Why Should I Create A Practice Routine?

A practice routine keeps you from practicing the same things over and over again. Many people spend a lot of time playing stuff they already can play, but to make progress in your drumming, you need to work on something that you don't already know. An effective drum practice routine will help you in bringing your drumming to the next level and in leading you to your next goal.

In this article, I give you some tips on how to create a practice routine and on how to practice. If you want, you can download a copy of my own Drumming Practice Routine Log and Drumming Practice Routine Goals pdf files.

Some Tips On How To Practice

Avoid Distractions

Avoiding interruptions or distractions can be difficult. Set a specific time each day to practice, try to pick a time when no one will disturb or interrupt you. Play in a quiet room and turn off your cell phone. Inform the people around you, you are not available for a certain time.

Make It A Habit

Do not plan on practicing whenever you feel like it because there will be times you just don't feel like practicing. You have to learn to play the drums regardless of how you feel. Often, you'll find you just needed to get started and, then you are into it. Practice whether you feel like it or not, this way you will make progress and practicing will become a habit. It may take several weeks to get into the habit of consistently practicing. The beginning is always the most difficult. Sometimes, just getting started is the hard part. Each day, try to aim to practice just for 5 minutes. Most of the time, you will find that you want to keep practicing longer than those 5 minutes!


It is essential to first warm-up before playing because it will get rid of the tension in your muscles and it allows you to be loose and relaxed. Start by slowly playing single strokes and gradually increase the tempo. After a while, you can play other, more difficult patterns. Take at least 5 minutes to do the warm-up. Don't forget to start very slow and increase the tempo after a while.

Use A Practice Pad

Sometimes it is better to first practice on a practice pad. This is especially beneficial when you want to try out rudiments. I drummed for 32 years and I still hit the practice pad before bringing it to the drum kit. I used it to get my paradiddles as clean as possible. I find it a good tool because you cannot hide all the dynamic differences in your left and right hand. It lets you hear the difference in the strength of each stroke you make. Sometimes you will hear accents in your playing where accents are not wanted. In my opinion, a practice pad lets you hear these differences better than the snare drum.

Use A Metronome

Always use a metronome when you play. This way you will learn to play a rhythm without speeding up or slowing down. The best way to develop great time is to practice with a metronome.

Be Patient

Developing good drumming skills takes time, so, do not change your routine every week! Only replace an item on the list when you have mastered it. Even if that means you spend 3 or 4 months on that item.

Have Fun!

Last but not least: have fun while practicing. Make it playful! It is alright to repeat exercises over and over again, to get them as clean as possible and to build up muscle memory. But also, try to have fun with it. If it gets too boring, try another exercise. Or give yourself a five-minute break and play something you already know. Play along to a song you like or play a drum solo. If you had your fun, go back to your practice routine.

Three books I recommend to start drumming.

How To Create Your Practice Routine?

Create a practice list and write down the areas you want to focus on, such as paradiddles, heel-toe technique, or groove 10 from book X. Pick about 3 to 5 areas you will work on, not more. If your list is too long, it could work counterproductive. The goal is to finish all topics on your list, not to discourage yourself. Next, write down the amount of time you will practice on each subject. Break your practice down into smaller time segments, 10 to 20 minutes a day on each topic will suffice. This way, you can work on one specific area in which you need to improve for a set amount of time. Use a timer and set it for the desired practice time and when it goes off, proceed to your next subject. You can take a break between each practice item.

Example Drumming Practice Routine Goals

Track Your Progress

To stay motivated, you can track your progress. For each topic on your list, write the progress you have made for that day. This helps you to know where you left off the other day. Also, on days you do not feel like practicing, you can browse through your logs and look at the cool things you already have achieved.

Example Drumming Practice Routine Log

What To Practice

Find out what your weak points are and put them in a practice routine. Here is a list of topics you can use in your routine. Just note that not all drum topics are covered here, there are many more areas in drumming. You will have to come up with your own list of things to work on.

  • Bass drum control
  • Hi-hat
    • striking the hi-hat
    • hi-hat splashes
    • keeping time with the hi-hat
    • jazz two-beat with the hi-hat
    • bass drum and hi-hat coördination
    • hi-hat variations to a beat
  • Paradiddles
    • single paradiddles
    • inverted paradiddles
    • paradiddles around the drum set
    • playing paradiddles between hands and feet
  • Soloing
  • Groove, playing in the pocket
  • Play along
    • to rock music
    • to jazz music
    • ...
  • Eight notes, sixteenth notes, quintuplets, triplets, etc.
    • in accents
    • around the kit
    • instead of eight notes, play quintuplets, triplets, etc. on the hi-hat
  • Showmanship
    • stick twirling
    • cross sticking
  • Training the weaker hand (in my case the left hand)
    • left hand on the hi-hat while playing beats
    • start everything with the left hand, pretend your right hand is the weaker one
    • inverse the drum set and play like a lefty
  • ...

Exercise Tips

To conclude, some more practice tips to keep in mind before starting an exercise:

  • Practice with a metronome
  • Go slow first, then gradually increase the tempo, for example, 4 beats at a time.
  • Stay at the same tempo until you can play relaxed
  • Practice each exercise at least 20 times, or as many times as it takes to get a good understanding of what you are playing
  • Don't rush through each measure to get right to the end
  • After you become familiar with the technical aspect, you can work on feel, dynamics, and groove
  • Apply the exercise to a variety of musical situations