When you want to play drums like a pro, you have a lot of steps to take. First, you must enroll in drumming lessons, practice a lot, and buy the right drumming instruments, and more. Starting from the basics is the key to becoming a pro someday.
This is vital since it’ll build your foundation as a drummer. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some tips you can keep in mind when you’re just starting:
1. Find the Most Suitable Drum Teacher
Although online video tutorials about playing drums are circulating the internet, having a teacher is still one of the best ways you can learn how to play this instrument. With tutorial videos, you can play your drums over and over again, but there won’t be anyone to point out your mistakes.
On the other hand, a personal drum teacher can evaluate and assess you. They can tell what areas need improvement, as well as what you got right. Since you can communicate with them, you can ask them questions about how you can improve your drumming skills.
However, when choosing a drum teacher, you must assess what type of music you want to produce. Your music preference affects the kind of drums you need to learn, and vice versa. For instance, you’re most likely to learn bass drums or kettle drums for orchestral drumming, or have a drum set for rock and heavy metal.
Also, finding a drum teacher relies on the type of learning environment you want. Either you’re more comfortable in a music school, online, or with home lessons.
After assessing yourself, it’s time to find a drum teacher. Although you have your own criteria, here are some tips you can take note of when choosing your drum teacher:
● Teacher’s Background In Drumming – It’s best if your drumming teacher has a background in playing drums in front of a crowd, or better yet, if they’ve done gigs in a band.
● Drumming Courses – If a teacher’s good in one genre, it’s not a guarantee that they’re as competent or knowledgeable in others. Drum teachers also have their own specialization in drumming, so choose a teacher who actually teaches the genre you’re interested in learning.
● Patience – Since you would likely start with zero knowledge in drumming, you might have a hard time learning. This is why you should opt for a drum teacher who is understanding and patient. You can have an idea of this by asking the students of a particular teacher.
2. Buy The Essential Equipment
Consider buying your equipment after having taken lessons for a few weeks, or when you’re already acquainted with the type of drums that will suit your drumming lessons. The best time to head to the music store is when you’re sure of the genre you want to play.
Before purchasing drumming equipment, here are some considerations you might want to make:
● Sticks – Drumsticks are typically made from wood like maple, hickory, and oak. To produce more volume in your music, choose denser materials. If you want more durable sticks, then opt for synthetic sticks. But you must also choose the right drumsticks according to the type of music you want to produce. For instance, heavier drumsticks are
good for jazz music.
● Set Of Drums – A shell pack differs from a complete drum set. If you’re going to buy a full set, then choose the complete drum set. It contains hardware, cymbals, and drums, whereas shell packs contain only the drums. For a beginner, it’s better to buy the complete drum set as they’re cheaper.
● Kit – A drum kit differs in terms of the number of pieces of drums. For jazz music, a four-piece setup is what is used. It’s also a kit that’s perfect for beginners. As time passes, you’ll know which pieces to add.
● Shells – These are the toms, bass drum, and snare drum, which are the shells or actual drum parts. Drums are usually made out of wood, such as poplar, mahogany, maple, and birch. If you want a deeper sound, the shell must be bigger. This type of shell is most recommended for beginners as they’re bigger, which makes hitting easier.
● Hardware – These are the kits for positioning the drums. This includes the tom and cymbal mounts, and pedals.
● Cymbals – These are the parts of a drum kit that you must choose according to the type of music you’re learning. Cymbals consist of effects, splashes, more crashes, hi-hats, and a ride. But for beginners, one crash, a pair of hi-hats, and a ride can do. You can use the other components when you’re taking up more advanced drumming lessons as they can bolster your musical palette.
3. Learn Hand Techniques
For a beginner, it’s best to follow basic hand techniques before creating your own technique. As time passes, you’ll probably develop a method that’s most suitable for you. But when you’re still starting, here are the basic things you need to remember:
● Find Your Grip – The way you hold your sticks can affect the music you’ll produce, which is why you must find your grip. To do this, your stick should make contact with your thumb’s flat part while the remaining fingers should naturally wrap around the stick.
● Pinch the Stick – This is when you hold your stick while playing the drum. Your index finger and thumb must pinch the stick in between them.
● Loose or Tight – Grip the stick with pressure, but only to secure it. Too tight a grip prevents your stick from freely bouncing on the drum.
● Play with Your Wrists – The way you play your sticks relies on your wrists. It’s best to practice your wrist muscles by controlling how they work out. You can do so with a non-rebound surface to check whether your wrist is the only one moving when your sticks hit the drums.
● Build Speed and Endurance – You can do this through repetition. You can play the rudiments in singles, then doubles. Afterwhich, increase the tempo of your rudiments when you get to hit your sticks at the right speed without losing control.
4. Learn Drum Rudiments
When you’re playing your drums, the sticking patterns you apply are called drum rudiments. For instance, a rudiment with two strokes from each hand is called a double stroke roll. If abbreviated, it’s RR LL RR LL, wherein R stands for the right hand, and L for the left hand.
In Europe and the UK, their rudiments consist of 26 types while there’s 40 for Canada and the US. But when you’re still learning, only worry about these three rudiments:
● Single Paradiddle – This is a rudiment played mostly for drum solo patterns, drum fills, and drum beats. They sound great, so they’re typically one of the most popular drum rudiments. It basically looks like this: RLRR LRLL RLRR LRLL.
● Double Stroke – This can be nine stroke rolls or seven stroke rolls when broken into shorter rolls. A double stroke consists of two strokes for each hand.
● Single Stroke – This is played with a single alternating stroke from each hand. Learning drum rudiments is essential as it develops your drum skills, movement, stretching, agility, and endurance. You can use drum rudiments to warm-up. Before starting your practice session, these rudiments can help you condition yourself before you go rolling.
Rudiments also strengthen your forearms and wrists, so doing them regularly can help you endure long practice times. When playing on a drum set, you can move smoothly when you follow the rudiments.
When you master the rudiments, you can also develop your drum skills. In time, you might even create endless combinations of the rudiments to produce unique music.
5. Practice Like a Pro
If you want to play drums like a pro, then you must practice like a pro. Not only does practice make perfect, but learning and applying how a pro drummer practices can help. It’ll discipline you while learning the importance of practice.
If you want to practice like a pro, here are the things you must do:
● Create a Schedule – When you want to improve your drumming skills, you need to dedicate a schedule for it. List down the amount of time you’ll spend practicing and stick to it. If you practice for an hour every day, then choose the most appropriate time so you won’t miss it. Next, list down the areas of improvement you need to work on. Schedule
when and how much time you’ll practice on these areas.
● Use a Timer – Other than sticking to a schedule, you should also use a timer so you can balance your practice time. If need be, take a short break, but you must also time these breaks.
● Focus – You must also be mentally focused and prepared for the practice session you’ll do according to your schedule. Moreover, when practicing, you must focus like you’re performing on stage. That way, you can let your mind and body get used to what’s it like when performing in front of a crowd. This will also help you reach your goal of becoming a pro drummer when you think and act on it.
● Keep the Right Attitude – How you see yourself as a drummer in the future affects how positive your attitude is. Having a positive attitude can help set your mind and motivate you. When practicing, thinking about your goals will eliminate your fears, allowing you to focus on believing in yourself.
● Use a Metronome – To develop your timing, a metronome can help. It’s a tool that produces a click track playing a specific tempo. Don’t be discouraged when your timing doesn’t align with the metronome. Instead, keep practicing and challenge yourself to keep up with it.
● Dedicate a Place for Practice – A dedicated place is also important for practicing efficiently. Once you have a regular place to go to, you can practice immediately without assembling your equipment every time.
Becoming a pro drum player in any music genre must be your goal. You can do so with proper guidance and attitude. Using the tips above, you can start learning to play the drums properly. As long as you continue learning, you’ll improve your skills. Moreover, having the right attitude and equipment will let you enjoy the path towards becoming a pro drummer.