Sunday, May 06, 2018


The true struggle comes in the practice room, facing those drums everyday for 10 hours.
Famoudou Don Moye

When I was in college I decided that, at some point in their career, everyone who can play practiced 4-8 hours a day, for a period of years at least. I just got that impression from my teachers, from going to clinics, and from reading Modern Drummer magazine.  Today I finally decided to check; I got into my MD archives and pull as many actual quotes as I could about the number of hours people practiced.  
These quotes are all out of context, and spoken in the '70s and '80s— within the first decade of many of the players' professional careers— so don't draw too many ironclad conclusions about anyone's practice habits over their lifetime. David Garibaldi and Steve Smith, for example, were touring heavily at this time. John Guerin was probably doing recording dates 350 days a year. Most of them also talked about spending an equal amount of time listening to music, and playing with people— often practicing less when they were playing more. 

I know teachers who tell their students to practice four hours a day, eight hours a day. If you can't accomplish what you want in an hour, you're not gonna get it in four days.
Buddy Rich

I practiced my ass off! I practiced eight hours a day. I would get up in the morning - grab a towel, put on a tee shirt and swimming trunks and go down in the basement and practice until everyone came home. I was sixteen years old[.] I would practice EVERYTHING! I practiced with records and without records. I practiced straight time, with a metronome and without a metronome. I practiced soloing with everything - sticks, brushes, mallets and fingers, and I practiced 4/4, 3/4 and 5/4 time, Latin beats... everything. I practiced everything I felt like - but I had to feel it.

There was a point when I was practicing 6 to 8 hours a day, 4 to 5 days per week. I just had all these things I wanted to work on.
— Butch Miles

Working on the road doesn't really give you that much of an opportunity to practice, but I still like to work out for at least three or four hours.
David Garibaldi

I haven't practiced in ten or fifteen years. I'm just about to start again. When I was 19, I practiced six hours a day for about three months. I feel a need to do three months of practice; the next three months it does me good.
John Guerin

You can play all day on the drum set if you want to, but you can accomplish more in ten minutes of good practice as opposed to two hours of wasteful practice. The amount of time isn't necessarily important.
Peter Erskine

I used to practice seven and eight hours per day.
— Gene Krupa

A  minimum  of two hours a day, mostly on muffled drums. I normally practice an hour at home, and an hour or so at the studio.

I used to practice eight hours a day.
— Ed Shaughnessy

When I say practice I don't mean just for my hands either. I mean creative practicing, working on an idea. One idea for like two hours.

Some drummers have more natural ability than others. Some drummers need a half hour, others need four hours. It's an individual thing,

There's no such thing as you must practice 6 hours a day. You practice until it happens. Until whatever you want to happen, happens.
— Joe Cocuzzo

I would practice for four or five hours every day, and if I didn't practice that many hours in a day, at least I would practice something every day. I really noticed that, if I practiced every day, it made a difference.
Steve Smith

[W]hen I was a kid, I'd come home from school and I would get on that practice pad for at least a couple of hours. Until I was about 17, that's all my life was. I didn't have girl friends or anything. That was it.
— Eddie Marshall

Sometimes an hour and a half, sometimes six or seven hours a day. It all depends. I go in cycles. Sometimes I can practice a whole lot every day; other times I'll be gigging a lot and won't practice at all.
— Casey Scheurell

Holy shit, I've been sitting here and practicing the Barimbau six hours a day.
— Mickey Hart

From 3:00 in the afternoon until 6:00. Three hours a day, seven days a week, forever!
James Black

I don't think I could do anything for eight hours. I would get too bored doing one thing that long. Now, I could maybe play with a group for that period of time. But doing something like that for eight
hours in a room by myself—I don't have that kind of attention span. For two or three hours? Yes. But, eight hours? No. I know a lot of people who do that. If somebody practices for eight hours a day, they should be a monster.
— Terri Lyne Carrington

I practiced. I practiced timpani for five hours a day when I studied with Vic Firth, and I practiced five or six hours a day when I was getting mallets together with George Gaber. That's the only way you're going to get good at something. 

I was practicing six, seven, eight hours a day, learning to play like a rock'n'roll drummer.
— Kenny Aronoff

When I sit at the drums for four or six hours—whether I'm playing one rhythm for a long period of time, or playing with a rhythm machine or something like that—it creates a real trance-like quality. That's what I love best about drumming. That trance. It's the happiest place for me. It's the deepest place inside and it makes me understand "why" I play the drums.
— Michael Shrieve

 During the school term, I would practice several hours a day—all on drums.
— Kenny Washington

I would be practicing every day for like ten hours.
— Marvin “Smitty” Smith

For three months, I diligently did two or three hours a day of just Accents and Rebounds at a very slow tempo.
Andy Newmark

Each student is an individual. One person may be able to handle a half hour tops. That individual might not be able to handle more. I had a student once who would practice eight to 11 hours a day. If
I were to practice half of that time, it would drive me crazy. The most I ever practiced myself was three hours a day for one year, and I almost ended up bananas. So you have to be realistic; you have to deal with your own particular situation.
— Chuck Flores

My most productive time was during my first year at college. I had the whole summer off, I didn't know anybody, and I was up at school alone. So I made up a practice schedule, and hit it ten to 15 hours a day for about three months. I went through two summers of that, and it never got under six or seven hours, even when school was in session.
Dave Weckl

You've got to practice five to seven hours a day.
— Louis Hayes

There was nobody twisting my arm to practice six to eight hours a day.
Terry Bozzio

Play at least ten minutes a day on the drum set.
Paul Motian

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