There is nothing more exciting to get under the Christmas tree than a new drum set! Getting new drums is exhilarating and after getting them all set up, it is time to play. The first few minutes of slamming on the drums is a blast, but as you keep going and going a realization begins to form, which is you suck.
So, what do you do now?
After getting that new shiny drum set, here a few tips to get you started and sounding good in no time.
Listen & Copy
If you spend hard earned money on a drum set or Santa brought it, you or your kid probably loves music and is interesting drumming. So, I suggest starting with your favorite tunes. Just listen to the songs and try and copy the beats. You may not have all the technical components of a professional drum groove, but just trying to copy what you hear is the best way to start.
Here is a quick list of how to listen to and play along with your favorite tune at any level.
1. Start listening to your favorite song
2. Play just the pulse of the tune on the hi-hat or bass drum
3. Try to copy what you hear (it is okay to leave stuff out, just do what you can)
Then, find another song to jam to and repeat. At this stage, it all about having fun on drums using your ears to copy grooves.
Learn the Basics
Next, it is essential to learn some drumming basics. This includes how to hold drumsticks, set up the drums, simple drum exercises, and some simple rudiments.
I cannot stress the importance of proper technique when holding the drumsticks. I teach beginning to advanced drummers and no matter what they want to achieve (faster hands, grooves, or whatever) it all comes down to technique.
Here is a video that demonstrates how to play traditional grip (left hand) and matched grip (right hand) on drums. Please note: I recommend that beginning drum set players use match grip in most cases.
There are tons of drumming exercises and great one to start with is called Eight on a Hand, which is simply playing eight strokes on the right; then eight strokes on the left like this:
Rudiments are the core of drumming technique and have been used for hundreds of years. These fundamental patterns are essential for learning grooves and fills on the drum set. Here is a link to the Percussive Arts Societies (PAS) 40 rudiments sheets.
Also, here is an example of how to play a paradiddle, which a drummer will spend a lifetime perfecting.
Learn a Few Grooves
The last thing is to learn a few grooves. Then, keep learning more and more. For this, I suggest using a good book, such a Tactical Drumming: Groove Survival Guide because it provides a single source for a barrage of vital grooves and rhythms. Plus, using some YouTube videos that focus on these grooves is also great.
To get started, I suggest learning the following three grooves, as they provide a resolute rhythmic foundation for any drummer to build on.
Merry Christmas & Keep Drumming
By following the suggestions above you will be on your way to playing drums like a boss. The initial excitement of getting that drum set is a great way to kick start your playing, but to get good and keep playing, be sure to take the time to listen, copy rhythms, focus on drumming fundamentals, and play some basic grooves. If you do these few things, you will be playing in no time.
Now, go practice and keep drumming.
For more drum grooves, check out Tactical Drumming: Groove Survival Guide, which will show you a number of shuffle variations and other grooves. This can be found at https://tacticaldrumming.com or on Amazon at https://amzn.to/3Qr56pN
By John Owens, Ph.D (Author, Drummer Educator). For John's bio go to https://tacticaldrumming.com.