2017 has now arrived, and many of us have made our customary new year's resolutions. For beginner and hobbyist drummers, that can often mean a conscious decision to practice more. Just 5-10 minutes of focused practice per day can produce some impressive results. Like any musical instrument, practice is the key to improvement, and vital to long-term success on the drums. Don't worry or be downhearted if you are not where you are hoping to be. Revisiting your practice routine can change that, and change it quickly.
I've written extensively on practice in other articles, but in this feature, I really want to emphasize the difference between practice and smart practice, and why "noodling" is just as important. Let's face it, we all lead very busy lives, and getting behind the drum set can be challenging on a daily basis. So when you do get the time to play, it's important to make it count.
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Smart practice is a very simple and effective approach. It really just means that you allot 5-10 minutes of your overall session to whatever concept you are working on at the time. For example, if you are working on Drum Ambition Lesson 1, then make sure that you dedicate at least 5 minutes of your daily practice session to this one topic. After a week, you are going to notice a big difference.
"Noodling is essential, because it's fun. The moment you lose the fun element in your practice and playing, your drumming adventure can be over before it even started".
Simon DasGupta - Founder of Drum Ambition.
Noodling Definition 1. Source: Urban Dictionary.
A form of fishing in which a crazy person runs into a lake and searches for holes on the bottom with his foot. Then he inserts his finger into the hole and lets something bite it. Hopefully, it's a catfish. If so, he wrestles the catfish to the surface and drags it to shore. If it's not a catfish, he may lose his finger to a snapping turtle or his life to a water moccasin.
Noodling Definition 2. Source: Google.
Improvise or play casually on a musical instrument.
I found both definitions useful. Of course, we musicians associate "noodling" with the second example courtesy of our friends at Google, but the first has some interesting, and amusing parallels. The catfish seeker is hoping to achieve his goal by randomly trying an unscientific technique and essentially hoping for the best. He may achieve his goal, he may die - albeit in the most extreme case. Noodling on the drums, believe it or not, is somewhat similar. Random and, let's face it, often elating "stab in the dark" improvisation can often lead to some interesting discoveries, as well as being a lot of fun. At worst, you'll make a few mistakes - you certainly won't die, unless you happen to be a drummer for Spinal Tap. (If you are not familiar, do yourself a favor and look it up). And by the way, contrary to common belief, making mistakes is a good thing, especially when you are learning.
Noodling is essential, because it's fun. The moment you lose the fun element in your practice and playing, your drumming adventure can be over before it even started. The key to success is to balance the noodling with smart practice. You got in to drumming for your own reasons, but I would guess mainly to feed your creative side, and have fun. Balancing your practice can make sure that you attain your goals, progress at a comfortable rate; all while having a great time and enjoying the experience.