April 09, 2015
Four Essential Drum Tips for Beginning Students of All Ages
Drums are one of the oldest instruments known to civilization. In fact, the oldest known drum dates back to 6000 BC! Today, drums are an essential part of almost all musical genres. From orchestras to rock bands, drums lay the foundation for most music. If you’re currently learning to play the drums, these drum tips will help you get the most from your drum lessons.
Often, beginning students assume that drums are easier to play than other instruments. While it’s true that most percussion instruments only produce one tone, once you begin to learn to play the drums you’ll soon discover that drums are just as complex as any other instrument. Drumming can be just as hard, if not harder, than playing music on a violin or clarinet.
With that in mind, there are a few drum tips you can use to make playing the drums easier. Whether you’re just jamming out on a drum kit or aspiring to hold down the percussion section in an orchestra, each of these tips will help you improve your playing.
Grab your sticks and get going with these four drum tips for beginning drummers of all ages:
1. Learn the Basics
First, begin by learning the basics about drums. Understanding a few core concepts will help you even before you take your first drum lesson. If you’re playing a drum set, learn the names of each of the drums on a standard kit and what makes each drum unique. For example, learn the difference between a bass drum and a floor tom.
It will also help you to begin learning some music theory basics, especially tempo and rhythm. Drummers need to be very good at counting. No matter what kind of music you play on the drums, you’re going to be responsible for holding down a steady beat. Learn a few “1-2-3-4” counts and other easy basic tempos and begin practicing these patterns throughout your day.
One great tip is to practice counting silently in your head. Although it’s easier to drum your fingers against your leg or tap along a table, when you practice keeping a basic count in your head you’ll learn to internalize it. Eventually, this can become your own inner metronome. (Plus, counting in your head will help you avoid “annoying drummer syndrome” — your loved ones will thank you!)
2. Choose the Right Sticks and Accessories
Next, get more from your drumming by choosing the accessories. If you’re not sure where to begin, talk to your drum teacher or visit a music store with a percussion section, like Music and Arts. Most people who work at music stores are also musicians and they usually love to help new players.
Many drums are played with drumsticks, mallets, brushes, rods, or other tools. There are almost as many different kinds of drumsticks as there are drums to play! As a new player, choose sticks that are durable and lightweight, but not too expensive. Most drummers say that a basic “5A” hickory stick is the best drumstick for beginners. Your local drum store may have a selection of demo sticks you can try in person before you commit.
You’ll also want to invest in a great practice pad, or a set of practice pads. Practice pads are important for beginning drummers, especially if you don’t have access to a practice room with a drum kit. Usually made of rubber, hard plastic, or silicone, a practice pad is designed to stimulate the effect of striking a drum without all the noise. Usually, they’re lightweight and small enough to fit in a backpack. Even if you have a full drum set at home, get a practice pad or two so you can keep up your practice schedule when you travel.
Finally, consider buying some earplugs. Drums are among the loudest acoustic instruments. Overtime, playing too loud can damage your hearing. By using earplugs when you practice, you can still play as loud as you want without worrying about hurting your ears.
3. Use Proper Technique and Good Posture
Like all musical instruments, it’s important to use the correct technique for playing the drums. Because there are so many different types of drums, these techniques will vary depending on the instrument. For example, some drums are played while standing up and others are played on a special seat known as a drum throne.
Regardless, always practice good posture when you play the drums. Keep your spine straight and hold your head up, without slouching forward. If you’re standing, distribute your weight evenly on both feet. However, don’t be too stiff. Drums are very physically demanding and you’ll need to be able to move freely as you play.
When you’re learning to play a specific type of drum, consider taking a private lesson or two so an instructor can show you the best way to approach the instrument. For example, if you’re playing on a drum kit, there are specific techniques to holding the drumsticks. Once a professional drummer shows you the technique, practice on your own until you’ve got it mastered.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice
Finally, remember the old adage: practice makes perfect. As with any instrument, you’ll need many practice sessions to become a great player. If you can, set aside time to practice each day.
Many drummers set goals for their practice routine and follow a structure for their practice sessions. For example, if you’re practicing drums for an hour, spend twenty minutes on counting, twenty minutes on drum fills, and take twenty minutes to free drum. This allows you to target your goals and measure your improvement over time.
Another great tip is to practice with a metronome. Using a metronome will help you develop your inner sense of tempo and make counting beats much easier. Metronomes are small, inexpensive, and widely available. Find them at your local music store like Music and Arts, or you can even download a metronome app for your phone.
Learn More Drum Tips at Music and Arts
To master these drum tips and more, consider private drum lessons at Music and Arts. Our professional instructors are ready to help you take your drumming to the next level. With classes for all ages and skill levels, Music and Arts is a “sound” investment. Call or email us today to learn more.