Why Every Drummer Should Use Goal Setting To Get Better

Using goal setting in your drum practice will make you better faster. What are your drumming practice goals? How about improving your coordination or what about fixing that weak hand?

In this article, I’ll share with you a proven method to reach your drumming goals and get better faster on the drums. Let’s learn how to supercharge your drum practice!

Goal setting for your drum practice will help you improve fast.

Goal setting guarantees greater success

When I was starting out on drums, my only goal was to become a professional drummer, period. What I didn’t know is that there would be thousands of small drum practice goals I would achieve along the way. Some of those goals were:

  • Clean double stroke rolls
  • 8th-note drum beats
  • 16th-note drum beats
  • Jazz Swing feel
  • Jazz coordination
  • Brushes
  • Brazilian grooves
  • etc…

Obviously, there were so many more drum practice goals that I achieved to play drums professionally. I also had great drum teachers along the way who created those drumming goals for me.

You can use goal setting for goals you'd like to achieve in your drumming career too.

If you are looking to make drumming a career, you might also like my series on how to become a professional drummer.


As I achieved each goal, I felt successful and motivated to learn more. If we don’t have goals, we’re like a leaf blowing in the wind. We’ll skip from one thing to the next and probably not finish most of what we start. Progress will be minimal at best.

First and foremost, if you don’t have a drum teacher I suggest you get one. Next, grab some paper and a pencil. Write down the top 3 styles of music you want to learn. Rank them by How motivated you are to learn them. These are mine, for example:

  1. Jazz (Super excited to learn)
  2. Brazilian (Excited to learn)
  3. Hip-Hop (Happy to learn)

In this blog post, we’re going to take your #1 style and write a drum practice goal for it. You can do this for the other 2 styles or any number of styles you want to learn. For now, let’s focus on just one style so I can teach you how to write solid goals.

Goal setting helps you focus your drum practice time.

Goal setting in 2 easy steps

I teach goal setting to people of all walks of life through my book Gifted, 6 Steps For A Fulfilling Life. Goal setting will work great for changing any aspect of your life. It will also work for helping you get better on the drums.

Writing out your drum practice goals will focus your practice time on only the things that will help you improve. When we write things down, ideas become more real. Our path to be a better drummer becomes clearer with goals. So, it’s time to get those ideas out of your head and onto paper.

Goal setting focuses your mind toward success.

The anatomy of a focused, powerful goal is: I AM POSITIVE AND S.M.A.R.T.

Setting Drum Practice Goals Step 1

“I Am Positive” spelled out simply means:

  • “I” = I am the most important person needed to accomplish each goal.
  • “Am” = I am accomplishing your goal right now in the present.
  • “Positive” = I am clearly focused on what you want to accomplish.

Every time you write a drum practice goal, it will begin with the letter “I.” That’s because Your goals are written for yourself. You are the one who wants to get better at drumming.

Always write a goal as if you are already achieving it. This is the “Am” part of a goal. If you keep your goal focused on the present tense, you will program your mind to get things done faster. It also helps you to stay focused on what you want to achieve. Here are some examples:

  • I practice
  • I learn
  • I search for
  • I buy
  • I play
  • I contact
  • etc…

Lastly, Use only positive words in your goals. Always focus 100% of your goal on what you want to achieve and 0% on what you don’t want. For example:

WRITE THIS: I play clean double stroke rolls…

DON’T WRITE THIS: I no longer play messy double stroke rolls…

Write the words that create an image of what you want in your mind. This is very powerful in helping you stay motivated. Words really make a difference.

Once you use goal setting for your drum practice, you'll never look back.

Setting Drum Practice Goals Step 2

Next, let’s learn about the S.M.A.R.T. part of your drum practice goals. S.M.A.R.T goals make you crystal clear about what you want to accomplish with your drum practice.

They also help you know what action you’ll need to take to achieve your goals the fastest. Let’s break down the acronym S.M.A.R.T. for you now.

  • S = Specific: This is the “What, Who and sometimes Where” of your goal. Be very specific with your wording. Make it abundantly clear to yourself, exactly what you want to accomplish. Paint a future picture in your mind about what you are doing on the drums.
  • M = Measurable: Measurable simply means that you need to write numbers into your goals to help you see your progress. Things like BPM (Beats Per Minute) and the number of minutes you practice a specific skill (i.e. double stroke rolls) are good examples.
  • A = Attainable: This means you want to and believe that you can, achieve your goal. Sometimes people say they don’t have enough time. This is where you decide if you will MAKE the time.
  • R = Realistic: Here, you have to be really honest with yourself and figure out if you have the necessary skills to accomplish your goal. Even if you don’t have the necessary skills now, you can develop them. For example, maybe you want to play your drums like Jazz drummer Tony Williams. If you have never played Jazz before, you may want to learn some Jazz coordination exercises or hand patterns first.
  • T = Time Sensitive: This is the “When” of your goal. Be sure to write a specific date for your goal to be achieved. Add the month, day and year if you can. This will help you to get it done!
In goal setting make your goals follow the I am smart formula.

For example, let’s say you would like to play cleaner double-stroke rolls. Next we’ll break down down this goal into a smaller support goal to achieve your cleaner double-stroke rolls.

Example drum practice goal

Let’s write a drum practice goal for your #1 style from the list of styles you want to learn. We’re going to focus on getting better at our double-stroke rolls. We use them all the time in every style of drumming so this is a good focus. We’ll use reverse rolls as a goal to achieve this.

GOAL: I start each drum practice session with 10-minutes of clean reverse double-stroke rolls by a specific date (month/day/year). (See the video below for how to clean up your doubles with brushes.)

I

start

clean

Each drum practice/reverse double-stroke rolls

10 minutes

I believe I can do it!

Yes. I know how to hold drumsticks

Specific date

I

am

positive

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic

Time Sensitive

Use goal setting to plan your practice time

Once you’ve written 5 drum practice goals of things you want to learn for a specific style of music, use them to plan out your practice time. For example, the first 10-minutes of each practice will be playing reverse doubles.

If you’re practicing for 1 hour then you still have 50 minutes remaining to plan. Fill in the rest of the practice time with your remaining goals. If you’ve still got some time left, just have some free time bashing on the drums!

To get the most out of your practice time, I also suggest you read my blog post about how to learn drums fast. It explains how we learn and the most effective way for you to practice drums.

Use your goal setting to break up your practice time into efficient chunks.

Goal setting works for your drumming career too

Of course, you can use goal setting to plan your drumming career too. Goals about who you want to play with, the kind of gigs you want to do, where you want to play and how much money you want to make would all help to create solid career goals.

Achieving goals and goal shuffling

I think you can see now how focused your practice will become using goals. Try writing your drum practice goals everyday for best results.

You can remove goals from your list as you accomplish them. Write new ones as you improve. You may also find that some goals have to wait until a later time because you’re not ready to tackle them.

When this happens, take those goals off of your list and replace them with a different goal. That’s what I call Goal Shuffling and it’s a natural part of the process.

Just keep writing, reading and using your drum practice goals every day and they will soon become a part of your thoughts and practice flow. Get ready for your drumming skills to explode too!

In goal setting, goals will change from time to time and this is normal.

Conclusion

If you haven’t yet explored using goal setting in your drum practice, give it a try. I think you’ll be blown away at how quickly you get better.

Follow the instructions I’ve shared above and you can’t go wrong creating powerful goals for your drumming. You can also use goal setting for both your drum practice and drumming career.

Goal setting will improve your drumming confidence as you achieve each goal. It will also motivate you to continue practicing and reach higher goals.

Fine a teacher if you’re not sure what things you should be working on. Your teacher can help you choose the most appropriate drum practice goals for your drumming improvement.

If you are interested in learning Jazz drumming, I would be more than happy to help you through private Zoom drum lessons. Sign up at my store and I’ll contact you within 24 hours to book your lessons.

Download my book Gifted to dive deep into goal setting and super charge your drumming improvement.

If you want to dive deeper into goal setting and pursue a career in drumming, check out my book Gifted. It’s short and sweet and will show you how to create a successful drumming career and a great life. It’s available in English and Japanese too! KEEP ON DRUMMIN’!

What are some of your drumming goals?


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