Self-taught or accompanied by a teacher, learning to play the drums is done step by step. It is not because hitting skins to produce rhythm and sounds that learning is easier than that of a “melodic” instrument such as piano, guitar or violin. On the contrary, in an instrumental ensemble, the drums are the instruments that will give rhythm and rhythm. It’s on its rhythm that all the other instruments will stall. Playing the drums therefore requires a lot of regularity and rigor.
However, once you have acquired some basics, it is quickly possible to play songs that have a simple rhythm. The learning of the drums , just like that of classical drums , must take place step by step and be coherent to see oneself progress quickly. Here are the fundamentals of successful learning in 8 key points.
1. Getting to know your battery
It sounds like obvious, but first of all it is essential to know his musical instrument. A battery that is acoustic or electronic traditionally consists of:
- From a snare drum
- From a bass drum
- From toms
- A hihat
- At least two cymbals (ride, crash or splash)
Depending on the needs of the drummer, the drums can expand with the addition of extra cymbals or toms. Depending on the musical genre , it is also possible to see drums supplemented by tambourines, gongs, or a bell . Sometimes, mainly in hard rock or metal bands there are also batteries with two bass drums. However, all these complementary elements come after having acquired a certain level. During the first months, a basic kit will be enough!
From the first lessons, the teacher will teach you the role of each skin. Over time you will be able to easily recognize them by ear.
2. Become familiar with the basic rhythms
No need to rush your battery and try to imitate Stewart Copeland or Keith Moon if we have no notion of rhythm . The notion of rhythm, it can be learned and can be worked without battery . At first, it is essential to know the times in binary:
- Round = pause: 4 beats
- White = half-pause: 2 times
- Black = sigh: 1 beat
- 2 eighth notes = 2 half sighs: 1 beat
- 1 eighth = 2 quarters sigh: ½ time
- 2 semiquavers = 2 quarters of sigh: ½ beat
- 1 double quaver = 1 quarter sigh: ¼ time
Train to beat the pulsation of one hand and hit the rhythm of the other. At first, if you feel slow, it’s normal. It is better to take a slow drive and be right in its rhythm, rather than accelerate and lose the pace. By training regularly, the times will quickly become an automatism and allow you to play your first songs before moving to more complex rhythms.
3. Learn to hold your chopsticks
Holding your chopsticks firmly, firmly without being too stiff name anymore is an important step in learning the drums. The battery is played using an intermediate tool that extends the body of the drummer. It is possible to hold them in different ways depending on his ease or his style of play. For beginners, professionals recommend a grip called “Match Grip” in the French . In this position, the wand is held between thumb and forefinger and the palm of the hand remains vertical.
To find out more, read our article on the different chopsticks.
4. Gradually play on percussion
The difficulty of the battery lies in the synchronization and independence of the hands and feet. Unlike another musical instrument, the drums monopolize the whole body: eyes for reading the score, ears for listening to sounds and rhythm, both hands, both arms to regulate the intensity of the strikes, both feet (hi-hat pedal and bass drum pedal) as well as the legs. We must be able to make each movement independent of others.
Again, proceeding step by step is essential to be certain to take good habits . At first, practice training rhythms on a table, for example, without chopsticks. The idea is really to focus on rhythm, tempo and regularity. Once you feel comfortable, take your chopsticks and replicate the exercises you performed on the table, on the snare drum or on a pad. After a few sessions you can start training your feet . Your teacher will work on hi-hat and bass drum. When you are comfortable, you can then start working on slow tempos. As you progress, you will accelerate the pace.
5. Use a metronome
The use of a metronome is strongly recommended for all musical instruments and especially for the learning of percussion, to verify that we are in rhythm. Teachers often recommend the use of the metronome to beginners, but at any level, using the metronome from time to time allows you to set some small offsets that are sometimes hard to identify on your own.
6. Learn rhythmic theory
Rhythmic theory is what allows you to read and write a score of drums. This stage is feared by many beginners, yet it is not a major difficulty in learning . It is nevertheless essential to play scores or to transcribe on paper compositions. Unlike a piano score, a drum score has only one staff, always composed of 5 lines. On its lines are noted symbols corresponding to different percussions and different times. Depending on whether they are cymbals, toms or snare, the symbols will not be placed in the same place on the staff. It is therefore essential to learn everything by heart to be quickly at ease in reading score.
7. Learn more complex rhythms
If you already master all the previous points, it’s time to tackle more complex rhythms, which will allow you to diversify and nuance your game. Some rhythms will help you progress in a targeted way:
- funk: ideal for learning to desynchronize both hands and feet
- the shuffle: to initiate to the ternary
- swing: working independence, ternary and cymbals
- the bossa nova: work the independence in binary and the double strokes of bass drum
- reggae: master triplets and sixteenth notes
- the jungle: practice rebounds on the snare drum
8. Train regularly on his battery
There is no secret. To progress you have to train, and regularly . It is not by playing an hour a week that you will see much progress. The best is to spend a little time every day on the drums. Even if it seems like little, playing 20 minutes a day is enough to progress steadily . Of course, the more you play, the more you progress!
You now have all the keys to become a good drummer! Do not hesitate to be accompanied by a teacher to go even further.