75% of drummers do not have a clear, consistent, and effective practice routine.
We surveyed nearly 100 drummers and collected some very eye-opening data. Check it out:
Notice that despite practicing 30 to 45 minutes per day, most of the drummers don’t have a clear, consistent practice routine to follow. (For all practical purposes “sometimes” is a veiled "no").
Some other questions we asked besides practice time, and routine was what they most wanted to improve, and what their biggest hang-ups were in the practice room. The answers were almost unanimous.
Despite wanting to improve time, feel, reading, coordination, and technique, almost everyone admitted to a lack of focus, discipline, concentration, and organization.
Becoming great at something is a mental game as much as a physical one. Training the body to be able to play certain things is only part of the equation. The more significant aspect of the equation, really, is the mental game of concentration, focus, and discipline. Where do you fall on those charts I posted?
Are you one of those people who practices 4 hours a day but doesn't seem to get any better because you have no consistent routine? Do you practice only 30 minutes or less because you are too busy with life? (If this is you, answer this question with honesty: "How much Netflix do I watch? How much social time do I spend with people? How much time do I waste doing pointless things?") Remember – to understand something deeply; to have a chance to master something; to be able to do something so well that it becomes the main focus of your life, you MUST dedicate time and attention to it.
Dedication can be scary because it faces the great unknown -will it work out?! The bottom line is you have to love it. You have to be passionate about whatever it is you are doing. You have to do something because you like doing it: Period. Once you align yourself with your passion, you can trust the practice you are doing is worthy of your time and attention. (This includes practicing, listening, talking about music, studying other players, thinking about, etc. It requires full dedication.)
Q. How do we learn to do something well?
A. By developing a habit of proper practice.
Q. How long does it take to develop a habit?
A. Some reports say 21 days, and others say about 60.
Q. How does one develop a habit for drumming without knowing how to have a focused practice session?
A. Find a teacher or a course that can guide you each step of the way. Commit yourself to small chunks of focused practice with material that is designed to keep you moving forward in a systematic approach.
Q. Are you ready to create a practice habit that will allow you the space to grow into the player you want to be?
This is the question I was asking myself a couple of years ago when I started writing books, giving clinics, and teaching classes.
How could I help others with their practice? How could I guide people through a system of exercises that would cross-train their technique, creativity, and focus?
In 2018, Grammy-winning percussionist, Matthew Duvall, suggested I create a curriculum for my book, The Foundational Series. He thought it would be good to have a step-by-step, day-to-day process for describing how to work on the material if the practitioner was on their own without me in the room guiding them.
I immediately began working on it. I experimented with a semester-long course, a two-week course, a 5-hour course. None of these were feeling totally right. So I began bouncing ideas off another buddy, Matt Cordier, who helped me come up with the idea of 30 lessons in 30 days. This framework still took weeks to figure out, and months to create.
30 lessons. 30 days.
The DrumMantra3030 is an educational drumming course that is designed to take your practice to a deep level.
Each day for thirty days, you get a 30-minute long series of exercises to practice. The only requirement is a commitment to practice at least a half an hour a day. (And if you’re serious about your playing, 30 minutes should be a small fraction of your daily practice).At the end of 30 days, your understanding of rhythm, your coordination, your accuracy and time, your reading, and your comfort behind the kit have made noticeable, if not profound, leaps forward.
Before releasing the DrumMantra3030 to the world, I wanted to test it out to make sure it was doing everything I intended for the practitioner, So I organized a group of drummers from around the world that I named the “Test Pilots.” These were guys who seemed to take a particular interest in my material and would post about it. I thought they would be perfect candidates to try the entire course out.
I created a mock course with just the audio files and exercise descriptions (no video yet), and we began. These eight drummers had never met, but I put them all in a virtual room together (a slack channel), asked them to introduce themselves to each other, and away we went.
Here are the DrumMantra3030 test pilots:
All of my fears and doubts were laid to rest almost immediately. “Is this going to be too boring, too easy, too monotonous, etc.” No. No. No. Everyone was so receptive and had terrific things to say about the course every step of the way. If anything, I was asked to slow the exercises down considerably (which I did).
...and some quotes from the Test Pilots:
“I'm feeling the progressive stages of learning, and to be familiar with the systematic approach helps tremendously. The thing I like the most is the concentration it requires, in a good way. When I finish, I feel like a kind of beautiful feeling of relaxing the mind after good work, but wanting more.”
- Carlos P., Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
“...it felt like it became a performance piece to me rather than a workout.”
- Bradley G., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
“This past week was a building block, and after today I’m feeling more confident and relaxed. My mental focus has improved within the week, and I feel it has impacted me as a teacher. Thanks, Rich and everyone on this journey! I’m inspired every day to become a better musician and educator by being apart of this project! Thanks, guys!”
- Josh B. Denver, Colorado
“It’s been a long time since I’ve practiced 5 days in a row and I can definitely feel that it is working already. I already feel more steady and calm with my time. It is a great feeling.”
- Stefan V., The Hague, Netherlands
“My limbs played for themselves, not perfect, but way better than yesterday. I mostly could relax while playing and even when I failed I stayed relaxed and calm. It was beautiful to feel the improvements. And this before breakfast…”
- Lukas L., Wädenswil, Switzerland
“I love the quality, sound and aesthetic of the videos!”
- Geo M., Los Angeles, California
What does this course cover?
This is a “cross-training” course in that you are developing multiple things at once. These exercises are long. They are designed to develop muscle memory, so your body is able to more quickly and efficiently express itself in a musical way when the time comes. The many repetitions of each exercise are the foundation of the concept “DrumMantra” which means rhythmic repetition.
You will experience three different time signatures in the course: 4/4, 3/4, and 5/4. (Day 1-15 is in 4/4, Day 16-23 is in 3/4, Day 24-29 is in 5/4, and Day 30 is in all three.)
You will experience 5 different stickings - RLRL, LRLR, RRLL, LLRR, and RLRRLRLL
You will experience accent permutations and pulse displacements.
You will experience “moving clicks” where the click may move by a 16th note every four measures. Or the click may be in 3/4 and then suddenly in 12/8, etc.
You will experience the 3:4 and 5:4 polymetric relationships as well as a comprehensive and in-depth coordination study of both.
You will experience advanced phrasing concepts and rhythmic reading.
You will experience progressive coordination between the hands and one foot.
You will experience three “meditations,” which are exercises that last around 35 minutes without stopping.
You will develop the ability to discern a 1bpm change in tempo through exercises designed to train your internal clock.
You will develop your patience, focus, discipline, awareness, concentration. You will strengthen your endurance, consistency, accuracy, precision.
You will deepen your coordination, sense of phrasing, understanding of odd time signatures, knowledge of polymetric relationships.