LoginCreate ProfileSubscribe


Setting Up For Success

Article by Sean Mitchell // October 15 2014
Setting Up For Success

Like many drummers I am somewhat obsessive when it comes to setting up my drum set. The toms have to be at just the right angle, the cymbal logos must face me, my throne must be exactly 21 inches from the ground, my hi hats have to be precisely 1.5 inches apart; perhaps now you are thinking a trip to the psychologist is in order? 

While I might have embellished my compulsive nature in the intro (not by much though) we drummers are a very picky lot and are prone to letting the set up get to us. Go to any jam session and sit at the drummer’s kit and tell me you don't fidget or adjust anything. If you don't then you can probably also lick your own elbow. It just doesn't happen; there is always something that needs to be tweaked in order for you to feel comfy when you don't have home kit advantage. 

And because you are a drummer by now you have already tried to lick your own elbow.

Much like our set up on stage is directly related to our level of comfort when playing, having a convenient and organized rehearsal space can and will result in more effective and successful shed sessions. Here are 10 simple steps to a set up a successful practice room.

10. It should go without saying that your practice room should have enough space so that you can comfortably accommodate your drum set. A small room will generally suffice for most drummers unless you are Terry Bozzio, then you will need a warehouse. Your drums should be positioned in such a way that you can access the room easily. That is when you stand up you don't have to traverse your drum set in order to walk away from the kit.

9. A book shelf should be a staple piece of furniture in your space. All your technique books, DVD's, CD's and any learning materials should be on the shelf for you to use freely. Having to find anything while you are intending to get connect to drumming will only foster the need to be frustrated and ultimately loose your focus.

8. Having a working computer and printer with an internet connection is paramount in this day and age. I would say that having your computer and printer set up in such a way that you can easily access it from your drum throne is priority one. Given the mass amount of learning potential on the internet and the ability to take lessons via Skype with some of today's top educators allows for unfettered inspiration. I will add one cautionary point here. Limit any Facebook or Twitter time to genuine lesson material. There are many great lesson groups like Matt Patella’s The Art of Drumming and our own Technique section. But limit your general trolling time to after practice.

7. In addition to your computer set up it would be wise to have a set of headphones and a good computer mic in or around your computer set up. Again make sure you don't have to climb over the computer to get out from behind your drums.

6. Having a practice pad/foot pad station is a great idea if you can swing it. As much as we do need time on the kit, a practice pad station allows you to stay focused on hand and or foot techniques. This type of practice builds muscle memory and creates the neural pathways that will eventually lead to you into making the Moeller method second nature. Stepping away from the kit will prevent you from getting into your "creative drummer" mode whereby you start jamming ideas or noodling on the kit (as I often do) causing you to loose your focus on the task at hand. Creative expression is a must, but it has it's time and place too.

5. Your metronome and a music stand should be accessible at every moment in the rehearsal room. They should be easy to position near the kit and near the practice pads as well.

4. If your cell phone has a metronome app this is one of the best ways to accomplish the metronome issue. However, yours should be on Airplane mode if you are in a serious shed session. If you must have a phone in your practice space, make sure you turn off the ringer while you are shedding.

3. If you are a neat freak you need not read any further, but if you are like me, this section is the hardest to accomplish. You need to keep your area organized. That means a little trash can for papers, you need a place for all your drum keys, a place for all your pens and pencils, a place for your odds and ends to call home (i.e. cymbal felts, bolts, nuts, washers Moongels etc). Again this goes back to expending energy on shedding and not searching for something you have misplaced. The idea is to stay focused in your practice room and enjoy the connection to the instrument.

2. Communicate with your family, roommates, friends etc. who share your dwelling that while you are in the midst of a mind bending shed, you are not to be disturbed unless it is a dire emergency. Communication is such an art and to do it effectively will save you tons of lost time.

1. Show up. Plain and simple, if you set this space up get in there on a realistic and consistent basis. If you have no designs on being the next Virgil Donati you need not be in the room for 16 hours a day. If you have a full time job, kids and are a hobbyist, maybe 7 hours a week is more realistic, but make that 7 hours count. If you are planning on auditioning for Cirque du Soleil, get a cot my friend, you’re going to be sleeping in there. Bonsoir!

If you liked this you will also enjoy:





Login to view comments and join the discussion.

About the Author
Sean Mitchell

Sean Mitchell has been an active participant in the drumming industry for over 20 years. He has studied under Crash Test Dummies drummer Mitch Dorge and Drumming's Global Ambassador Dom Famularo. Sean is also a songwriter and regularly performs with his wife (and singer) Jill Mitchell. Sean proudly endorses Aquarian Drumheads.

Editor's Choice
  • For Your Ears Only

    For Your Ears Only
    Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably well aware of the dangers we as drummers face... (more)
  • 7 Must-Have Drum Toys For 2017

    7 Must-Have Drum Toys For 2017
    Tax season is soon upon us, and for those of us getting a return it's time to start thinking about that... (more)
  • Billy Cobham

    Billy Cobham
      It is incedibly humbling to talk to someone you respect and admire. And when that person can also... (more)