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Play Like the Pros: 6 Drum Skills You Can Learn From Famous Drummers

January 12, 2023

Play Like the Pros: 6 Drum Skills You Can Learn From Famous Drummers

6 Drum Skills You Can Learn From Famous Drummers

Do you want to learn how to play drums like some of the most famous drummers in the world? It’s easier than you think —you just need to know what skills those famous drummers have mastered, and that’s exactly what we’re here for. 

Read on for six essential drum skills you can learn from your favorite pros! 

What Skills Do Drummers Have? 

Many people think that being a drummer is all about keeping the beat. However, drummers actually have a wide range of skills that they must master in order to be successful:

  • In addition to being able to keep time, drummers must also have a good sense of rhythm and dynamics. 
  • They need to be able to respond quickly to changes in tempo and volume, and they must be able to play with both accuracy and feeling. 
  • Furthermore, drummers must be able to play independently from the rest of the band, while still staying tight with the other musicians. 

As you can see, being a drummer requires a lot more than just keeping time. It takes dedication, hard work, and a whole lot of practice.

While it’s wonderful to look up to the most famous drummers that we’ll talk about in our list below, it’s also a good idea to take drumming lessons from instructors who really know the ropes. Sign up for drumming lessons today – you’ll learn all the basics and more, like what you see in the video below: 

What is the Most Important Skill in Drumming?

It’s tough to say which skill is most important, but here are some skills you can learn from famous drummers (but are worth learning even if you don’t have any famous rock drummers showing you the ropes).


Most modern drummers will tell you that playing with a groove is one of the most important aspects of being a great drummer. Think of it as having a “pocket”—a pocket is when the drummer plays with a consistent pattern and rhythm that allows them to enhance the music instead of detracting from it. If you want to learn how to play like the pros, start by understanding groove and practice keeping it consistent throughout your playing. 

Dynamic Control

Another important skill that all professional drummers must master is dynamic control. This means being able to adjust your playing depending on what type of song or genre you are playing. Knowing how and when to add accents, use dynamics (soft/loud), use creative fills, etc., is essential for playing drums like a pro. 


Being able to listen closely and intently while playing drums is an often overlooked but essential skill for any serious drummer. Listening closely helps you stay in sync with other band members, which will make songs sound much better overall. Also, if you are able to anticipate where other players are going musically, then you can effectively plan out your own part accordingly. 


Technique is an important aspect of learning how to play drums like a pro; but it shouldn’t be confused with speed or flashy fills and solos. Technique simply refers to mastering basic fundamentals such as proper posture, grip, hand placement, and footwork as these help improve accuracy and consistency in your playing. 


Being able to read sheet music is important if you want to learn how to play drums professionally. Even if you don’t need it every day, reading sheet music will help expand your musical knowledge immensely and provide valuable insight into different genres or styles of music that may not be familiar otherwise.  


Finally, it’s important for any aspiring professional drummer to understand timekeeping concepts such as tempo changes, downbeats & upbeats, counting rests & pauses etc., so they can stay on top of their game at all times. Knowing these concepts will also help them feel more confident during live performances because they won’t have any trouble keeping up with the rest of the band members no matter what tempo or style they’re playing at any given moment! 

6 Drum Skills You Can Learn From Famous Drummers

Whether you’ve just started learning drums or you’ve been playing for years, there’s a lot you can learn from watching some of the most famous drummers.

We know you’re listening to their music, but are you listening to their expertise? Take a page out of the books of these famous drummers, you will definitely learn a thing or two…

Topper Headon (The Clash)

Adaptability: The flexibility to change or be changed in order to fit or work better in a given situation.

Known as “The Human Drum Machine,” due to his impeccable timing and drumming skills, Topper Headon’s is one of the most famous rock drummers. Know for his ability to adapt to the constant stylistic changes of The Clash made their explorations of multiple genres natural and authentic.

Headon provided the backbone to pull the songs together.

Roger Taylor (Queen)

Versatility: Having a wide variety of skills; able to do many different things.

Queen’s Roger Taylor is among famous drummers who possess the skill of versatility. A multi-instrumentalist (drums, keyboard, guitar, bass), singer, and songwriter, Taylor plays an array of styles with ease, from heavy metal to chamber music.

Taylor’s extensive musical history includes: beginnings with a ukulele, a membership in the Truro Cathedral choir, lead singer in the Reaction, singing, songwriting, and drumming in rock band Queen, a solo album (Fun In Space), and finally the formation of his own band, The Cross.

Buddy Rich

Persistence: The firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action despite difficulty or opposition.

Billed as the world’s greatest drummer for his power, technique, groove, and speed, jazz drummer Buddy Rich personified his quote, “you only get better by playing,” skillfully playing the drums up until his death in 1987.

The self-taught drummer played through childhood, after his WWII enlistment, and even continued drumming following bypass surgery in 1983.

Stewart Copeland (The Police)

Musicality: Accomplishment in music; awareness or sensitivity to music and rhythm; knowledge of, or talent for music.

“Consider yourself not to be a drummer, but a musician.” These words by Stewart Copeland challenge drummers to immerse themselves in music, not simply the drumming experience.

If you don’t want to learn another instrument – sing. There is so much more to music than just drumming; explore composing, arranging, producing, and more.

Travis Barker (Blink 182)

Energy: The strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity; natural enthusiasm and effort; usable power.

Travis Barker’s trademark hyper speed plays homage to this famous drummer’s inspiration: Animal from “The Muppets.” His high-energy vibe comes from putting his entire being into his music.

Layne Redmond

Individuality: The quality that makes one person or thing different from all others.

Already in the minority as a woman in a sea of male drummers, Layne Redmond followed the beat of her own drum.

She did not perform with more well-known pop, rock, or jazz bands, but instead gained notoriety with her specialty: small, hand-held frame drums – the world’s oldest known drums – from the ancient Mediterranean world.

She is not only a drum expert, but a historian, writer, teacher, and mythologist whose work focused on the healing and spiritual aspects of drumming and rhythm.

What Can You Learn From Drumming?

Practicing the drums can teach people important life skills, such as discipline, focus, and teamwork. In addition, it can also be a great way to relieve stress, build confidence, and improve coordination. For those who are looking for a new hobby, drumming is an excellent option. Not only is it enjoyable, but it can also provide a number of benefits. 

However, in order to get the most out of drumming – regardless of whether you have any famous drummers to look up to! – it is important to find a good teacher and practice regularly. With dedication and hard work, anyone can become a skilled drummer and reap the many benefits that come with it.

Make sure to watch for these drum skills when you listen to these famous drummers. What skills have you learned from watching more experienced drummers?

Want to take your drumming skills to the next level? Sign up for drum lessons, here!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by ThunderKiss Photography


Maile Proctor