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Maximize Your Drumming With These 5 Goals

To become a great drummer requires specific goals that will maximize your playing. Most importantly, these goals need to target specific elements in drumming that will improve your skills in both the short and long term.

In many ways, drumming objectives are similar to workout goals. Like exercising, it requires daily workouts (practice) to get better. By having a drum workout each day you will improve over time. In addition, I recommend attaching your practice time to a habit that you do each day. For example, you could drum before you eat dinner, practice right after you exercise, practice after brushing your teeth, or some other activity you do regularly. In any case, having a specified time that your practice each day (like going to the gym) will help you be consistent and improve.


To maximize your drumming, here are 5 drumming goals that I recommend. By doing these things each day, you will get better, stronger, faster, and improve your skill as a musician.


Now matter your skill level, every drummer can get faster. Taking a little time every day to develop strong and fast chops will have massive benefits in your playing. I recommend using rudiments as the foundation to build chops. More specifically, I suggest focusing on what I call The Big Three, which are single, double, and triple strokes. Plus, I recommend using other rudiments, such as paradiddles, rolls, and so on, which are just variations of The Big Three.


To get faster, I recommend using Sprints and Longs. These exercises are similar to running. If you want to get faster as a runner, you have to develop your sprints (builds muscle and technique) and long run (endurance and lung capacity). Drumming is the same. Here is how you work on each.



Play the rudiment is short spurts. For example, a single stroke might be RLRL (single stroke 4). Start slow, then increase your speed. Spend a few minutes on this each day and you will improve. In addition, be sure to keep it even.



Find the maximum speed that you can play the rudiment without it sound bad. Then, back of the speed a little. Using a timer (stopwatch on your phone works), play the rudiment consistently for 15, 30, and 60 seconds. Rest, then do it again (3 or 4 times) each day. 



One of the best ways to stay fresh as a drummer is to learn and master a new groove. Even if you play in one particular style (rock, pop, jazz, punk, etc.), I suggest learning a new groove in a style you do not usually play. More importantly, try and master the style. This goes beyond just learning the basics of the groove. Instead, listen to other drummers play in the style and analyze the drumming and music.


This will greatly add to your skill as a drummer and challenge you, as each style requires nuance, stylistic elements, and different ways (touch) of approaching the drums. A great place to find a variety of grooves is my book Tactical Drumming: Groove Survival Guide, which can be found here: 



As drummers, it is easy to just focus on groove, but adding dynamics to your playing can really change your overall sound. So, another goal should be to be a more dynamic drummer. This means to add greater variation in volume, articulations, and nuance in touch to your drumming.


To do this, start by taking your go to (favorite) drum fill. Then, crescendo the drum fill: Start it really softly and get louder. Now, decrescendo the drum fill: Start loud, then get quieter. Last, experiment with dynamics in this fill. In addition, you can add a variety of changes in your articulations and touch (light and heavy), which will add range to your playing. See video above for examples of this.



Nothing gets your brain working more that drum set independence, which means to play multiple rhythms simultaneously. Another drumming goal is to improve your drum set independence by working on exercises that improve this skill.


One way to develop independence between the hands and feet it is you use a steady pattern with the feet, such as keeping the hi-hat on 2 & 4, on every beat, on up beats, or some other combination. Then, playing rudiments or rhythmic variations over the top of it. Here is a video of this concept using an old army cadence.




The last goal is to try something totally new. For this goal, I recommend doing something that really challenges you as a musician. Some examples might be playing in a new group, learning a new instrument to understand how it fits with the drums, working on a recording project writing music, transcribing a drum parts, learning to read music notation, or any other thing you can think of.


Most importantly, only choose one new thing to focus on, as too many things will make it difficult to achieve. Instead, really focus on the on new thing so that you can do it really well.



The best time to start these goals is now. So, get to it. Start getting faster, learning a new groove, being more dynamic, developing your independence, and tackling something new. If you do these things each and everyday you will see your skill as a drummer improve significantly.


For more drum grooves, check out Tactical Drumming: Groove Survival Guide, which will show you a number of shuffle variations and other grooves. This can be found at or on Amazon at

By John Owens, Ph.D (Author, Drummer Educator). For John's bio go to


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