Can Chinese Philosophy Improve Your Drum Practice?

Can Chinese Philosophy Improve Your Drum Practice?

Drum practice or Netflix?

We’ve all been there… Struggling with whether you to do some drum practice and nail those paradiddles or continue watching Netflix. Getting off the is never easy! But, why?! And could applying ancient Chinese medicine principles be the answer?

The story behind the idea

This idea came to me whilst touring with, the always awesome, Tallulah Rendall, who at the time, was studying Chinese medicine. So I started picking her brains about it. I learned that one of the governing principles of Chinese thought, culture and medicine is something called the 5 Elements Theory. And so after the tour, I decided to research this theory to see if it could be applied to help my drum practice and become a better drummer!

drum practice

5 Elements Theory

In short, the theory is a system that organises all natural phenomena into five groups. Each of these has its own meanings and implications, and include categories like seasons, climate, stages of growth and development, emotions, etc.

These groups are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation (2015), they “reflect a deep understanding of natural law, the Universal order underlying all things in our world”. Very interesting!

The theory proposes that everything is interconnected through energy. This links our mind, body, and spirit to something external in nature at an energetic level (TCMWF, 2015).

The elements are five fundamental energies in nature, which are constantly in motion. They have dynamic relationships which balance two principles:

  • Generation which nurtures and promotes growth; and

  • Control which is the restraining energy, stopping things from disproportionally developing (growing too quickly / slowly, too strong / weak)

drum practice

So what does this mean? And how can it help us practice drums?

So, ultimately, how can this help us improve our drum practice and become the best drummer we can be? Each of the 5 Elements are used to describe the state in nature or season. As I’ve summarised below, each of these has implications on our behaviour as humans (and drummers). So, perhaps we could align the principle of cyclical seasonality and the natural order of human behaviour in this context to make achieving our goals as drummers easier.


So that was quite out there, but I’m always interested in new ways of thinking to help me become a better drummer! So perhaps if we align ourselves to nature’s seasonal cycle it can help us achieve our goals by being more mindful of wider concepts that can make us more effective as people. Then again, this might resonate with you, or it might not; this may not work for everyone. Similarly “each one of us is a unique and characteristic blend of the influences of all the elements” (Acupuncture Online, 2015), yet it may serve as something to explore in your journey of becoming a better player – a new medicine for your medical drumming tool box!

If you enjoyed this and want to improve your drumming, check out my drum lessons here!

Originally published in April 2015.