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In this blog post, I’m going to share with you the secret to learn drums fast. Let me ask you this question. When you practice drums, do you start off maybe with a warmup or two and then get into the really hard stuff you want to learn. You try to play that hard thing a couple of times like your drum teacher or someone else played it on YouTube, and you mess it up? Then you start noodling around, jamming on the drums. Five minutes later you refocus and try again? You’re thinking, “Let’s get back to it. I’m learning this. I’m going to nail it!”

You try it again, but you still can’t do it. So what do you do? You start noodling again, playing all the stuff you already know how to play. Then before you know it, 30 minutes has gone. Maybe an hour has passed and you still didn’t learn the new thing you set out to learn! Is that you? That sure as heck was me before I learned how to practice effectively and efficiently every time. So why was it so hard to nail that new thing you were working on? Give up?…..Speed.

I should write you a speeding ticket!

Play it slow to learn it fast

You were playing it too fast. I should write you a speeding ticket! My practice today is much different than it used to be. It used to be so much time practicing that way. Now, I start off with a warmup and then I get right into the hard stuff. The difference between the old days and today is, I take it really, really slow.

You have to play it slow to learn it fast.
You get a speeding ticket for practicing too fast!

So slow, I would be embarrassed in the past if anyone heard me because I sound just like a beginner. Oh no! But here’s the thing. Every time we learn something new, we are a beginner! So the mantra I share with all of my students is, “You have to play it slow to learn it fast.”

Your brain will learn whatever you teach it

Now, let me explain why you have to play things slowly when learning something new on the drums. Your brain is elastic and it’s going to learn whatever you teach it. It learns the sound, muscle movement and the coordination of anything you’re trying to do. If you are, for example, working on a new hand pattern and you try it five times in a row at a speed that’s too fast for your brain to learn, you’re just going to mess it up every time. If you’re going too fast, it ain’t going to happen.

Your brain will learn whatever you teach it. Teach it right by practicing drums slowly.

Guess what you’ve also done by practicing that way? You’ve taught your brain how you don’t want to do it and that’s exactly how you’re going to play it! Now you’ve got to undo all that you’ve learned to learn the thing you actually set out to learn. It’s crazy. It’s nuts! You might as well just bang your head against a wall! That’s going to be more effective!

I want you to try playing new things really slow, I mean really, really, really slow with no tempo and no metronome. As drummers we’re always focused on time but for this, I’ll give you your get out of jail free card, okay? You don’t have to focus on time. I just want you to focus on the movement, the coordination, and the sound of what you’re trying to achieve. Just do play things really slow and just focusing on every little motion. Concentrate on every little sound that you’re making.

You’re going to play it correctly every time!

It may seem slow but you’re learning fast

If you do that, guess what? You’re going to play it correctly every time! You’ll be teaching your brain and your body what you actually want to learn with each stroke of your drumstick. In the beginning, it may seem like it’s taking a lot of time to play things slowly. When you’re learning something new and you’re starting off slow, it does seem kind of tedious.

The reality, however, is that you’re going to achieve greater speed and solid muscle memory, faster. Your muscles will remember the motions that you’re performing so much faster than if you tried to play things fast from the beginning. Trust me on this. Try it. You’re going to see that it works! It’s absolutely incredible!

Von Baron on a huge drumset. Muscle memory will be hard to learn here!
Woah! Try getting muscle memory on this kit!

Another interesting thing, is that if you’re working on drum set grooves and change the position of your hands, your brain is going to have to encode that change. For example, let’s say you’re nailing a groove with the right hand on the right ride cymbal. You then also want to try playing the groove with your left hand on the left ride cymbal. In the beginning, your brain may think that it’s a totally different groove because your body movement, hand position and the sound have all changed. It’s kind of like having to relearn the whole pattern again just because of the changes in your body movement and the changes in the sound. So again, you want to go slow, very, very slow.

…most drummers don’t know…how our brain works and how we learn

Von Baron - I don't know.

Now it’s amazing to me that most drummers don’t know these basic facts about how our brain works and how we learn. This is why I wanted to share this with you. I have one more really important bonus I want to share with you today. Before I get to that, I want you to know about an incredible practice tool that I’ve created for you.

Learn with drumless tracks

I want you to have every way possible to enjoy productive practice sessions. Playing with recorded music is one really great way to reinforce the things that you’re practicing and learn how to play new skills. It’s always a good idea to get yourself some really great professionally produced drumless tracks. I’m talking about really good sounding tracks that inspire you to play.

I have created Jazz Swing and Bossa Nova/Samba drumless tracks for drummers. I know they’re going to help you out a lot in your practice, and you’re going to have a lot of fun. You’ll be playing with real musicians too! They’re at my store page. Go check ’em out!

A relaxed brain is a learning brain

Let’s get back to the bonus thing want to share. I want you to know that when you are relaxed and you’re not under any kind of stress or pressure from yourself or your teacher to learn something new, you’re going to also retain so much more information. This is because when we are relaxed, our brain is not in that fight or flight mode. There’s no stress disrupting our thought function in our brain. All of the learning receptors in the brain are wide open for business and ready to learn. This is why I always make my YouTube videos on and my private drum lessons really fun and relaxed.

Take a break to learn faster

So what if you’re going slow and you’re nailing your drum parts but you’re a little frustrated because you really want things to go faster? Take a break. Even a 5-minute break will relax your brain. Focus on something completely different like watching TV, listening to some music or talking to somebody about something unrelated to drumming. Just get your mind off of the drums.

What your brain is going to do during that time marinate on what you’ve been teaching it. It’s going to do that for a while. I’ve read studies that this can happen for up to 48 hours after you’ve been learning something! I’m not sure it’s that long, but it’s definitely a long time.

Your brain is always learning

Your brain really is incredible. It will process information and keep processing information to help you learn what you need to learn. If you think about it from a survival perspective, it’s important for the brain to learn. It keeps us out of danger and helps us acquire knowledge that is important for us to know. We can also increase our happiness.

Take breaks when practicing.
Take a 5-minute break to relax your brain.

So take that 5-minute break and when you return to your practicing, you’re going to be able to do it. I’m not kidding you. Almost 100% of the time my students can do it! I completely distract them for a few minutes when I can see that they’re getting a little frustrated. I distract them and talk about something unrelated. They think I’m kind of going off topic. Many times they’re thinking, “What’s he doing? We’re in a drum lesson here.” 5 minutes later we return to the lesson material and they nail it! They look at me incredulously like, “What just happened here?”

Final thoughts about learning drums

Pretty amazing yeah? Your brain is going to help you learn drums. You’ve just got to give it a chance. Knowing how it works will help you partner with your brain to quickly learn what it is you want to learn.

I hope this post has been helpful for you, and if you like what you’ve read, please share! It will help me immensely in reaching more enthusiastic drummers like you! KEEP ON DRUMMIN’!

Check out more helpful blogs to improve your drumming!



Jesus lover# lover of christ# Be yourself and humble

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