"How often should I practice?"
Try to practice every day. Now, given that there are certain things in life that require time aside from drums, most of us can't just practice whenever we want to, but if you truly desire to get better, make it a priority to leave at least a portion of your day open so that you can practice. I recommend 30 min a day if you want to see some real improvements, but even just 10 – 20 minutes a day will get results. If you have time to practice more, like an hour or more, do it! The more time you put into practicing, the better you will get.
Once you start practicing consistently, add a few minutes of practice time gradually. Overtime, you will get accustomed to doing it on a daily basis and actually develop a stronger desire to practice. Ideally, if you can work your way to up an hour of practice a day, you'll well on your way to becoming a good drummer, but again, you will see results even if you practice just 10 – 30 minutes a day.
"How should I practice?"
It is better and more effective (though it may not be as fun) to try to play things that you can't play rather than things that you have already mastered (aside from warm up exercises). If you only play things that you can already play very well, you're not really making any progress; your simply just physical and mentally maintaining what you can already do.
Practicing rudimental exercises, what your teacher recommends, and jamming a bit are all important if you want to become a well-rounded skilled drummer. Let's say you have 30 minutes of practice time available, I would recommend 5 - 10 minutes of rudimental/warm up exercises, 15 – 20 minutes of practicing of what you were given to work on (e.g. sheet music exercises, a song to play along to, etc.) and 5 minutes of jamming and improvising. Be sure to experiment with you improvising, playing things that you still need improvement on, not what you have already become skilled at.
"Why should I practice with a metronome?"
Keeping the tempo consistent is vital to being a good drummer. Thankfully, metronomes (unlike humans) never make errors with the tempo so the more we play to them the less errors we will make ourselves. Aside from the annoying tick tock sound the metronome may make, playing to one will help improve your timing and rhythm dramatically. However, don't get to the point where you become dependent on a metronome, because you should be able to keep a steady rhythm without one. So my answer is that you should practice to a metronome most of the time, but not all of the time.
"How can I become a faster playing drummer?"
Starting slow and gradually getting faster is a great way to develop speed as a drummer. Stay relaxed. Don't increase your speed until what you are playing is accurate and consistent. But remember, playing fast isn't everything. There is much more to drumming.
"My neighbors and my roommates complain that when I practice I am too loud. How can I practice on my full drumset and avoid being so loud?"
Invest in some mute pads or splinted sticks (pro mark "hot rods" are a great example) to reduce volume. In order to reduce the volume to the greatest degree, use both of these methods together. You'll be surprised as to the difference in volume it will make.
Equipment to use
"I cannot afford a drum set right now. Do I need to have a drum set in order to take drum lessons and get better at the drums?"
No. There avenues which you can take to practice if no drum set is available to practice on. The best way around it to get a practice pad or two. They sell them for your hands as well as your feet. Can't afford a practice pad? (Though this should not be a problem unless you have no money at all) then use something else that has somewhat of a bounce to it such as carpet or a table as means to practice. I know that it sounds odd but it does the job.
"Is having a double bass drum pedal necessary?"
The answer to this question will depend on your drumming style, as well as what type of music you play. Double bass pedals are used more frequently in music such as metal and rock compared to genres like country, blues, and jazz. However, the genre of music that you play should never dictate whether or not you should use a double pedal, because each individual's drumming style can vary. Likewise, creativity is important, and there is nothing wrong with experiencing with a double pedal no matter what style of music one is playing. The important factor to consider is to play what fits well with the music, regardless of what type of pedal you play
My setup and history
"How often do you practice?"
Practice time fluctuates accordingly, but on average I would say between 1 – 2 hours a day. There are some days that I practice 3 or more hours, and some days if I'm very busy only a half hour, but I make it a priority to at least practice every day if possible.
"How do you tune your drums?"
For my toms, I tune them fairly low in pitch, but I make sure that I still have a good tone too in that the pitch doesn't sound all muddy. I generally keep the batter drum head (the top head) higher in pitch than the resident head (the bottom head), but there are times that I tune them as the same pitch. Likewise with my bass drum, I use the same approach as I do with my toms, only I always tune the resident head much lower than the batter head. Lastly, with my snare, the way that I tune it varies. It really depends on what type of gig I'm playing. If I play a jazz gig, for example, I will tune it lower in pitch than if I play a metal gig.
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