The drums are one of the most exciting new instruments to learn. Drumming requires skill, precision, and of course, a good sense of rhythm! It has a multitude of mental and physical health benefits, and it’s a highly rewarding musical activity.
But for newbies, it might feel easy to become overwhelmed with the influx of information after deciding to pick up the sticks for the first time.
There are lots of components within a drum set that might seem confusing as well as a vast range of educational resources to choose from.
However you've choose to begin your drumming journey. Here are my top tips to help set you on a path of good habits for the future, in order for you to achieve the most from your drumming.
Ensure each part of the drum set is easily within reach
All too often I am presented with beginner drum sets that are very poorly set up. Whilst beginner drummers are not expected to know how to set up their kit perfectly, it’s essential to make sure all the drums and cymbals can be played comfortably.
Having a correctly set up drum set will allow you to play at your best. Perhaps more importantly it will minimise the risk of injury that can be caused by poor posture.
Ensure that the rack toms are angled towards you, and not away from each other. The snare drum should sit in between your legs and above the height of your knees.
Both the hi-hat stand and bass drum pedal need to be positioned to where the feet naturally fall. This allows complete control over these parts of the drum set.
Correctly setting up a drum kit lays down the foundation for your playing. Being able to comfortably play the drums will allow you to achieve greater fluidity and will also improve your timekeeping.
Master the basics before progressing further
Although this applies to any musical instrument, it’s incredibly easy to get carried away on the drums. Don’t make the mistake of thinking ‘faster is better’ because this is a myth!
When approaching new techniques and rhythmic patterns, slow down to allow your body to relax and give your brain time to process the information. Once you have grasped a new technical pattern, continue to practice it at a slower speed to solidify your feel for the pattern.
Resist the urge to play what you’ve just learned fast because this will compromise your technique and playing accuracy. Slowly build up the tempo whilst playing the new pattern with even dynamics and at a steady pace.
Play with consistency
Consistency is the key to drumming. All the musicians in a band or ensemble look to the drummer for guidance and support throughout a song, and the drummer keeps the music held together.
Because the role of the drummer is to provide support, the drummer is required play with consistency with both timekeeping and dynamics.
Playing with a steady pulse is the single most important requirement of a drummer, so do be mindful to play rhythms and drum beats as evenly as possible and without rushing or slowing down significantly.
When figuring out what to play along with music, consider what the music requires and be mindful of ‘overplaying’. Remember the role of the drummer is to accompany the music and not to be at the forefront. So match the style of music accordingly and keep the playing smooth and consistent.
Try not to feel frustrated with your practice
Everyone experiences both good and bad days with practising. It’s natural that some days you can perfectly execute new techniques, whilst other days it doesn’t happen for you.
It’s easy to feel disappointed with your own mistakes: Especially when you're not making as much progress as you hoped.
But it’s important to remember this frustration is a result of passion and caring about your progression! It’s completely natural for you to feel frustrated sometimes, because we are only human. Rome was not built in a day, it might take some time to achieve your goals.
Every great drummer was once a beginner, even the likes of the legendary John Bonham and Buddy Rich! It’s funny to think these drummers didn’t know how to hold a pair of drumsticks properly at one stage.
Beginners make up the largest proportion of drummers around the world, and every drummer starts out somewhere. No matter how inexperienced you feel you are, don’t be put off on your quest to becoming a great drummer!
There are lots of different ways to learn, and there’s no particular right method to learning the drums. There is a host of excellent online learning resources available. For example, YouTube is a great tool for learning new songs and techniques.
I hope you can draw some useful information from this blog and will continue to develop as a drummer.
Like what you've read from Gideon?
You can find more of his work at Drum Helper. Drum Helper is a website that aims to provide clear, genuine and reliable advice to help drummers progress.