Last Updated on January 17, 2023
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How To Learn To Play Drums
If you are a beginner drummer, there is no doubt that you have chosen the best musical instrument! The drums are an incredibly important instrument because they find their home in every style of music. Other musicians depend on the drummer to keep the groove and hold everyone together in time with the beat.
Let’s be honest. No other instrument is quite as fun as playing the drums. There is so much fun to be had in exploring and experimenting with a wide range of sounds on a drum set, and combining them with all different types of rhythms.
In this article, I will share my top tips for beginner drummers to help you find your bearings quicker and develop good habits early on. It is essential to avoid the common pitfalls and progress killers from the beginning. So let’s get right into it!
1. Ensure Your Drum Set Is Comfortable To Play
Proper drum kit setup is a much-overlooked aspect of drumming. Most beginner drummers tend to construct their drum sets in any way that looks remotely acceptable. The reality is that most beginner drummers set up their sets poorly.
It is essential to make sure that all of the drums and cymbals are easily reachable. Angle the rack toms towards you, and the snare drum must sit comfortably between your legs slightly above your knee’s height.
Spend some time researching drum sets and look at how your favorite drummers set up their kits. Having a drum set that’s correctly set up will allow you to play at your best- plain and simple.
2. Sit With Correct Drumming Posture
While we are on the topic of playing a properly constructed drum set, one of my most important tips for beginner drummers is learning to sit with correct drumming posture. Playing the drums with correct form and posture will prevent the risk of injury, while offering a more relaxed and enjoyable playing experience.
Set your drum throne to the right height. As a guide, aim to have your thighs sloping downwards slightly towards the knees. This height will keep a healthy position for your spine and lower back. Position your hi-hat stand and bass drum pedal where the feet fall naturally, with a 45-degree angle between your legs.
3. Hold The Drum Sticks Correctly
There are various correct ways you can choose to hold your drum sticks. The most common is the ‘matched grip,’ which I teach to my students. Matched grip is where the left and right hand hold the drum sticks in the same way. The fulcrum is between the thumb and index finger, with the remaining fingers wrapped around the stick.
Don’t hold the drum sticks too tightly, they should be allowed to move freely and bounce after striking the drum head. This bounce the drum head provides is what drummers take advantage of when achieving fast speeds, and playing with power and consistency.
4. Choose A Preferred Bass Drum Technique
When it comes to playing a bass drum pedal, the technique is super important. The bass drum is the real driving force of any drum beat and it ought to be played with confidence and power. There are two types of bass drum technique – heel up or heel down.
Neither choice is strictly better than the other, as it is simply down to personal preference. But I personally play heel up, and my students tend to follow suit. I find playing heel up offers greater power from the thigh and calf muscles, and lets you bury the bass drum beater into the bass drum head.
5. Play Drums With Consistency
The drummer plays a supportive role within any band or ensemble. Because of this, a drummer is required to perform with consistency when it comes to timekeeping and dynamics. The drummer is the understated hero of any band, and the best thing a beginner drummer can do is remember to accompany the music with steady and consistent rhythms.
Consider what the music requires, and be mindful of overplaying, because the drummer is not the frontman of the band!
6. Practice With A Metronome
So how can a beginner drummer develop a strong fundamental understanding of rhythm to play drums consistently? A metronome, of course! There are many great metronomes for drummers on the market, and they are exceptional tools for improving your timekeeping.
Practicing drums to a metronome builds accuracy, consistency, a strong sense of rhythm and improves playing speed. The best way to practice with a metronome is to begin with a slow BPM like 60 beats per minute, performing basic rudiments such as single stroke rolls, double stroke rolls, and paradiddles. Then proceed to practice some easy songs for beginner drummers with your metronome!
7. Build Independence Between Hands And Feet
Many aspects altogether make a great drummer. Some of the most notable are: good technique, playing feel, timekeeping, creativity, and perhaps most importantly – excellent coordination.
Drumming utilizes all four limbs to play together or independently of one another. Where most beginner drummers tend to stumble is when learning new rhythms and drum patterns, where the hands and feet perform different subdivisions. Here are some tremendous linear drum beats that will help to build independence between your hands and your feet.
8. Don’t Over Tighten Cymbals
At this point in the list of tips for beginner drummers, it is time to address some of the most common pitfalls that any beginner drummer is guilty of. First up: don’t overtighten cymbals! All too often we see newbie drummers clamp down their crash cymbals to the point where it chokes the sound of the cymbal, and often results in the cymbal cracking.
When mounting a cymbal onto a cymbal stand, it should be allowed to swing freely and flex. Ensure there is no metal to metal contact between the cymbal and the stand by using felts (which should come supplied with a stand) and only screw the wingnut slightly.
9. Hit The Middle Of The Drums
Another common aspect of performance that many beginner drummers struggle with is being able to hit the drum in the center of the skin. It is super important for achieving good technique and being able to sound like the pros.
Sometimes it is a lapse in concentration, while for others, it could be too much focus is spent trying to remember how to play complicated patterns. Either way, this needs fixing up in order to build good habits moving forward. Be aware of where you hit the drums, and the stick marks will be a clear giveaway if you need to practice this!
10. Master The Basics First
Lastly, on this list of tips for beginner drummers, we have one piece of advice that can’t be stressed enough. Master the basics first: AKA don’t run before you can walk! Every beginner drummer wants to play fast, but believe me; faster does not mean better. Playing fast but sloppy and out of time never sounds good, in fact, it is amateur.
When approaching new drumming techniques, or learning some easy songs for beginner drummers, practice slowly to begin with. Give yourself time to process the new information. Once you feel more confident with new technical patterns, build the tempo up slowly, but do not be tempted to speed it up too soon. As this will compromise your technique and accuracy.
Through consistent practice, dedication, and patience we build valuable muscle memory. As drummers, this allows our brains and muscles to retain new information we learn, and improve as drummers!
Tips For Beginners Learning To Play The Drums
Drums are one of the oldest instruments known to mankind. They are an important part of all music genres. Playing drums is quite exciting and fun. However, if you are a beginner, you are bound to face some difficulties.
Like other exciting hobbies such as acting, surfing, skateboarding, etc., even drumming requires specific commitment and some practice. Consider taking private music lessons online. Also, a few drumming tips will help you get the most out of your drumming lessons. Here are some of them so that you can learn to play drums effortlessly.
1. Plan A Schedule
You either need to practice self-discipline or draft out a consistent practice schedule that is in your best interest. There is no denying the fact that practicing half an hour a day is better than doing it for three hours a week.
However, at the same time, you should not set unrealistic goals, or else you will end up in disappointment. Four to five practice sessions a week will prove sufficient if you are consistent. Keep motivating yourself for better results.
2. Get Your Practice Space Ready
Drumming is an activity that will not let you build a good relationship with your neighbors. Hence, when planning out your practice space, you should consider everything it takes to produce less noise.
You will find some cost-effective solutions, while others may be time-consuming and require much effort. For instance, you can either choose to buy a set of practice pads or invest a large amount in electronic drum sets.
3. Practice Good Form
After creating the perfect practice space, you should work to establish a proper form. It would help if you practiced seating style, in case you are a beginner drummer.
Drummers generally sit straight with the drum throne situated at a heightened level so that when they put their legs on pedals, it makes an angle of 90 degrees. It eliminates unnecessary strain from your body and also enables you to produce good sound.
4. Take Professional Drumming Lessons
Although you will have plenty of lesson plans online, it is advised that the best resource from where you can get a lesson plan is your teacher. Teachers are aware of your skills, and they also know your strengths and weaknesses.
Generally, the lessons available online are one-size-fits-all. Still, when your teacher produces a lesson plan for you, it will be focused on your skills and personalized. Professional music lessons are an excellent way to start learning to play drums.
5. Practice With A Metronome
A drummer always has to keep track of time while performing. Practicing with a metronome will help you to keep a steady rhythm and not get off tempo. If you’re a drummer and cannot roll on time or play a solid drum beat, how will you lead a band?
Several songs taped professionally are on time. This way, you can perform with your favorite band instead of playing a monotonous click track. Make sure that you don’t get distracted while doing this.
6. Watch Professional Drummers
Not all lessons are learned in classrooms. Just like you can improve your math and calculations anytime, even at the grocery store, you can enhance your drumming skills by watching professional drummers.
Try to pick up their styles and techniques, and that will do wonders. You can also choose to catch your favorite band’s live performance or watch them play on a DVD.
If you have some space in your practice area, you can install a TV and DVD player so that you can watch their videos and practice along. This way, you will have fun and boost your drumming skills to a great extent.
7. Stick To One Learning Method
Heel-Up vs. Heel-down are two standard techniques followed by drummers. In the heel-down technique, the entire bottom portion of your foot remains on the pedalboard as the lower-leg and ankle push down. This technique helps to produce a more resonant bass tone.
In the heel-up technique, your heel rises slightly above the pedal, and the ball foot remains at the same place. This technique uses big muscles in your hips and upper legs and can also yield powerful strokes.
8. Learn The Basic Drum Beats
You can choose to check some beginner drumming tutorials that will help you learn drumming skills. It is crucial to get the foundation right so that you perfect your skills. An excellent first step is to learn to hold your drumsticks. Working with the drumsticks is what you need to do while drumming.
You will learn to play basic beats, and it will prove rewarding since, after learning them, drumming will become easy for you. Playing the drums may initially seem daunting. You may face problems in coordinating your limbs together, but consistent practice will help you get the process right.
9. Learn The Basics Of Drum Notation
This fact may sound boring to you, but one of the essential elements of learning drums is indeed the ability to read drum sheets. The majority of experienced drummers at least know the basics of drumming. After learning the basics, you can pick up any drum score and start playing.
After mastering the basics of drums, you should choose to get a good drum book. You will feel great when you can sit behind the drum kit and play the drum notation effectively. It will lead to a much more efficient and effective method of practice. This way, you will not have to scroll through videos as well.
The Bottom Line
Learning to play an instrument is not always easy, but make sure that you are having fun. Start with the basics and then level up slowly. Learning to play drums requires the right amount of concentration and practice.
The first steps are certainly the most challenging. But, once you are determined to get past that point, there is no turning back. Make sure to take adequate time out of your hectic schedule for practicing drumming. Also, follow your teacher’s advice and act on it accordingly.