Have A Practice System

Hey Anthony here and hope you’re having an awesome day:)

Now, during the summer, now that I’ve aged out of Drum Corps and Indoor Drumlines, I get to enjoy my free time.  During this summer especially, I’ve been working productively on creating more valuable content for you readers through blog posts, and some HUGE products to really take your performance to the next level.

What’s great about this summer is that I’ve been fortunate enough to host many clinics with other Elite Marching Percussionists in my area and offer huge value for young students.

HOWEVER..

One question I get daily in the marching percussion community is:

“How should I practice?”  or “What should I practice?”

And this is probably one of the most important questions I can ever answer.

Everyone always asks what they can really do to maximize their practice time or get better results with only a short time to practice.  I get it, everyone gets strapped for time.  Although, my response to most of these questions is:

“What is  your practice system?”

See, I don’t care how long you’ve been drumming, or where you’ve drummed, if you are SERIOUS about getting better and upping your playing, then you HAVE to have a practice system.

What I mean by practice system, is having an exact, concise way of how you practice every time.

For instance, when I practice, I keep my practice time slots very short and to the point.

I don’t waste time pecking mindlessly or drumming on a pad just to drum.  Sure, it’s fun if you’re hanging and enjoying playing some beats, but I’m talking serious practice.

Point is, YOU need a system, blueprint, of how you practice and today you’re gonna get a TOP-NOTCH-“WOW, I’M REALLY GETTING BETTER FAST”-practice system to improve your playing by LEAPS and BOUNDS.

And honestly that’s why you practice right?  To get really good and what you suck at? (No offense, there are plenty of things we ALL suck at)

Here is what I do to make sure I’m really OPTIMIZING my practice time:

1.  Set Your Time Block:  I’ll set out 20 but no more than 30 mins to practice.  And be hard on yourself and stick to this.  Be ruthless whenever you take precious time out of your day to reach YOUR GOALS.

2.  List My Goals:  Be as specific and clear as possible when setting your goals for your practice system.  They can be new each time, recurring goals, or long term.  I prefer to use short term goals, that ultimately lead to bigger goals.  For example, say I want to build my triplet flam drags up to 180 bpm.  Say I could only play them at 120 bpm.  I’d start low and work my way up slowly.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Be specific and have only a few – ex. rudiments, exercises, drum solo, etc.

3.  Make High Priority:  Pick your toughest goal and put that on the list FIRST.  And here’s why:  we’re all IN LOVE with staying within our comfort zone.  Take us to extremely high tempos or extremely slow and all of a sudden we forget how to even hold a stick.  Get out of your comfort zone, go hard at first and then work on the minor stuff.  For example:  you’re having a rough time with a flam part in your drum solo, but you also need to work on memorizing some cadences.  Tackle the solo part first, take it slow and build from there.  You can always read over your music to memorize any time of day.

4.  Set Your Stopwatch or Alarm Timer:  Look, I really want you to reach your goals, I do, but set your timer between 20-30 mins. then move on with your day.  Chances are you’re going to work something so much that your mind gets blurred and you reach a plateau.  Always go for progress, if you don’t reach you goal completely, well you’ve moved closer to it and next time you can get even closer.

5.  Bonus:  Use A MIRROR:  Some instructors are FULLY against me here, but they’r full of it.  I’m here to tell you that I’VE done my best to ALWAYS use a mirror to maintain my heights and I’ve always done a great job at doing so resulting from using a mirror.  See instructors think that if you use a mirror TOO much you’ll rely on it, however, I know YOU’RE better than that.  Use it for a guideline and respective visual.

6.  Bonus:  Record A Copy:  whether by audio or by video, every now and then, record yourself for tracking purposes.  Like I said before, we love to stay in our comfort zones and sometimes you’ll get so comfortable with your playing that you start “hearing” what you think it SHOULD sound like.  Be strong, don’t be afraid and review your work.  It’ll only make you better.

Now there’s no doubt that you’re gonna make every effort to use a metronome and marching drum sticks, that goes without saying, mandatory default.

So really make sure you’re optimizing your practice times by using that practice system.  Don’t waste your time with practicing mindlessly and not advancing.  Get better at something today, be specific and clear about what you want.  Set the time to get it done and just go for it.

Take action today with a new practice system.

Dedicated to multiplying your performance results,

Anthony Huerta

DCI-WC HP,  WGI-WM

P.S.  Be sure to “Like” today’s post and let me know what you think by leaving me a comment below. :)