In my post the other day I stated that I thought the idea of getting "out of shape" on one's instrument was primarily a mental trick. I also mentioned we can avoid this trap if we get out of our own way and not focus on the time we've been away from our axe. But what do we do when we can't play our instrument? Here's some ideas how to not feel distant from music and our instrument when we can't physically play it.
1. Mentally Practice
I've mentioned this in previous posts but it bears repeating. Simply imagine playing the drums as completely as you can. How it sounds, how it feels, all of it! I found this helps immensely and I'm convinced this is how touring musicians stay loose while not playing their instruments except at the gig.
2. Listen to lots of music
Learn tunes, imagine yourself playing along (see above) etc.
You don't have to be an opera star to sing tunes, chord tones, or scales. You can also "vocalize" drum ideas to work on at the kit later.
In conclusion, don't despair if travel, illness, or irate neighbours keep you from the drums. There's still a lot you can work on. As Art Blakey said "You are the instrument!"