When engaged in a new hobby, it's natural that we want to progress as quickly as possible. For many beginner drummers, that means wanting to play beats faster.
We all look forward to that moment when we can rock out at higher speeds to our favorite songs. There is definitely something exhilarating and hugely satisfying about drumming at faster tempos. Still, our obsession for speed can often lead to inadvertent neglect of the foundation that helps build control. There is also a video blog on this subject before we dive deeper.
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Speed is a byproduct of control.
When you are watching our videos, there is one consistent message that you will hear time and time again: Speed is nothing but a byproduct of control. With this being the case, developing speed is counterintuitive and involves slowing down and paying close attention to the important fundamentals of rhythm and technique.
How do we build drum set control?
Many things contribute to drum set control, from learning to read music notation, understanding rhythm, understanding the relationship between sticking and control, and developing an effective practice routine. In our instructional videos, you will notice that we stress the importance of playing drum beats and drum fills slowly, with no metronome at first. We recommend this since the first step to building control is to be comfortable with the drum beats' required coordination and sequence. This is achieved by playing very slowly and, essentially, counting out loud. The latter is so often overlooked by many beginner drummers and is a critical part of your development.
Building solid timekeeping skills is key.
The next step is to build good timekeeping skills by working with a metronome at slow tempos, typically around 50-55 beats per minute. You will find something very interesting at the slower metronome tempos - it is actually harder to play accurately and comfortably at first. This is very common, but the answer is not to immediately increase the tempo to a more comfortable speed, where you might feel that you are grooving better. The best practice is to persevere at the slower tempos and develop the timing and competency by counting out loud and through regular practice. This way, you are developing a strong foundation. Remember, the tallest buildings have the deepest foundations. If we were in the construction industry responsible for building a twenty-floor tower block, we wouldn't start with floor six. We would start with the foundation and make sure that it is solid. Once you are comfortable at the slower tempos, small increments (usually 5 bpm at a time) would be the next recommended step. This is true regardless of whether you practice beats, fills, rudiments, or sticking patterns.
Developing your technique is very important.
Throughout all of this, you also need to be paying close attention to your technique. Say, for example, you are working on our first video lesson. You may have got to the point where you feel comfortable at 55bpm, but are you also paying attention to how you are holding your sticks, your bass drum technique, and your posture? Being mindful of this will help you build better control, and speed will ultimately be a byproduct. Also, remember that drumming should not be painful. If you are experiencing physical stress or discomfort at higher tempos, this signifies that your technique may benefit from a tune-up.
It is important to understand that speed is just one component of drumming. It is vital to play musically and competently at all of the tempos, from slow to fast. Timekeeping, after all, is our number one priority.
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