Drum Practice Routine for Beginners: A guide to effective practice

Learning to play the drums can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging for beginners. One of the most common advice you’ll get on becoming a successful drummer is to develop a consistent practice routine. 

But how do you get started? What should you be focusing on during your practice routine? Where do you start? How much time should you allocate to each skill? 

In this article, we’ll attempt to help you create your own drum practice routine. I’ll also discuss some tips that you can use for creating a drum practice routine that will hopefully help you improve your skills and achieve your goals.

How to design your drum practice routine as a beginner?

I’ll walk you through the 3 steps to designing your own drum practice routine. Let’s begin:

i) Identify your objectives for drum practice

Before you get design your own drum practice routine, you’ll need to determine the following: 

What are you looking to achieve?

The first step in creating a drum practice routine is to set realistic goals. It’s important to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and to set specific, measurable goals that will help you get there. 

As a beginner, you may be overwhelmed by what you need to work on. But here’s the (bad) news; it’s an on-going process that’ll never end. Even the most experienced drummers are looking to improve on certain aspects of their techniques. So, just pick an area you want to work on now, and set a goal.

Some common goals that beginner drummers could start with include:

  • learn basic drumming techniques, 
  • learn proper hand and foot positioning,
  • become fluent with the rudiments,
  • mastering a specific drum beat or fill,
  • getting comfortable counting along with a metronome, or even
  • learning a song.

Yes, I know, most of these goals sound small.

If you’re an absolute behavior, stick with these smaller goals. They’ll help you build a strong foundation while getting the addictive dopamine hit frequently enough to help you get into the habit of practicing frequently.

If you’re more advanced, you should set your own goals depending on your level of drumming and the techniques you wish to work on. 

What do you need to improve on? 

Once you have set your goals, it’s important to identify the specifics – take note of your weaknesses and detail the specific action items as a simple checklist. This will help you focus your practice time on the areas that need the most work. 

For example, if you’re working on your rudiments, you may want to break the entire rudiment chart into small bits. Work on 3 to 6 rudiments, or focus on a single rudiment tier during each practice session.

Or, if you’re working on your timing, you may want to include metronome exercises in your practice.

ii) Create your drum practice schedule

There are no hard and fixed rules here. The breakdown of your drum practice routine would depend on how much time you have for each session. 

You should already have an idea of what you’ll be working on from the previous section. So in this section, you’ll just need to put them together.

For starters, create your own 30-min schedule. If you can afford to practice for longer durations per seating, simply lengthen different portions of the schedule or work on specific skill sets.

Here are some sample drum practice plans:

Sample 30 mins drum practice plan

DurationWhat to do?
0 –  3 minsWarm Up Your Hands
3 –  5 minsFamiliarize yourself with the drum kit. Just goof around the kit and let your body feel and orientate where each drum and cymbal is. Use this time to adjust your drum throne and get comfortable.
5 – 15 minsExercise I
15 – 20 minsTake a break
20 – 30 minsExercise II
Insert exercise I & II based on your goals

If you’re able to practice for an hour each session, simply expand the plan to something like this:

Sample 1 hour drum practice plan

DurationWhat to do?
0 –  3 minsWarm Up Your Hands
3 –  5 minsFamiliarize yourself with the drum kit.
5 – 15 minsExercise I
15 – 20 minsTake a break
20 – 30 minsExercise II
35 – 40 minsTake a break
40 – 50 minsExercise III*
50 – 60 minsHave fun. Goof around with fills, or practice a song that you’re learning
Insert exercises based on your goals

*If you’re working on a more technical exercise, you may want to increase each ‘Exercise’ segment to about 15-20 mins. 

If you’re an adult learner who has to squeeze practice into shorter durations, your schedule could look something like this:

Sample ad-hoc drum practice plan

DurationWhat to do?
0 –  3 minsWarm Up + make sure you’re comfortable on the kit
3 –  15 minsExercise I
Insert exercise based on your goals

If you have several practice exercises to work on, rotate between them for each drum practice session.

iii) Review and Track your improvement

As you practice, you’ll get better. Your drum practice routine will evolve alongside your growth as a drummer. 

It’s good practice to review your routine once every 3 to 6 months, depending on how often you practice.

Here’s how to review your drum practice routine

  1. Ask yourself these questions:
  • Have you achieved your current drum practice objectives?
    • If yes, what would your next goal be?
    • If no, what has been holding you back?
      • Did you have enough time to practice? Were the exercises too easy or too difficult?
  1. Modify your drum practice routine for your current goals
  2. Schedule your next review 3 to 6 months later.

Additional tips when creating your drum practice routine

How much time should I be practicing?

If you’re a young beginner drummer, I would advise setting aside 2 to 3 sessions of 30-mins to 1-hour per week. (if you’re taking drum classes, these practice sessions should be on top of your classes. And you should be able to get a more specific drum practice routine from your drum instructor.)

If you’re a working adult who’s trying to pick up drumming on your own (or via an online course), you should be setting aside at least 1 to 2 sessions of 30-mins to 1-hour per week. I get that your schedule may not always permit you to practice. Hence, you should have a shorter 10- to 15-mins practice schedule to allow you to get some goal-directed practice whenever you can.

When should I be practicing?

Whenever you have time. 

Ideally, set aside a fixed timing to practice so that you can build a consistent habit. However, your lifestyle may not allow that. Just get on the drum kit whenever you can!

If you have to be away and don’t have access to a drum kit, you could use a practice pad

Honestly, if you really wish to practice, you can work on your rudiments or timing simply by tapping your hands on any surface. These days, you can download a free metronome app on your phone and practice anywhere. 

That said, it is always better to get practice time on an actual drum kit. So, don’t skip practice!

What should I be practicing?

If you’re still struggling to come up with exact exercises to practice even after identifying your goals, here are some resources you can refer to for some inspiration:

If you’re not sure of the exact exercises you should be doing here, leave a comment below and I’ll share some examples. 

p.s. if you’re travelling but want to slip some practice time in, read this guide for drumming exercises you can do without sticks!

Alternatively, you can head to Reddit and ask around for recommendations. There’s a vast community of fellow drummers in the r/drums subreddit.

Keep your drum practice routine fun

Incorporate variety into your routine to keep your practice sessions interesting and engaging. This might include practicing different drum beats and drum fills, working on different styles of music, or incorporating exercises that focus on specific techniques or skills.

This is important as it will allow you to work on a wider range of techniques while keeping drum practice fun. That’s very important for motivation!

Recording Your Practice Sessions

Recording your practice sessions can be a valuable tool for tracking your progress and identifying areas that need improvement. It can also be helpful to listen back to your recordings and compare them to your original goals, to see how far you’ve come and where you still need to focus your efforts.

You’ll also be able to pinpoint weaknesses that you tend to miss while you’re on the kit drumming away. For example, you may only notice that your kicks tend to get weak on the 3rd beat while watching your recording!

Always allocate some time for the fundamentals!

Nothing can beat having the sense of improvement on the drums. However, don’t neglect your basics just because you’re learning new techniques! 

You don’t have to do this for every session, but allocate some time to work on your fundamentals during your drum practice routine. Once a week would be a good frequency. 

There’re plenty of fundamentals to work on: 

  • Work on your timing with a metronome
  • Work on your rudiments across the entire kit. 
  • Work on your weak hand
  • Work on your speed, while playing along with a metronome.
  • And so much more!

Conclusion

Having a drum practice routine helps you to focus on your goals and makes it easier for you to develop a consistent practice habit.

That said, don’t spend too much time planning your drum practice routine. 

Instead, get behind the drums as often as you can and you’ll improve your skills as a beginner drummer. So, be patient, consistent and keep things fun! Remember to review your drum practice routine and…always be practicing!

p.s. if you’re looking for something more structured, refer to our Daily Drum Practice Routine here.

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