The Troupe
This drummer's journey with other drummers.

A Practice By Any Other Name

So, what are the best practices for practice?

This is a very, very interesting question.

I think the best thing to do is to define what exactly we are talking about.


prac·tice (ˈpraktəs)

As a noun:

1) The actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such an application or usage. “The principles and practice of teaching.”
Synonyms: Application, Exercise, Use, Operation, Implementation.

2) Repeated exercise in, or performance of, an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it. “It must have taken a lot of practice to become so fluent.”
Synonyms: Training, Rehearsal, Repetition, Preparation.


As a verb:

1) To perform an activity, or exercise a skill, repeatedly and/or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency. “I need to practice my French.”
Synonyms: Drill, Rehearse, Work.

2) To carry out or perform a particular activity, method, or custom habitually and/or regularly. “We still practice some of these rituals today.”
Synonyms: Perform, Observe, Function.


Uh oh. This might be more difficult than we thought.

So, it is possible to practice our practices, so that we can practice practicing.

I am going to share how I think of my “practice”, and what has worked for me.

When I practice, I break my goals down into bite sized pieces.


If my practice is intended to strengthen my ability to perform techniques, I call that Drills.

If my practice is intended to build physical stamina, or mental confidence, I call that an Exercise.

If my practice is intended to further my knowledge of rhythm or theory, I call that Study.

If my practice is intended to learn a piece of music, I call that Work.

If my practice includes other musicians, I call that Rehearsal.

If my practice includes an auidence, I call that Performance.

And, if my practice is not geared towards ANY of those things, I call that Play.


For the next series of posts here, I will be detailing my various practices, and hopefully helping out any new drummers, or any active drummers that might have found themselves at a plateau in their current playing level.

2 Responses to “A Practice By Any Other Name”

  1. Greetings, Oh-Poster to “The Troupe” Blog!

    Just a note to thank you for the incredibly valuable wisdom downloads you are offering here. I’m loving the taxonomy of “practice” which you spell out in this latest one! As an aspiring ME drummer I have had some grand teachers. They have given me guidance especially in the categories of drills and exercises and study. What I have had to figure out myself (duh:-) as a late-onset would-be musician is how much is laid on the individual student to spend time with the instruments gaining strength agility and stamina. All our teachers say practice, and use a metronome and take it slow then speed up gradually as you acquire accuracy. Kevin Hartnell would speak of “woodshedding”—just putting in the effort over stretches of time. I remember thinking I was starting to understand this with Raquy Danziger’s recommendation that one spend say ten minutes on a given drill. That’s when I realized how much improvement I was getting in strength. And Nezih Antakli’s reminder that “You have time” so we don’t need to panic and try to do it all at once. And his lovely charge—“Just play beautifully,” so open-ended, so friendly! With thanks— Sue in Philly >

    • Hello, and thank you!

      Very glad you enjoy the blog.

      I am very much a Malcolm Gladwell fan, and I agree with his 10,000 Hour Rule. (He lays it out in full in the book, Outliers.)

      I have laid this stuff out in my own head, so that my practices could be more and more focused, and this led to a huge jump in comfort, confidence, and skill for me. And, consequentially, a lot more joy and satisfaction.

      I will be going over each of these, um, “categories” in this series of posts.

      Hopefully they give everyone some value, and spark even more passion and enjoyment in their art and craft.

      Thanks again,


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