Drum Set Education Resources
#5 "You Must Practice Hours a Day"
I was once at a point where I hadn't practiced in weeks and remember thinking if I had practiced a mere five minutes a day I would have probably had a much better command of what I was working on (playing a repeated 16th-note linear 3-grouping in 4/4 over a hi-hat close on the downbeats until the beginning of the pattern resolved back to the "1", if you must know...) That got me thinking about conceiving of practice time in terms of a minimum amount of practice time as opposed to the pressure of an idealistic hour or more. The truth is ANY amount of time you practice is enough provided it involves two things: method and consistency - or HOW and HOW OFTEN. Notice not how much!
"Method" meaning you have chosen ways of breaking down material so you can develop "it" - a technique, a groove, a fill, a phrase...anything. Even if you only have five minutes to practice something, it will have been practical. The truth is most of us need to practice how to practice to establish methods? Ya...
"Consistency" means you work on things more days than not in order to have your progress be effective and eventually stick in order for muscle memory to log it in to your subconscious.
When I explain this to someone they might try to ask about exceptions to these rules. Don't do that! If you are more concerned about the precise amount of time and number of days you get distracted not focusing on the quality of practice now. So no it doesn't have to be hours because that is a quantitative value where you should be concerned with qualitative. Focusing on how much also sets you up for disappointment - that when you can't practice for that quantitative variable it implies failure to the whole cause. Tell me this is not something you have dealt with!
Regardless of your ambition there are always more reasons not to practice: family, school. work, et al. For those feeling unable to decide how much to start - do 15 minutes a day. But if you take that to mean you can get away with less, you've completely missed the point! Of course there will be days you will wind up putting in more time and there will be a day or two you still couldn't practice. In the end you will still have developed an aspect of consistency.
So when you hear from someone that you have to practice hours a day, it's perhaps true for those who do not pay their own rent or mortgage. Fifteen minutes of focused practice far outweighs multiple hours of meandering or just jamming out to some music playing what you already know - and you will get the full tangible benefits for your efforts.
I could bully the issue and just say if you don't want to practice then don't except that I believe people would specifically like to practice if they understood how and they learned to have confidence in their process.
"But John you loquacious bastard, how do I develop these "methods"?" I am so glad you asked! Check out my article on 'The Practice' for my musing on the topic. A parting thought...how is it we can learn to play video games without the nonsense of feeling guilty about working at it or having to calculate a schedule? Ahhhhhh!
Thoughts? Comments? Criticisms? I'm open to read your thoughts!