3 Ways to Have More Fun Practicing Drums – Part 1 of 3

Drummer Daily - Podcast for Drummers

Today is the first of a 3-day series that’s all about how to have more fun while practicing the drums. Because we all know that if we have fun doing something, we tend to do MORE of it!

You’re listening to the Drummer Daily podcast, the only daily podcast dedicated just to drummers. Go to my website at DanielHadaway.com.

Hey, how’s it going? Hope you’re doing well today whenever you are, wherever you are out there in the world. I’m doing well. Before I get started, someone commented the other day like, “Why do you always sound out of breath when you do these podcasts?”

The truth is because A) I always come upstairs to do these podcasts because I have a 4 year old downstairs in my life. He’s downstairs and he’s very noisy. So I don’t spend a lot of time trying to make these things sound perfect but the least I could do for you is to some to a somewhat quiet place when I record this. The first reason is because I just came up the stairs most of the time when I do these. That’s the case today and I’m apparently very out of shape.

The second is that I normally walk around while I’m recording this podcast. For some reason I pace when I talk on this podcast. In case you didn’t know and you were curious, no I’m not running a marathon right now, I just am out of shape and walked up a flight of stairs. There you go.

Today I’m going to start a three part series over the next three days. One of the last podcasts I had three tips and I put them all into one podcast. Then I realized that I rushed through all of them and I couldn’t talk about them as much. So I thought, “Hey, why don’t I split this up into three different podcasts this time instead of trying to squeeze everything in really quick and it just flies right by.”

I’m going to talk the next three days, starting today, about three ways to have more fun practicing drums. That’s something that I realize for me, even as a kid I was lazy when it came to playing drums and most everything in life if I wasn’t having fun it was really hard for me to do. Maybe that’s not lazy, I don’t know what the word is for that. But whatever it was that was me. The reason why I think I was able to get pretty good at the drums and continue practicing year after year after year was that I pretty quickly found a way for it to be fun for me. I realize … I’ve been on some drum forums and stuff and I’ve heard from people through the years, talking about practicing. I realize their experience practicing drums is very different than my experience practicing drums. Their practice is not like my experience of practicing drums. I thought I would share a few things that I do in practice to make it fun. That’s what I’m going to do now.

The first thing I’m going to share with you today is all about making sure your drums sound good. For me, I’ve noticed that for whatever reason, whenever my drums sound really bad it’s really hard for me to play well. This is like a lot of times if I go into a gig and there’s a back line kit there so it’s not mine. Or even growing up and playing in churches and stuff. They’d always take care of their stuff so it’s really hard to play well. Maybe that’s not completely true. It wasn’t always hard for me to play on a bad sounding kit. It wasn’t any harder for me I don’t think than anybody else.

I noticed that whenever I’d go to a place and the drums sounded really good, or I’d play at like a big show and they’d have the big giant sub-woofer behind me and I could feel the kick drum, I had my in-ear monitors in and I could hear the drums mixed through the mics. I played so much better. Then I’d go to the next show and it’s be some crappy PA or whatever and I wouldn’t have anything and I’d go back to playing my normal way. I was like, “Wow, this is crazy.”

For me, when I understand how good my drums sound I start playing better. For us practicing at home what that means, my drum set up, let me just tell you what I do at home to practice. I’m not saying you need to go buy a bunch of gear but what I will say is this. The next time you go and think about buying a piece of drum gear, think long and hard about whether you really want that piece of drum gear. Maybe you want something that will get you closer to what I’m talking about today.

Here’s my drum setup at home when I practice. First off I mic every drum. I close mic every drum. Right now I use a Behringer X-Air Mixer. It’s like 16 channels but even a little Macky Mixer would do well. I mic everything in. You can get a decent little four channel mixer for $75 probably. I run every mic into that mixer. I do the best I can to mix those and get them sounding good to me. Then, instead of just listening through headphones I have in ear monitors. Or some kind of headphones that block out almost all the sound coming in from the outside world so the only way I’m hearing my drums is through those headphones. I’ll get to more of my practicing setup in the next podcast but for now we’re talking about making our drums sound good. What I’ve noticed is that even a terrible sounding drum set, most of the time sounds a lot better through mics and getting a little bit of processing done, EQ or just a little bit of compression if you can do that through your equipment.

Then the other thing that I have that really made a difference, like I’ve mentioned before, I for some reason realize that I really enjoy playing with a giant sub-woofer behind me. Of course I can’t … it’s not practical in a suburban environment in a neighborhood to have a giant sub-woofer with my kick drum pumping through it at home so what I have is I have a, I think they still make them, it’s by a company called Clark Synthesis but it’s called a Tactile Transducer. It’s not the same as Pearl has this thing called the Butt Thumper or the Butt Shaker or something like that.

It’s not quite the same principle because that one has the same kind of motor that’s in a video game controller that makes it vibrate or a cell phone. It has one of those that vibrates a certain frequencies along with your kick drum. What I have is actually, it looks more like a flying saucer. It’s two speakers glued together. The cool thing about that is that the actual tone of your drums comes through that the exact frequency that’s coming out of that mic goes in and it’s attached to my seat and it transducers, it vibrates through your bones. It’s hard to describe but it feels a lot different than using those little Butt Shakers. It feels more like a giant speaker is right behind you. That also make it a lot more enjoyable to play along with music. Which is another part of what I’m going to get to in upcoming episodes in this three part series.

What I want to encourage you to do is even if you don’t have mics, you don’t have any other pieces of gear, if it’s hard for you to practice I want you to spend some time today or tomorrow before you practice next time tuning your drums and you can go back, I have an episode that’s all about tuning your snare drum, that’s a good place to start. But go back and work on your drums a little bit. Try to get them sounding better. It’s not just because you don’t have motivation that it’s hard to practice. I think if you could hear your drums sounding better you might actually practice a little more. At least I know I do. But everybody is different.

I just want to encourage you. Making your drums sound better is the first step to maybe enjoying practice a little more. We all know that the things that we enjoy we tend to want to do more. That’s the end goal of this is that if you enjoy practice you’ll actually practice more. That’s never a bad thing when it comes to playing drums. So until tomorrow, hope you’re doing well and I will talk to you tomorrow. Bye.

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