I’m going on record by saying if you’re not practicing with purpose you’re really not practicing at all. I’m saying this because I need to hear it just as much as anyone.
I hate to admit it, but I have often gone to my practice room, not knowing exactly what I was going to do, worked on a page or two out of the “latest and greatest” drum book, played through a couple songs, experimented with a “new” snare tuning, checked my email a half-a-dozen times and then left feeling like I could’ve gotten more out of just watching “Sting: Live In Paris" w/ Josh Freese.
This type of "practice" is also called – a waste of time! It is time wasted because I didn’t have a purpose for which I was practicing. Purpose creates direction. Direction is fundamental because it provides the quickest way to the destination. Essentially, no direction means no destination.
To discover your destination the question(s) you have to ask is: Where do I want to go or What do I want to achieve with my drumming – ultimately, what is my destination? Ask yourself: Do I want to be a drummer who specializes in a specific style? Do I want to be able to play my favorite song(s)? Is there a specific band or artist I want to play with? Do I want to be a touring musician? What skills do I need to have to be an effective teacher? The list goes on, but these are the type of questions that will help narrow your focus and allow you to organize your practice more effectively.
Only you can define this. It will be different for everyone, but imperative nonetheless. If you truly want to make the most out of your practice you need a narrow, defined focus as to what you’re working towards and WHY!
I can’t express to you how effective and transformative this one idea will be in increasing your growth and progress. In this world, full of information (aka distraction), it very easy to lose your direction. However, with a stronger sense of purpose and direction, all of that “information” will be powerless in taking you off your path. I’ve experienced this multiple times by myself and with others.
As an anecdote, let me share this “purpose-driven” experience I had with Paul Gilbert when I recorded his “Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar” album .
After we spent the better part of a year touring with G3 and our own respective tours in Europe, Japan and South America we started working on his next record. Paul had a specific idea of what he wanted this album to be and it was great fun to be involved in the creation of it.
The writing and demo process was very productive because it was very focused. I would teach at Musicians Institute during the day and then at night I would go to Paul’s house/studio and he would play me what he had written that day. I would go to his Roland V-drum kit and come up with drum parts that I thought would work with those ideas and he would give me the thumbs up or thumbs down.
This routine continued for about a month until all of the demos were complete, then we went in to the studio to record the “real” drum tracks. By the time I had gotten to the studio, Paul was already finished with his final guitar and I was already quite familiar with the songs because of our extensive and focused demo process. This made recording the drums much more defined and absolute.
The result, in my opinion, was Paul’s best “instrumental” album to date. The songs, the performances and just the overall vibe of the record is strong, consistent, focused and purpose-driven.
This is “Eudaimonia Overture” – one of my favorite songs from that record. The non-repeating sections, the uplifting melodies and the crazy classical section at the end always made playing this song a fulfilling experience.
Enjoy! And once again…
Stay Focused and Practice with Purpose,