I spend a lot of time working on my jazz playing, especially with volume control. A light touch does two things: it sounds great, and it gets you work. If you can play at really low volume levels, you will impress anyone who wants a dynamic-level aware drummer.

I like to start with single strokes, played no higher than an inch above the head. I do this for about two minutes, maybe at 60 beats per minute, just nice as easy. From there, I lower the stick to about 1/4-inch above the head, and I do the same thing for about two minutes.

Next, I play as absolutely quietly as I can, barely moving the stick above the snare head. I mean, we’re talking 1/8-inch or less, as low as I can. if you do this for 5 minutes, you will be amazed at how much your precision improves.

Next, I do the same exercise with double strokes, followed by triplets. So, if you add all the times up, you get about 30 minutes of extremely quiet practice.

It’ll be boring at first, but you need to remember what your end game is.

After a short break, I come back and practice keeping jazz time using the same idea: 1/2-inch, 1/4-inch, and then 1/8-inch. I alternate between ride and crash cymbal for time keeping, and I go to the hi-hat as well.

I then take a break, and I come back to wrap it up with very quiet hi-hat work, coupled with quiet cymbal timekeeping.

None of these ideas are in any way new, but I can tell you that if you put in at least two days a week doing this, along with some brush practice using the same idea, fellow musicians will notice your playing. They will want to work with someone who has finesse, a light touch, and who can play quietly with precise control. It sets you apart from many other players, and you will be remembered long after you leave the bandstand.