5 Effortless Ways To Improve Your Bodhran Practice
My favourite ways to structure and improve bodhran practice sessions.
Getting started learning any instrument can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Putting aside time to practice is important to help you continue to learn and hone your skills. However, it can be daunting to sit down and get going, never mind figure out how to constantly improve. Here’s my best tips to help you improve your bodhran practice sessions.
1.Plan your practice.
I always get the most out of my practice sessions when I quickly outline everything I want to achieve with the time I have. Here’s a couple of examples to get you going:
20 minute practice:
- 5 minutes: warmup
- 5 minutes: technical skills
- 10 minutes: working on rhythms you want to improve
1 hour practice:
- 10 minutes: warmup
- 20 minutes: technical skills
- 10 minutes: speeding up rhythms you’re comfortable with
- 20 minutes: working on rhythms you want to improve
That gives just a brief outline of how you may want to break up your practices. Having an idea of what you want to tackle and how you’re going to get there really helps you keep on track and makes sitting down and taking your bodhran out easier to get going in the first place.
Warming up is so important! Play something slow, speed it up a bit, play something funky, get a couple of easy triplets on the go, or just play a few rhythms you really like and feel super comfortable with. What you don’t want to do is sit down and jump straight in with a rhythm that is more difficult that you’re trying to nail and hope for the best. If you haven’t warmed up, chances are you aren’t going to be able to play as well as you could do if you spend even 10 minutes warming up a bit.
3.Record your playing.
This is a super easy way to get a fresh perspective on your practice and playing skills. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, particularly if you’re listening out for something that is more technique-based and not tone-based. Even grabbing your phone and recording a minute of a rhythm you’re working on can help; what this really does is let you play closer attention to listening to your own playing and therefore allow you to dissect it more thoroughly. You might notice you’re missing triplets or speeding up a bit at the end of every bar, which are hard things to notice while you’re actually playing.
4.Play in front of the mirror.
This could be playing in front of the mirror or even recording yourself. Similar to my last point, this helps give a fresh perspective on your playing. This is most useful when you’re starting out or in more of a beginner stage, but definitely has its place elsewhere too. It can be really useful to help you realise why your upstrokes might not be sounding as good as they could be, why your stick is making a dragging sound when you’re hitting your drum, or help you realise that you need to work on your posture a bit.
5.Practice with a metronome.
Practicing with a metronome isn’t for everyone, and I think it does have its time and place. I do believe that it is pretty essential to any good drummer though! At the end of the day your job as a drummer is to keep time, and practicing with a metronome can help you get your timing nice and solid. When you’re playing with others, it will help you be more confident that you’re good at keeping time and if you go on to record music, you’ll be comfortable working with click tracks too.
Best tips to improve your practice sessions
Those are my favourite tips to improve your practice sessions! These are really easy ways that you can help set yourself up for success when sitting down to practice your bodhran. To be honest, most of these can be applied to many other instruments as well. After studying at the RCS where practice rooms could be booked out for an hour at a time, I quickly learned to make the most of my practice sessions so that they could be as productive as possible. Whether you get your bodhran out for an hour or two every day or only twice a week for 20 minutes, these tips can help you effortlessly improve your bodhran practice sessions.
Did you try out any of these tips? If so, did you find them useful? Leave me a comment and let me know!