June 2, 2015
If you’re doing our 10 for 10 experiment, yesterday was your first day. How was the exercise? It can be challenging until you get used to it, but here’s more good news: the more you struggle with it, the more you’re getting out of it, especially when you’re starting out.
If it was really difficult, don’t worry. It gets easier. There are also some other methods to try: maybe a guided meditation will suit you better. In the past I’ve used an app called HeadSpace, and they have a version of 10 for 10 that’s free when you first join. I liked it very much, and found it very easy to stay on board with. Calm is another recommended app. Whichever method you use, try to take it day by day. Let me know how you’re doing!
Drummer Nerd Stuff: Warm-ups
Some folks have asked about what I’m practicing, and also for some warm-ups for working drummers, which I assume all of us are to varying degrees. As I get older, warming up before I play has become more and more critical. My hands ache and sprout calluses when I don’t, and when I do, I play better, my stamina doubles, and I don’t need a full day to recover from a long show.
To begin, a little context: when I was coming up I was a self-taught drummer, so I missed a lot of early practice and instruction in rudimental technique. These days I kind of obsess over it, and every time I hit a wall with speed and stamina, I can trace it back to a fundamental technique issue, so I’ll break it down using some method and build back up from the beginning. I end up doing this every 2-5 years whether I want to or not.
A few years ago I discovered Tommy Igoe’s Great Hands For A Lifetime, (which I love) and it contains three (beginner, intermediate, advanced) warmups, about ten minutes each, that give you a good run down across major rudiments, including singles, doubles, flam rudiments, drag rudiments, ruffs, the paradiddle family and ratamacues. This has been a part of my daily routine since about 2010, and they are great for a general warm-up, especially if you don’t have a lot of time.
Even so, I find I still need a warmup before I warm-up, as it were. I discovered Bill Bachmann’s DrumWorkout.com, and I started his Extreme Hands Makeover, and the exercises included there make a really good starting place when I pick up sticks each day. Honestly, the EHM has transformed my playing for the better, helping me identify weak spots and giving me plenty of tools to address them. This is the stuff, when applied to the Lifetime Warmups, that will leave me ready to play, with nice flow, and minimal effort.
For my ears, I usually need to spend time “calibrating,” which consists of burying the metronome while working on simple rate changes (eighths, eighth-note triplets, sixteenths) very slowly, say 60-70 bpm. Alternating the lead hand is crucial for me here too. This really helps my timing and sets my internal clock (such as it is) to help me pull tempos out of my head on the fly with more accuracy. It’s also helpful to keep me from rushing or dragging fills.
I’ve included hyperlinks in the text so you can check out some of this stuff if you like. Let me know what you think of this, and what warm-ups you’re using, if any, and why. I can’t wait to hear some of what you guys are doing!
Ganesh Giri Jaya