1. Practice what you're bad at.
This is something that I wish I had learned many years earlier. Many times during "practice," I catch myself playing licks and grooves that are comfortable and already sound good; its only natural! The problem is that when you do this, you aren't growing. To actually make marked improvements you have to single out and focus on the things that you can't play. This is not easy, but if you do so your abilities will grow in leaps and bounds!
2. Play with a metronome.
Just... do it. It is a necessary skill. If you're tracking an album, it will be with a click. You have to be able to do so. At first, you will think that the metronome is broken. I'll let you in on a secret. Its not. Eventually, the click will become your best friend, and it will feel like another bandmate. Only this bandmate is always on time.
3. Wear hearing protection.
This is something I would really like to emphasize. I went for many years without using any hearing protection, and now, at the age of 20, I already have mild tinnitus. Don't do that to yourself. There's this idea that playing loud drums in front of a wall of amps without hearing protection is somehow awesome and cool. Quite frankly, thats just stupid. Being deaf or hearing a permanent ringing or buzzing sound is the opposite of cool.
4. Get a good teacher.
Now, hear me out on this one. I, Luke Snyder, have personally never had a teacher. I simply watched great drummers, listened to great drumming, bought drum DVDs and books, and watched my performance on video and in front of a mirror. The most important thing for growth is to practice regularly and work on your weak areas. However, a good teacher will make everything easier.
If you get a good teacher, they will give you both short term and long term goals. They can immediately show you new grooves and licks that you can work on, while also giving you concepts and ideas that you can take as far as you want. Even better, they will watch what you're doing and point out mistakes. When you are doing things wrong yourself, its much harder to see them. Essentially, a teacher can speed up the learning process drastically. Honestly, I wish I had been working with a teacher during my early learning process, I would be advanced far beyond what I am now.
5. Just have fun!
Just kidding, doesn't it annoy you when people give you a list of things, and the last item always says to have fun? Its kind of... patronizing. And its like a lazy throwaway type deal; "Well, I can't think of a fifth point, so I'll just tell them to have fun!" Or maybe I'm the only one that feels this way. And of course, it is important to enjoy what you're doing. Anyways, on to the real number five!
5. Learn how to read music.
I feel like being able to read and write sheet music is actually looked down upon by some people. Its sort of like if you can read music from a sheet, people think you can't put any expression or emotion into your play. Thats just silly! Reading and writing music is an invaluable tool; it opens up vast new worlds in your mind. Once you can read and write, you can share rhythmic ideas with other people in a clear and concise way, and you can also read and understand other people's ideas. Plus, its actually very easy to do! In fact, we'll go over how to read rhythm notation in future articles. Once you get the hang of it, you realize that its actually quite simple and fun!
So how about you? Do you agree with this list? Give me your top 5!