I can hear everyone saying to themselves, “Improve your drum skills and technique without practice? How is that possible?”
Did you know that we continue to learn even when we are not actively engaged in learning or studying?
As students of the drums, we are focused on studying the music, learning our lessons, improving our rudiments, improving our technique, and everything in between. But sometimes we hit a brick wall and just need a break.
It is during these moments (away from our studies) that our brain continues to process what we’ve been learning all this time.
You may have discovered this already on your own. For example, you may have been struggling with something, get fed up, and walk away for a day or so. But when you come back, you find that you have a much better grasp of the concept, a better understanding, and perhaps can execute something that has been your Achilles heal for some time.
This is why I say that we can all improve our drum skills and technique without practice, if we allow ourselves the time away from our instrument to allow our brains to process everything we’ve been feeding it.
For me, I find as I struggle through complex method books (which are nothing more than complex math problems), step away for a while, that when I return, I have a much better grasp of the concepts. I’ve basically improved without actually practicing. What’s that all about? Why is this happening?
There are a few things that come into play as we learn. We all learn at different rates. Some concepts are quickly absorbed and processed, while we struggle with other concepts for days, weeks, or even months. Also, when faced with a learning challenge, it’s best to step away and return to it later. While we’re away, we are subconsciously learning, absorbing, and processing information while we’re idle or concentrating on other things in our lives. That’s one reason why sleep is so important. While we are idle (or away doing something else), our brain is processing, making connections, while our physical bodies are building muscle memory.
So, by the time we come back to practicing our drums, we find that we have actually improved even without practicing.
I used to beat myself up for missing a day or two of practice. But I’m not as harsh on myself anymore since I know I am still improving without practice.