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Three Easy Steps to Learn How to Play the Drums

Are you interested in learning how to play the drums and become drummer? Then fortunately for you I have create this one-two-three on how to get to where you want to be as a drummer.

Step One: Find a Teacher or Guide

Although you can teach yourself how to play the drums, a better way to learn is by getting qualified drum teacher. A drum teacher can show you the right (and wrong) ways to sit, hold your sticks, breathe, and hit the drums. While an instruction book can show you what to do, a teacher can demonstrate how to do it. A good idea is also to have drum guide, much like this post was designed to do. Point you in the best direction.

If you are serious about playing drums, you can visit your local music store and find a suitable teacher. Spend an hour a week at a drum lesson, and pay attention to what your teacher tells and shows you.


As you’re playing matures - or if you want to learn different methods and various drum related things - you will probably find yourself switching teachers. While there is nothing wrong with keeping the same teacher for several years, different teachers have different strengths and weaknesses, views and perspectives. You might find one teacher who's terrific at snare drum and drum corps stuff, but you might need to switch to a different teacher when it's time to move to the full set of drums and play jazz rock or both... Most drummers I know have had several teachers throughout their careers - and have learned something important from each and every one of them.

Step Two: Practice, Practice, Practice

Nothing worth gaining is ever attained easily. In the life of a drummer, actually playing live is only a small part of the playing you do. The vast majority of notes you play will be during practice times - either practicing with your band or practicing your own instrument, by yourself. To learn your instrument, you need to practice. To get better on your instrument, you need to practice. To discover new licks and styles, you need to practice. To stay in shape, you need to practice. In short, get ready to spend a lot of time practicing and perfecting your instrument.

If you are just starting out, practicing probably sounds boring. I won't lie to you - sometimes it is if you aren't doing it right. But a good teacher can help to make practicing fun. It is especially enjoyable when you are playing along with your favourite CDs, applying all the new beats you've learned. I need to tell you, if it wasn't fun I wouldn't do it - and I have practiced a heck of a lot over the years.

That's because practicing is necessary if you want to grow your skills as a drummer. You have to train your hands (and your feet) to play specific coordination related things in order to build muscle memory, and you have to train your mind to react and interact in specific situations. Practicing helps you prepare for anything that comes up in a live playing situation, and it ensures that you have the chops necessary to get the job done with a decent amount of your own unique style.

There are many different ways to practice. When you first start out, you will want to set up a snare drum or a practice pad, a music stand, and a metronome. At first, you will not only be practicing specific music exercises, but you will also be practicing how to hold your sticks, how to hit the drum, and how to keep a steady beat.

Once you get a little more experienced, you will be practicing behind a full drum set. You will still be practicing patterns and exercises, but you will also pop in a CD from time to time and practice by playing along with various songs. Not that you want to mindlessly copy the beats recorded by the pros; rather, you need to learn how to play with other instruments, and you want to learn from what the pros played. 

You will eventually get to the point where you are practicing with other musicians, either in your school band or orchestra or with a group of your friends. While this feels very different from practicing alone in your room, until you are playing in front of a paying audience, you are still practicing - and learning. And so, you should concentrate on what other musicians are playing perhaps more than what you are playing yourself. In short, you keep time and the other musicians play too that time. All the time you are listening and learning what you could have done or what you should be doing.

After all, that is what practice is all about: learning how to play your instrument and learning how to play in a band situation. Just as you'd never try to fly a commercial aircraft without a lot of hours in a flight simulator, you can't sit down and expect to play the drums without practicing first. As the old adage says, practice makes perfect - there's something to that. But that should really be Perfect Practice Makes Perfect. In other words, the way that you play what you play.

Step Three: Learn to Read

This third step in learning the drums should really have been step one. It is that important if you want to play the drums proficiently.

I can already hear some of you saying, "I don't have to read music to play" or "So-and-so was a great drummer and he didn't know how to read music." Both of those statements may be true, but I still contend that you will get farther in your musical life - and have more opportunities open to you - if you know how to read music.

Imagine this scenario: A big-time producer calls you up and asks you to play drums for an important recording session (a TV show, Broadway musical or tour). You get there, set up your kit, and introduce yourself to the other musicians. The producer or musical director hands you a sheet of music and tells you that the session starts in five minutes. You have no time to listen to the music before you play, you have probably never even heard the music before either, and you are expected to start playing - for real! - without a lick of practice. All you have is a piece of paper with lots of little black dots on it.

This may sound intimidating, but it's precisely how real musicians work. Unless you play in one band for your entire life, you will be "the new guy" on a gig sometime in your career. The way "new guys" learn the music is by reading it. In fact, most big-time gigs have no rehearsal time at all - you just sit down and start reading and playing.

Of course, if you can't read when presented with such a situation, you are out of luck. This is why I say it is essential to learn how to read music. Not only that, if you want to learn advanced beats and rhythms fills and phrases you will need to be able to ready the notes to discover what is actually going off within that pattern, be it a phrase or beat.



If you want more beginner pointers tips and tricks get my 36 Part eZine collection delivered to your inbox over the next 36 days. It's full of short nuggets of valuable information to help you take your first steps down your drumming journey. Click here to get started with your first eZine part as well as free drumming lesson from my latest book... Rock Drumming Foundation.

I wish you every success on your drumming journey.

Stephen Hawkins

Stephen Hawkins 26.01.2019 0 107195
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