14 Drum Practice Routine Tips I Learned From Benny Greb

March 20, 2023

Are you overwhelmed by learning drums?

No worries.

In this article, I will teach you how to set up a regular drum practice routine and get the most out of it.

Inspiration for this article was Benny Greb’s book Effective Practicing for Musicians which I highly recommend.

Following these tips will make your drum practice consistent and progress inevitable.

Let’s dive into it.

In a hurry? 14 Drum Practice Routine Tips

  • Tip 1 – Set your goals
  • Tip 2 – Separate playing from drum practice
  • Tip 3 – Record yourself
  • Tip 4 – Make a drum practice schedule
  • Tip 5 – Find a way to practice anywhere
  • Tip 6 – Choose drum exercises according to your goals and what you want to accomplish
  • Tip 7 – Stick to your goals
  • Tip 8 – Measure the progress
  • Tip 9 – Analyze your playing
  • Tip 10 – One task at a time
  • Tip 11 – Eliminate trivial activities
  • Tip 12 – Don’t practice until you can play it
  • Tip 13 – The best time for practice
  • Tip 14 – Make internal checklist

Tip 1 – Set your goals

It would be best if you had a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. 

It’s essential to set a deadline, make a plan to achieve this, and figure out how you will measure the progress.

Let’s say your goal is to improve single-stroke speed. To be more specific, try writing down your goal like this.

My goal is to play a single stroke in 120 BPMs for 5 minutes straight; it should sound clear and even. Plan – to practice each hand for 1 hour a day.

Let’s say my deadline is 3 months; in this case, progress is easily measured by a metronome.

Please be realistic and ensure you are the only one influencing the progress.

Tip 2 – Separate playing from drum practice

Give yourself the freedom to play around drums or play with a track, but at the end of practice.

Look at this as a reward for practicing hard. So, if your practice session lasts two hours, take the last 15-20 minutes to play around.

This way, you will focus your time on the actual “boring” practice and end the drum exercise with something fun.

Tip 3 – Record yourself

Did you ever ask yourself why I suck at something I constantly practice?

Well, you might practice it a lot less than you think.

Let me explain. 

Let’s say you have 10 minutes to practice a paradiddle. You do it for 3 minutes, then your phone rings. 

You lose 2 minutes on a call, then continue for 3 minutes and start playing this fantastic beat you heard. 

You go back to paradiddle again for 1 minute, and then you start goofing around with licks.

Final result… Instead of practicing the paradiddle for 10 minutes straight, you end up practicing only 7.

By recording yourself and realizing this, your practice time can be focused and improved.

Tip 4 – Make a drum practice schedule

Keep it short and simple by focusing only on 2-3 things.

If you know you have 1 hour to practice, take a few minutes to write down what you want to practice. 

Let’s say:

  • 10 minutes warm-up
  • 20 minutes single strokes
  • 20 minutes double strokes
  • 10 minutes playing random grooves

Use a timer to make sure you fulfill this plan.

Please make sure everything is planned ahead.

To help you create a steady routine, I created this drum practice routine pdf, which is free to download.

Here is how it should look when filled.

drum practice routine pdf sheet

Tip 5 – Find a way to practice anywhere

This is a crucial step to having a consistent drum practice routine.

Sometimes you might not be able to go to a drum room, so be creative and think about how you can practice anywhere.

Although the best way to practice drums is on a real drum kit, you can practice at home on a drum pad or pillows.

Also, you can practice singing with a click to improve your. timing. You don’t necessarily need drums to practice.

Be creative.

Tip 6 – Choose drum exercises according to your goals and what you want to accomplish

Benny says you should take your favorite drummer and write down what you like about him or write down what you want to be good at and create a pie chart.

Here is an example:

drum practice routine

Create a pie chart in Canva

This is great for sorting out what’s in your head and seeing what your goals looks like on a “paper.”

Start by practicing elements from a pie chart that you are worst at.

Talking about goals, it’s crucial to answer the question “WHY?” Why are you doing all this, and what’s in it for you?

Tip 7 – Stick to your goals

If you can’t accomplish your goals, don’t change them but instead change the approach.

You know those moments you think there is no way you’ll be able to play something?

We’ve all been there. It’s straightforward, some more, some less, but we all struggle with anything we do for the first time.

Don’t get frustrated; try changing the approach.

Decrease the tempo and give your brain time to process these new pieces of information.

Tip 8 – Measure the progress

You can measure the progress by watching the videos you recorded during practice. You will get useful insights and motivation boost.

Don’t judge yourself; change the approach or practice more.

Tip 9 – Analyze your playing

When you have everything “on tape,” you should analyze this information. 

See what worked and what didn’t, and see if you can use the hours of drum practice more efficiently.

Tip 10 – One task at a time

I mention you should practice no more than 3 “tasks” during practice sessions, but you can quickly decrease it to only one.

It’s a double-edged sword though. 

Here is why?

Because practicing only one thing for long periods can get to saturation.

On the other hand, by focusing on a specific thing, you’ll be able to improve it faster and get a good feeling about yourself and your progress.

Tip 11 – Eliminate trivial activities

During the practice session, you may look at your phone, answer messages or play random grooves and chops.

Look at all these as “trivial activities” preventing you from making progress.

Try to eliminate any distractions you might have. 

A good rule of thumb is when you finish practicing, write down what you did and how you spent time.

Tip 12 – Don’t practice until you can play it

Did it ever happen to you that you practice something and manage to play it in the practice room, but you screw up on stage?

Well, guess what, it happened to all of us?

Here is how to treat this. Being able to play something isn’t enough. 

You must be able to play it without thinking of it. You must be able to feel good and relaxed while playing it. 

Pro tip: Try simulating the gig situation while practicing. Play a random groove, inject the thing you are practicing on a random moment and see if you can do it whenever you want.

Tip 13 – The best time for practice

The goal is to create a good drum practice routine with quality over quantity in mind.

According to Benny, the best time to practice is when the chances for practice are the highest.

If you have the energy to practice in the morning, do it then.

Tip 14 – Use the internal checklist

Benny calls this a “checklist cycle.” When playing, you should have a simple checklist, let’s say:

  • Breathing
  • Grip
  • Being relaxed

While practicing, you should check your breathing and see if it’s constant, if your grip is good, and if it could be improved. Are you relaxed enough? Could you relax more?

Ask these kinds of questions yourself while practicing drums.

What is a good practice routine for drums?

Two things:

  • Being consistent and practicing regularly
  • Having quality practice (practicing slowly without any interruptions, either external or internal. Example interrupting a practice to play a particular lick)

How to practice drums at home?

You don’t need drums to practice drums, although it is better if you do.

Here are a few ways to practice drums at home:

  • Use a drum practice pad
  • Use pillows
  • Clap with the click, practice 3 over 4, 5 over 4, etc., where click is playing one thing and you the other.
  • Exercise your hand endurance by putting your palms down, two sticks resting on the thumbs, and then doing the up strokes. One more example: connect your palms and clap while the roots of your hands stay connected at all times.

To help you learn drums at home check out one of the best platforms for learning drums at home.

Wrap up

Okay, guys, it’s time to wrap up.

 This article discussed the most critical elements of a good drum practice routine.

Let’s summarize:

  • Set goals
  • Make plan
  • Track progress
  • Analyze progress
  • Don’t change goals; change the approach
  • Choose quality over quantity
  • Eliminate trivial activities during practice

Let me know if this is helpful in the comments below.

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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