10 Essential Tips for Learning Drums – A Beginner’s Guide

Tips for learning drums

As tempting as it might be – especially if you are a beginner drummer – to jump on your drum set and start rocking it out, it’s essential that you understand the basics and create a solid foundation from which you can build upon.

Commit these 10 tips for learning drums to memory; they will serve you well throughout your drumming journey.

The last thing you want to have to do is unlearn those bad habits and replace them with good habits which you could have learned from the beginning!

These are things I’ve learned over the past 13 years of playing drums. I know how easy it is to overlook the basics, but I can’t stress enough how important they are, not only for beginner drummers, but seasoned ones as well.

  1. Start simple
  2. Practice using proper technique
  3. Instructional resources
  4. Invest in a good practice pad
  5. Practice with a metronome
  6. Learn the basic rudiments
  7. Play along to your favorite songs
  8. Record and listen to yourself
  9. Play with other musicians
  10. Be patient and stay consistent

1. Start simple

Start with simple rhythms and beats. Don’t feel that you need to be playing along to a Tool song if you are a beginner. You won’t be doing yourself any favors and will more than likely walk away confused and a bit disheartened.

In the very beginning you will typically be working on your left and right hand coordination, with minimal leg use. Overtime, you will start to incorporate your right leg on the bass drum, and eventually your left leg on the hi-hat. The left leg is typically the hardest limb for most people to integrate smoothly into their playing.

Once you have some of the basic beats under your belt, and can play them smoothly and consistently, consider moving on to some of the more complex patterns. The goal is to focus on mastering the fundamentals while gradually building your skill on the drums.

2. Practice using proper technique

Make it a priority to develop good technique on the drums right from the start. This includes posture, sticking, and proper positioning of the hands and feet. By implementing good habits from the beginning, you will develop efficient playing technique which will go a long way in preventing injuries.

Even after thirteen years of playing, I catch myself playing with poor form from time to time. I just recently came back from an ankle strain. It was a tough lesson learned from trying to push my double bass pedal speed. I should have stopped the moment I felt it tighten up, but I chose to continue and the result was two miserable weeks of limping around.

3. Instructional resources

In this digital age we live in, it’s understandable if the amount of resources for learning the drums is somewhat overwhelming. Where should you start if you want to learn the drums?

While ultimately I’ll recommend an online course simply because of the cost point, don’t hesitate to purchase a few drumming books. It might seem old fashioned, but I know from experience that many of those books will have great sticking pattern exercises, drum theory explanations, and breakdowns of different time signatures. Very important stuff for drummers.

I would also highly encourage you to take at least a few one on one drumming lessons from an instructor. At least in the very beginning.

I know they aren’t the cheapest resources out there (typically around $25 – $30 per half hour), but they will get you pointed in the right direction from the beginning and make sure you are using good form.

There is a plethora of drumming how-to videos on YouTube. In fact, if you are an absolute beginner, it might be a little intimidating trying to figure out where to start. That’s why I mentioned having a few face to face drum lessons with a real person to get you started.

What I highly recommend, and especially if you are brand new to drumming, is paying for a yearly subscription to Drumeo. They have a method which takes you from getting started on the drums to basic theory and ear training, all the way to the Moeller method, odd time signatures, and advanced styles and musical decisions.

4. Invest in a good practice pad

Vic Firth practice pad - tips for learning drums

Practice pads are a great investment for improving your drumming technique. They allow you to practice different sticking patterns without the volume of a full drum set. In addition, practice pads help you develop your speed and precision. Simply stated, using a practice pad is a phenomenal way to work on your stick control.

As great as practice pads are for developing technique, they’re arguably not as effective for learning beats. However, with that being said, they are still helpful to a degree.

It may look silly, but if you’re trying to learn a new groove, you might be better off air drumming to a hi-hat and some toms , and using the practice pad as the snare drum.

5. Practice with a metronome

It’s an absolute must that a drummer can play in time. That’s our job after all. If the drummer isn’t doing their job, the whole band struggles and that’s not good for them or the audience.

By practicing to a metronome, you will subconsciously begin building your inner-clock. It can be a slow process, and some days you might not feel like you are making any progress, but I can assure you, it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself as a drummer.

Unfortunately, far too many drummers are hindering their growth by avoiding or simply overlooking the importance of practicing to a metronome. It’s something that will help you develop a strong sense of timing and will make you a desirable addition to any band.

6. Learn the basic rudiments

Rudiments might sound like a funny word, but they are extremely important in the world of drumming. They are fundamental drumming patterns which form the building blocks of drumming.

Rudiments are to drummers, what scales are to guitarists. That’s how I like to think of it anyway.

Make it a priority to set aside a portion of each day to work on your rudiments. Some of the basic rudiments to work on are the single stroke roll, the double stroke roll, and the paradiddle. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you could even try the paradiddle-diddle!

I highly recommend practicing your rudiments on a drum practice pad while practicing to a metronome. I promise you, this will immensely accelerate your playing ability.

Make sure to start out at a relatively slow pace and don’t forget to alternate hands so you can get accustomed to leading with either hand.

Bass drum - tips for learning drums

7. Play along to your favorite songs

Another thing I highly recommend is picking some of your favorite songs and playing along to them. They don’t have to be difficult songs either, and it’s totally fine if you don’t know all the parts or how a particular verse is played exactly.

What is important is getting the feel for the song and playing in time with the beat of the song. It’s like getting free metronome practice time in for the day. On top of that, you’ll be improving your understanding of the drums whether you realize it or not, since you’ll be actively trying to figure out how each drum part is played.

It’s a fun way to practice while developing your sense of timing. It also has the added benefit of increasing your musicality by allowing you to throw in whatever fills you want during the song. You’ll essentially be improvising which is a great thing.

As with everything, start with songs that have slower tempos before gradually increasing the speed.

8. Record and listen to yourself

This one might be a little trickier than some others depending on what recording equipment you may or may not have. If you’re able to record all or part of a drumming session, it’s a great way to really analyze your playing. Often times, what you think you sound like is nothing like what you hear on the playback of your playing.

It might not be very comfortable to accept what you’re hearing, but it really does help you tighten up your playing. You’ll find areas where you need improvement, and you can actively assess your progress on the drums.

Recording your drumming might be easier for someone with an electronic drum set as they can plug right into an audio interface – without worrying about having to mic the drums – and then record it using a DAW such as Reaper.

9. Play with other musicians

Playing with other musicians can be a daunting thought, especially if you are still new to the drums. Believe me, I get it.

But trust me when I tell you, playing with other musicians is a great way to enhance your skills and begin developing your ability to ‘lock in’ with other instruments in the group.

You can get valuable feed back from other musicians, and walk away with a greater understanding of the collaborative music experience. It’s also just downright fun to jam with other people.

One major benefit of playing with others is the networking opportunities that become available to you. You’ll meet musicians who are more skilled than you, and those are just the people you want to hang around. They will teach you.

10. Be patient and stay consistent

Finally, keep in mind that learning to be a good drummer takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. I encourage you to practice regularly because consistency is the key. I know it’s been said to death, but it really is better to practice a little each day rather than having a marathon session once weekly.

Please be patient with your progress. Some days you might feel proud of your ability on the drums, while other times you are hesitant to even call yourself a drummer. Try to celebrate the small victories and find enjoyment in the journey of learning to play the drums.

Remember, no matter what instrument you want to learn, it will require a ton of dedication and even more practice.

Persistence will bring huge rewards years down the line. Couple that with the passion I know you have for drumming, and I’m confident you’ll see consistent improvements in your playing, all while having a blast along the way!

Acoustic drum set - tips for learning drums

What to do next?

If you are brand new to drumming, you can check out my article: How to Hold Drumsticks

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, take a look at Zzounds. They have a variety of acoustic drum sets and electronic drum sets for purchase.

Photo of author


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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