How to Build Drum Speed, Part 3: Hand Speed

According to the Drumming System (affiliate link), a drum pad is only one surface with one feel. It’s a bouncy type feel that’s great for practicing. On the other hand, a drum set has many surfaces with many types of feels. Speed will allow to move your ideas around the drums with much more ease.

  1. Your drums and cymbals should be within easy reach so that you can get to where you need to get really fast. This will constantly change with time, but you want to make as easy as possible.
  2. Practice moving around the kit as fast as you can with a single stroke roll. Do this until your arms are tired. Try to go for five minutes and you will be sweating. Try to keep an eye on where you’re going so you’re not hitting rims. Ask yourself questions, such as  “where am i hitting?” and  “where i am i going?”
  3. At midnight, when everyone is sleeping, air drum AS LOUD AS YOU CAN. This strengthens you wrists. Remember that if you hit your drums you will wake people up. This is a good warm up, too.
  4. Try to play a single stroke roll on you floor tom only holding the middle of the drum stick. Not only does it feel awkward but you have no convincing balance point. Also, practice using the lock grip in the middle of the floor tom. If you have a high pitched floor tom, detune it low (before it loses its tone) so its soggy.
  5. Finally, practice playing double stroke rolls on your floor tom.

The Drumming System (affiliate link) goes into much more depth about how to improve your speed. This is one subject that most drummers from around the world are very interested in. As with everything in drumming and in life, patience and perseverance go a long way.

How to Practice Drumming for Fast Results!

Great athletes put in many hours of practice and it’s no different for drummers. It’s important not to think of drumming practice as a chore, but a way of life. For me, it’s a part of my job. The Drumming System (affiliate link) has an entire DVD dedicated to this subject. Learn & Master Drums (affiliate link) teaches you new habits to develop as you progress. I highly recommend both of these courses to you regardless of your skill level.

Here are two questions to ask yourself:

  1. What do you want to improve in your drumming?
  2. How much time do you have to work on your drumming?

It’s important to prioritize what you want to get better at.


  1. Don’t play when your practice and don’t practice when you play. Avoid just playing around when you sit down alone at your drums. Have an organized schedule. If you’re on stage or in a recording studio, don’t start working on stuff you should have been doing at home. Practicing is a solo art.
  2. Stretch before anything else. Remember that drumming is also a form of exercise. A great book to check out is Stretching (affiliate link) by Bob Anderson.
  3. Drum in front of mirror. This way you can see your posture, form, technique and how relaxed you are. Sometimes I even put one to the side of me.
  4. Record yourself on video and watch it back. Write down what you observe and what needs to be improved.
  5. Stay focused on what you are working on. It’s really easy to let your mind wander. If something isn’t coming to you, put it away and come back to it a few days later.
    There is no need to get frustrated if something isn’t coming together or sounding right.
  6. Work through new material slowly. Be sure to always use a metronome. Most drummers agree that 50 to 60 beats per minute is a good tempo to work on new material at.
  7. Write down the tempo you perform an exercise or piece of music at. This way, you know exactly where you should be when you come back to it.
  8. Review old material regularly.
  9. Start and end your practice sessions on a positive note.
  10. Use checklists. I have heard it said many times that excellence is in the details. To keep track of details, use checklists to make sure you are focusing on everything.
    Practicing for Young Musicians: You Are Your Own Teacher (affiliate link) has some great checklists at the end of the book. (Don’t be fooled by the title. It’s for musicians of all ages)
  11. If you feel pain, STOP!
  12. If you really aren’t in the mood to practice, don’t.

The Casual Schedule

The Drum Practice Routine Generator (see below) recommends doing 20 minutes a day. Pick 1 topic from each category per day. You can go down the list or randomly choose one. Over time, you’ll cover every aspect of drumming and it won’t take up a lot of your free time.

The Motivated Schedule

The Drum Practice Routine Generator (see below) recommends doing 40 minutes per day. This for someone who has a little more time to spend on the drums. Pick 2 topics in one category and spend twenty minutes on each one. Do the same thing with the next category on the following day. You can also mix it up. You’ll be surprised how quickly 40 minutes goes by.

The Dedicated Schedule

The Drum Practice Routine Generator (see below) recommends 60 minutes per day. This is great for someone who really wants to get good at that drums. Maybe its not for you. It’s good to practice 1 topic from each category for 20 minutes each. This will create an incredibly balanced practice routine. Obviously, you can spend as more time on this if you want to.

Drum Practice Routine Generator

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Learn and Master Heavy Metal Drumming

Heavy metal is a style of music that began in the late 1960’s. The style originated from blues-rock and psychedelic rock. Heavy metal is known for its thick, massive sound, that includes extremely amplified distortion, long guitar solos, emphatic beats, and sheer volume. Bands such as Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Pantera, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, and Metallica are some of the more popular heavy metal bands.

The Drumming System (affiliate link) contains a variety of heavy metal exercises for all levels of playing:

Beginner Exercises

These are usually eighth note based grooves with the hi hat cymbals slightly open. Maybe you might began to add sixteenth note variations on the bass drum and the snare drum. Play them at a moderate tempo and play them HEAVY.

Intermediate Exercises

Add a partial sixteenth note triplet added to the snare or bass drum. Make sure you play with a powerful bass bass drum sound, a convincing pulse on the hi hat, and a slamming 2 and 4 on the snare drum.

Advanced Exercises

These include broken ride patterns, incorporate the toms, and add quarter note triplets.

For myself, I play along to AC/DC.  I have found Phil Rudd’s grooves to be rock solid! There is an art to keeping the groove simple and solid. In terms of drum sound, Lars Ulrich (Metallica), has an incredibly clear sound that inspired many of the drummers of my generation.

Shortly after getting my first drum set, I remember seeing the “Lars Ulrich” drum set in the music store and wanting it so badly. Seeing all of those toms and cymbals looked so cool. Nowadays, I am only concerned about having the smallest drum set possible. It’s interesting how things change.

Sorry to go off on a rant, but I encourage you to check out the Drumming System (affiliate link) and work on the heavy metal exercises. If you’re new to this style, you will find these exercises challenging. If you’re a veteran of this style, you will find these exercises refreshing.

The Best Quiet Practice Drum Set

Drummers don’t have it easy. Practicing and keeping the volume low is a unique challenge every drummer will face at one point or another. Although many options are available for keeping the volume level low, I am still on the quest for the perfect “quiet drum set“.

Initially, I tried using drum mutes and cymbal mutes on a standard drum set. They felt unnatural and had no rebound.  I felt that it made me work harder and I would end up playing very tensely. Drum mutes and cymbal mutes have improved in recent years. If you want to make your acoustic drums quiet, these are be your best choice. I highly recommend Vic Firth Drum & Cymbal Mutes (affiliate link).

Just a side note: One of my drum teachers (who shall remain nameless) actually put briefs (underwear) over the cymbals to mute them. As entertaining as it was, it kinda worked.

A few years ago, I discovered mesh drumheads, which are extremely quiet drum heads. They were similar to the heads used on electronic drums. I liked them because you could actually hear the tones of the different drums. Although they were great for keeping the volume low, I easily broke though the heads on a regular basis.

I currently practice at home on a Gibraltar GPo8 Powerrack Pad Outfit (affiliate link). It takes up a small amount of space. I had to purchase a separate bass drum pedal and drum throne. I also added a hi-hat cymbal stand, hi-hat cymbals, and a hi-hat mute to use with the Gibraltar GPo8 Powerrack Pad Outfit (affiliate link). This has given me quiet practice setup that emulates an actual acoustic drum set.

Practicing on the Gibraltar GPo8 Powerrack Pad Outfit (affiliate link) combined with using my acoustic drums has actually helped me to make some significant improvements in my drumming. The drum pad set forces me to focus on precision and to really visualize the sounds that I want to come out of the instrument. When I practice on my acoustic drum set, I get to refine the sounds and feels that I have worked on at home.

Another choice is an electronic drum set. Electronic drum sets allow you practice quietly, but get real drum sounds. In fact, electronic drums made by Roland and Yamaha sound like acoustic drums. I am partial to Roland, because they feel more like acoustic drums in comparison to Yamaha.

Keep in mind that most electronic drum sets don’t come with a drum throne or bass drum pedal. The best part of having a drum set like this is that you can plug in your headphones and play all night long without disturbing any of your neighbors. There’s even a place to plug an iPod in so you can jam with your favorite music.

If you want the best electronic drum set available,invest in the
Roland TD20SX V-Pro Electronic Drum Set
(affiliate link).