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Mirror Practice- Part 2

When you practice with a mirror you're literally receiving feedback at the speed of light.   You can make real-time corrections and implement the feedback you’ve received on the spot.  The overarching theme of practicing with a mirror is  developing a greater sense of awareness. This sense of awareness is what allows you to quickly make and implement changes.  If know about an issue, you’ll be more likely to fix it.  If you don’t know about it, you probably won't fix it. Plain and simple. Often times technical instruction is given to a student and the student does not follow it.  Why?  It has to do with the perception of the comment and the vantage point from which that comment was given.  If the comment happens to be, “play your taps lower”, its difficult for the student to make this change due to their vantage point of straight looking down.   

  • Think about how helicopter pilots lands his or her aircraft.  When they’re landing, they’re coming straight down.  From the pilot's perspective, a telephone pole looks like a small circle the size of a manhole cover.  However, from the perspective of someone on the ground watching the landing (in this case your instructor) it's obvious there is a 50 foot pole sticking out of the ground.  The pilot needs someone to tell him or her that  the pole is there. Furthermore, the pilot must believe them and act on the information received!

This is just one example of how a change in perspective can help you improve on a skill.  You can do this for a number of technical fixes as well as looking for signs of tension in your shoulders, hands and face.  A change in perspective is what gives you greater awareness around what your playing and how you're playing it.Additional considerations:  

  1. Ensure that when you do use a mirror to practice you’re replicating the height of the drum and distance you stand away from it.  We see a lot of videos of people practicing on surfaces that do not replicate the setup of a marching drum.

  2. If you’re limited on space and need to see multiple drummers at the same time give this a try:  drive to your school or an office complex after hours to practice in front of their large plate glass windows.  This is great for sectionals and early season technique work.  If you’re not your drumline's section leader, suggest this to them. You can watch and “mirror” the other members wrist turn, stick angles and rebound.  Use every tool in your arsenal to improve as fast as possible.  Drum smart.

Author: John McClean

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