Practice, Practice, Practice.
Right guys and girls. I’d like to start by stressing the importance of getting a good practice pad to use on a regular basis.
What is a practice pad?
What is a practice pad I hear you say! Well basically it’s a lump of rubber placed over wood designed to imitate the feel and response of a normal snare drum, but with out all the associated noise attached. They are usually small, light weight and easily transportable. Meaning we can practice anywhere and anytime we feel the need. One of the main problems with learning drums is the inability to do this due to noise level and the inconvenience of having a none easily transportable instrument.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to using a practice pad I will attempt to cover all these for you now. But I will add im a big pusher of the drum practice pad I think all drummers should own and use one. Not let it sit there as a coaster.
So the pro’s of using a Drum Pad is the obvious ability to sit down and practice your drum rudiments in front of the TV producing very little noise on something that will react like a real drum. This also brings us into the next advantage of easily been able to hear and play along to a metronome. Which incidentally is another must have piece of kit for a drummer. These days there is no excuse not to have one as most phones are now able to download free apps that contain these within them. This used in conjunction with a metronome allow us the ability to be able to track our progress and keep records of our improvements in that search for faster rolls and slicker drum licks. Record keeping should be done as a matter of course when having your practice sessions. Which incidentally should be set out to achieve a goal you have in mind, Be it faster double strokes or a more accurate flam. These things don’t happen over night and take ages to master.
A practice pad is also very unforgiving which will evidently highlight the main weaknesses within your drumming arsenal. You will be able to easily identify your weak areas of play and able to improve on this (this is why some people bypass the pad as they hate knowing they are not perfect). Your mistakes and shortcomings are not masked by a load cymbals or a kick drum hit.
You also don’t have the added distraction of the full kit in front of you distracting you from your dedicated practice session.
Now to the con’s.
A practice pad is not the full instrument. You won’t learn amazing fills or be able to practice your movement around the kit, or gauge how different hits might sound if spread about the whole instrument. Unless you have a full practice kit you are limited to the one drum. It doesn’t help you to progress your creativity and it limits you to only been able to practice your technical skill (which is as important I think).
So in conclusion I believe a practice pad is a must for drummers. But it is not to be used instead of a drum kit. But more of an aid to allow us to practice the menial stuff in relative comfort without damaging our ears. Allowing us to keep good track of our progress and improvements over a few select months or even years.
I use the HQ 14” pad pictured above and can’t recommend them enough.