“Are drums hard to learn?” This is one of the many questions in new drummers minds while staring at that drum set that they’ve been eyeing at. The good news is that the drums are one of the easiest instruments to pick up and start having fun with – despite that, they are difficult to master. You’ll just need to have the determination, constant practice, and of course, enjoy every single moment that you play with this wonderful instrument.
That said, then why do some people find it hard to play drums? People have their own subjective approach when it comes to learning any musical instrument. Some may find drumming naturally innate in their personality, or have a strong internal sense of rhythm while others may struggle to handle those pair of drumsticks.
Here are some skills that are associated with learning drums, and the talents you’ll need to practice in order to become a master drummer.
Unlike most other musical instruments, you won’t have to worry about the notes when playing drums. Yet, they carry an important factor in playing music, and that is timekeeping. Although there may be differences depending on where you hit each drum, pitch isn’t necessarily a huge factor.
Being the official timekeepers of the band, drummers need to develop a solid timing that will carry on the rhythm of the rest of the instruments that are being played. This is why drummers are sometimes referred to as the ‘heart of the band.’
Some people are naturally born with this talent. If you find yourself tapping your desk while following the rhythm of your favorite tune, then you might be one of those people who have an innate talent with timing.
However, it doesn’t mean that you’re already out of the game if you don’t feel a strong sense of inner timing. Many drumming instructors can testify that this timing can be built up and improved with constant practice.
This skill refers to the ability to use your hands and feet in organized and coordinated movements. As you can see, drumming doesn’t just require both hands. You’ll also have to learn how to coordinate them with your feet. All these tapping and grooving are happening while you’re reading your music sheets too.
Well that may seem like an easy task, isn’t it? That is, if your brain agrees. Our brain often responds according to the actions that we are used to performing. For instance, it would be easier to tap using your right hand and right foot together, along with your left hand and left foot at the same time. However, some drumming patterns require the use of your left hand with the right foot and vice versa. This sudden shift in the body’s axis may be a bit tricky for the brain and will take you sometime to master.
The ability of one limb to play with a timing that is unique than the rest of the body is another skill to ponder on.
Going back to how our brain responds, it will be challenging to move one of your limb in a pattern that is not coordinated with the other limbs. Try to create a circle using your finger in the right hand, while simultaneously creating a heart pattern on the left. See the struggle?
In drumming, you’ll have to work on a limb tapping on an entirely different pattern than the rest. So perhaps, you’ll really need to begin working on your limb independence once you decide to learn drums.
Playing drums can be physically exhausting, particularly if you are learning how to play the fast-paced beats of metal drumming. As you might have seen in your favorite bands, drummers may simply sit at the back, but all their hands, feet, head, and even body move to the groove of music.
How long does it take to learn to drum?
Just like learning how to read and write, the exact timeframe in learning how to play the drums may vary from person to person. With lots of dedication and perseverance, you can even learn the basic grooves and drumming techniques in a matter of days to weeks. Some students become really good at playing drums in only a few months, where as it takes over a year for others.
However, if you really aim for the best and want to become proficient in the more complex beats, then you’ll need years of constant practice. Even professional drummers spare a huge portion of their time exercising their skills and learning something new with their chosen instrument.
Tips on how to start playing drums
Learning to play drums may appear hard and challenging, especially if you’re a beginner. However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll eventually find your way through every beat. To make things a little easier, here are some tips coming from drumming instructors that can help you establish a good start in playing this percussion instrument.
One of the common mistakes in starting to play drums is lack of warm up exercises. Always do the warm up exercises for your hands and feet prior to playing. Not only that it will make things a lot easier as you play, warming-up can also prevent muscle and joint pain that can be pretty nasty while trying to play drums.
Focus on the basics.
Mastering the fundamentals are the first step in learning anything, and drumming wouldn’t be an exception. It’s okay to listen and try to mimic your favorite drummer’s complex beats, but before that, you’ll need to have a good sense of the basics in drumming.
Start with the correct posture and the right way to hold the drumsticks. Understanding these basics in drumming can make learning a lot easier in the future.
Even professionals continue to work on the basics – they’re that important!
Play with a metronome.
It is pretty common for beginners to lose their timing as they go through the middle of the song or once their hands and feet get tired. This time-keeping tool can help you practice consistent timing, which is an essential factor in playing the drums. Mastering timing needs constant practice, but a metronome can definitely cut off the chances of mistakes.
There are several metronome apps available for free on your smartphone. Our favorite is “Pro Metronome.”
Additionally, some electronic drums may have built-in metronomes, and other tools to aid with practicing timing.
Use a drum pad.
Some instructors would recommend spending time on the drum pad at the same amount of time that you’re practicing on your drum kit. It is a practice pad that drummers use for their regular exercises and for warm-up before a performance. Drum pads can also help you to continue practicing if you need to limit your playing volume for a while.
You can view the most popular drum pads on Amazon below.
Secure your own space.
Unlike the other harmonious instruments, drumming creates deep, sharp and loud sounds that may not be that ear-friendly for some people nearby. Having your own space where you can seclude the sounds as you play can help you spend more time in practicing your skills without worrying about distracting or disturbing others.
If noise is a concern, consider investing in drum mute pads, or an electronic kit.
Try air drumming.
If space is an issue, then air drumming is an innovative approach that can help you practice drumming with less the noise. Here, you’ll simply need a pair of specially designed drumsticks that can be connected to a virtual drum kit to record your air drumming. Air drumming can be your portable, space-friendly and noise-friendly kit while learning how to play drums.
Overall, whether it is easy or hard to play drums is often based on the individual. What’s more important is that you have a strong interest in drumming, and you’re willing to put in consistent practice to build your drumming skills.
Just look at some of the most famous drummers in history, and you’ll learn that no one was an overnight success. So whether your goal is to join your high school marching band or you’re aiming to become part of a great rock band, constantly practicing your drumming skills is the key to becoming an excellent drummer.