Hey kids, have you ever wanted to be like Superman???

by Kevin Kern, Drum instructor at The Lesson Studio

The question all of my students have been asking lately is “Mr. Kern… How do I play faster?!?!?” While I personally stress the importance of practicing slowly and deliberately to better comprehend the mechanics involved in playing music, it is equally necessary to spend time developing endurance and stamina to improve your technique. The exercise I use to build speed is very simple and has never failed to help me strengthen my technique provided that I practice diligently and follow a precise routine.

I imagine everyone has heard this at some point in time and if not they are truly words to live by… “It does not matter how many times you repeat something, but how well you make each repetition that helps you improve.” This is very pertinent information for those trying to learn anything new. Practicing halfheartedly with poor technique in an unfocused frame of mind is not a beneficial way of rehearsing music. Below (Figure 1) is the exercise that helps me build speed, and with it comes a list of specific instructions that must be followed if you want this exercise to benefit you!

Figure 1: Single Stroke – Endurance Builder

The exercise works by playing a group of comfortable slow notes (in this case eighth notes), followed by a group of notes exactly twice as fast over the same number of beats. It is super important that you can play these rhythms accurately to a metronome before you attempt to use this to develop technique. Follow this list of instructions very closely to properly utilize this exercise…

  1.   WITHOUT SACRIFICING ANY CLARITY OR CONTROL, find the FASTEST metronome marking that you can play the exercise at.
  2.   RECORD this metronome number and keep it with your practice materials.
  3. PRACTICE the exercise WITHOUT STOPPING for 2 to 3 minutes or until you feel a slight burning sensation in your forearm muscles. This should be repeated a second time with the “L” hand leading the exercise to keep balance in the mind and body.
  4.   SPEED IT UP by increasing the metronome 2 bpms every day you practice. Note: It is advised by most musicians that one practices 4 to 5 days per week.
  5.   REPEAT STEPS 3 and 4 until you completely maximize your metronome’s potential and then fly to Germany and compete for the WFD like this shining young drummer… http://www.extremesportdrumming.com/ (fast forward to 6:30 to see the action!)

Remember that you can use this rehearsal method to help build endurance and stamina on whatever musical challenge you might be dealing with. The exercise in this blog will particularly help build single stroke or open stroke rolls, a very important skill for every drummer to refine. If you have any questions or want to talk more about the “Ins and Outs” of drumming, please don’t hesitate to write. I hope this helps in your most recent drumming endeavors and the best of luck to you!!

Kevin Kern, Drum Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Kevin Kern


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