Is it Hard to Learn Drums?

Tom drum - is it hard to learn dums

First and foremost, drums have the potential to become quite an expensive endeavor. You’ll need to decide whether you are going to pay for one on one lessons with a drum teacher, which usually isn’t cheap, or whether you will enroll in an online course, or even purchase a book or three to give teaching yourself a go.

These are just a few of the things you must consider when deciding if learning the drums is right for you.

Before continuing, I want to let you know that yes, I am an actual drummer. I started drumming over thirteen years ago and I’ve never looked back!

So, please continue reading and I’ll discuss whether or not drums might be a good choice for you, and whether or not it’s hard to learn drums.

Myths about learning to play the drums

Unfortunately, many people seem to believe that skilled drummers are born lucky, with the innate ability to keep perfect time. While it may be somewhat true that each individual starts off with different ability levels, that is by no means the defining metric that leads to a great drummer.

The truth is, every great drummer has honed their internal clock and ability to keep time through years of hard work and practice.

Those who practice the most and who are genuinely passionate about learning, are the one who find themselves coming out on top.

So don’t give into the myth that only certain people are gifted enough to play the drums. It’s not true. Anyone can play the drums. All it takes is dedication and a desire to learn this amazing instrument!

How long does it take to learn drums?

As a general rule, it takes the average person roughly one to two years of regular practice to become proficient enough to play with a band on stage. At that point, you should have a solid understanding of the drums. This of course is not absolute, as each individual will learn at a different pace.

The great news is you can start having a blast, pun fully intended, banging on the kit and learning simple songs right from the beginning!

If you’re looking for a timeframe of what to expect for your progress, you can likely expect to have a handle on many of the basic drumming techniques in only a few weeks.

Snare drum - is it hard to learn drums?

Once comfortable with the basics, you can then begin tackling more advanced knowledge and techniques. To give you an idea, someone who has been playing for at least two years is typically referred to as being an intermediate drummer.

To become a professional/advanced drummer, you can expect it to take at least five years of dedicated practice, honing your craft. You should realize however, that learning to master the drums is a lifelong pursuit and many of the best drummers have been playing for decades.

Is it hard to learn drums because of the coordination required?

Mastering limb coordination is one of the trickier aspects of learning to play the drums. Every new drummer will stumble with their coordination, especially during their first few lessons.

It’s inevitable. Even seasoned drummers can struggle with this from time to time when learning something particularly challenging.

The thing is, at some point you will be using all four limbs, and they will all be doing different things at different times.

Most people will manage to get both of their hands and their right foot playing together fairly quickly, but unfortunately, the left foot gets left out of the mix far too often.

Therefore, it’s better to start incorporating your left foot into your grooves sooner rather than later. You’ll be surprised how quickly your muscle memory develops allowing you to start playing without giving too much thought to what limb needs to do what next.

It’s one of the greatest rewards you can reap from all the hard work you have been putting into learning the drums!

Is it hard to learn drums because of the technique required?

Without a doubt, many of the more advanced techniques that can be used on the drums take time to learn and can be fairly difficult to grasp before you can fully and freely integrate them into your playing. Having good technique however, will set you up for success in the long run.

Some of the basic drumming techniques beginners need to be familiar with are things such as how to sit at the drum kit, how to set up your drum kit, how to hold the sticks properly, and perhaps understand how certain parts of the cymbal sound different depending on where you strike them.

Some of the more advanced techniques take much longer to learn. These include things such as the Push/Pull technique, the Moeller Method, the Slide technique, and Heal-Toe double bass.

These are all designed to make playing complicated ideas on the drums easier. The drawback is that they can be difficult to master and require many hours of practice before they can be freely used throughout your playing.

Is it hard to learn drums - snare and drumsticks

Is it hard to learn drums because of the timing required?

One of the most important skills, if not the most important skill for a drummer to master, is developing their internal clock. Having a good sense of rhythm is crucial, because ultimately, what is the job of a drummer?

It’s to keep a consistent rhythm which the other band members can lock into right?

Yes, a good drummer can be showy, but a good drummer MUST be good at keeping time.

The biggest challenge when it comes to developing your sense of timing is consistently putting in the time to practice with a metronome or a click track in addition to playing along with actual music.

I know first hand how easy it is to sit down and start jamming out without a real plan. Now that’s fine and should even be encouraged, but only to a point. It shouldn’t be your whole practice routine. You won’t see the progress you are looking for if you don’t start developing your inner rhythm.

Again, it’s fine to be flashy on the drums as long as you have your timing locked in and can keep steady time.

It isn’t difficult, it’s just something that takes a long time to develop rock solidly.

What kind of things do drummers practice?

You might be surprised to learn that most drum practice sessions don’t involve playing along to any kind of music whatsoever. Instead, they often include exercises that improve your coordination and technique.

Time might be spent learning to read drum notation or getting comfortable playing a brand new groove. And of course, working on keeping steady time should be an essential part of every drummer’s practice time.

The ultimate goal with all of the practice you as a drummer are doing is to get to a point where you don’t have to think about your playing anymore. You can close your eyes and be able to play in the moment and express yourself freely through your drumming.

Rudiments are another key aspect that drummers practice regularly. Think of these as the drumming equivalent to scales on the guitar. They are the building block of great chops.

All rudiments are, are groups of rhythmic patterns. They provide the drummer with many important techniques and rhythms that can be used as the basis of an endless array of grooves on the drums.

Is it harder to learn drums or guitar?

I think the answer to that depends entirely on each individual. I personally started out playing the guitar many years before I began learning to play the drums. Over the years, I’ve found that I naturally gravitate towards percussion and the math behind it more than the scale memorization required for playing the guitar.

In other words, I struggle more when thinking about melody and harmony. I just don’t click with it like I do the drums. I’m going to wager a guess and say I’m not the only one.

I’ll give a quick breakdown of what’s required of each instrument so you’ll have an idea of which one could potentially be easier for you to learn personally.

As I briefly mentioned above, learning the guitar requires a great deal of memorization. If you simply want to play some chords while singing around a campfire with your friends, you can get away with just learning a few of the basic chords and calling it a day.

But if you really want to expand your skill on the guitar, you are going to have to learn the twelve major scales, and then their corresponding minor scales. Then after that, you’ll want to start tackling more complex scales and modes before you’ll have a fluent understanding of your instrument.

Apart from all the theory you’ll need to learn, you’ll be consistently working on your finger and hand independence. You’ll be strumming with one hand while fingering frets and chords with your other hand.

Is it hard to learn drums - Drumsticks

If all that stuff about memorization and learning scales suddenly doesn’t sound as appealing as it once did, let’s take a look at some of the struggles drummers need to overcome.

A drummer must learn how to move all four of their limbs independently or they will never be able to master their instrument. Drums can definitely be harder for some people to pick up over the guitar due to the inherent physical requirement of the drums.

With that being said, drums are a very complex instrument. They require much more rhythmical awareness and a good sense of limb position when compared with any other instrument.

Techniques such as blast beats, polymeters, and rhythmic displacement can be extremely rewarding to learn, and adding to your repertoire of techniques will continuously make you a better drummer as time goes on.

As you advance in your drumming career, you will need to start gaining a solid understanding of time signatures and how they feel. Particularly, odd or irregular time signatures are what I’m referring to here.

This is not to say that those who play different instruments don’t need to understand how time signatures work, but a drummer’s main purpose is to keep time right?

Conclusion on how hard is it to learn the drums

So, is it hard to learn drums? Here is what I would say. It’s considerably easier than many other instruments in the beginning. You won’t need to learn any special techniques to start playing a few basic beats. You can even start playing some simple songs relatively quickly in your drumming journey.

As you progress as a drummer though, you will be challenged with learning all the different aspects of drumming and uniting them into one cohesive sound. This includes timing, technique, coordination, and musicality.

Think of it as the ultimate challenge. A challenge that takes years to master. But ultimately is one of the most rewarding accomplishments you can do in this life.

To put it simply, drums are easy to pick up but difficult to master. There are endless combinations and patterns of rhythms to be discovered on the drums. And that in my opinion is what makes the drums so great!

Acoustic drum set - is it that hard to learn drums

What to do next?

If you feel that drumming might be something you want to pursue, then take the next step if you haven’t already, and begin researching drum sets in your price range.

You will need to consider whether you want to invest in an acoustic drum set, or an electric drum set. Each has their pros and cons, so if you like you can check out an article I wrote to specifically address the pros and cons of each so you can make an informed decision that works for you: Acoustic vs. Electronic Drums – Which One is Right for You?

If you’re farther along in your decision-making process and you’ve decided what you want to purchase or would like to take a look at what’s available, you can always check out Zzounds. They have flexible payment plans with low monthly payments.

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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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