How to practise drumming without a drum kit

Not owning a drum kit doesn't mean that it's impossible to practise drumming techniques or to perfect certain rhythm patterns. Drummers can do plenty of things to improve between sessions. Practising without a drum kit means that a lot less noise is created. These tips will tell you more.

How to practise drumming without a drum kit

1. Stick techniques

Holding a pair of drum sticks and using them to tap out rhythms is a great thing for drummers to rehearse. The best thing about perfecting stick control is that not a single drum or cymbal is required. These days, practice pads are just as good as real drums for working on para-diddles, rolls or standard beats.

A high-quality practice pad affords all the bounce of a real drum but none of the associated noise. It can be used by hard hitting rock drummers as easily as percussionists who utilize softer stick styles, like Latin or jazz drummers.

2. Foot exercises

Many drummers only think about their hands when it comes to a practice session and overlook the important role of their feet. A good strength-building exercise which can be done without a drum kit is to listen to some recorded music and tap the feet in time.

Rock drummers, for example, might like to tap their right foot on every first and third beat of a bar, alternating between heel and toe taps. The corresponding second and fourth beats should be tapped out on the left foot, just like a hi-hat rhythm. Doing this for several songs at a time - at differing tempos and time signatures - helps to build stamina and rhythmic regularity.

3. Use a metronome

Tapping hands on a table or even just clapping can reinforce time keeping. It really is a question of putting hours in so that when it is time to drum with a real kit, time keeping becomes even.

  • One good way of improving in this area without a drum kit is to tap along to a metronome.
  • Alternatively, tap along to a song on the car radio and turn the volume down after a minute of music.
  • Slowly turn the volume back up to see how well the beat has been maintained.

4. Widen musical horizons

Some drummers stick to what they know and fail to improve because they end up in a rut. Listen to music with more complex rhythmic ideas. Although listening to music is not a practice session, it is something that can improve a drummer's overall musicality. When playing the drums, musical ideas and rhythmic patterns are sometimes incorporated at a subconscious level. As a result of listening to more varied music, it is possible to become a better drummer.

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