If you have a tendency to start tapping along any time you hear a song, perhaps there’s a drummer in you! How do you become a real drummer though? Do you need a real drum kit to start on? What’s a good age to start playing? Do you need to take lessons and learn drum notation? In this blog, we’ll answer these questions and more!

Travis Barker

How to begin playing drums

Tapping your hands or feet in a rhythmic fashion along with a song is essentially the same as drumming. The only thing that’s missing is some sort of drum. Many drummers started out hitting anything they could get their hands on: pots, pans, cardboard boxes and even bin lids. With just a set of drumsticks, you can use plenty of everyday items as makeshift drums. Of course, you can also purchase a practice pad so that you can play in relative silence and enjoy a more authentic playing feel at the same time. Counting out loud to music is a great way to improve your sense of tempo and rhythm. Learners younger than 7 years old might want to consider playing a percussive instrument like a djembe or a cajon to start with rather than a drum kit which will probably be too big for them. Learning to play a drum kit is perfect for anyone from 8 years old and upwards. If you’re a lot older than that, don’t worry. Children may pick up new skills more easily, but determination and enthusiasm count for a lot!

Is drumming hard?

This question is difficult to answer because some instruments are easier to start playing than others. Starting to play drums is not difficult as you don’t need any musical theory to begin with. Also, there are no scales or chords to learn like there are with guitars and keyboards. It’s not difficult to get a great sound out of drum kit either. Getting a great sound out of an instrument like a violin will certainly take longer. It’s also nice that you’ll be able to play along with plenty of songs after learning just a few simple rhythms and that’s not something you can say about every instrument. The drums can also present some significant challenges for beginners though. At some point you’ll need to learn to use both hands and feet completely independently from one another. This is not easy to coordinate at first, but with regular practice, it will become easier.

Drum lessons and learning drum notation

Do you need drum lessons to become a good drummer and can you learn to drum without being able to read drum notation? These are both good questions, but it’s important to realise that motivation, determination and plenty of practise can take you a long way. Having said that, it can be a good idea to take some lessons at first to get you started off on the right foot. You can always check out some free lessons on YouTube, of course, and there are plenty of good lesson materials around, but only a real teacher can provide you with instant feedback. It’s very important that you have the right posture, for instance, that you hold the sticks properly and that you move your wrists in a natural way. All of these things help to prevent potential physical problems down the line. It’s also much better to learn how to do things properly at the start rather than develop bad habits which are hard to change later on. Being able to read drum notation is not essential, but it will help you to learn new things more quickly and develop your skills faster.

Acoustic or electronic drum kit?

Sooner or later, most drummers are going to want to invest in their own drum kit and the first real choice you’ll have to make is whether to get an acoustic or an electronic one. If you’re going to be practising mostly at home, then an electronic drum kit can be good idea. Not only are they more compact, but they allow you to practise in relative silence. If your ultimate ambition is to play in a band, however, then you’ll probably want to invest in an acoustic drum kit. While these create more noise, there are special mesh drumheads and low-volume cymbals that can help. One thing to note is that it’s easier to switch from an acoustic kit to an electronic one rather than the other way round.

Practise, Practise, Practise!

Naturally, you’ll be practising as much as possible, but even when you’re not, listening to and watching other drummers play can teach you a lot. Most professional drummers have spent countless hours playing along to their favourite tracks and doing the same will help you develop your skills as a drummer too. It’ll take some time to get your coordination and timing up to speed, of course, but quite simply, the more you practise the better you will get. When you’re not playing, you can still think about drumming and try to learn and understand material that will help you play better when you pick up your drumsticks again.

Got a good tip for drummers who are just starting out? Leave a comment below!

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