Learn to Play the Drums – the Ultimate Guide

There is an age-long misconception that it is very easy to learn to play drums. Some even ask, “What is there too playing the drums beyond striking the drums?”. 

Playing the drums goes beyond striking the drum with the drumsticks. It is an art that requires many years of practice to master. 

Since you are reading this article, I believe you agree with me on this and you’re interested in learning to play the drums. In this article, I have provided a guide that would help you through the journey of learning to play the drum.

Is it hard to learn to play the drum?

So, is it hard to learn to play drums? That really all depends on you. You can learn a well-known song/beat on the drums in around 30 minutes. It often takes 2 years for you to gain a detailed understanding of the drums. If you want to become a professional drummer, 7 to 8 years is typical but can be faster if you practice harder.

But if you set yourself up for success in the right ways, you’ll speed up the learning process and reach your goals that much sooner.

How do you teach yourself to play the drums?

Playing the drums as an autodidact is not always easy. If you do not want to take a drum lesson with a drum teacher, you will have to hang on!

Motivation, rigor, and patience are essential to master the game on the snare drum and the handling of the bass drum pedal.

Learning alone takes a lot of work and if you lack motivation at times, don’t forget your goals. There will always be time to take music lessons afterward if you feel overwhelmed.

Here are some tips to help you learn to play drums on your own!

Learn rhythmic music theory

Electronic drums or acoustic drums, whatever, books of methods are there to help you learn the basics and enjoy playing.

Many drummers learn simply by listening, but sometimes it is not enough and it is better to learn rhythmic music theory, this will make it easier for you to read a score and play songs.

Learn to organize a drum session alone

A proper drum session is organized like a sports session: you have to warm up before going to your exercise session.

We sweat like during a sports session, we try to surpass ourselves to always go further and we have aches after a good session to beat on the cymbals, to work a ternary rhythm, or to increase the tempo on the hi-hat.

The only difference lies in the creativity that must be deployed to learn to play drums.

Before you start, make sure you have everything you need to avoid bothering yourself and wasting time. Turn off your phone and start your hour-long session with:

  • 10 minutes of body warm-up: hit your percussion instrument as you see fit, redo a song you like, in any style of music. The thing is to loosen your wrists and heat your muscles,
  • 10 minutes of brain warm-up:  while keeping a snare hit on each beat, hit wherever you want with your right hand and do what you want with your feet,
  • 20 to 30 minutes of deliberate practice: work on a particular exercise or piece while being perfectly focused. The only rule: do something new every time!
  • 10 to 20 minutes of recreation: reproduce a new song or improvise completely, the goal is to let go of your creativity to have fun.

On the other hand, if it is not possible to set aside an hour daily for your practice, it is still better to practice every day even if it is around 20 minutes during the week (and an hour on weekends).

In this case, reduce the warm-up and practice deliberately for 10 to 15 minutes.

How long does it take to learn to play the drums?

Starting the drum means making yourself more available to improve.

It takes about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become a professional, internationally recognized drummer.

To make this clearer, it means that you would have to practice deliberately for 2.5 hours every day, 365 days a year for 10 years. Even with all the goodwill in the world, it is almost impossible to be so constant (and to be able to free yourself as much daily time even on Christmas!).

But definitely, not everyone intends to become a professional drummer.

20 minutes of deliberate practice two to three times a week is already a good start.

It is often mistakenly thought that it is easy to learn to play drums. That drums are one of the easiest musical instruments. It is not so. The left hand and the right hand do two different things, but so do the feet. You have to succeed in mastering a strong independence of the members to call yourself a good drummer.

In addition, if the drums are not a harmonic instrument, you have to control the tempo and it is not easy.

The tempo changes according to the musical styles. The drummer must always adapt and it is she who carries the music group.

So, during the day, do not hesitate to work on your drumming skills without having your instruments at hand. Tap your thighs, cushions, or a corner of your desk during your lunch break. This gives you more practicing hours.

You will see that when you think about it, these 10 minutes spent on your phones scanning your Facebook thread can be used to work a rhythm. The 30 minutes of transport for work can also be used to break down the drum part of a song in order to learn how to play it later.

The main thing is to create a habit: at specific times of the day, you tell yourself that you will work for X minutes on such exercise. Do this for a month and you will see that after these 30 days, it will become a reflex.

Remember it is not easy to stay motivated so try to be consistent and keep your goals in mind.

learn to play drums

What is a good drum set for a beginner?

You’ve decided to pick up the drum sticks? Good choice: drumming is fun, drumming is healthy, and drummers are a great bunch of people!

But first things first: what’s the best beginner drum set? After all, this will cost you a few hundred dollars, so you might not want to engage in pure trial and error.

We have compiled a list of the best drum sets for a beginner. 

Our Top Picks:

Essential Equipment

If you’re new to drums, you’re probably wondering: “What equipment should I buy first? “

Failure to get, from the onset, the essential equipment to learn to play drums will to some difficulties. you could face problems like stagnation in progress, tempo problems, hearing problems, back pain, and the likes. You definitely don’t want to neglect the essential equipment to learn to play the drums.  

So let’s go, let’s look together at these 5 essential accessories to start the practice of drums.

The Drumsticks

Wow! What a scoop! right?

But it is essential to start to learn to play the drums with a pair of drumsticks.

I recommend a medium diameter rod, made of real tree wood.
In the beginning, do not take too large or too heavy sticks; especially for children, simply so as not to injure yourself (risk of tendonitis, or muscle tears).

Start with a standard model type 5A and later you will choose from the thousands of models available.

 A Practice Pad

Second essential accessory: 
you have drumsticks, but what are you going to hit? 
I advise you to buy a practice pad. Do not rush to buy a drum. Wait a bit:

1. To know if it is really the instrument in which you want to invest; 
2. Get to know a little more about the hardware in order to buy the drum that will suit your needs, your tastes, and your finances.

Also, consider buying a snare stand to put your pad on, so you can adjust its height and tilt.

A Metronome

Third essential accessory: A METRONOME!

It is the sacrosanct mission of the drummer to maintain the tempo.

From the start, impose on yourself a strict discipline to work your tempo, your internal pulsation. 


And for that, there is no secret: you must obligate yourself to always play the metronome.

So, when this internal pulse is engraved in your guts, you can detach yourself from it to play naturally with the tempo. 

Hearing protection

As a musician, your ears are your working tool. They are therefore very precious, so you need to protect them.
Invest without counting in these two accessories: 
– earplugs (this will also be useful when you go to listen to concerts, when you play in a group, or when you jam with other drummers) 
– an audio headset in which you can broadcast the click of your metronome, your favorite music, or, soon I hope, your stage feedback.

I highly recommend using headphones to your iPhone: it will not only filter the sound volume of your drum but in addition, you push the volume up so you can hear the click or playback.

A GOOD SEAT

It will be more pleasant for your rear end, but above all, it will prevent you from having back pain.

A good stool should be: 
– comfortable (neither too soft nor too hard); 
– adjustable in height; 
– stable, both on the ground and on the seat.

Again, put the resources in good equipment from the start: 
you will be able to keep it for most of your career and you will not need to change it in 2 years because of junk hardware or torn fabric.

Holding your drumsticks

When you start learning to play drums, before throwing your sticks on the snare drum and trying to reproduce the effects of your favorite drummer on your crash, there is an essential element to master that we too often tend to neglect: the art of holding the drumsticks. This may seem obvious to some or less important to others, but in any case, you will not be able to play the drums properly if you do not know how to hold your sticks perfectly. 

The sticks become the extension of the drummer’s body. To be precise and regular, as required by this musical instrument, before knowing the rhythms and the different striking techniques, you have to know all the little subtleties of taking the sticks. Proper sticking is the first step toward effective and successful learning.

There are two types of grip: traditional grip and match grip. 

The Match Grip

The Match Grip is the grip that is generally recommended for beginners because it is more intuitive. We use this position to bring power to his game, which is the case in more rock or metal registers. There are three variants of this position:

The Traditional Grip 

This grip owes its name to the military, as it is the style they use to strike the drums. It was originally due to the tilting of the military drums which are tilted slightly to the right.

To hold your sticks to the “traditional grip”, you have to place the stick between your thumb and forefinger and point the palm of your hand towards the skyThis grip is very common among Jazz drummers. Even if it is not recommended for beginners, it is worth trying!

Mastering how to hold the drumstick properly from the start of your learning will help you avoid bad habits and even injure yourselfWhen you begin to learn to play drums, always take a few moments, before starting to play, to check the position of your hands.

Learn Your First Beat

So, now that you know how to hold the drumstick. I am sure your hands must be itching to start striking the drum. 

Well, hold on a minute!

It is time to learn your first beat. Trust me, the joy of mastering to play a beat, especially your first beat, is very thrilling.

This lesson should still cover all the basics you need to play your first few drum beats!

Finding A Teacher/Lesson

Yes! You could learn to play drums as an autodidact, you can, of course, watch a DVD of your favorite drummer and try and imitate him, watch YouTube videos and read drum books. But a YouTube video can’t correct your mistakes, a DVD can’t show you exactly how to do a drum roll nor can a book suggest drum fills for the piece you are playing.

You need a drum teacher. But no two drum teachers are alike. Before choosing a drum teacher, ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • What type of music do you want to play? (This affects the type of drum.)
  • What type of drum do you want to play? (This affects the type of music.)
  • Do you already play a musical instrument such as a violin, cello, saxophone? If so, you already have an idea of rhythm and pitch and you’re already familiar with a form of music notation. Your instructor will need to know that.
  • How do you learn best? Do you need someone nagging you constantly to practice or someone who only pricks you when you’re making mistakes?
  • Do you want home lessons or enjoy the advantages of a music school?

The answers you provide to these questions will go a long way in influencing the type of drum teacher that best fits you. Then after, you can go on google to search for the drum instructor that suits you best.

Reading Sheet Music

As a drummer, you need to know how to read music notes. It is better you learn to do this right from the onset when you’ve just started to learn to play drums. We’ve provided some tips and tricks on how to learn to read sheet music.

  • Divide the beats into equal spaces, in order to locate them more easily.
  • The notes located one above the other are played simultaneously.
  • As a general rule, if the stem of the note is pointing upwards, it should be played with the hands. On the other hand, if it is directed downwards, you must play it with the feet. The snare drum is sometimes marked with a note whose shaft is directed upwards.
  • Unless otherwise noted, cymbals are always marked with a cross.
  • If you only use the bass drum, snare drum or hi-hat, write your score on three staves, rather than five, or use no staves. And don’t forget to write down the measurement indication and the measurement bars.
  • Spot the rhythmic variation and learn the recurring patterns (usually on the hi-hat) by heart.
  • Write a score where you indicate the basic rhythm and mark the variations, accents, and breaks.
  • Simplify scoring. Rather than using triplets and half sighs to write down a jazz pattern for riding, put the word “swing” at the top of the score, for example.
  • To get a good overview, we recommend that you use four measures per line.
  • Make brief notes, not forgetting important information, like tempo hints, for example.

You could watch this video on how to learn to read sheet music

The parts of a Drum Kit

The drum is made up of several parts. You need to know the different components of the drum when you start to learn to play drums. The parts of a standard drum kit include:

  • Bass drum
  • Snare drum
  • Tom-tom drum
  • Floor tom
  • Hi-hat
  • Crash cymbal
  • Ride cymbal
  • Splash cymbal
  • China cymbal
  • Throne (stool)
  • Cymbal stands
  • Drum stands
  • Pedals

Freedrum

Freedrum is a virtuаl drum kit thаt fitѕ in уоur росkеt. It wаѕ dеѕignеd tо bring thе drumming experience from ѕоundрrооf ѕtudiоѕ tо the оutdооrѕ, уоur ѕоfа, оr аnу other рlасе you hаvе access to a ѕmаrtрhоnе. Whеthеr уоu’rе аn aspiring drummеr оr уоu hаvе bееn dоing it fоr dесаdеѕ – Frееdrum iѕ dеѕignеd tо сrеаtе аn immеrѕivе еxреriеnсе fоr drummers of аnу ѕkill lеvеl! 

Thе best part? Yоu can рut a раir оf earbuds in аnd wоn’t hаvе to hеаr anyone соmрlаin аbоut your ѕkillѕ. 

Frееdrum iѕ a grеаt innovation with a lоt оf advantages. 

It doesn’t tаkе large space аnd уоu саn саrrу thе ѕеt around withоut any difficulties. It аlѕо has a grеаt sound ԛuаlitу. 

Freedrum is a grеаt choice fоr different ѕоrtѕ of drummеrѕ, ѕinсе it isn’t a dеmаnding drumming kit аnd it саn bе рlауеd аnуwhеrе. Alѕо, уоu can listen tо уоur playing рrасtiсе bоth on hеаdрhоnеѕ and оn ѕреаkеrѕ.

learn to play drums
Learn to Play the Drums – the Ultimate Guide
learn to play drums

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