How to Play the Drums Now

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Drums are a great, fun instrument to play and with the right tools and assistance, you can learn to play drums.

Finding a Good Teacher

The first thing you need to do is find a good drum teacher in your neighborhood. I believe that working with a good drum teacher who is also a good drummer himself will greatly speed up your process of learning drums.

Check with local music stores and see if they offer drum lessons. You can also look in newspapers, especially papers that specialize in music reporting, and check the classifieds for drum teachers. You can also check on the Internet.

Drum lessons are usually once a week, in either half hour or hour lessons. Half hour lessons are probably better for young children. Otherwise, hour long lessons are better and you can cover a lot more. Your teacher will go over various things, demonstrate them to you, and give you an assignment of what to practice over the next week before your next lesson.

The price for lessons will vary a lot, from say $15-20 for half hour lessons up to $100 per hour or more for well known drummers. But if you’re just starting out you don’t need to go to one of the high priced teachers.

Practice Regularly

A key part of learning how to play the drums is practicing regularly, preferably every day. Depending on what you goals are, whether to play for fun or to be in a band and play professionally, you drum teacher can tell you how much you need to practice in order to meet those goals. In the beginning you should plan on putting in at least a half hour a day.

Learn How to Read Music

One of the first questions that will come up for everyone who sets out to learn how to play the drums, is whether or not they should learn to read music. There’s no question that one can learn how to play the drums without ever learning how to read music.

But I recommend that you DO learn how to read music. Why? Well, having learned with this approach myself, having attended Berklee College of Music and having taught many students over the years myself, I have seen that there are many benefits to reading.

First of all, learning to read music is not very difficult. You should use one of the basic books for this purpose, such as the Haskell Harr Drum Method #1. Just make sure that your teacher explains what all the symbols mean, because if you have misunderstood symbols in the music it will tend to stop you.

Secondly, if you can read music, it will open the door to many great drum books that you can use and study. You will then be exposed to and can take advantage of many new ideas and approaches that you wouldn’t get otherwise.

Third, if you can read music it will help with your understanding of some of the more complicated types of beats out there.

Practice With a Metronome

One of the most important parts of a drummer’s job in a band is to set the tempo (speed) and keep time for the band. To do that requires that the drummer be able to play at a consistent speed, not speeding up or slowing down.

Unfortunately playing good time without speeding up or slowing down is not necessarily an inherent trait that we all have. It has to be developed. Anyone seeking to learn how to play the drums has to develop this skill. And the way you develop this is by working with a metronome.

When you are first learning how to play the drums, you should use one of the metronomes that clicks, and practice snare drum exercises and techniques, usually on a practice pad so you can hear the metronome really well. Simpler exercises are better at first, and try to really stay in time with the metronome, not speeding up or slowing down.

As you get more advanced you should get a metronome or an inexpensive drum machine that you can use with headphones, and practice the whole drum set along with a “click track.” This is vital and you may be shocked at how much you deviate from the exact time as you are playing.

After practicing a while with a metronome and a click, you will find that you develop more consistent, steady time and you can play this way without the click.

About the Author

John Eberhard is President of (, a web site devoted to help people learn how to play the drums, with articles, books, instructional DVDs, links and other helpful information. Mr. Eberhard is also President of

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