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By johanne James

Good day all and hope you’re all in good health?

Let me begin. Good practice habits.
As musicians we have all had to practice our beloved instruments to the point where for some it has become an obsession! Mine did, then it just became a passion. It was said that Hendrix even went to the bathroom with his guitar! Well, it would be a little difficult for me under those circumstances, like where are you going with that drum kit, dear boy? To the toilet mum, der! Well my dear, I don’t think there’s enough room for both of you in there, one of you will have to wait outside. Those were the wise words of my dear old mum. I would practice between 6 and 8 hours a day, and always had a pair of sticks in my hand, I kid you not! Two hours here, have a break, another hour and so on throughout the day and target specific areas that I wanted to improve and believe it or not, I never once in my life had a drum lesson, so I’m completely self-taught. I do believe that had I had lessons I would have been a more schooled player, but there you go. In fact to be honest there wasn’t anyone around other than a classical percussionist at school who gave me some exercises and rudiments to learn and that was it!

There is a how, when, what and most importantly why.
For me when it comes to practice I always give myself a time frame in which I want to learn or target an area which I want to improve, so it could take between 5 minutes and 5 days. Then I ask myself, why do you want to learn this, for once you have, when and who are you going to play it with? Pointless having all this stuff and no opportunity to use it. It then becomes redundant, useless or inappropriate! But it’s nice to know that you have it in your arsenal if it’s ever needed and the ability to learn. Playing songs the same way night after night can become, as you all know, a little stale, so to liven things up a little you can throw in something different. I do it now and then and my Groove Brother Stevie A will turn and smile at me or just nod his head in approval. Cool! Performance practice is worth its weight in gold. You learn so much more than you do through ten hours of hard labour, so to speak. But what you don’t want is to become just a good practicer. If there is such a word? Or to put it in better terms, just good at practicing! It was simple really, I wanted to play like Ian Paice from Deep Purple and then I found my own style. I stole but never copied and what ever I learned from whom ever and made it my own. Developed a great deal of technique and luckily never acquired any bad habits. I then, as mentioned before, targeted specific areas I wanted to improve and I do so to this day. I unfortunately no longer have the time to practice six to eight hours a day as performance practice is far more valuable!

This works for me, but could be a blue print for anyone on any instrument and as you know, you never stop learning and there’s the fun part, there’s always a new avenue to explore. I’m sure many of you out there can identify with what has been said here, so I wish you all the best and develop for yourself a healthy practice regime. Thanks for listening.

Johanne James


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