"All the really great drummers; those with the legendary names and abilities spent immense amounts of time to get that good."

Great Drummers Practice a LOT

Yesterday I gave a lesson to a highly motivated student who told me he had just secured a practice space where he could practice almost as much as he wanted to.

I rarely hear news this good from my students. Honestly, I more frequently hear bad news about their progress. The statement “I was really busy this week and I didn’t get to practice enough,” is a common one.

So, hearing this news got me excited. He looked so happy about his new practice situation; it seemed that he could barely contain his enthusiasm.

Then he told me even better news. “The practice space costs me zero dollars,” he explained.


“That doesn’t seem possible. How could that be?” I asked.


Wow. My student, who doesn’t make a lot of money, figured out a way to secure a practice space without any money. He is bartering computer programming skills for his practice time. That is initiative!

The reason for all this? He LOVES the drums. Oh, and the other reason? He understands, from conversations we’ve had during our lessons, that it takes a LOT of practice to get good. He knows that he needs a place to play on real drums (not pads and not electronic drums) that is available to him for hour upon hour of practice.

I’ve told him about several times in my life–the most recent being just a few years ago–when I spent the majority of my work days practicing. My goal for these multi-year practice regimens was to practice a similar number of hours to what I would have had to work if I had a day job. We’re talking 30 or 35 hours a week.

For the most recent period that I did this–2008 through 2010–I put in about 4,000 hours of practice time. And I have the log books to prove it. Yup, I logged my practice time.

My industrious student had heard me explain this and realized that the only way he was going to get as good as he wanted was to start working harder.

“Why did you get this practice space?” I asked.

“You inspired me with your stories of practicing like it was your job,” he said. “I didn’t know that people practiced that much”

So, I am here to tell you: it does take that much work. All the really great drummers; those with the legendary names and abilities spent immense amounts of time to get that good.


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