Drum Practice

How Do You Start Playing the Drums?

Learn how to start learning drums with our five-step guide! From in-person lessons to finding other musicians to play with, we cover it all.

Learning to play the drums is an exciting and fulfilling experience, but where do you start? Whether you’re a beginner or just looking to improve your skills, there are some essential steps you should take to get started on the right track. In this article, I’ve pulled together five of my top tips for anyone looking to start learning the drums on the right foot.

Take an In-Person Drum Lesson

If you’re just starting, it’s a good idea to take an in-person drum lesson. Even if you’ve played once or twice before, a taster lesson with a tutor can help you figure out if drumming is for you and give you an idea of what to expect if you choose to carry on with your drumming journey.

Crucially, a good drum tutor can help you develop good habits right from the beginning. Drumming is an energetic activity, so learning good posture and how to hold the sticks correctly is important to avoid injury, which can happen if you maintain bad habits.

You’ll also learn about the different parts of the drum kit and basic drumming techniques. A good drum teacher should help get you excited to learn more about the world of drumming, and even have you play a drum beat in your first lesson!

Get a Practice Pad

After your first lesson, it’s time to start practising! A practice pad and a pair of sticks are an inexpensive way to get started with drumming, as it means you can start learning the drums without owning a drum kit.

One of the most important skills you should focus on early is learning drumming rudiments. Rudiments are the individual building blocks of drumming – everything else you do on the kit will be based on these.

Practice pads are great for developing your rudiments and stick control. You can practise your paradiddles, single-stroke rolls, and other rudiments without the need for a full drum kit.

Moreover, a practice pad is a great tool for practising quietly. You can practise without disturbing the people you live with or your neighbours. A practice pad is also great for practising on the go. You can take it with you wherever you go and keep practising even when you’re away from your drum kit.

Alongside a practice pad, it’s a good idea to invest in a metronome or metronome app for your phone, to help you build your sense of rhythm and timing. Personally, I use the Metronome app by Onyx Apps.

Continue with Drum Lessons Either In-Person or Online

While practising on your own is essential, continuing with drum lessons is equally important. At first, it’s a good idea to consider one-to-one tuition, either in-person or online via tools like Zoom. One-to-one tuition means the tutor can tailor lessons specifically to you, focusing on the areas you need to develop in and keeping pace with your progress.

In addition to learning new techniques, one-to-one drum lessons can help you stay motivated. Your drum teacher can help you set goals and hold you accountable for your progress. You’ll also learn about different genres and styles of music. Your drum teacher can help you find your musical niche and develop your playing style, or teach you the specific skills needed to play the type of music you’re into.

At some stage, you may feel ready to go it alone and choose online video drum lessons, for example using a service like Drumeo. Video drum lessons are a cheaper way to learn the drums, but it’s worth being aware that you won’t get personal feedback and have to motivate yourself. This works for some people, but in my view, it’s better for beginners to have one-to-one tuition at first to learn proper technique and stay motivated when the learning curve can be high.

Get a Drum Kit to Practise at Home

Once you’ve learned the basics, it’s time to start practising on a full drum kit. A drum kit will allow you to play along with your favourite songs and develop your playing style. Moving on to playing along to music is a great feeling, as at this point, you really start to feel like a real drummer! Again, it’s important to practise regularly to improve your skills.

If you live in an apartment or have close neighbours, an electronic drum kit may be a good choice. Electronic drum kits are quieter than acoustic drums and can be played with headphones. They give you the freedom to practise the drums when an acoustic kit might not be viable. However, be aware that electronic drums are not completely silent and still generate noise. Learn more about soundproofing for drums, if you can play acoustic drums at home, and how to build noise isolation pads for your drums.

When choosing a drum kit, it’s essential to consider your budget and your playing style. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on your first drum kit. You can find affordable drum kits that are perfect for beginners. If you’re considering an electronic kit, why not check out our guide on how much to spend on an electronic drum kit?

Find Other Musicians to Play With

Part of being a great drummer is playing with other musicians. Playing in a band is a great way to improve your skills, develop your confidence behind the kit, and develop your own musical style.

Not only will playing with other musicians help you develop your sense of rhythm and timing, but it will also help you improve your overall musicianship and have fun while doing it.

An important skill you’ll learn from playing with others is how to lead a band, setting the beat and keeping everyone playing in time. This isn’t something you can do when playing along to a backing track where the music will continue regardless of whether you’re keeping the beat.

You can also have fun improvising passages or even a whole song as a group which really helps to develop your creativity!

You can find other musicians to play with by attending open mic nights, joining a community band, or finding other musicians online. Personally, I started my drumming journey by playing together with friends who were also new to their instruments. This was a lot of fun as the whole band was on a shared journey, with each member developing their individual craft and musicianship.

By Seb Atkinson

Seb has been a drummer since 2004 and an eDrummer since 2008. He founded eDrumHub to provide information on electronic drums for other drummers who can't justify an acoustic drum kit for practice at home.