Do you want to learn how to play drums but don’t know where to begin?
Don’t worry – we are here to help you get started!
Our comprehensive guide will introduce you to the drum basics, but it will also provide you with useful tips and tricks.
Table of Contents
- Part 1 – Starting Out
- Chapter 1 – Things to Keep in Mind
- Chapter 2: Drums Shopping Guide
- Part 2 – Mastering the Basics
- Chapter 3: Parts of a Drum Kit
- Chapter 4: Basic Skills
- Part 3 – Music Theory
- Chapter 5: Music Notation and Timing
- Chapter 6: Warming Up on Drums
- Chapter 7: Your First Songs
- Chapter 8: Drum Practice
- Part 4 – Drums History and Culture
- Chapter 9: Background
- Chapter 12: FAQ and Useful Resources
- 12.1. Free Online Resources
- Free Sheet Music
- Recording Software and Programs
- Online Learning
- 12.2. Drummers Community
- 12.3. FAQ
- Am I too old to learn how to play drums?
- Do I need to learn how to read music?
- What’s the best drum set to buy for a beginner?
- How long does it take to learn drums?
- Can I learn drums in 3 months?
- Are drums hard to learn?
- Are drums harder than guitar?
- Do drums have notes?
- Is traditional or matched grip better?
- Can I teach myself drums?
- Is playing drums healthy?
Part 1 – Starting Out
Chapter 1 – Things to Keep in Mind
Before starting out, we want to tell you what to expect from your drumming learning journey, but also remind you of some of the benefits of playing drums.
If you’re still not sure whether this is the right instrument for you, these drum facts might affect your decision.
1.1. Benefits of Learning How To Play the Drums – 7 Reasons
Reason #1: Drums are easy to play
First of all, compared to some other instruments, the drums are rather easy to pick up. Therefore, it’s a great instrument for beginners, and you’ll master the basics sooner than you think.
However, the learning process is the same with any instrument, and you’ll have to be patient and persistent nevertheless.
Reason #2: Drumming relaxes people
Studies have shown that drumming reduces stress and anxiety and promotes overall well-being.
So besides gaining valuable music skills, you’ll also do a good thing for your mental health.
Reason #3: Your sense of rhythm will improve
Playing drums requires developing a good sense of time and rhythm, and rhythm is the foundation of learning any other instrument.
Drumming will also improve your coordination.
Reason #4: You’ll get more confident
Moreover, learning drums can build confidence.
Drumming is a powerful activity, but it’s also challenging, and the feeling of overcoming obstacles will generally help you feel more confident.
Reason #5: Playing the drums boosts brain power
Playing the drums is also beneficial to your brain health.
The thing is, drumming requires you to use both sides of your brain simultaneously, and that can ultimately make an impact on your IQ level.
Reason #6: It’s a good foundation
Learning how to play drums will help you learn other instruments more easily, mainly because you’ll develop a perfect feel for rhythm and timing.
Reason #7: Drumming burns calories
Did you know that drumming is actually a very effective workout?
You can burn an average of 270.4 calories in 30 minutes just by playing the drums. Therefore, drumming could be a fun and creative way to break a sweat.
Are there any disadvantages to learning drums?
As you can see, drumming has many benefits. But no instrument is perfect. So here are some of the potential drawbacks of learning drums:
1. Drums are loud
Needless to say, drumming can be quite loud. That being said, you need to have a safe place for practicing that won’t bother your family members or neighbors.
2. Drums are not portable
A drum kit is heavy and bulky, and it’s not so easy to transport. So unless you buy a small, portable drum set, you won’t be very flexible in terms of carrying your instrument around with you.
1.3. What to Expect
Before moving to specific tips and tricks on how to learn the drums, we want to let you know what to expect in terms of price and time required for practice.
The question that usually comes before starting drumming lessons is the cost of it all. So let’s take a quick look at all the costs of playing the drums.
How much will playing drums cost?
When it comes to drumming costs, the instrument itself will probably be your biggest cost. So yes, buying a good drum kit can be a real investment.
Beginner drum sets cost between $300 and $600. And some professional drum sets can go up to $8,000.
So it all depends on what your goals are. As a beginner, you don’t have to opt for expensive, high-end drums. On the other hand, you’ll want to get a reliable, quality instrument that will make your learning process easier.
Another expense you have to take into account is drum lessons. One-on-one lessons with a teacher can cost anywhere from $20 to $100+ per hour. There are, however, drum learning websites that offer affordable online drum lessons. And drum learning apps and online programs are probably the cheapest option.
We’ll discuss the advantages and drawbacks of online and in-person drum lessons in our Shopping Guide down below.
As a drum learner, it’s important to make your learning process as easy and effective as you can. And that’s why we also recommend investing in drum accessories.
Drum books, a metronome, and decent drum heads and dampers are just some of the things every beginner drummer should have.
How much practice does learning drums require?
Another question that many people ask is: how much do I need to practice to be good at drumming?
Certainly, that depends on your goals and expectations. If you want to become a skilled drummer, you’ll have to practice every day for hours. And you’ll have to wait for a couple of years. But if you just want to master the basics so you can play the songs you like or jam, you’ll get there more quickly.
Of course, regardless of what your goals are, the most important thing about drum practice is consistency.
Ideally, you should practice 30 minutes a day. Even a 15-minute practice session will do you good – that way, you can easily incorporate your drum practice into your daily routine, but you’ll also be able to make progress.
Either way, gaining drumming skills takes time. But once music practice becomes a part of your routine, everything will be easier.
1.3 What Age is the Best to Learn Drums?
Another common thought that occurs before taking up drums is: am I too old to learn the drums?
The simple answer is – no. It’s never too late to start learning the drums. However, there are many advantages of taking drum lessons as a kid.
But if you’re an adult beginner, you also have certain advantages.
Let us first explain why learning the drums as an adult isn’t a bad thing at all.
Learning Drums as an Adult
One of the biggest advantages of learning how to play an instrument as an adult is self-discipline.
As an adult, you’re used to having responsibilities and, hopefully, sticking to your schedule. So taking drum lessons and maintaining regular practice won’t be that difficult.
You will also be able to learn effectively and at your own pace because you already know what your learning habits are.
Finally, think of your age as your ally. You have more life experience than a child, and therefore more knowledge – all of this will help you acquire certain playing skills and understand complex musical terms.
Learning Drums as a Child
There are many studies suggesting that it’s easier to learn an instrument at a younger age. Moreover, there are countless benefits of learning how to play an instrument as a kid.
When it comes to learning drums, this type of activity encourages kids to be creative. It also improves their memory, focus, strength, and motor skills. Drumming also introduces them to rhythm and timing.
Certainly, playing drums will come more naturally to some kids, and others will need more help and patience. But either way, those kids will be better learners in school, and they will also learn about work ethic and responsibilities.
Moreover, if you learn how to play the drums as a kid and continue your practice as an adult, you’ll more likely to become a fantastic drummer.
Finally, playing drums can be a ton of fun for children – it’s loud, dynamic, and interesting.
Chapter 2: Drums Shopping Guide
2.1. Buying Your First Drum Kit
With so many drum kits on the market, buying your first drums can be a bit overwhelming.
If you feel that way, we suggest you ask yourself the following questions:
What is my budget?
You need to decide what your budget is before looking for a drum set. That way, you’ll narrow down the choices and you’ll be able to make a purchase in a quicker and more efficient way.
This is important to establish due to the wide price range of drum kits. As we’ve already mentioned, you can get drums for less than $500 and for more than $8,000.
What type of drum kit do I want?
Next, decide what type of drum set is the best for you.
A five-piece drum set is by far the most popular drum set. And as a beginner, you’ll probably want a beginner kit by a trusted brand.
You can also choose from acoustic and electronic drums. Electronic drums allow you to change the sound of your drums and are generally more flexible. But of course, they only replicate the sound and feel of acoustic drums.
Who will play the drums?
You should also think about who’s going to use the drums you’re buying. Will your children also play it? If you’re a beginner, do you want to buy an entry-level kit and upgrade later on?
Where will I place my drum set?
Acoustic drums can take up a lot of space. Therefore, make sure you purchase a kit that suits the place you want to keep them.
Rent or buy?
If you’re uncertain if you’ll continue with your drumming lessons, you can go for a drum renting option. Check out what kind of drums you can get in your area and if they fit your expectations.
Research the brands!
Before heading to a music store or a drum-buying website, conduct a little research about the most popular drum brands. Every company has its own values and target customers, so make sure the brand you’re purchasing aligns with your goals and abilities.
Fortunately, almost all major drum companies produce good beginner kits.
Features to Look for in Drums
In a five-piece drum set, the number ‘five’ is referring to the number of drums in the kit – so cymbals and a hi-hat stand are not included. Most importantly, these drums need to be fully functional.
Therefore, we suggest trying out any kit to make sure it has the right size and functionality.
You should also take a look at the hardware and make sure everything is in order. You can always ask a salesperson to help you out. And if you’re buying drums online, make sure you get an opinion from a musician friend.
Finally, we suggest getting a complete set instead of a shell pack. This is a simpler option for beginners as it requires less decision-making.
Useful Drums Buying Resources
For more help and useful resources, you can check out the following sites:
- School of Rock offers a nice, comprehensive Guide on How to Buy Your First Drum Set
- This Buyer’s Guide for Drummers might also be helpful
- YouTube can also be a good source of information when it comes to choosing a drum set. Just make sure you find a reliable channel.
2.2. Drum Accessories
Once you buy a full drum kit, there are still some upgrades left to consider.
Some of the drum accessories are optional, but they can come in handy, especially for beginners.
Some of the accessories and upgrades you can get include:
A drum throne
A good drum throne is essential for every drummer. It will make your playing comfortable, but it will also make you sound better. After all, it’s the foundation of your performance and all your movements.
See also: Best Drum Thrones
Kick drum pedals
A good quality kick drum pedal is also important. Compared to the rest of the drum kit, they’re not so expensive.
If you don’t already own one, you should invest in a practice pad. Drummers use practice pads (or drum pads) to quietly warm up before a performance, but they can also be used for any kind of practice that requires less volume.
Drum heads affect the overall tone significantly, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to replace factory drum heads with better ones.
If you want to play the drums fluidly and accurately, you need to practice with a metronome. A metronome will allow you to play drums at different speeds and time signatures and generally help you develop a sense of rhythm.
You can also use a drum metronome app.
As a beginner drummer (and drummer in general), you should also have musicians’ earplugs at your disposal. They will protect your hearing from loud noises and help you get through long practice sessions safely.
Before buying a drum kit, you should also learn about drum care and maintenance.
Luckily, drum care is not that difficult. Besides occasional tuning, make sure you polish your hardware from time to time. To prevent rust, you should also wipe the hoops down frequently.
And to clean your shells, you can use a microfiber cloth.
2.3. Finding a Drum Teacher
See also: Best Online Drum Lessons
Recently, and especially in the past few years, online learning programs started to flourish. Therefore, hiring a teacher or going to a music school is no longer your only option.
Online drum lessons are, in fact, a great way to learn the drums. They’re convenient, affordable, and efficient. But of course, they also have their flaws.
Music learning apps are also a very cool thing – they will allow you to learn in a fun and engaging way.
On the other hand, nothing really beats in-person lessons. That way, a teacher can help you notice your weak spots and help you improve them. And you won’t need any special technology – it’s just you, your teacher, and music.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to your preferences, abilities, and learning habits. So let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of popular ways of learning.
In-person Drum Lessons
- Instant, personal feedback
- Clear guidance
- Professional teaching methods
- Can be pricey
- Lack of flexibility
Drum Learning Apps
- Fun features
- You can choose your learning material
- Extensive song libraries
- Lack of quality feedback
- Potential lack of advanced lessons
Online Drum Lessons
- Convenient (learning from home)
- Lack of quality feedback
Alternatively, you can combine learning methods. For example, you can meet with an instructor once a month, in addition to practicing with an app or an online program.
Regardless of what you choose, it’s important to establish a routine. You might feel overwhelmed or a bit lost otherwise.
That being said, online drumming platforms are a great source because they usually offer structured learning. Lessons are usually linear, and you can move forward once you complete them.
2.4. Other Methods
With so many learning options out there, it’s easy to get confused. But don’t worry – once you know what you’re looking for, everything will be easier.
There’s no single best way to learn drums for beginners. It all depends on the best way you like to learn.
Traditional methods might be more expensive, but they will provide you with quality learning and clear guidance.
Modern methods, on the other hand, turned out to be quite effective. Online music programs and apps are designed to teach you how to play an instrument in a quick, fun, and easy way.
Finally, you need to choose a learning path you believe it’s best for you. Luckily, we live in a time when it’s possible to learn drums regardless of where you live. New technologies also allow us to learn in a productive as well as cost-effective way.
Whatever you choose, make sure the program or your teacher’s methods align with your learning habits and goals. Also, don’t expect to see results overnight. Learning how to play drums properly takes time.
But with practice and persistence, you’ll get there sooner than you think!
Part 2 – Mastering the Basics
Chapter 3: Parts of a Drum Kit
See also: Drums Anatomy
Before starting with the drumming fundamentals, you need to become familiar with basic drum anatomy.
The standard 5-piece drum set consists of two tom-toms, a floor tom, a bass drum, and a snare drum.
The snare drum is one of the most important parts of a drum set. It produces a sharp, bright sound, and it’s often used to keep the beat in a piece.
The short staccato sound is produced thanks to its stiff wires that are held under tension against the lower skin.
Bass Drum (Kick Drum)
The bass drum is one of the largest drums in a drum kit. It’s also the deepest-sounding drum part, producing a note of low definite or indefinite pitch.
The diameter of a shell affects the pitch – a wider bass drum produces a lower note. However, the size doesn’t affect the volume, and musicians often choose it based on convenience or aesthetics.
A bass drum is mainly used to mark or keep time.
Essentially, hi-hats are a combination of two cymbals and a pedal mounted on a metal stand.
They can be played with a foot pedal or by striking them with drumsticks. Either way, they produce a short, crisp sound referred to as a ‘chick’.
Toms look similar to a bass drum but smaller. They are also called tom-toms, and they were added to the standard drum kit in the early part of the 20th century.
Toms are used to add fills between tempo changes or different parts of a song.
They sound deeper than the snare, but the pitch is not as low as the bass drum.
Besides the essential drum set parts, you should also know a thing or two about cymbals.
The ride cymbal is normally the largest of the cymbals, around 20” in diameter. It’s played the same way you play hi-hats, but without the floor pedal.
However, the ride cymbal sounds deeper than the hi-hat, and it can sustain for much longer.
Crash cymbals are used to enhance fills or build tension during the crescendo.
They are much louder and brighter than other cymbals, and their notes can be sustained for a longer period of time.
There are also other percussion items that drummers use to enrich their sound, including splash cymbals, china cymbals, cowbells, stack cymbals, and so on. But as a first-time beginner, it’s sufficient to memorize the most important drum set names.
Chapter 4: Basic Skills
4.1. How to Hold Drum Sticks
The first thing you need to learn as a drummer is how to play drums with the proper technique.
Most drummers use matched grip to hold the drums, meaning that both hands have to be in a similar downturned position. However, some drummers (marching drummers and jazz musicians, for example) use traditional grip.
But for starters, let’s focus on the matched grip.
To play drums using a matched grip, you first need to relax your hand with your fingers slightly curled. Your thumb should rest opposite your index finger on the stick. Pay attention to your index finger – don’t point it along the stick.
Finally, make sure your hand is around three-quarters of the way down the stick.
There are several variations of a matched grip.
German grip requires you to hold the sticks with your palms facing down, while all the control is in your wrist. This will allow you to give a lot of power to each hit.
American grip is a good base position for most styles of playing. You need to turn your hands to a 45-degree angle. That way, you can use your fingers for control and your wrists for power.
French grip is used for controlled playing. To play drums with this grip, you need to put your thumbs up, while your palms face each other.
4.2. How to Play Drum Beats
Now, let’s start with your first drum beat!
Firstly, you need to focus on just three pieces: hi-hat, snare, and bass drum. Then count to four (one and two and three and four) and then restart counting to four again. Add the snare drum when you count two and four.
And for each quarter note ‘tap’, you need to tap twice on the hi-hat.
Next, while you play the hi-hat part, add the bass drum on counts one and three. Leave the snare drum alone for a bit.
Finally, try to put it all together.
We recommend using a metronome at 60 BPM. You can increase the speed later on.
4.3. How to Play Rudiments
Rudiments are fundamental sticking patterns. In a way, they are the building blocks of drumming.
In general, there are 40 essential rudiments. Each rudiment consists of a unique sticking pattern and specific rhythm.
Of course, you don’t have to learn all the 40 rudiments right away. As a beginner, getting to know the most common rudiments is a good place to start.
The Single Stroke Roll
Let’s start with the most famous rudiment – the single stroke roll, or, the drum roll.
This is also the most commonly played rudiment, so it’s essential for every beginner drummer.
To play it, you’ll need to combine right and left strokes: RLRLRLRL*. Very simple and straightforward.
*RLRL refers to the right hand and left hand. We’ll explain this below.
Double Stroke Roll
This essential rudiment entails playing two strokes on the right and two strokes on the left: RRLLRRLL. This is similar to the single-stroke roll, but a little more challenging.
The paradiddle is a common rudiment that combines single and double strokes: RLRRLRLL.
Flam is one of the easiest rudiments to learn. It means playing two strokes at the same time. In fact, you need to strike a grace note just a split second before striking the primary stroke.
4.4. Drum Fills
In drumming, a drum fill is a pattern or beat that is used to transition between two sections of music.
For example, a drummer can use a drum fill to transition from a verse to a chorus or to build down to a verse.
Once you learn how to count and read notes, you’ll master the most popular drum fills in no time.
Part 3 – Music Theory
Chapter 5: Music Notation and Timing
To learn all the commonly used drum beats, rudiments, and drum fills more easily, it’s important to become familiar with basic music theory.
5.1. How to Read Music
You need to be able to read music to play drums. However, this skill will make your learning process so much easier.
You’ll be able to learn any song you want, and you’ll be able to understand how music actually works.
And of course, if you want to become a professional drummer, learning music theory is absolutely necessary.
So, let’s start with the basic symbols in drum sheet music.
The drum clef
In drum sheet music, you’ll notice a pause-like symbol at the beginning. This is called a drum clef or a percussion clef.
This is also a neutral clef – it indicates that the lines and spaces of the staff are not assigned for an instrument with a pitch. In other words, the drum clef will tell you that this music is specifically made for drums.
It’s important to understand that drum notation shows you two things:
- Which drum to play
- When to play it
In drum notation, each individual line/space in the staff corresponds to a different drum. Put more simply, every drum has its own place on the staff.
Of course, this is more than you need to know at the moment. But with time, you’ll be familiar with all the symbols shown in the image.
Furthermore, each note, or rest, the absence of notes, has a certain value. In piano playing, a particular note will ‘tell’ you how long you need to hold it. But for drums, the position of these notes or rests is the only important thing.
The time signature will tell you how many beats are in a bar, and the note value (duration) of each beat.
The number on top represents beats per bar, and the number on the bottom indicates the value of each beat.
So, a 4/4 drum beat means you have 4 counts per bar.
Drummers measure the rate they play music using Beats Per Minute (BPM). The ‘beat’ usually refers to the quarter note.
And that’s why you need a metronome – you just need to set the right tempo and play along.
60 BPM is considered slow to mid-tempo, and 120 BPM is relatively fast.
In music, dynamics refers to how loud or soft the sound is played. And in drumming, dynamics is the volume of each drum you’re playing.
At the end of the day, mastering dynamics will give power to your performance.
You can practice dynamics by playing a simple rock beat and individually changing the dynamic level and volume of each drum in turn. This might seem difficult at first.
To make things easier, you can also isolate any drum or cymbal and play different dynamic levels on it.
In some drum exercises, you might come across Rs and Ls. This labeling is also called ‘sticking’, and refers to striking the drum with the stick – R means with the right hand, and L means left hand.
That being said, if you see RLRL, it means right hand/left hand/right hand/left hand.
5.2. How to Read Drum Tabs
Drum tabs (or tablature) are a simplified form of musical sheet music that is explicitly written for drums.
Many drummers find tabs the easiest kind of music to read. Therefore, let us show you how it works.
Drum tabs also used staff and legend. But instead of notes that represent different sounds, they have symbols that tell you when and how you are to strike the instrument.
Tabs use Xs and Os to display drum and cymbal hits. They are usually ordered from the lowest-sounding piece to the highest-sounding piece.
These are some of the most common abbreviations in drum tabs:
B, BD, or K: Bass drum/Kick drum
S or SD: Snare drum
T1: First tom
T2: Second tom
FT or T3: Floor tom or third tom
Cymbals (x or X [accented])
H or HH: Hi-hat
C or CC: Crash cymbal
R or RC: Ride cymbal
Nevertheless, we encourage you to use sheet music. After all, sheet music is a standard way of writing down music, and learning it will ultimately help you become a better drummer.
5.3. How to Count Music
As you probably already know, the most important thing about drumming is keeping time.
So how do you count when playing drums?
A bar (or measure) can be divided into four quarter notes. Since four is the most common counting number in music, you need to count each note in the bar from one to four.
Drummers sometimes add ‘and’, indicated by the ‘+’ symbol, to stay on time.
As a beginner, it would be smart to count out loud. Eventually, you’ll ‘internalize’ time signatures, and you won’t have to count anymore. But in the beginning, learning how to count is essential.
Chapter 6: Warming Up on Drums
Another essential thing for every drummer is a proper warm-up.
Drumming is a physical activity and therefore it requires getting ready. This includes both stretching and going through drum warm-up exercises.
So before getting into your practice routine, you’ll want to prepare your hands for some physical workout – you can do wrist circles, elbow pivots, and shoulder circles.
You should then do simple exercises on your drums. Practicing some basic rudiments is a common way of warming up.
By doing warm-up exercises, you’ll not only prepare your body but also your mind. This will allow you to ‘get in the zone’ and feel more comfortable behind your drum set. And that is essential for every drummer, whether you’re a professional or just starting out.
Chapter 7: Your First Songs
See also: Best Drum Songs
7.1. 5 Easy Drum Songs to Learn
As a drummer beginner, you’ll want to start with easy, beginner-friendly songs. Even if you probably want to jump to playing your favorite songs right away, don’t rush – you must learn to walk before you can run.
Luckily, there are many popular songs that are suitable for beginners. Plus, there are many great tutorials that can help you learn them.
So, if you don’t feel comfortable with reading notes just yet, video tutorials can help you get through your first songs.
Here are some of the easy songs for drums:
1.“We Will Rock You” by Queen
“We Will Rock You” is one of the most iconic rock songs of all time. But it’s also one of the best songs for beginner drummers to learn.
Ironically, there are no real drums on the recording. The ‘boom, boom, clap’ sound is created by stomping and clapping. However, that iconic part can easily be played on the drums – and it sounds great.
2. “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes
This is another rock classic you can easily play on drums.
“Seven Nation Army” contains quarter notes, so it’s easy to count. The challenging part is to stay on time.
Practicing this song will also allow you to explore dynamics – you’ll have to use dynamics to create contrast between the verses and the choruses.
3. “Come Together” by The Beatles
“Come Together” has one of the most iconic drum parts. Plus, Ringo Starr is arguably one of the best drummers in history.
That being said, learning how to play “Come Together” is a must for every drummer.
The opening fill of the song might be challenging for beginners, but if you take it slowly first, you’ll manage to do it. The rest of the song is quite easy.
4. “Africa” by Toto
Jeff Porcaro is another iconic drummer with a unique playing style. And his contribution to Toto’s “Africa”, along with many other performances, will never be forgotten.
“Africa” is a good song for beginners because it features spacious fills and a relatively simple groove.
The iconic big tom fills will be easier to master if you count out loud and practice slowly first.
5. “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson’s timeless hit “Billie Jean” has one of the most iconic drum intros.
The song has a fast tempo, so you can take it slow first and then increase the speed.
But the groove is quite simple to learn, especially if you’ve already mastered the basics.
Chapter 8: Drum Practice
Hopefully, everything makes more sense now, including notes, drum beats, fills, and counting.
But if you really want this knowledge to sink in, you need to practice. And you need to practice a lot.
Of course, you don’t need to practice every day for 8 hours in order to become a good drummer. Unless you want to become a professional drummer, of course.
So let’s take a look at some of the most common questions regarding drum practice.
8.1. Establishing a Practice Routine
The first thing you need to do is to structure your drum practice routine. The word ‘routine’ is very important – because consistency is the key to success.
Certainly, everyone needs a break once in a while. And you can’t affect some unexpected situations. But if you structure a drum practice routine, even if you’re learning drums by yourself, you’ll be more likely to reach the results you want.
How long should I practice every day?
Ideally, you should practice at least 30 minutes each day. As you progress, you can prolong your sessions and practice for an hour or more.
How often should I practice drums?
In short: as often as you can. Either way, it’s better to practice 20 minutes a day than for 3 hours once a week.
When to practice drums?
That depends on your learning habits. Most people feel most refreshed first thing in the morning. On the other hand, early morning practice can be a bit inconvenient because of the neighbours, so most people actually practice in the evening or the afternoon.
Where to practice drums?
This is also highly individual. However, it’s important to have a safe space where you can do your practice without any distractions, and without bothering anyone.
8.2 Before Your Practice Session
Before your drum practice session, you should remove all the distractions. Mute your phone (if you can) and let your family member know that you don’t want to be disturbed (unless really necessary.)
This will help you improve your focus and really use the most out of your session. It’s easy to get distracted otherwise.
8.3 Structuring Each Session
You should start your practice sessions with a proper warm-up. Warm-up exercises, as we discussed before, are important for drummers of all levels. They will prepare your body as well as your mind.
You should then proceed with practicing technique. Start with the things you know, and then learn a new beat or fill to your repertoire.
Finally, you can dedicate the next part of your session (which can last longer than the previous one) to playing songs. Choose a song suitable for your level and divide it into chunks.
8.4 How to Avoid Common Mistakes
One of the ways you can make your practice easier is to become aware of the most common mistakes new drummers make.
Of course, every learner has their own learning habits. However, if you try to follow these steps, you’ll definitely make your learning process easier and more efficient.
To avoid common mistakes, keep in mind the following tips:
- Don’t skip warm-up
- Practice consistently (stick to your schedule)
- Protect your ears (wear ear plugs)
- Practice with metronome
- Set clear goals
8.5 Drumming Goals and Motivation
Setting clear, realistic goals will help you in your drum learning journey. And setting small, short-term goals will also keep your motivation high – you will feel more accomplished.
Of course, you probably won’t feel motivated all the time. There will be times when you’ll come across a challenging drum fill or tempo, and it will take a while until you get it right. But don’t let that discourage you – that’s just a part of the process.
The important thing is not to give up. Many new drummers give up at the first sign of trouble. But that kind of attitude won’t make you a skilled musician.
To become a good drummer, you’ll need to be patient and persistent, and your inner motivation needs to be strong. But at the end of the day, learning how to play an instrument can be such an exciting journey. And it’s definitely worthwhile.
Part 4 – Drums History and Culture
Chapter 9: Background
As a drum student, you should know a thing or two about the history of your instrument. After all, it’s really interesting to see where and how it all started.
9.1. When Was the Drum Invented?
As a member of the percussion group of musical instruments, the drum really has a long history.
In fact, drums made with alligator skins have been found in Neolithic cultures, dating to a period of 5500–2350 BC. And historians suggest that both hand drums and drums played with beaters evolved simultaneously.
And the modern drum kit as we know it dates back to early twentieth-century New Orleans, where jazz drummers used classical instruments to assemble a drum set. And the snare drums come from the side drums of marching bands.
9.2. Who Invented Drums?
There are no individuals who are officially credited for the invention of drums.
Examples of certain forms of drums trace back millennia and throughout different places, including Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Therefore, different drums slowly evolved over centuries.
However, there are certain parts of the drum kit that are associated with certain inventors. For example, the modern foot pedal is credited to William F. Ludwig of the Ludwig Drums company.
Chapter 10: Exploring Genres & Playing Styles
As you can see, the drum as an instrument has a long history. And since the first modern drum kit was assembled, it’s been used in a variety of music genres. Plus, new playing styles and techniques emerged.
So let’s take a quick look at the most popular drumming styles and genres.
Rock is hands down one of the top drum genres.
The drums generally provide the foundation for the rhythm of the rock song. They also provide fills that allow nice transitions from verses to choruses and vice versa.
Finally, the sound of drums is what makes rock music powerful and loud. For a more powerful and rich sound, rock drummers usually incorporate additional drums into their setups.
Rock Drumming Tutorials
And the same goes for the metal genre – it’s hard to imagine a metal song without drums.
Heavy metal drumming is characterized by emphatic beats and loudness. And this type of drumming is rather demanding, as it requires a lot of coordination, strength, and dexterity.
Metal Drumming Tutorials
Although metal drumming isn’t easy, jazz drumming is considered to be the hardest style of drumming.
Of course, jazz is a versatile genre with many sub-genres. But generally, jazz drumming entails a lot of improvisation, and that aspect of it can be challenging for some drummers.
Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful and interesting genre to explore, and you can always start by learning easy jazz standards.
Jazz Drumming Tutorials
Reggae is another versatile and interesting music genre with plenty of drumming styles to explore.
Reggae drum rhythms can be relatively simple, but just like jazz, reggae music entails a lot of improvisation (if it emerges from jam sessions.)
Either way, it’s a great genre to explore.
Reggae Drumming Tutorials
Chapter 11: World’s Best Drummers
Main Article: Best Drummers of All Time
Every drum student should also become familiar with the names of musicians who helped shape the art of drumming.
So, let us remind you of some of the best drummers of all time.
After all, their talent, dedication, and technique can be a great source of inspiration.
11.1. John Bonham
As a drummer of the iconic band Led Zeppelin, John Bonham is widely regarded as one of the greatest drummers in music history.
He is known for his speed, agility, and sense of groove.
And his drum solos are an inspiration for aspiring drummers around the world.
11.2. Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich was an American jazz drummer and band leader with virtuosic abilities and incredible speed and power.
He used to play with legendary jazz musicians, including Nat King Cole, Charlie Parker, and Count Basie.
And he is considered to be one of the most talented drummers that ever lived.
11.3. Gene Krupa
Neil Peart (a drummer of Rush) once said to NPR that Gene Krupa was ‘the first rock drummer.’
And Gene Krupa was in fact a talented jazz drummer. But his innovative approach to music inspired artists of all music genres.
He is also remembered as the inventor of modern drumming techniques.
Chapter 12: FAQ and Useful Resources
12.1. Free Online Resources
Our final chapter is dedicated to online resources that can help you in your learning process.
Drum learning for beginners comes with many expenses – from lesson fees to drum accessories costs. Not to mention the price of the drum kit.
However, there are free online resources that can make things easier, especially if you’re on a budget. Either way, they can undoubtedly enrich your learning journey.
Free Sheet Music
Once you learn how to read music, you’ll have so many songs at your disposal – you just need to find the appropriate sheet music.
Fortunately, you can easily find printable drum sheet music or drum tabs online. These are some of the popular websites that provide free sheet music:
- Downloadable Drum Transcriptions by The Drum Ninja
- Free Drum Sheet Music at DrumSetSheetMusic
- Drum Tabs at 7DrumCity
Recording Software and Programs
Recording programs can also be useful. If you’re learning how to play drums by yourself, it’s important to hear yourself playing – that’s how you’ll be able to spot your weaknesses and improve your performance.
- Audacity is a free, open-source, cross-platform audio software that’s easy to use
Some of the platforms that might help you out in your learning process include:
- Drumeo is a reliable learning platform that offers lessons, free tutorials, articles, and so on. It also has a 30-day free trial.
- Online Drummer offers useful free content for drummer beginners
- Youtube – Youtube can also be a great source of information. You can find free song tutorials, recorded drumming classes, and much more.
12.2. Drummers Community
If you’re learning drums on your own, the learning process can get a bit lonely. However, there are solutions to this: you can join online communities.
Forums can be a great source of information, but they can also give you a chance to meet fellow learners. Many learning programs and apps also have their own members area.
Exchanging learning experiences can be very helpful, and it can boost your motivation.
Am I too old to learn how to play drums?
No, whatever your age is, you’re not too old to play drums. You have many advantages as an adult learner, including focus, strength, learning habits, and strong motivation.
Do I need to learn how to read music?
Learning how to read sheet music isn’t necessary for playing the drums. We encourage you to do it nevertheless. If you’re able to read music, you can learn any song you want very easily. Also, this skill will help you understand how music really works. On the other hand, if you only want to play easy popular songs, learning how to use drum tabs will probably be enough.
What’s the best drum set to buy for a beginner?
First of all, we recommend buying a complete 5-piece drum set. You should opt for a trusted brand and a drum set that fits your goals and budget.
How long does it take to learn drums?
That depends on your dedication and self-discipline. If you practice regularly, you can gain basic drumming skills relatively quickly. You can even learn a simple drum beat within a few hours. However, learning how to play drums isn’t easy, and acquiring intricate drumming skills takes a lot of time and practice. It will take years of dedicated practice to reach advanced levels.
Can I learn drums in 3 months?
Yes, it’s possible to learn drums in 3 months. But that also depends on your expectations. If you want to play drums just for fun, it’s possible to learn all the necessary basics within 3 months.
Are drums hard to learn?
Learning the basics is relatively easy, but just like any other instrument, drum learning requires time and patience. Drumming can be challenging to master because it requires physical effort, coordination, and a sense of rhythm.
Are drums harder than guitar?
Drums are generally considered to be harder to play than guitar, mainly because they are physically more challenging. But if you want to become a professional musician, both instruments require the same amount of work.
Do drums have notes?
Yes, drums have notes. But while other instruments have melodic notes, drums only have rhythmic notes.
Is traditional or matched grip better?
Many professional drummers use traditional grip to play drums, but the matched grip has many advantages for beginners. It ultimately comes down to your preferences.
Can I teach myself drums?
Yes, you can teach yourself drums. But you need to find a reliable learning source – an online learning program or a well-structured drum learning app. If you follow the instructions and stick to your schedule, you’ll be able to gain basic drumming skills without using traditional methods.
Is playing drums healthy?
Yes, playing the drums comes with multiple health benefits.
Drumming reduces stress levels and anxiety, builds physical strength, and improves coordination. Playing drums is also good for your brain – it improves memory and boosts brain processing power. Finally, music has also been shown to lower blood pressure and boost the immune system.