As discussed last week, the rudiments are an integral part of a drummer's practice routine. However, practising in a disorganized fashion without the knowledge that you're improving can be frustrating--why practice when you're not sure if you're getting better? Tracking your progress with the rudiments using practice charts can help keep you focused and on task. Over the course of my career I've seen many practice charts designed for many different things. I have designed two practice charts specifically for pipe band drummers and they are available for free to subscribers of PipeBandDrummer.com. Sign up to the site and I'll send you both!
Each practice chart has a goal. The first one--The W.I.M.P. Chart (What I'm Practising)--let's you know the rudiments on which you've been concentrating the most. In short, the W.I.M.P. Chart shows you where you've been spending most of your time. The second chart--The D.I.P. Chart (Did I Progress?) lets you know if your efforts are paying off and gives you a place to log the specific tempos of the rudiments from month to month. Let's begin with the W.I.M.P.
The W.I.M.P. Chart (Ironically not for wimps)
The W.I.M.P. Chart provides drummers with a way to track the focus of their rudiment practice. Filling it out takes only a second but the data it provides will allow you to easily see where your practice energy has gone and also where it needs to go. Let's have a look at the chart...
- If you practice your single strokes for five minutes, put a checkmark or "x" in the box under the number "1".
- If you practice your singles strokes again in a subsequent practice session, put a checkmark or "x" in the box under the number "2"
- If, after several practice sessions, you notice you haven't practiced your double strokes, make them a priority
- The eventual goal is to practice all 50 rudiments for five minutes each until the column under the number "1" is full of checkmarks
- It is okay if you want to concentrate every day on drag triplets. Just make sure you log each five minute practice session so you notice where your practice energy is being concentrated
The Benefits of the W.I.M.P.
- The worst thing about having so many rudiments to practice is the danger of forgetting. The W.I.M.P. Chart provides a glaring reminder to work on rudiments that have been neglected either by accident or due to procrastination.
- If your band runs a music school for aspiring drummers, the W.I.M.P. Chart can be used as a tool to monitor students' effort. For young students requiring extra motivation/supervision at home, the checkmark or "x" can be replaced with a parent's initials.
- The W.I.M.P. Chart can be passed out at the beginning of the year to all members of the drum corps along with a set of goals/expectations for completion.
The D.I.P. Chart (Ironically not for dips)
The D.I.P. Chart is a tool for tracking speed increases in your rudiments. As I have learned over the years, increasing your rudiment speed not only takes effort but it takes a LONG time. Tracking increases in speed from day to day can be inaccurate, confusing and frustrating. Think of tracking your speed increases in the same way you would track yourself losing weight: your weight fluctuates from day to day depending on numerous factors (if you've eaten an entire box of cookies for example--not that that's ever happened to me...) Losing weight takes time and a great deal of sustained effort. Weighing yourself every month is a much more accurate indicator that your diet plan is working than weighing yourself every day.
If you want to know if your rudiments are getting faster it is best to log your speeds every month. Let's have a look at the D.I.P. Chart and how it can help...
- First, set a base line measurement for all your rudiments. For example, if you are measuring the speed of your paradiddles play them successfully ten times in a row (twenty paradiddles total) and then use the "tap" feature of your metronome to figure out how fast they are.
- It is very important to make sure you play at least ten rudiments in a row. Playing ten in a row will measure your true speed. If you only play a couple of rudiments before taking a measurement there is a chance that you might "get lucky" and be able to play them quickly. Playing ten rudiments in a row takes "luck" out of the equation.
- Once you have measured the speed of the rudiment, enter the BPM (beats per minute displayed on the metronome) in the month column.
- Repeat this process for all rudiments twelve times throughout the year.
The Benefits of the D.I.P.
- Seeing an increase in the tempo of your rudiments over time is the biggest motivator to continue practising them!
- Logging the speed of your rudiments twelve times a year will keep you coming back to them regularly and will encourage their inclusion into your daily practice routine.
- Increasing the speed of your rudiments will improve your confidence and also your chances of advancing to a higher grade level.
Tracking your progress is an often forgotten part of practice. It is beyond frustrating to practice when you see no visible results. Putting your results down on paper provides a tangible and easily accessible collection of data that shows you (and others) how much work you're putting in and how that work is of benefit to you as a drummer. As always, if you have any questions or comments please send me an email or leave a post on Facebook or Twitter.