Encountering tough challenges is just part of the process as you first learn to play the drums. But instead of getting frustrated or giving up, take action with these helpful pointers from teacher Lauren P...
Every new drum student faces these common challenges at some point. Use the below tips to overcome these challenges with minimal amount of frustration and time.
1. I can’t move quickly enough
The most common challenge new students face as they learn to play the drums is building speed and coordination. The more you practice, the faster your wrist and ankle movement will become and the more quickly you will be able to make transitions. You can build muscle mass and muscle memory anytime. Tap your feet or tap your pencils on any hard surface or the rubber soles of your shoes. You don’t need to overexert yourself by forcing a fast pace for extended periods of time. Instead, try short bursts of fast-paced playing along with a metronome. You will slowly but surely build speed and coordination. If it is the transition between drums and cymbals that is challenging you, practice one or two components and slowly build until you can coordinate all components at once.
2. I can’t read quickly enough
If your biggest challenge is keeping up with the pace of reading sheet music, you can overcome these mistakes by previewing and preparing music ahead of time. One quick fix is to highlight every other line of music. This prevents your eyes from losing their place as you skip from line to line. Another trick is to say the beats as words in your head instead of just counting. Even better, say the numbers or words aloud to stay on track. You can even write in these words above the notes. For example, write and say aloud: “par-a-did-dle”; “right-left-right-right”; “one-e-end-a-two-e-end-three-e-end-a-four-e-end”; etc. When you are still learning the rudimentary beats, write “R” and “L” above each portion of every note to signify your right and left hand. Highlighting and annotating your music ahead of time will help familiarize you with the music and prepare you for speed.
3. I’m not consistent in speed or volume
Many new drummers struggle with consistency in speed or volume. The best piece of technology a drummer can invest in to practice pace is a metronome. Buy a metronome or use one for free online. The metronome sets a pace for your playing and keeps you consistent. You can also record yourself or another performer playing so that you can practice the right volume and pace. By listening to yourself play, you can also become aware of how you fluctuate volume between your right and left hand or from the beginning to end of a segment. A band is nothing without a drummer to keep them on track. In terms of pace and volume, practice makes perfect to build muscle memory and overcome the consistency challenge.
4. I forget the lessons I learn
If you repeatedly forget a new lesson or skill immediately after your lesson, there are several easy ways to overcome this challenge. If you have a smartphone or tablet, record video or audio of yourself playing. You can even include your instructor’s advice or homework assignment to use as a reference for practice. If you do not have access to recording technology, take detailed notes of your assignments and any suggestions or potential misunderstandings that you want to remember later.
5. I can’t find time for practice
Even with a strong passion for learning to play the drums, the frustrations of independent practice can sap your enthusiasm to persevere. Overcome your challenges by making a conscious effort to keep your end goal in mind. This will keep you inspired and motivated to practice through your challenges. Set aside at least 10 minutes a day to practice. Sticking to your daily schedule is more effective than planning to practice “when you have time.” Commit to setting your alarm 10 minutes early or practicing the moment you get home. The best way to overcome any challenges as you learn to play the drums is to hold yourself accountable for practice.
Of course, working with a private drum teacher can be a big motivation for keeping up with your practice; plus, he or she will be able to guide you along at the right pace. Teachers are well-equipped to solve the common challenges of new drum students. Hire an expert teacher in your area and you’ll be well on your way to mastering your instrument!
Lauren played concert snare drum and the drum set for five years and acted as a private teacher for the snare drum and drum set for three years. Currently she tutors various subjects in New York, NY. Learn more about Lauren here!
Photoby Gamma Man