Learning a musical instrument is a great endeavor, whether you are simply looking for a new hobby or you are even thinking about starting a band. However, learning an instrument will take time and effort on your part, and this certainly includes the drums. Are drums hard to learn? This is often the first question that people ask when they are looking into starting out with this instrument.
They love popular drummers like John Bonham, Keith Moon, and Dave Grohl, and they want to be able to emulate these musicians and come up with their own strong beats and solos. They want to be able to play along to their favorite songs. They want to develop a new skill.
Of course, they also want to make sure that the drums are something they will be able to pick up and learn. Even though it may take a long time to become a professional-level drummer, you will be happy to know that you can learn the basics of the drums relatively quickly. Before you know it, you will be playing along to songs you know and love.
Make Sure Drums Are Right for You
Before you head out and buy a drum kit, you want to ask yourself if the drums are truly your passion. What is it about the drums that make you want to pick up the sticks and play? If you want to learn to play the drums, you need to love the drums as an instrument. The drums are an essential part of many types of music, and if you want to learn to drum, it shouldn’t be your second or third choice as an instrument.
The drums are always much easier to learn if you are love the way they sound and if you understand how important they are as the backbeat of music. Not only that, but you want to be the one who develops and carries that beat. If you want to play guitar, then play guitar. Choose the drums because you can’t imagine yourself playing anything else.
If you already know how to play other instruments and want to learn drums, that’s great. Having some solid musical knowledge before you start with the drums will help you quite a bit. Just make sure that you aren’t just choosing drums as an afterthought. Make sure it’s the right instrument for you before you buy a drum kit and start learning. It ensures that you will actually be having fun and that you will progress as a drummer.
How Long Does It Take to Learn the Drums?
How long before you can play drums in a band? How long before you are considered a professional drummer? Everyone who want to learn to play drums has these types of questions in the beginning. They want to know how long it will be before they can actually start playing songs and sounding good.
Unfortunately, there is no hard-and-fast answer that will apply to everyone. People learn at different rates and they have differing amounts of time that they can spend practicing. Some people are naturals and will learn very quickly. Others are more technical learners and will take somewhat longer before they can get through an entire song.
You do not want to get hung up on the speed at which you are learning. Do not compare yourself to other drummers whether they are other students, friends, or professionals. You are different and you will learn at your own pace. As long as you are willing to put in the time and effort, though, you will be able to learn.
Understand the Basic Parts of the Drum Kit
When you are starting to learn the drums, you should make sure that you are familiar with the parts of the drum kit even before you sit down to play for the first time. Let’s look at some of the basic parts that are part of a typical drum kit.
- Snare – The snare drum is generally the center of a five-piece drum kit. The “cracking” sound of the snare comes from the shell, which is often made from wood or metal. The rims on the snare help to secure the drumhead in place.
- Bass Drum – The bass drum is also called a kick drum. You will use your foot to control a pedal that will hit the drum and produce a deep bass sound.
- Toms – The toms, sometimes called tom-toms, can be mounted above the bass drum. They might be held up by adjustable legs instead. There are two type of toms. They are known as rack toms and floor toms, and they will generally be used during drum fills.
- Cymbals and Hi-Hat – These elements of the kit help to add some additional flourishes and accents to the music you are making. They are also often used to help with transitions in the music.
These are the basic pieces that you will find with most drum kits. However, there are always exceptions to the rule, and as you progress, you will be able to create your own drum kit that works for your needs. In the beginning, this is all you will need.
Drum Terminology You Should Know
As you start to learn the drums, you will come across various types of terminology that might be unfamiliar to you. To help get you started, we’ve included some of the most important terms you will want to know when you are starting out below.
The drum throne is simply another name for the seat that you will be sitting on as a drummer. It’s always a good idea to get a comfortable drum throne, since you will be using it so much.
A drum fill is a drum phrase that is played to help fill in the space in sections of a song. They are typically used to help get from one section of the song to the next, such as the verse to the chorus.
This refers to how you are holding the drumsticks. There is the traditional grip and the matched grip. With the traditional grip, you will hold the left stick like you would a piece of silverware, while the right stick is held like a wand. With a matched grip, you would hold both of the sticks like you would a wand with both palms facing down.
The beat, also called the groove, is simply the pattern that you are playing to keep time for the music.
The tempo is the speed of the music. When practicing and learning to play in different tempos, drummers will often use a metronome, or a click track. This helps to ensure that they understand the timing for different songs.
The rudiments are simply drum patterns that can be used for practice and drills. They can also be used in music. They are an essential item for those who want to learn to play the drums.
Should You Learn to Read Drum Sheet Music?
Many people who play the drums have learned by ear. They know the sound that the different elements of the drum kit make, and they copy that sound to learn to play songs. They even learn to play and create their own drum fills, solos, and beats this way.
However, those who want to learn more about drums and the musical theory that goes into making music will want to learn to read drum sheet music. It tends to be easy to learn, and it is something you can do when you aren’t actually at the kit and practicing.
Practice Really Does Make Perfect
Learning drums is hard when you don’t set aside time to practice. All the best intentions in the world will not make you a better drummer. As with anything in life that you want to improve, you need to practice. Ideally, you will be able to practice every day. If that’s not feasible, you should still strive to practice at least several times a week.
The more often you are able to practice the faster you will get better. During your downtime when you aren’t on the drum set, consider some other ways that you can practice. Listen to music and listen to the way the drums are constructed in the song. Listen for the fills and get an understanding of the groove. The more you listen, the easier it will be to understand how to replicate that sound.
Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When Starting
If you want to succeed as a drummer, whether you want to play rock songs with a rock band on stage, or you are just learning, so you can play along in the garage, you have to learn right. Below is a list of some of the biggest mistakes you will want to avoid when you are getting started.
- Too much too soon – It is important that you start out slowly when you are learning the drums. If you try to do too much too soon, it will be frustrating. Start slow and grow.
- Thinking you need more expensive gear – When you are starting out, buying the most expensive gear will not make you a better drummer. Start with what you have, improve, and then get better gear as you actually need it.
- Practicing in a few long sessions – Most people are going to learn and retain their knowledge better when they have more short sessions rather than a few long sessions.
- Being too hard on yourself – If you don’t get it right, don’t worry. It takes time to learn the drums and to improve. With practice, you will become a better drummer.
Do You Need an In-Person Drum Teacher?
One of the best ways to learn how to drum is to get an instructor who can show you how to play. They can show you how to hold the sticks, how to use your feet, and they can help to make sure that you are on tempo.
Of course, not everyone has the money to hire an instructor. Others may not have the time to meet with an instructor several times a week or even once a week. Fortunately, thanks to all of the technology available today, an in-person instructor is not needed.
Best Ways to Learn the Drums on Your Own
There are many ways to learn the drums without an instructor. You can watch videos online, for example. This is one of the best ways to learn to play and it’s the next best thing to learning in person, and it is a great starting point. Listening to music and following along can help you, as well. In addition, you can find online lessons that will help you learn basic through advanced techniques.
Having a metronome is helpful, as it will help you to keep time. It’s a piece of gear that you will want to get when you buy your drum set. Find some percussion books, as well, which can help you learn more about drumming.
The best thing to do is to start practicing. Find some simple lessons online, whether you are simply watching YouTube videos, or you are enrolled in an online class, and get started.
Is It Too Late to Learn to Play the Drums?
One of the other questions that many would-be drummers ask is whether they are the right age to start playing drums. Some worry that they are too old to start learning to play. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The drums, like other musical instruments, are an excellent choice for people of all ages. If someone wants to learn how to play, whether they are three or 103, they can get started.
The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” doesn’t apply to people, so start looking for a drum kit today no matter how old you might be. The sooner you start the sooner you will be able to start playing some great songs.
On the other end of the spectrum, kids can start learning drums at a very young age. The typical age for kids to start learning drums is between six and seven years old, but there are exceptions. Even small children who are just a few years old like to bang on pots and pans in the kitchen. Maybe they are budding drummers, and a small drum kit could be just what they need.
Related: Best Drum Set for Kids
Find a Drum Kit
Drummers have a lot of pieces of gear that go into making up their kit. When you are just starting out, you only need to have a beginner’s drum kit. You can always build onto the kit later when you improve and when you want to add more options.
When you are buying a drum kit, make sure that it has all of the basic elements you need. This includes a snare drum, bass drum, toms, and cymbals, as well as a hi-hat. Of course, you do not want to forget the drum throne. A traditional five-piece drum kit can serve you well.
Just make sure you are buying a quality kit from a respected brand. You want to choose instruments and gear, including sticks, that are going to last and that have a good reputation. Pearl and Tama are both popular brands, but choose the one that you like the best.
Get Started with Drums Now
Are drums hard to learn? As long as you are willing to take the time to learn and you are putting in the practice, you can learn. Your age doesn’t matter, and your skill level will continue to grow. Take the time to find a drum kit that works for the space you have available, whether it is a traditional kit or an electronic drum kit. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will be playing the songs that you love.