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How to play the drums – a beginner’s guide to success

Are you currently thinking about learning to play drums but don’t know how? Do you have rhythm but are still unsure? Then we have good news for you. In this interview, we’ll answer the most important questions you might be asking yourself as a beginner.

learn to play the drums
The drums

Which instruments are part of the drum set?

Strictly speaking, the following instruments belong to a drum set:

  • bass drum

  • side drum

  • small tom-tom

  • medium tom-tom

  • large tom-tom

  • hi-hat

  • crash cymbal

  • ride cymbal

So, the drum kit is an instrument in its own right and not just a compilation of drums?

That’s right. The drum set is a unified musical instrument consisting of several drums covered with plastic skins plus a few metal discs. All these instruments usually stand on metal legs and other stands or are fixed with brackets. Everything is designed so the drummer can easily and comfortably reach every single part while sitting.

Are drums always played sitting down?

When playing drums, you sit upright while your hips are slightly forward. You sit on a small support surface on the stool to be mobile while playing drums and being able to play the instrument well.

I’ve dreamed of learning to play drums for a very long time – can I still learn this instrument even though I’m older?

Absolutely! You might be worried that you’re not able to keep up with your hearing or agility, but it always takes a little time to master an instrument and you should take that time.

drummer with drum sticks

How old should my child be to start learning the drums?

Parts of the drums – such as the rhythm instruments – are already part of the early musical education that many music schools offer. Private music teachers also begin to work out a sense of rhythm with children. Drums are mainly about listening and playing together. The child needs to be able to hold their rhythm somewhat, but even the youngest children can do this to some extent. So, there is no general answer to this question. So first, talk to a music teacher and, if possible, arrange a trial lesson to see whether your child enjoys the instrument or not.

How much practice do I need to learn to play the drums?

Of course, this depends a bit on your ambition. It’s better to practice a little bit every day rather than once or twice a week for 3 hours a day. Not only would that be quite tiring, but it would also result in very little progress.

Does playing drums have any positive effects beyond just enjoying the music?

Some studies show that playing drums can relieve anxiety, stress, and depression. Sure, it can’t replace therapy. But the fact is that beta waves in the brain, which are responsible for the activity, change to alpha waves while playing drums, making us feel calm and relaxed. In short, you let off some steam.

Can you play drums solo?

A drum solo is the high art of drumming. It requires a really good command of one’s instrument. Many bands give their drummer a passage at a certain point in the song that they can play alone. That way drummers can show what they are capable of. Of course, there are also great songs for just the drums.

drum set

What qualities do you need to be a good drummer?

That’s a good question. Drummers and percussionists are very important in a band or orchestra. At the same time, they are probably the most underrated. As a music teacher, I would call these qualities the most important:

Timing: Your timing changes with time and improves the more you practice. But having good timing and producing the right sound on the right instrument is a good starting point.

Basis: The drummer is the backbone of the band or orchestra, and their job is to keep the rhythm going. If you get out of rhythm, the rest of the band won’t be able to keep up with you. It’s up to the drummer to keep the right people in check and always think about when to turn up the volume and hit the gas pedal. But that’s what I love about drumming.

Curiosity and versatility: Everyone has their favorite music style and genre. But if you are curious and try different things, you can discover a new aspect of your instrument.

Coolness: This may sound a little cliché. But, as a drummer, you have to stay calm, even when things get a little crazy. You are the backbone of the music, even if everything around you is a little bit disorganized. On the other hand, sometimes you can’t perform as usual because you’re not 100 percent in shape yourself. Staying calm in such moments is the art of drumming.

Being creative: Over time, you will develop your style. Always try new things and perfect some aspects. It will always pay off.

Being a good listener: You should not only listen well to others but also listen to yourself. You’re usually your own harshest critic. But it’s impossible to remain truly objective. Especially if you are in the middle of a performance. Thus, allow yourself the pleasure of listening to yourself while playing. Record your work on your cell phone and listen to it yourself. You may be surprised at how great you sound and perhaps find areas for improvement.

drummer at a concert

Is it difficult to play the drums?

It often seems like it. But playing drums is not as difficult as playing other instruments. That’s because each instrument requires certain qualities that can be used to your advantage. Even the best drummers can always learn something new.

Do I have to buy a drum set right away?

You can rent a drum kit and experiment a little to see if you like playing them. Talk to a teacher to decide what kind of drum set you want – classic or electric.

What defines a good drum kit?

The material of the drum kit is not the only important factor in terms of sound. The room in which you play is also relevant. Playing in a small room with a carpet will be more difficult. Furthermore, snare drums are made of materials such as tinkling bronze, aluminum, and poplar wood. When it comes to bass drums and toms you should consider the wood used for the instrument and its quality. In addition, the head, tuning, and finish are also essential aspects.

Ideally, you can test them at a store, but don’t let the big brand names impress you. Sometimes even small companies can offer better deals in terms of quality. Listen to your intuition! And if you can’t immediately make a decision, then take your time. You shouldn’t buy an instrument on a whim.

drum student

Many people are worried about the noise when practicing drums – is that a valid concern?

Playing the drums can become an issue when you live in an apartment complex since it’s louder than other instruments. But if you ask your landlord and neighbors for consent, it can be done. After all, the trumpet, saxophone, and piano are not very quiet instruments either.

You can also practice with electronic pads sometimes, but I recommend practicing on actual drums. Otherwise, you’ll think that you’ve mastered the instrument and realize upon playing that you can’t engage your body as it is required when playing the drums.

Electric drums are a great alternative since you can practice with your entire body and plug in headphones to avoid disturbing your neighbors.

How long will it take me before I can play my first song on drums?

There is no general answer to this question. As teachers, we focus on quick yet lasting results. With some practice, however, you should be able to play your first segments after just a few lessons.

Do I have to take lessons to learn how to play drums, or can I teach myself?

YouTube and other platforms certainly offer some good tutorials which enable you to learn a few techniques. However, when learning an instrument, the same rules apply as they do for any other profession or activity. You can only learn something if you have a teacher by your side. A teacher can spot mistakes immediately that otherwise would have been difficult to correct later, making it very difficult to achieve results. They can also pick pieces or segments which are suitable to play for you. Thus, it makes sense to take lessons with a drum teacher to learn the ins and outs of this instrument.


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