11 Ways to Practice Drums Without a Drum Set

If you just started taking drum lessons, you may not be ready to invest in a full drum set. Luckily, a lack of equipment doesn’t have to hinder your progress. You can still practice and improve, you just need to be creative! Here, drum instructor Andrea I. shares 11 ways to practice drums without a drum set…

A drum set isn’t the most portable instrument, and being without one can make you feel like you can’t practice your craft. Never fear, this list is designed to help you improve your musicianship, coordination, and muscle tone. These exercises will help you in a variety of ways, and will make you better the next time you get behind a regular or practice drum kit.

The best thing about these activities is that you can do them anywhere! Happy practicing!

How Do Beginners Practice Drums?

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Some of the best tips for drum practice include:

  • Come up with a plan to practice
  • Be consistent
  • Use a metronome
  • Pay attention to your posture and ergonomics
  • Change up your practice routine each day
  • Be positive!

Of course, you should try to master the essentials – like the basic drum rudiments in the video below – before you try to progress to more advanced songs and techniques:

Most importantly, be consistent. Try to practice drums for at least 30 minutes a day – but if you’re more advanced and want to up your skills even more, consider practicing for an hour a day. You may also want to sign up for drum lessons to help you really hone your craft!

Tips for Drum Practice

practice drums

Here are some general tips for drum practice that should help you set off on the right foot.

1. Consider Your Environment

Before you sit down to practice drums – either with a drum set or without – you need to make sure you are in the right environment.

Remove as much clutter as possible to help you concentrate better and if you can, increase the lighting. Natural lighting is the best kind of light to use as you’re practicing and fluorescent is some of the worst. Keep the temperature around 70 degrees Fahrenheit so you’re comfortable (and not too cold or sweaty) while you’re playing.

If you’re practicing with a drum kit, set it up so that it’s comfortable and easy to play. Paying attention to ergonomics is important!

2. Get the Right Equipment

A drum set is the best thing you can use as you’re practicing drums, but you’re not out of luck if you don’t have one of these pieces of equipment. We’ll give you some ideas on how to practice drums without a practice drum set below.

You should have a good set of sticksthough, along with a music stand to hold your sheet music or books.

Drum practice pads can be helpful as you learn to play the drums, too. Check out this video for more information on how drum practice pads can help:

If you’re playing loudly and don’t have to worry about disrupting your neighbors, consider putting in some hearing protection, like ear plugs.

3. Use Your iPhone

You can use your smartphone, tablet, or even your laptop to help make practicing drums a bit easier. These can display sheet music, tabs, and tutorials that will help you as you learn to play the drums.

There are even drumming apps you can try!

4. Start Small

Don’t get overwhelmed as you’re learning to play the drums. Start with small increments and build up slowly. Take regular breaks to stretch, run a few errands, and otherwise distract yourself momentarily from the drums.

When you come back, you’ll likely find that you feel fresher and more ready to play than you did before.

5. Prioritize Practice

Get in the habit of practicing drums every day. Set calendar reminders so you don’t forget to practice or put timers on your phone.

You may even want to keep a practice log so you know what you’ve rehearsed and what still needs to be practiced next time. Focus on your technique, try switching up hands, and watch videos of some of your favorite drummers to get out of your comfort zone.

Set mini-goals for yourself and you’ll likely find that, within time, you become a truly skilled drummer.

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Drums?

practice drums

Naturally, it is going to be much easier for you to practice drums if you have a drum set or kit. However, not all is lost if that is not the case. If you don’t have any drums, just consider these alternatives:

1. Pillow Practice

No drum set? Don’t have a practice pad drum set? No problem! The very best practice pad drum kit might just be the one you sleep on each night.

A pillow offers no bounce, so your wrist has to work to lift the stick and bring it back down. Drumming on your pillow is an ideal way to practice those rudiments.

2. Air Drumming

Air drumming, or playing on an imaginary drum set is actually another useful way to practice drums and build muscles.

This kind of drumming forces you to work more muscles than playing actual drums or a practice pad.

3. Sing Your Parts

You’re a drummer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from some vocal practice!

Sing to memorize and internalize your drum parts.

4. Recorded Music

Put on headphones, immerse yourself in the song of your choice, and listen.

Active listening involves internalizing the rhythm of the song and learning it by heart.

5. Body Percussion

Believe it or not, the human body is a walking, talking drum set.

Use handclaps, lap slaps, foot stomps, your belly – anything to practice those parts!

6. Bucket Practice

Do you have a five-gallon bucket? Turn it upside down and you can get a workout on this simple drum.

Try practicing some of these drum exercises on your bucket.

7. Drum Practice Pad

Practice pads come in all kinds of materials, weights, and sizes. Also, there are practice pads to fit every budget. It should be easy for you to find the best drum practice pad for your needs.

Others come filled with gel, sand, and pretty much any kind of rubber you can imagine. If you don’t have a rubberized traditional pad, head to the kitchen, grab some pot holders, and get to work.

8. Hit the Floor

Of course, the linoleum, tile, carpet, and pavement around you can all be wonderful practice surfaces.

9. Heavy Sticks

Drum sticks come in a wide range of weights, and it’s beneficial to you, dear musician – to try them out!

There are sticks made of heavy metals, like iron, that will make your usual pair feel lighter than feathers.

Try out marching sticks for outdoor drum corps; playing with heavier and lighter sticks can help your musicianship without needing to be behind a drum set.

10. Percussion Grab Bag

Use whatever you can find to practice drums: spoons, hangers, jingle bells, sacks of coins, etc. Use your imagination and have fun!

When you’re a percussionist, the world offers you a great deal of instruments to rattle, hit or shake. Change up your practice by laying out tambourines, jingle bells, or even using what’s in your kitchen drawer.

11. Apps and Online Drums

Check out your Android or Apple Store for a variety of drumming apps and practice tools. Check out Rudiment Pro, and DRUM COACH 1, for starters.

Plus, there are several websites that allow you to play digital drums. Bookmark your favorites and practice at your computer!

How Can I Practice Drums Without a drum set?

practice drums

From a drum practice pad to your pillows – and of course some high-tech apps! – there are lots of different ways you can practice drums, even if you don’t have a drum kit. Consider these alternatives and remember – no matter what you’re using to practice drumsbeing consistent and regimented in your practice routine is the best thing you can do to help yourself improve.

Need more suggestions? Here are a few more ways to practice drums away from the drum set! With so many different options, you can practice drums anytime, anywhere! Choose the method that works best for you and have fun while you practice drums!

How do you practice drums away from your drum kit? Let us know in the comments below!

Andrea IPost Author: Andrea I.
Andrea I. is a Philadelphia-based English teacher with a lifelong obsession with drums. She has taught drums with Girls Rock Philly, a rock ‘n’ roll camp for girls, and played in various bands. She currently teaches online and in-home lessons in Philadelphia, PA. Learn more about Andrea here!

Image courtesy Dakota

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