Practicing Anytime and Anywhere Without Instruments

A photo of Jeff Queen.

Ever want to practice when you don’t have access to an instrument? Here are some ways to make the most of your practice time, anytime, anywhere.

With Your Hands

No matter where you are, you can always practice with just your hands. Play on your legs with your fingers. You can hold out your thumb and pinky to practice the general motions or permutations with four mallets. If you use your feet as you would on drumset, you have a full kit at your disposal! Hand drummer? A table is your best friend. If you can slap a desk or table, the drum is going to be a piece of cake!

With Sticks

If you have sticks, find a bouncy surface like the floor. Most schools that have carpet will more than likely have industrial carpet on cement. The rebound is great, and the resonance of your sticks can sometimes be louder than on a pad.

Try turning your sticks backwards and playing on the underside of your forearms. Put your fulcrum where you would with your pinky in the right hand but turn it, so that the bead is pointing toward your elbow. Play on the backs of your arms just as you normally would. This method of practicing will strengthen your wrists and make almost zero noise, perfect for late night practicing.

With Mallets

To practice with just mallets, find any flat surface such as the floor, your bed, or your desk. You can practice your interval changes, permutations, or any independent work such as rolling in one hand and playing a melody in the other.

With Your Feet

Missing your metronome? Use your feet to keep time by walking around. Unless you are injured, you more than likely will walk in time. Play on your legs or just with your fingers and thumbs as you walk to class or down the street.

About author

Jeff Queen

Jeff Queen has been involved in drum corps since 1989 as a member, technician, caption head, and now judge. Jeff is an original cast member of the award-winning Broadway Show “BLAST!” and is currently the percussion coordinator for Carmel (Indiana) High School, the five-time Bands of America champion. He is also the author of “The Next Level: Rudimental Drum Techniques” and the “Playing with Sticks” instructional DVD.

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