Drum practice pads are an essential tool for fine tuning your skills and for pushing your abilities as a drummer forward. Drummers don’t necessarily need a practice pad, but it is a good idea to have one in your lineup to get in some daily practice, to use for warmups and to work on techniques without the distraction of a full drum kit.
Practice Pads Are a Great Daily Practice Tool
If you have a drum practice pad sitting around at home there’s really no excuse to not get in 15 minutes of practice each day. Just that little bit of time spent each day, consistently working on new techniques, timing and muscle memory can be invaluable. Anything you learn to do on a practice pad will translate back to a drum kit once you’re back sitting on the drum throne.
Currently, I like to do a page from the Stick Control: For the Snare Drummer book each day if possible. It can be used to play something familiar or to get out of my comfort zone. I can go back a few pages if I’m feeling lazy and want to just play something I’m already capable of, or keeping moving forward through the book if I’m feeling up for a challenge. All I need to do this each day is the practice pad, a pair of stick and the book, which is very low overhead in terms of equipment. There’s really no excuse to not get some practice in when that’s all you need.
If a Full Drum Kit Isn’t Always Available
Depending on your drumming situation, you might not be able to get in front of a drum kit on a regular basis. I know that I’ve definitely had periods of time where playing a drum kit was only an option maybe once a week or less, usually during times where I didn’t have a place of my own to set up my kit.
Being able to practice on a pad on the days where you can’t get in front a full drum kit helps to fill in the gaps. You’ll learn skills on the pad that will help you make better use of your time when you are able to use a drum kit. This keeps you from wasting precious time on the drum kit with rudiment hand work and instead be able to work on full body coordination and playing the stuff you want to play.
Focus on Hand Technique
When you’re sitting in front of a full drum kit, it’s way too tempting to just start playing beats and using the full scope of the kit. There’s nothing wrong with that, that’s what we’re in it for! However, by limiting yourself to just a practice pad, you can help focus more specifically on hand technique and rudiments without all of the distractions of the drum kit. So if you struggle to focus on practicing hand work when at your full kit, try using a practice pad to limit the amount of distractions.
Practice Pads are Portable
Another nice thing about practice pads is that you can bring them with you and practice wherever you go. There are plenty of options for smaller practice pads, some as small as 6 inches in diameter, which easily fit in backpacks. If you are on the go or traveling, you can still get in some practice time without carrying a bunch of extra drum equipment.
Practice pads can also be packed in with your normal drum gear easily so that you can use it to warm up before a live show or band practice. If you’re stuck sitting at your bands merch booth before a show, why not break out the practice pad and get some warmups in? It’ll help you get your mind where it needs to be before you’re on stage and can even help with pre-show anxiety to get your hands moving.
So Do You Really Need a Practice Pad?
As you can see, there’s plenty of strong reasons for a drummer to have a practice pad. I would argue that you don’t necessarily need a practice pad, but it you want to be the best drummer that you can be, you really do need one. Incorporating practice pad work into your routines will only provide benefits and make it easier to find time to practice.