So you want to learn how to play drums? Excellent! There are a couple of ways to go about doing that. As a matter of fact, there are more ways to learn how to play drums now than ever before. Back in the day, if you didn't have a drum teacher, learning drum set entailed banging around on a set until you just figured it out, if you ever did, and trying to copy what you were hearing on the radio or seeing on Mtv. If you were lucky, you might come close.
Playing drums is a lot like golf, if you'll forgive the analogy. If you get the fundamentals down, with practice and even a little bit of aptitude, you can continue to improve as you play. In golf, if you never get your swing down, you'll never hit the long drives. likewise in drumming, if you never develop a good hand technique, your ability to comfortably play quickly, or for long periods of time will suffer. With the wrong technique, you may even injure yourself. Carpel tunnel syndrome, for example, is a common problem with drummers who have played for long periods of time with the wrong technique.
When I say 'good technique' I don't mean one specific method of playing drums. There are different ways to hold the sticks, different way to strike the drums or cymbals, even your choice in drumstick factors in. There are many ways to play well. It really depends on what works for you specifically and what you're playing. Many really great drummers use a combination of hand techniques as they play, depending on what they need at the time.
A couple of things to avoid in general are gripping the sticks too tightly, not letting the stick rebound off of the drumhead, tensing up when you play, and trying to play on a drum set that is set up in a weird or awkward way. It must feel as natural as possible to reach all the parts of the drum set. Your drum throne must also be stable. If you're having to work just to keep from rocking around on the seat, you can't rock around the drum set, (sorry...not sorry).
One major mistake I see young drummers make time and time again is trying to practice something at too fast of a tempo. If you can't play something well at a slower tempo, you'll NEVER be able to play it well at a faster tempo. If you're working on something you want to be able to play quickly, find a tempo you can play it consistently well at, then speed it up just a bit until you're comfortable at that slightly faster tempo. Then repeat until you get to the tempo you want. It may take days, weeks even. Be patient. There is a saying that applies to this perfectly, "slow is smooth. Smooth is fast". Learn it. know it. Live it.
I also recommend practicing to a metronome. This is a must to develop good time and feel. Your bandmates down the road will thank you.
Another saying I like is "what you learn first, you learn best". (I was initially self taught, and had to un-learn the bad habits I had taught myself early on that were limiting my playing.) Start with some good fundamentals and you'll never have to 'un-learn' bad habits yourself.
For more, click on Learning Drum Set.
In person lessons are a great way to get real-time, instant feedback on your playing, However, they can be pricey and your instructor is only with you during the lesson. If you have the drive and can self-correct, you may get more for your money with other methods. For the cost of a single lesson, you can get an instructional DVD you can watch again and again anytime you want, or pay for a membership to one of several online drumming instruction memberships available designed for you to learn how to play drums in a structured way, which will be hugely beneficial for you as a new or improving drummer.
You will get far more out of a structured lesson plan than you will skimming around Youtube for drumming videos. It will help you when learning how to play drums in the long run tremendously.
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For more about the history of the drum set, click here.
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