronome. So whether I am practicing for 30 minutes or 2 hours, I always split the time. To practice the fundamentals, I have a book of snare drum rudiments that I follow. It is imperative that you practice these with a metronome. Start the metronome at a speed you’re comfortable with and practice each rudiment 20 times. Once you have gone through all of the rudiments for that section, continue practicing them until you feel comfortable enough to speed up the metronome. Once about half of your practice time has gone by, pick a song that has a unique or more difficult drum groove and work on playing that. Again, the point of practicing isn’t just banging the drums. Over time, you will notice that as you become proficient with more and more rudiments, it will become easier for you to play to songs that you once heard and thought of as difficult.
One of the key reasons as to why learning your rudiments is so important is that they make up most of what you hear in the music you’re listening to. All rudiments can be taken from your snare drum and moved around your drum set. Taking them from the snare to the rest of the kit creates grooves that are the foundations of music.