A Beginner’s Guide to Playing Drums: Where Should I Start?

Learning To Play The DrumsReady to start playing drums? Learning how to play can be exciting and rewarding – but there are a few things that you should do before you dive in headfirst – you’ll be glad later on that you’ve taken a few steps to prepare for playing drums down the road.

Here are four steps to take that will keep your drumming skills strong for years to come:

Find a Qualified Drum Teacher

This is one of the most important steps, and just so happens to be the first one you’ll need to do! The key is to find a drum teacher who is passionate about drumming, but also knows how to cater your lessons to your individual needs and goals. Keep in mind: even if you’ve found the best drummer in the world, he might not be the greatest teacher.

To begin your search, think about your goals, playing level, and schedule. Browse the teachers in your area, and be sure to check out the reviews posted by current and previous students!

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Gather Your Equipment and Books

Before your first lesson, you will also want to make sure you have all the equipment and practice books you need. Chat with your teacher beforehand to see what he or she recommends or would like you to bring to the first lesson.

If you’re trying to save money – or aren’t sure if you’re ready to commit to the drums – it’s totally fine to start off with just a set of sticks and a practice pad. You can decide whether you’re enjoying yourself (and who wouldn’t be?) while still picking up concepts, and use the money you’re saving on expensive equipment to pay for private lessons right away. This way, you’re developing the right drumming form right from the start. Just remember you’ll need to buy a full drum set at some point.

For your drum sticks, don’t be overwhelmed by all of the different types available! Drum sticks come in different sizes as well as shapes, with the tip of the stick being made with a variety of materials. You’ll want to have different sticks for playing cymbals in a concert band than you will playing a drum set in a garage band. This is where talking to your instructor before making any purchases will help you out.

Learn How to Hold Your Drum Sticks

This is something that can wait until your first lesson, but you might be able to convince a friendly face at the music store to help you, too! There are a couple different styles, depending on which genre of music you want to play, as well as your personal preference. Check out this tutorial on how to hold drum sticks for an introduction to the different styles. At your first drum lesson, your instructor should review how to hold the sticks with you, to make sure you’ve got it right.

Listen Carefully to Different Rhythms

When you’re first starting out, every drum rhythm might just sound like the guy playing drums is hitting them as fast as he can. When you listen a little closer, you’ll be able to hear the different rhythms. Unlike other instruments, the pitch of each drum cannot be changed up or down too much, and definitely not in between each note. The only way to make music from each drum stroke is to vary the rhythm. Sometimes rhythms will be quite random, while other times there will be a pattern to it.

When your instructor is showing you different patterns and rhythms, don’t be afraid to ask him or her to slow down so you can feel each different pattern. Sooner or later you’ll be able to read music on your own and hear the patterns in your head without anyone else showing you.

Keep Practicing!

Now that you’ve taken care of these few steps, just remember to keep practicing! With consistent practice, your rhythm will improve, your technique will get more precise, and you’ll be rocking out in no time.


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 Photo by Leanne

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