How to play drums? Not exactly the easiest topic to jump into in one short post. Luckily, jazzleadsheets.com has more than a few masters on hand to tackle the topic. And I was lucky enough to be able to sit down with one such master, Mr. Charli Persip, who had some great advice on how to play drums — well, rather, how not to play them. In fact, he had so much advice that he wrote a whole book on the matter. If you’re like many starting drummers today, you might not have time to read a whole book, but you’d still like to distill Charli’s wisdom. So we filmed Charli preaching some of his trademark tips on what to avoid. Now some of the hints you’ll have to read the book to get — the real technical magic, from how to tune to just the right way to practice your hits, but he shared the secret in the book — but you can get the core of Charli’s message just from the video.

“You Won’t Make Too Much Progress Playing What You Can Already Play”

How To Play Drums | Charli PersipIt goes without saying that you won’t be able to learn how to play drums if you aren’t a fan of hard work. And Charli’s gospel is one of hard work — one that extends beyond drum practice alone. 60-70% of your practice routine should be spent on things that you cannot currently do. That sounds reasonable, but really think about it. How much of your practice routine do you spend right now playing? What about improvising? Any of that time doesn’t count towards your 60-70% — that’s stuff you can already do. Charli believes that the solid majority of your practice time needs to be spend on solid technique, building muscle habits and theoretical knowledge — working your brain and body in ways that probably make you tired. Maybe practicing doesn’t sound like as much fun anymore, but man, is the growth and development worth it. To drive the point home, Charli demonstrates a warm-up exercise he uses to work on maintaining steady tempo while increasing and decreasing hand speed. I’m no drummer, but man, it doesn’t look easy. Drummers should certainly be sure to check this exercise out to practice what Charli preaches!

Communicating In The Band

How Not To Play Drums isn’t just a book for drummers. Charli was inspired to write this book to educate other musicians to learn about the drums and help them communicate with the drummer. Since the drummer provides the backbone of the time, knowing how to best communicate with them can elevate your sense of cohesion to another level. Hearing a band that’s really locked in is one of the greatest joys — imagine if that could be your band! I’ve always believed that it starts with the drummer, and if the bandleader knows how to communicate with the drummer well, everyone starts off on the right foot.

Watch: How To Play Drums

More To Learn From Charli Persip

If you’re a drummer who wants to try more licks from Charli Persip, be sure to check out his transcriptions on jazzleadsheets.com. Transcribed by New York-based professional drummer Evan Hughes, these solos span various stages of Charli’s career, including his legendary solo on Sonny Stitt’s The Eternal Triangle. Try learning the whole transcription or break them apart to use as exercises — either way, you’ll be adding something new to your routine so you can really practice and progress (not just play).