Drums for beginners, where to start? Drums are at the beating heart of music. Across all genres and eras the drums are an integral, and oft under appreciated, aspect of the music we love. They’re not just a metronome, their presence isn’t just to keep time, they provide the underlying base rhythms and beats that are built on. Pretty important right? If you want to be a flawless drummer like the great Neil Peart or John Bonham then we’ve put together a guide to set you on your way.
Some say drumming is a natural talent that you have or don’t but we disagree. Using our guide to drums for beginners we’ll give you the insight to what is important to get you going. If you’ve found our tips helpful and want to take your drumming further then check out Mammalo to find a verified professional tutor today, a great teacher is waiting to take you to the next level.
Before You Pick Up The Sticks
When first getting started with drums for beginners, you’re going to be eager to get going and putting your sticks to cymbals but our first bit of advice is one step you definitely don’t want to skip. You need to know what you’re getting into so before you pick up a stick, pick up a book. Percussion is a relatively theory-heavy part of music as it is so central and important, you need to get to know your hi-hats from your toms and your crotchet from your octave.
Getting to know music theory allows you to better understand sound and rhythm as well as the drums place in it, it also makes learning easier. It looks more daunting than it actually is and you’ll soon have a solid grasp for learning more. Similarly you need to know the drum kit, what each part does and the different kinds of the sounds and styles you can produce. There are endless amounts of information available for free to help you learn, whether you’d rather watch, read or listen. It’ll help you learn easier and give you a better appreciation for music as whole. Even the biggest rock stars study.
Master Your Grip
So now you have your first set of sticks but wait! Before you hit that snare are you holding them right? As this is drums for beginners, you may not know not know that there are two main types of grip. Try both and adjust as necessary to find a grip that is comfortable and works for you.
For traditional grip with your right hand place the stick at a 45 degree angle cross your hand so the beginning of the stick rests on the soft edge of your hand and the end goes out across your index finger, rest your thumb on the stick and bend your fingers to support it. Use your tips to hold the stick, don’t wrap your fingers around it completely. Now with your left hand’s palm facing upwards place the stick across the gap between your thumb and index finger then through your ring and middle finger. Use your thumb and index finger to support the stick. While more common in jazz it’s also beneficial to the style rock drummers such as Charlie Watts and Stewart Copeland use it to great success.
More common is matching grip, in which both hands grip the sticks overhand like the right hand of traditional grip. There are three main variations of matching grip which are: French in which the palms face parallel and rely on the fingers more so than the wrists; German where the palms face downwards in parallel to the pads and rely on the wrists; and finally American which is a hybrid in which the palms sit at 45 degree angle between each other and the pads.
And as the great Jim Chapin said “hold your sticks as you would a baby bird”. What he means by that is that you shouldn’t grip your sticks tightly but rather just enough to support them. You don’t want to prevent the natural movement of the sticks after you hit a pad. Now you know the different types of grip try them out for yourself, find what is most comfortable but remember these aren’t total gospel but rather guidelines that you can adapt to suit yourself.
Patience and Practice
We all like to rush through life at 100 miles per hour but some things simply need patience and practice. Drumming is one of them. When learning something new, slow it down entirely; whether that be quarter pace or slower, so you fully understand and master what you’re trying to learn. Ever so slightly speed up your playing as you practice more and more. Don’t think because you know one thing you can learn something new at top speed; every time you start a new song take it back to square one with a slow pace and gradual increase. You need to build up muscle memory and allow your body to feel and predict the beat.
Any professional drummer will tell you that you can’t practice rudiments enough, even when you’ve outgrown this guide to drums for beginners. Rudiments are the 40 base patterns which make up the foundation of the drums. They’re a starter point for any aspiring drummer but something you must repeatedly practice no matter the level you’re at. Similarly developing your ostinato, which is a repeated sound or motif, can greatly approve your coordination allowing you to keep a loop with one hand while free handing a rhythm with the other.
If you’re looking to get some expert advice then be sure to check out Mammalo, we’re right here waiting for you.