How To Start Playing Drums: Beginners Drumming Tips
Have you ever wanted to learn how to play drums, but didn’t know where to start? This isn’t surprising if you have, because the types of equipment available are endless and the internet is full of lessons, books and accessories that you just HAVE to have according to many websites. There are a befuddling variety of drum kits available from electronic to acoustic, each designed for different uses and needs. If you don’t know exactly where you want to branch out, it’s possible to make equipment choices that become a source of regret, or even worse, dust collection.
The truth is, all you really need to start drumming is a pair of sticks. Where you go from there depends entirely on the type of music you want to make and whether you are going to go solo, which is entirely possible with today’s modern recording equipment, or eventually play with a group. This guide will help you sift through this overwhelming onslaught of information so you can start your new dream in a way that makes sense for you.
Informative Article for Beginners
First Things First: Know How to Sit
There are many great lessons on line to learn different beats, but there are just as many great tips on how to sit and how to hold your sticks. Why? Because using the wrong style doesn’t just harm your back, neck and arms over time; it also hampers your style. Although many great drummers have developed horrible postures over the years, they are not unaffected by this defect. They are overcoming a handicap. Why handicap yourself from the day you start when you could easily launch your skills ahead of others in your bracket just by learning the proper posture and stick holding technique? One way you can reinforce this good habit is to use a mirror to check your positioning or have a helper examine your posture as you play. We have included a couple links to show the best positioning techniques in the ten tips listed below this article because this point bears repeating.
Now, Down to the Nitty Gritty–It’s Time to Play!
First, know that you aren’t alone in your endeavors, even if you plan to play and practice alone. There’s so much information and so many teaching tools that the most talented drummer in the world would still be able to learn something new every day. Even better, many of the best drummers in the world share their wealth of knowledge on the internet for free simply for love of the art. Take advantage of this knowledge and use it to expand your initial inventory of skills so you have a better fundamental foundation. A great starting point, and the one most drummers launch their learning from is the 26 Standard American Drumming Rudiments.
Become a N.A.R.D!
No, not a nerd, a NARD. Believe it or not, there actually is a National Association of Rudimental Drummers. I won’t go into the history here, but to make a long story short, there is a set of fundamental drumming skills that have been held sacred by musicians for centuries. This isn’t because they were necessary for certain archaic types of music, but because they teach a skill that just can’t be duplicated by any other teaching style. What is this fundamental skill you ask?
Drumming is a lot like learning how to pat your head and rub your belly at the same time. Ok, I might be using a silly analogy here, but in truth, have you ever tried to do that? You can learn to do it with practice but it’s not going to happen the first time you attempt it– that’s why it’s so funny to watch people try. Drumming is pretty much the same thing. Mastering the 26 rudiments can be learned with nothing more than a pair of sticks and a little instruction and demonstration, so this is a good place to start while you are searching for–or waiting for the arrival of–your first drum set. Learning these rudiments will also help you learn to read sheet music, which is a more essential skill than it initially seems to beginning drummers.
Start Using Both Feet From the Beginning
This is something important that some beginners miss out on, and it can trip them up over time. This isn’t to say that you need a kick and hi-hat pedal from day one. Quite the opposite. Just get used to moving your feet every bit as independently as your hands. A good way to do this is to use both your feet to tap the rhythm while you practice the 26 fundamental rhythms. For instance, use your right foot to tap beats one and three, while using your left foot to tap beats two and four until you can smoothly maintain the beat. A metronome beat on your computer or smart phone can help you tighten your sense of timing while you master this skill. This article has some great tips on training all four of your limbs to hold a steady rhythm while accenting different parts of the beat. This way, when you finally find the best electronic drum set or best acoustic set for your needs, you’ll already know how to integrate the pedals and make a full sounding beat.
Finally, don’t relax once you’ve learned the initial skills. Try to acquire a new technique as soon as you have a basic grasp of the previous one. Notice I didn’t say that you should master one technique before moving onto the next. As soon as you can make a basic warm up routine of the fundamental rhythms, you should switch up your larger practice routine. This is because the art of drumming requires the ability to quickly and easily embrace any rhythm while switching up the beat on a dime. How many songs have you heard that have just one beat through the entire song? Ok, this may not be fair if you listen to a lot of pop music, but for the most part, you will need to be able to switch it up or you will be limited to just a few songs. This can be a little fun at first, but it will get boring over time. Try choosing a few easy songs with drastically different beats so you can branch out to many different styles. This guide will give you a few ideas for creating your beginner’s wish list of songs to master.
Here’s a few more tips to get you started on your drumming journey today.
Top 10 Beginners Drumming Tips
- Don’t think you have to have a professional set to start. If you are limited by budget, even the roll out electronic practice pads that can be purchase for less than $50 will get you started and provide a surprisingly decent sound. So whether you want to start with a small kit or the best electronic drum set that money can buy, your budget is no barrier to your beginnings.
- Learn proper posture and how to hold your sticks from day one. Unlike lack of equipment, this is one thing that could ultimately hold you back. It’s no fun to play while you are in pain and certain methods are impossible to learn without utilizing proper technique.
- Use a metronome. You don’t necessarily need to buy one. You can find metronome timers on the internet that work just perfect. Even if you have an incredible sense of timing, it is a skill that must be finely honed for this art. Timing is the difference between a good drummer and a great one.
- Practice every day. It’s easy to make excuses with your shiny new set, just as often as you might make excuses for that treadmill collecting dust in your garage. It doesn’t matter if you only take ten minutes or ten hours, playing every day cements drumming as part of your daily life, so you won’t lose interest and let your dream slip away due to perceived lack of time.
- As important as making time, consider your neighbors. If you live in an area where you are likely to bother others with an acoustic set, get practice pads or an electronic set that can be played without noise. This way, you won’t find yourself stifling your desire to play simply because it’s too late in the day or you might disturb someone.
- Learn about your instrument. You may be surprised to find out just how complicated your drum set really is. From tuning the toms to proper kick pedal placement, acoustic sets have a lot of small things involving their set up that can really change the sound and playability. And the best electronic drum set can get downright complex. If your set comes with a manual, read it till you’ve memorized it. If it doesn’t, find a guide on the internet.
- Don’t go it alone–find some help. This doesn’t mean you have to take expensive drumming lessons with an instructor or join a class (unless you want to). There are countless instructional videos and teaching tools available on the internet to help you learn the basic fundamentals of drumming, such as the 26 Standard American Drum Rudiments(can’t stress that one enough). Seek and ye shall find.
- Protect your ears! Whether you play an electronic set with headphones or an acoustic set, the shock wave sounds of drumming can and will damage ears, even at lower volumes. If you are using an electronic set, adjust the volume to a level where you no longer feel pain, and then take it down a couple more notches. If you can’t adjust your volume, use earplugs. I repeat, use earplugs. By the way, you should really use earplugs. Just can’t express that point enough.
- Don’t box yourself in. It can be easy to learn just one style and get very good at it, but this isn’t much fun when you find yourself wanting to learn a song that doesn’t fit your style. Variety is the spice of life, and drumming the the proof of that rule. Switch up your styles from day one, utilizing both your feet and your hands so you can train your muscle memory to embrace any beat.
- Remember to have fun. “I started playing the drums because I enjoy the drudgery and boredom of forcing myself to play the same practice rolls every day for hours on end” … said absolutely no drummer ever. Keep your musical world interesting. Learn new styles every day and listen to different types of music that challenge your mind. Find time to be inspired by the process and you will learn and grow every day, even after you’ve become a seasoned professional with thousands of gigs in your back pocket and a platinum album to prove it.
As you can see, you don’t need the best electronic drum set or expensive instruction to get started on your musical journey. In fact, the drum is actually the easiest instrument to begin learning because in the very beginning, it requires nothing more than sticks or your hands, and something to beat them on.
Of course, as you progress, you are likely to develop a syndrome known as GAS. No, not the kind you get from beans. G.A.S…Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Once you’ve mastered certain techniques, it’s almost impossible to resist the pull of that shiny new tom that can add another note to your beat or the smother kick pedal that can keep up with your newly-skilled feet. In fact, GAS may actually be one of the funnest parts of being a part of the drumming community. It’s so much fun to compare the pros and cons of different pieces.
There you have it. Starting the drums isn’t nearly as complicated as it looks. In fact, you can even start today, right this very second, so why wait? There’s no time like the present.