Musicians often use the terms practicing and playing almost interchangeably. That’s understandable. When you’re practicing, you’re playing, and when you’re playing, you’re practicing. However, semantics aside, the more important issue is your mindset regarding the two.

Many drummers set aside a certain amount of time for practicing each week, and they’re more or less successful at sticking to the schedule, depending on what work and life has delivered for the week.

But, are you practicing or playing during this time? If you begin to think differently about practicing vs. playing your routine will become more focused and rewarding.

Practice is the most challenging part of drumming. It’s the part where a lot of us have experienced an infamous “stick throwing” episode, me included.

Practice has a specific learning purpose. You’re trying to learn to play something new — to develop a new ability. This could include learning to play a song, a page out of a drum book, a new beat, a lesson sheet from a video … anything new.

Playing is the time you spend performing, reviewing, perfecting and exploring the things you’ve already learned, and it’s often the most enjoyable part of drumming. It’s an essential part of becoming seasoned in your craft and for developing your own signature sound behind the kit.

However, if you spend a majority of your time playing instead of practicing, you’re not specifically challenging yourself to learn new things or develop new skills. You’re not sweating it out in the woodshed, so to speak.

Given this new outlook, what are you doing during your scheduled drumming times each week? Are you spending enough time practicing? Are you learning to play new beats, fills, techniques and challenging yourself to learn new skills? If not, you may not be getting the most out of your practice sessions.


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