6 Tips to Maximize Your Playing if you are an Absolute Beginner Drummer

6 tips to maximize your playing if you are an absolute beginner drummer. Drummer.

Pay for a few lessons with a drum instructor

Okay, admittedly this tip could probably be omitted because it’s such an obvious one, but I wanted to include it because there are a few things I would like to discuss when it comes to taking drum lessons.

Obviously, (depending on the instructor) taking lessons will get you pointed in the right direction from the very beginning. They’ll be able to assess your strengths and weaknesses, what you should be working on, and point out any bad or sloppy technique they notice.

However, not everyone has the option to get one-on-one lessons with a drum instructor. This could be due to geographical limitations, (perhaps no drum instructor is available in the town you live in) or it could be because of financial reasons.

Music lessons in general aren’t cheap, so I’m sure money could play a significant part in many students’ decision to be self-taught.

While I wholeheartedly recommend getting at least a few one-on-one lessons when you are first learning to drum, I can understand if that isn’t possible.

My next recommendation is to opt for online lessons. You can get whole drumming curriculums for a fraction of what it would cost for in-store lessons with an instructor. The tradeoff being that online lessons aren’t nearly as tailored or personal.

Although there are many great courses on YouTube, if you can afford it I highly recommend Drumeo. It’s not an affiliate link at this time, it’s just that I’ve used Drumeo myself, and I can honestly say it’s one of the best courses, if not the best course out there to learn how to drum.

It’s a full method that will take you from an absolute beginner who’s just learning about the names of the drum parts, all the way to advanced topics where you’ll be learning about polyrhythms, odd time signatures, and different genres of drumming.

As I said, it isn’t an affiliate link at this time, just a company that I feel does an amazing job at bringing music learning to the public in a positive and fun way.

Practice with a practice pad

This second tip is so important that all I can say is I have no choice but to bring it up in this list of tips for any absolute beginner drummer.

I realize how much preaching I do about the importance of practicing with a practice pad, (seriously, look at some of my other posts!) but I still don’t feel that I’m getting the point across well enough.

6 tips to maximize your playing if you are an absolute beginner drummer. Vic Firth practice pad

If you are brand new to drumming, you should without a doubt consider purchasing a practice pad or three. They don’t have to be expensive either. Just two rubber pads sandwiching a piece of wood is all you need.

Think about keeping them in different places throughout your house so that when you have some downtime during the day, you’ll have a practice pad handy so you can work on your rudiments while you watch MonsterQuest…or whatever it is you like to do.

You can find some great practice pads at more than reasonable prices as well. If you don’t want to buy brand new, try looking at something like Facebook Marketplace and see if you can find any good deals. You might even get a few extras thrown in as well with this method.

If you don’t mind spending a little extra cash, you can check out zZounds (yes this is an affiliate link, but please do what’s best for you cost-wise) and grab a brand new practice pad if you prefer shiny and new over not-so-shiny and used.

By consistently practicing on a practice pad, you’ll not only notice your stick control improving by leaps and bounds, but you’ll also notice improvements in your speed, stamina, and the techniques required to play the many different drum rudiments.

And with all that being said, this tip leads perfectly into the next tip.

Work out those hands

This is such a super important tip for new drummers. The amount of time spent working on your hand technique by practicing on a drum pad will directly affect how you sound when you sit down behind a real kit.

Let me try and say that again because I can’t stress it enough. Try and devote as much free time as you can to developing your hand technique. I promise that in the long run, you will thank yourselves for all the hard work you put in.

Now I’m a metal fan, and I have to admit, I probably spend more time than I should, working on my feet independence because I love fast and tricky double bass parts in the music I listen to.

Still, that is no excuse for not taking the time to practice my singles, doubles, paradiddles, and yes, all sorts of other rudiments on the practice pad as well.

It’s just that important. If you don’t take the time to develop your wrist and finger technique (all involved with hand technique) you’re going to suffer for it in the long wrong.

And the practice pad is the best way to help you consistently, and continually grow your hand technique as a drummer.

6 tips to maximize your playing if you are a brand new drummer. Black and white drum set.

Make sure to alternate lead hands when practicing rudiments

While learning all the rudiments is a great long-term goal, this tip isn’t about that. When you first begin learning to play the drums, the first rudiments you are going to learn will be the single stroke roll, the double stroke roll, and most likely the paradiddle.

These are all good rudiments to begin with, but I want to make sure that you don’t get stuck in the rut of always using the same hand to start your rudiments.

If you are right-handed, make sure you alternate which hand you start the rudiment with by leading with your left hand. The same goes for any left-handed drummers. Be sure to practice leading with your right hand.

For example, say you are practicing the double stroke roll and you are a left-handed drummer. You would probably be inclined to start off with your left hand correct?

Well, try this. Start the double with your left hand as usual then alternate to the right hand for the second double stroke roll, however, don’t switch back to your left hand just yet. We’re going to do another double, however, this time you should lead with your right hand.

This essentially means you will do two doubles in a row with your right hand for four consecutive strokes before alternating back to your left hand for two double stroke rolls in a row. Our ultimate goal in all of this is to make the rudiment appear and sound effortless.

The sticking would look like this: LL RR RR LL LL RR RR LL

It might make you stumble a bit at first if you aren’t used to alternating your lead hand, but it will vastly improve your playing with some dedicated practice.

If you find yourself having a difficult time with this tip, don’t hesitate to slow the tempo down and go at a pace that is comfortable until you find you can play it smoothly regularly.

Play along to real music

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often this tip gets overlooked. You would think many drummers would be itching to play along to real songs, but I think it might be subconsciously intimidating, especially for new drummers.

Most likely, new drummers (understandably) feel that they need to focus on the basics and only the basics until they’ve mastered them. However, playing along with even the simplest songs does a couple of things for your playing.

First off, it prepares the new drummer to one day be capable of playing with other musicians. This is important because drummers often focus on the most technical aspects of drumming while neglecting the human aspect of drumming, which is contributing to other musicians in a musical setting.

6 tips to maximize your playing if you are a brand new drummer. Drum set.

Secondly, it’s great ear training for the drummer so they can hear a piece of music and pick out what drums are being played and understand mathematically what’s going on, which in turn will enable them to replicate it in their own playing.

A big reason I feel more new drummers aren’t taking the time to play along to simple songs is that they feel they might not be able to play it one hundred percent correctly.

That’s okay, that shouldn’t even be expected!

What’s important is getting the feel and being able to play in time with the song. That is vastly more important than being able to perfectly pick out some subtle double stroke roll on the floor tom at 2:37 into the song. That will come in time.

And here’s the thing. The greatest part about playing along to your favorite music is that it’s fun!

You’ll find that time starts flying by. Before you know it, and without even thinking about it, you’ll seamlessly begin integrating new techniques into your playing as you pick up ideas along the way.

In the beginning, just copy what you can hear. Make some movements and play along to the music as best as you can. Perfection will come with time.

Take some time to just mess around

I don’t care if some other drummers agree or disagree with me on this one, but I think it’s important to set aside a portion of your time to have some fun and play absolutely anything you want.

If you want to pretend you’re Animal from the Muppets, do it!

Pretend you are the world’s best metal drummer and that you’re cranking out thirty-second notes on the double bass while rocking out to a cool 5/4 beat on the toms.

Pretend you’re the world’s smartest country drummer and it’s finally your big day. You’ve been practicing and you’ve finally done it. You’ve learned to count to four! Give yourself a big pat on the back.

Okay, I apologize to all the country drummers for that not-so-subtle jab. Please don’t hurt me…I know you all can count to four.

My point is, every so often you need to throw that strict practice regiment out the window for a little while and just have some fun. Play anything you can think of. I’m going to embed a funny video down below of a drummer being crazy onstage. You might have seen this video, or you might not have.

Either way, he’s a very talented drummer, and hopefully this will give you some inspiration to be as goofy as you can on the drums sometimes. It’s healthy for the soul.

Just don’t pull a muscle please.

What to do next?

If you are brand new to music, music production, or are interested in learning to play the drums, you can check out my article: What is a DAW? – What Does DAW stand for?

You might also want to check out this article: Acoustic Vs. Electronic Drums – Which One is Right for You?

If you are looking at buying your first drum set or any other musical instrument for that matter, take a look at Zzounds. They have a variety of acoustic drum sets and electronic drum sets for purchase.

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Andrew has been a life long lover of music. Although starting his musical journey on the guitar, (we won't talk about his skills on that particular instrument) he found his true passion was for drumming and making music to share with others. He also enjoys writing blog posts about off the wall subjects that are very much real—such as Bigfoot, UFOs, and what's up with European mayonnaise. Why is it sweet???
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