By Stephen Perkins, as told to Billy Lee Lewis
Before we explore his warm up exercises for drummers, let us first take a moment to give thanks that the drummer for Jane’s Addiction has seen fit to devote his uncontainable energy to good and not evil.
Our conversation with Stephen Perkins revealed not only an extraordinary passion and commitment to music and drumming, but also a sincere eagerness to share what he has learned. Calling from his home studio, where he had just finished a session with Banyan, Perkins offered his personal practice tips.
Lets’ dive into warm up exercises for drummers
1. Warm up with Rudiments
I begin with ten to 15 minutes of the standard rudiments I learned in marching band. Although, having been penned by someone else, they may not feel “creative,” there’s an important tradition and discipline to these rudiments that still very much apply to my playing today. They’re also an excellent way to develop speed, strength, and control.
2. Exercise a drum solo
For the next 15 minutes or so, I like to take off on a sort of freeform drum solo around the kit. Without the constraints of timekeeping, I can explore the surreal or eclectic side of drumming. By avoiding patterns, I can free myself and get to know my drums and cymbals in a more musical fashion, concentrating more on swells, crescendos, ritards and such. It’s more of an “expression” solo than a “chops” solo, rediscovering the various sounds each of my instruments has to offer.
3. Work On Weak Points
Next, I like to focus on things that I’m not particularly good at. For instance, if you’ve got the Bonham thing down, why not go for a Bozzio double bass thing? Move your drums around, find new ideas, and stay away from what you’re used to. Although I always keep my “core kit” intact, I’ll add, switch, and substitute different instruments to open new possibilities.
Throwing in a pair of timbales or moving the order of my toms forces me to reconsider the kit; setting up a ride cymbal on my left allows me to work on playing left-handed bell grooves. This concept actually extends beyond practice. Because my various projects differ musically, I set up differently for each one. My goal is to inspire myself as well as my friends with different textures or patterns.
4. Play With Other Players
Practicing doesn’t necessarily have to be done alone. By surrounding yourself with equally good or better players, you’ll get better. Maybe invite another drummer or two over and trade ideas—you’ll often pick up things you might not have found on your own. Playing in an informal environment (without the pressure of an audience) with guitarists, keyboardists, whatever, can free all of you up to realize new discoveries.
5. Practice With A Metronome
When I’m not engaged in the free-form exercises, I work with either a standard metronome or something like Metro-Cans, which are headphones with a built-in click track. I’ve learned that all the chops in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t have a strong, confident sense of time.
How do drummers make wrists flexible?
Flexibility in the wrist and forearms is essential for drummers. The ability to play fast and not be restricted by any muscle tension is needed to play most styles of music.
If you are experiencing soreness or tightness in your wrists, it may be because you are not used to the motions of playing the drums. This is normal, but if you want to prevent it from occurring and keep your wrists healthy, it’s essential that you strengthen your wrists and stretch before playing the drums.
How to stretch before drumming
You should do some warm up exercises for drummers and stretch your whole arms before drumming, including wrists, forearms, hands, and fingers. These are basic stretches that can be done before drumming or any other activity. The point of doing these stretches is to get the blood flowing and warm up the muscles and tendons in your arms.
Lay your arm on a table with the palm facing upwards. Use your other hand to pull back on each finger for about 20 seconds or until you feel a stretch (don’t overdo it). Repeat for the other hand.
Place both forearms flat on a table with the palms facing downwards. Using your fingers, spread apart two of your fingers directly opposite each other as far as possible and hold for about 20 seconds or until you feel a stretch (again, don’t overdo it). Repeat for all five fingers.
Begin by extending one arm out fully, with the palm facing up (or if you’re stretching the underside of your arm, face the palm down). Take your other hand and pull your stretched arm by the fingers towards you. Do not pull too hard or force any movement. You should feel a stretch but no pain. Hold for 10-30 seconds, then switch to the other side. Repeat as needed.
How do you strengthen your wrist for drumming
To get the maximum power while playing, you need to first loosen up your arms and then use your forearms (not wrists) to generate power. What a lot of people think of as “wrist strength” is actually forearm strength in disguise, which is why so many people experience pain at the wrist when they play drums.
The best way to strengthen your wrist for drumming is by doing a variety of warm up exercises for drummers that target specific muscles used in playing.
The squeezing is the easiest exercise you can do even when you do other stuff such as watching TV. You can get some kind of squeeze ball, metal grip strengthener, or even a tennis ball that will do the trick. Squeeze it, hold it for 10-20 seconds, and then release. Repeat it as many times as you can.
You can also do other arm-strengthening exercises such as pushups and weight-lifting. A stronger arm means a firmer grip and less load on the wrists.
How do you build drum stamina?
Drumming is a very physical activity, and like any physical activity, it requires stamina. It’s often said that the best way to build drum stamina is to simply play longer, but there are other ways you can use to improve your drumming endurance.
The technique is the most important aspect of being able to play for longer periods of time without getting worn out.
This means knowing how to use your body efficiently. Some common mistakes are using too many muscles, playing with too much tension, or making things harder than they need to be. It’s important to practice regularly with a metronome so that everything becomes automatic (and doesn’t require as much energy).
The best way to build stamina on the drums is to do proper warm up exercises for drummers and alternate between playing for long periods of time and taking breaks. It’s important not to overwork yourself while practicing because it can lead to muscle soreness and injury.
You should play for 20 minutes, then take a 5-minute break and repeat. After that, you can increase your playing time by two minutes every day. As you get better at building your stamina, you can also increase the length of your breaks.
Some additional tips for building up stamina for drumming:
- Position yourself so that you can be relaxed and comfortable while playing. Don’t strain any part of your body to reach something that should be easily accessible.
- Avoid extra movement when you don’t need it — this includes sticking with the minimal amount of motion necessary, as well as keeping everything in rhythm and on time so that there isn’t any wasted effort as a result of rushing or dragging through a passage.
- Don’t grip the sticks too tightly or unnecessarily tense up your arms and shoulders – remember that relaxing is key here.
Staying hydrated is crucial too. If you’re dehydrated, your muscles will cramp up, and it’ll be much harder for you to play at your best. It’s important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after a long gig or rehearsal.
Warm up exercises for drummers include many different elements, including exercising the wrists to make sure they are loose and flexible and a number of rudiments to exercise the hands and technique. You can use your warm-up time to focus on weak points in your playing and make them stronger.
It gives you a chance to practice specific ideas you’ve been working on or that you’ve found especially challenging in the past. Remember to make a slow, smooth movement, keep your wrists stable, and don’t force the motion.
A proper warm-up routine will get your muscles and tendons ready for physical activity and prevent you from getting cramps or worse while playing. As you build drum stamina and strengthen your body for playing, you will have enough endurance for your performance.
Warm up exercises for drummers are essential for developing strong hands and wrists, learning new techniques, and ensuring you are always prepared to play and give your best performance.