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By Justin Vedovelli


I started writing this as a way to better understand what and how to practice for myself, but I thought it would be good to share with everyone because it seems like everyone goes through the same practice struggles. Consistency and thoroughness are the two things that I try to be better at in my practice and hopefully we can use the ideas in this blog to create a better and clearer practice routine!

Having an organized and consistent practice routine is something I am always striving to have, and something that is always changing. What I practice changes depending on my goals at the time. Although what and when I am practicing changes constantly, there are some things I noticed that stay the same. First, setting goals. Identifying what the specific thing it is I want to do on my instrument is the first thing. For example, a goal I have at the moment is getting my bass drum foot faster and stronger so I can play certain ideas I hear in my head within a musical situation. I find it important to have goals and to have a vision for what I want to accomplish.

The second thing that stays consistent through my practice routine is the idea of technical practice vs practical practice and the subject matter that comes along with each of the two.

Technical vs practical practice

The way I define technical practice is something that on the surface doesn’t have musical application, and it is up to us to apply it to a musical situation.

On the other hand, practical practice is something that is inherently related to music.

For example, technical practice would be something like getting a scale or a rudiment up to a certain speed and sound. Practical practice would be something like learning a melody or a groove of a song. However, I view these two types of practice as related to each other instead of two separate entities. Technical practice is a precursor to certain practical practice subject matter and It is up to us to take the technical and make it practical. For example, taking a scale or rudiment and applying it to a musical phrase in song.

Even when I practice technical subject matter I am always thinking ahead to how it can be applied in a musical situation ( practical ).

However, that doesn’t mean that in order to get to the practical practice we have to do technical practice first. There is no order, it's just that sometimes in order to learn a certain groove (practical) we might have to practice certain limb independence exercises(technical) for example. Other times, I might already have the technique and its just about learning the vocabulary and when and where to play it (context).

So here is the outline of what I use for my practice. What I have listed under the two types of practice is drummer specific, so plug and play for your particular instrument.



Limb strength, speed, and dynamic control

Limb independence

Getting different sounds, and consistency of those sounds



Grooves (all styles)


Melodies/rhythmic figures and ensemble hits (all styles)

Expressive Concepts (intensity, feel, emotion, articulation)

Intellectual Concepts (keeping form, phrasing)

Where to find what to practice

You can get technical and practical musical content to practice from the following: Songs, Instructional video, literature, concepts from life/other art forms, and your imagination.

Mentor study/transcribing

Every great musician that I know has spent time studying specific musicians they like by transcribing and copying them. It helps to thoroughly study someone for a while because you can use them as a vehicle for a lot of the practice subject matter. For example you can learn how they get certain sounds (technical) and how it relates to their philosophical concepts (practical) and of course their music vocabulary (practical).

Universal concepts/Overlap

Something I’ve been thinking about is how to combine more than one subject matter of practice together, to maximize time spent practicing. For example, practice limb independence while learning a latin groove and playing it with a gap metronome to practice time keeping. However, where is the threshold where that becomes detrimental to getting the most results? Time spent focused on one thing may yield better and faster results. Something to think about....

Also, with the different styles (American- Jazz, Rock, Funk, Electronic/modern

Global- African, Caribbean, Brazilian), almost all subject matter applies to any style. The only style specific practice would be learning a particular groove or rhythmic figure/melody of a song.


  • Make sure technical can apply to practical! Don't just do technical exercises for its own sake, do it with the application to music (practical) already in mind.

  • USING MUSIC AS THE SOURCE- Get your ideas of what to practice from listening to music. Guaranteed to be practical and fun.

  • Write down what you aim to practice for the day and then what you actually did.

  • Have a folder on your phone where you have recordings of you practicing

  • Don't overanalyze. Analyze but don’t let it discourage you. Notice what needs to be improved and tackle it again the next day.

  • Ruts- From over-practicing or being unmotivated. Take breaks, go back to fundamentals. Practice what you like and you will feel motivated.

  • Practice Daily for multiple 20-40 minute sessions focusing on a different subject matter for each session, but repeating subject matter throughout the week depending on goals.

  • Know when to move on. Don't keep practicing things you already know how to do, unless you are changing and developing that thing in a new way.


As I said before, I wrote this for myself and decided to share it. I am searching for more effective and clearer ways to practice, so I am sure things will be added and subtracted as my musical journey goes on. I do believe there are some things in here that work and have proven to be effective so I am hoping you can gain something from it! I would love to hear your perspectives on practice and if this helps you at all. Let me know by leaving a comment!

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