Warming up to play the drums is one of the most important things you will ever need to do before playing, whether it's in a band that is performing or just playing at home. It's one of the best habits you can ever get into and you can benefit from it not just on the drum set but in your everyday activities. This is a step-by-step guide to a good warm-up.
Stretching out will help in so many ways that it is difficult to describe them all. Iím going to take you through what I believe to be the best stretches that a drummer can do but I'm sure that I will leave some out as well.
- Starting off with your arms, pull your right arm across your chest and take your left arm and use it to pull your right arm in towards your body and hold it there for 10 seconds. Release and hold again. After that, you want to switch to your left arm and repeat.
- Next, you want to pull your right arm behind your head and using your left hand, grab your right elbow and pull and hold for 10 seconds. Release and hold again. Repeat with your left.
- Now lock your fingers together and stretch your arm toward the sky with your palms facing up. Hold for 10 seconds and then repeat for another 10.
- Fingers are very important to stretch out so find a wall or a table or anything sturdy and flat. Place your palm on the flat surface and start pushing with the tips of your fingers so that they are being bent back toward you (not too far or you might hurt them). You will know when they are being stretched to a good point. Do this again hold for 10 seconds.
- Legs are super important as well so let's work on those now. Start by placing your feet together. Bending at the waist and keeping your legs straight, try and touch your toes and hold.
- Next, you want to cross one foot over the other so as that it looks like you put your shoes on backwards. Start with the right and then do the left.
DO NOT BOUNCE WHILE YOU DO ANY OF THESE STRETCHES OR ELSE YOU WILL PULL MUSCLES.
- Another quick stretch to do if you feel that you are not stretched out well enough in your calves is to walk up to a wall and place your foot on the wall while keeping your heel on the ground and leaning forward.
I know a lot of you know these stretches from gym class or from playing a sport, but there are some people who have no experience with them.
2. The Warm Up
Warming up is the next most important thing that you do on the drums so I am going to go over some warm ups that have helped me.
- Lets start with nines. Nines is just what it sounds like. It is nine quarter notes that are played on each hand. You want to start out slow because for this warm up to be effective, you need to do this for at least 2 minutes but I suggest that you do this for as long as 5 minutes on a pad. Make sure you are using all of your fingers and stretching them out all the way for every hit. A warm up aid that a lot of drummers like to use is a wrist band. They help keep that warm blood moving through your fingers.
- Flam taps and flam accents each played twice and then alternating is a great way to warm up and also a great way to work on speed and control. The same rules about the 2 minute minimum (5 minutes being better) apply here as well.
Most of your rudiments will also work for a good warm-up as well and it will help you work on speed and control.
Lets move to the kit now. The way I explain this is for a right handed player but it can work for a lefty as well. You would just have to reverse everything.
- Start with your right hand and play quarter notes in sets of three starting with the snare and going to your first tom, second tom, and back to the snare. Repeat and do this for a set of three and then switch to your left hand going around the set in the same way. You should alternate this until you have this rhythm going. Now swap it up going from the snare to the second tom to the first tom and back to snare. Repeat with the left also in sets of three.
Once you feel that you have a good grove going and you feel that you can alternate with no problems, you will want to move on to other parts of the set. I am going to assume that you are a regular drummer and have your ride cymbal set up close to your floor tom. If not, you should be able to work something else out that will work just as well as this exercise.
- Start with your second tom and go to the ride and then to the floor tom in the same way as the snare- tom exercise you were doing before. The only difference is that you are now on different parts of the set. Next it will be with your left going from the snare to the hi-hat to the first tom. Do this in sets of three with one hit per tom or cymbal. Then reverse what you are doing by hitting everything in reverse.
- If you are like me with the double bass, I like to just do 8th notes on the bass not playing anything else and getting my feet and legs awake. If you are a single bass player then I suggest playing 8th notes as well alternating between hi-hats and bass.
Drum set and pedals
- Now lets put the hands and feet together. Start by playing those 8th notes on the bass and starting with the snare, play the 8th notes with the bass going around the kit on the toms. Do this for sets of three as well. After the first set you will reverse rotation and go the opposite direction. This will always start on the snare and end on the snare.
For my single bass guy and gals out there, you can play the 8th notes on the bass and starting with your right hand, play an 8th note on the snare working your way around the kit once. Then go on to the left and you will do this for a set of four, starting with your right hand and ending on your left before you switch rotation.
You should be pretty well warmed up by this point and the warm up may also have helped you to get used to going around the kit in different directions and stretching out in ways that you may not have normally when playing. It may also have helped you come up with new things that you can put apply to your playing.
I hope that this can help you in your everyday playing and that it can help you to relax more when you are behind the drum kit. I hope that everything is clear and I would be happy to answer any questions that anyone has. I know there are a million other things that can be done to stretch out and warm up but these are just some of the ones that have worked for me for years and I hope that they can help you out in your drumming careers.
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