When a drum set student has reached the advanced level, it is very easy for them to stop and say “Ok, I can play drums now. I’m done”. This, of course, is never the case. It is absolutely impossible to finish learning how to play an instrument. A true student can always learn more. When a student reaches this critical point where they decide to continue lessons even though they area already very skilled, that student is opening themselves up to becoming a true master of the instrument. An advanced student, therefore, needs a master teacher.
Advanced drum lessons can be a tricky thing to think about. When we think about classical lessons, we think repertoire. As we advance in the lessons, we begin to play more advanced pieces. However, there really isn’t too much music written specifically for drum set. Therefore, as drum teachers, we need to get creative – especially when dealing with advanced drum lessons.
Advanced drum lessons can include advance coordination practice. Because we have four different limbs that we use when we play the drum set, there are infinite combinations of rhythm patterns we can put together to create an intricate rhythm. This can be done in a couple of ways. You can try to create a fixed practice for yourself, assigning each one of the four limbs a different pattern. Once you are comfortable with playing the pattern 20x in a row perfectly without stopping, then shift over the rhythms so your right hand is now doing what your right foot was doing.
Your left hand is doing what your right hand was doing, your left foot doing what your left hand was doing, etc. There are 16 combinations of just these four rhythms to practice. Then, you can change one rhythm. This sort of practice can keep you occupied for a very long time. Another great practice is only fixing three of your limbs and allowing one of them to either play a written rhythmic melody (this is great for sight-reading as well!) or allow the free limb to improvise. It is great for your coordination to practice both of these options!
Another great option for the advanced drum set student is working on soloing. This can be done by fixing both of your feet to a given, steady rhythm and practice your rudiments with your hands. For those of you who don’t know, when we study drum set, we study specific hand patterns and rolls called rudiments. There are 40 official drum rudiments. You can start by keeping to the specified foot pattern and practice these rudiments on the snare drum. Then, you can start moving the rudiments around the toms and start separating your hands on different toms. Then, you may start moving your hands around different toms all in the same rudiment. Then, combine rudiments together. If after all of this, you still want more, sub out specific parts of the rudiment with the bass drum. Then, maybe the hi hat.
A Great Teacher
As you may be currently thinking, there is a crazy amount of things you can practice on drum set, and it’s not usually as easy as working out of a book or piece of music. All of these options can get extremely overwhelming. This is where a great teacher comes in. A great teacher can act like a doctor – they can diagnose where the student is stuck in their practice and offer that student a solution to the problem in the form of specific exercises. The teacher can present the student with an exercise the student would have never dreamed of!
It is the teacher’s responsibility to find out what the specific interests are of the student, and what they can do to further inspire those interests. An advanced drum lesson can be fairly philosophical, fueled by deep conversation about the instrument and even some great music recommendations. As an experienced drum teacher, I am currently taking lessons, and I do feel that my teacher inspires me to break through to the next level. No matter where you are in your lessons, there is always a next level and a great teacher and hard work can always get you there.
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