After reading my last blog, Drum Lesson– Practicing With a Practice Pad, you have found out that a practice pad is a great tool for beginner students learning how to play the drum set. However, a practice pad, if kept in the practicing routine, can really have a huge positive impact on the advanced student’s progress. Even though a student is taking advanced drum lessons, a practice pad can and should still be used during practicing.
Plastic Versus Rubber
If a student has been learning with a rubber practice pad, this may be a great time to make the switch over to a plastic head practice pad. The plastic head practice pads are not quite as bouncy, so it’s actually more of a challenge to get your sticks to bounce on this kind of practice pad. Also, the plastic head practice pads are more sensitive to dynamics, so this allows for monitoring hand-to-hand dynamic changes as well as honing in on dynamics across both hands. Unless the student is somewhere where the noise of a plastic head practice pad would be disturbing to others, I would say that plastic is preferable in this stage of the game.
At this stage, a constant rudiment practice is essential to creativity and freedom of expression across the drum set. Drum rudiments are a basic set of hand patterns that can be combined together to create music and various rhythms. At this point, there are 40 standard international drum rudiments as recognized by the PAS (percussive arts society). Practicing these rudiments on a practice pad with a metronome can greatly enhance any player’s skills. It is a good technique to practice these rudiments on the practice pad before taking them over to the drum set. In this way, you can first perfect the basic hand-to-hand coordination, before getting different surfaces and limbs involved.
Just as in beginner lessons, in advanced drum lessons it is also important, if not more important to warm up before playing. I say more important, because the advanced drummer is playing much faster, and for longer than the beginner student. It’s just like working out – you need to stretch and warm up the muscles before getting into something more vigorous. You may not necessarily pull anything if you jump straight into drum set, but the hands won’t be loose enough right after sitting down to play as fast or with the fluidity you would have if you warmed up with the practice pad first. It is never a good idea to sit down behind a drum set at a gig before allowing the time for a proper warm up.
Another great reason for students taking advanced drum lessons to practice with a practice pad is that you can practice anywhere! Advanced students are typically older and more on the go. Technology is not quite at the point yet where you can pull out a drum set from your back pocket and start practicing anywhere you may have some down time. However, practice pads are pretty portable, and I find myself many times whipping out my practice pad and sticks on vacations, or between students, or any free time I have that would be appropriate to get a quick practice session in. Practice pads allow the advanced student to practice even in their busy lives!
Practice pads are not just for beginners. A steady practice with a practice pad can help students taking advanced drum lessons to deepen their practice and build on their skills. Practicing with a full drum set is great, but sometimes, all you need are your hands!
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