Is your timing up to the task? Are your chops a bit choppy? Work on your warm-up and perfect your practicing with these useful drumming tips from AFRIKA GREEN.
Touring and recording with artists like the Pet Shop Boys, Goldie, Akala and Fleur East doesn’t happen without lots of hard work and plenty of preparation. British-American drummer Afrika Green tells explains what it takes to play like pro.
Play regularly to a metronome. Try to cancel out the beat.
Gradually give yourself more resistance. You can do this with weighted sticks, adding tea towels to your drums, tightening springs on pedals, or even slackening the heads. This will help you control the rebound and soon you’ll be able to practice on any surface from a snare drum to a floor tom where the oscillations are wider.
Surpass ceiling tempos by going up in increments of four beats per minute. Practice the stumbling block at a slower tempo but go through the subdivisions at a quicker pace. Don’t forget: you can only play as fast as you can hear, so slow things down until you can hear the basic strokes or pattern before speeding up the exercise.
Do everyday things with your left side. Brushing teeth, writing, eating, kicking a ball. It builds confidence, familiarity in certain motions and refines your motor skills. (Of course, if you’re a lefty, do this with your right side!)
Compound practice at all times. There is value in practicing things in isolation, but if you are anything like me, many aspects of your playing are undergoing constant improvement. So practice things that allow you to develop multiple areas simultaneously.
Use your voice as a fifth limb – it adds another level of coordination and can be a good stepping stone to singing backing vocals while playing. So the next time you feel something is too easy, practice singing nursery rhymes over the top.
Learn how to practice efficiently and effectively. Everyone learns and practices differently but knowing how you personally retain and process information is key to learning more efficiently and changing old learning patterns.
Practice is a vehicle to expression and vocabulary. Make sure you don’t just regurgitate beats and patterns; use them as a tool to develop your own voice and sentences.
Be patient. Many people don’t realize when they don’t get something straight away that there are two components to learning: Muscle memory, where your hands and feet get used to a motion and feeling, as well as mind memory, where the brain has to grow new neural pathways to understand an exercise.
You master something when both memories have developed and work in sync.
You are the metronome. Don’t use your redundant limbs as a crutch for time keeping during an exercise. All solid time keeping should come from within.
First, go through subdivisions from quarter notes all the way up to thirty second notes and back down again.
Then pull out accents from a paradiddle that will help with the whipping motion found in the Moeller technique.
Now go between single strokes, double strokes and paradiddles with no accents. This should be executed smoothly and without being able to hear the sticking transitions.
It’s important to practice the relationship between the hands and feet with linear phrases, pay attention to dynamics and flow!
Finally, try playing stickings with both sticks striking the surface simultaneously. Important: Make sure there’s no flamming going on here.
And that’s all you need to warm up for stage or studio!
Check out more from Afrika Green:
Words: Afrika Green
Photos: Afrika Green, Jascha Vick