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4 Simple Ways to Improve Your Speed as a Drummer

Let’s face it, everyone is impressed with a drummer who is lightning fast. Even though most of us play in church (and we all know that we’re not there to draw attention to our playing), improving in our craft, talents and gifting should always be a priority. Here are four simple ways to improve your speed as a drummer.

Photo by  Michelangelo MI

1. Practice Rudiments

Rudiments, by definition, are a basic pattern of drum strokes that can be combined in many ways. The simplest and most common rudiments that I recommend for building up your speed are singles, doubles, and paradiddles.

Start off slowly with each exercise and then gradually work your way up to faster speeds. Using a metronome throughout this process may also prove helpful. For example, you can start off at 80 bpm and aim to be up to 250 bpm by the end of the month. Set a goal and stick to it!

A book that has helped me in this area is Podemski’s Standard Snare Drum Method.

2. Practice Without Rebound

Now that you have some simple rudiments to practice with, you need to ditch your drums! What??? Are you crazy? No, I’m not crazy. On the drums or a practice pad, the sticks want to bounce freely. You will want to use a surface where they won’t rebound.  Your pillow, bed or couch (without Homer) will be perfect for this.

As you hit every stroke, the pillow will absorb the shock and will force you to lift up the stick. There’s no bounce here! This simple trick will help you to develop speed really quickly because it kills all the laziness in you!

3. Use Heavier Sticks While Practicing

Photo by tallguy64

In the long run, practicing with heavier sticks will help you build up your speed because switching to your regular (lighter) sticks during performance will make it feel like you are playing with feather-weight sticks. Your arms, wrists, hands and fingers will definitely notice the difference and you will be able to execute your playing with ease.

4. Stay Flexible by Stretching

This is probably the most neglected of the four, but it’s important nonetheless. Drumming is a work out and any drummer knows that playing requires you to use your entire body and core muscles. You need to properly stretch out your arms, ankles, wrists and shoulders. This loosens up your body from the stiffness and tightness, and helps you to relax as you build up your speed. Here’s a  link to three important stretches that I do all the time!

Ultimately, these are some simple techniques but they require work! If we stop working on them, we stop improving and we plateau.

Whose Up For a Challenge?

I challenge you to record yourself today doing any of the three rudiments mentioned in this post. After one month of diligently practicing, record yourself again doing the same rudiment(s) as fast as you can. I bet you will be surprised by the improvement!

Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Ready.. set.. go!


Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • Steve says:

    Thanks for this Jon! One of my goals this summer is to build speed and improve consistency in some areas. This will def be a big help for me as I tackle these this summer.

  • Justin Reves says:

    Though I’m not a drummer, this is a great post because I love working with awesome drummers :). One of the things I’ll say from a guy who does a fair amount of recording and playing with drummers, practicing to a metronome is a MUST. Even if you don’t regularly play with a metronome live, practice with one. You can really pick out the difference between drummers who practice with a metronome and those who don’t – especially when it comes to anything complex or fills. There’s just another level of precision there. Also, if you are in a band and end up in the studio, being able to play well with a metronome makes everyone’s life easier.

    Like you said, Jon, it’s also a great way to keep pushing yourself faster as you have something that can push you and you can measure against it.

  • Chancely says:

    Challenge Accepted! is it bad if i start at 220bpm?

    but no really, this is perfect! when people ask me how to get better i say Click and Rudiments! good post!

  • Dan Gross says:

    Wait, what about drinking a pot of coffee? You forgot to mention that! 🙂

    Seriously, good post, and yes using a metronome while you are practicing all these things is good. As to the “weight” thing, at one point I actually picked up a set of “stick weights.” Handy for warm-ups (and allows you to use a grip you’re comfortable with), though I actually don’t use them often any more.

  • Khomsunt Rodpai says:

    Love the tips. I’m thinking about getting an electric roland kit for home use to practice. I’ll definitely incorporate these four things into my practice time.

    On a side note; this blog is awesome. I’ve been looking for an outlet that’s dedicated to drumming disciplines. Even better that this is a christian based blog that leans more towards worship team drumming. God has opened doors for me to do so at my local church and I want to be a steward of the talents he’s given me. Cheers!

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