Have you ever happened to face a challenging study or exercise and feel totally stuck?
Besides the classic great suggestion to approach things very slowly, today I’d like to show you 3 strategic approaches to handle a difficult study.
I regularly see great results both on myself and my students with these methods:
1- Isolate the hard part. Separate the group of notes that give you the most trouble and work on just that segment for a few minutes.
Do this for each difficult part, reducing it to the smallest cell you can work on. Alternatively, you can practice a quarter note at a time.
Once you’ve done that, you are ready to put it all back together, first 2 quarter notes at a time, then the whole measure.
2- Practice in one note steps. Let’s say you have a bar of just eighth notes. Play the first one, then the first two, then first second and third, and so on.
Add one note at the time, until you are playing the entire measure. But don’t proceed until you have played each step correctly at least ten times.
3- Practice by removing all layers and then putting them back on, one at a time. This is probably the most effective method.
Once you remove all layers, all you have left is note values to read. Then, once the figures and subdivisions are clear, figure out the correct sticking and play that.
Then add the accents, the orchestration on the drum set, and so on.
Keep going in small increments, master each step and then move on to the next one. Start from the most simplified version of the exercise and then keep going until you are playing the whole thing again.
Besides using these ideas, it’s important to remember to never try too hard. If what you are practicing is very challenging, stressing out is not the way to go.
It’s going to be a lot more smart and effective to deal with it in a few days, giving yourself time to internalize each step.
Because of how muscle memory works, consistency pays off more than destroying yourself and trying to complete the exercise in one go. Instead, spend even just a few minutes on it, every day. Each time you start fresh, you will notice that things are a little more comfortable than the day before.
Not all approaches work in each situation, so experiment with these ideas. Of course you can also combine them, and make them even more effective by doing so.
Overtime you will learn to spot at a glance which one is best suited to get the job done in that particular case.
Lastly, the more demanding an exercise is, the more mental energy is required. Set some time for it at the beginning of your practice session, when you are still able to laser focus, so that you can be a lot more effective – and patient.
Click the link below if you’d like to learn how to improve faster, organize an effective practice plan, understand all types of mistakes and the ways to avoid them, and immerse yourself in a whole method about drumming and musicality:
‘Art & Musicianship’ – Altitude Drumming – Volume 10
If you want you can download the table of contents and check out all the topics covered in it.