When learning to play the drums, 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, but our obsession for speed can often lead to an inadvertent neglect of the foundation that helps build control. This is also the subject of a popular Video Blog.
Whether you are watching our videos, reading our blog, watching a video blog or listening to our podcasts, 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, the way to develop speed is to slow down, and pay close attention to the important fundamentals of rhythm and technique.
"It is important to understand that speed is just one component of drumming. It is vital to be able to play musically and competently at all of the tempos, from slow to fast. Time keeping, after all, is our number one priority."
Simon DasGupta - Founder, Drum Ambition.
There are many things that contribute to drum set control, from learning to read music notation, understanding rhythm (by learning to count music), understanding the relationship between sticking and control, and developing an effective practice routine.
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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 required coordination and sequence of the notes. 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 the process. The next step is to start developing time keeping by working with a metronome at slow tempos, typically around 50-55 beats per minute (bpm).
You will find something very interesting at the slower metronome tempos: it is harder to play accurately and with musicality 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 through counting out loud and 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 on floor six. We would start with the foundation, and make absolutely 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 are practicing beats, fills, rudiments or sticking patterns.
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 the way 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 of this. Also remember that drumming should not be painful. If you are experiencing physical stress or discomfort at higher tempos, then this is a sign 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 be able to play musically and competently at all of the tempos, from slow to fast. Time keeping, after all, is our number one priority.