One of the first questions a new drummer should ask themselves is “How do you play the drums?” Getting set up and ready to play is one thing. It’s entirely another to actually know what you’re doing once you sit down on the stool.
So, how do you play the drums? It’s not an easy process, and it will take plenty of practice before you can play to a decent standard. This article will list some useful tips to show you how to play your drums more effectively.
Tip #1 – Always Enter Practice with a Plan
Everybody has to practice if they want to gain any level of competence with a musical instrument. How you arrange your practice sessions will have a large bearing on how quickly you learn.
You should enter every practice session with a plan of action. For example, you may have a drum fill that you want to execute perfectly. Or, you may just need to keep time with a song.
The key is that you ask yourself “how do you play the drums?” Come up with a plan that structures your time so that you’re always making progress, rather than just wasting time on things you already know.
Tip #2 – You Don’t Need a Kit to Get Started
Perhaps you don’t even have a drum kit. That’s okay because there are plenty of things you can do to practice rhythm without holding a set of drumsticks.
Your hands will be your weapons of choice when you’re learning the basics of rhythm. Even something as simple as tapping your hands on your thighs will help you to build the basic rhythmic sense you need to be a good drummer.
In particular, you should practice the 4/4 time signature. These are quarter notes representing four beats to every measure. Tap four beats on your thigh, each with equal spacing between them. Count each beat or use a metronome so you can measure the time gap between each one. From there, you can move onto other time signatures and bring your other hand into play.
Tip #3 –Openhanded vs Cross-hand Technique
How do you play the drums is not a simple question to answer when it comes to the technique you use. In many cases, your technique will depend on the type of music that you want to play.
Rock and funk musicians tend to favor the cross-hand technique. This involves using your dominant hand to play the hi-hat, with your non-dominant hand crossed over to play the snare. Doing this, allows you to handle the speed and repetitive nature of hi-hat playing.
The openhanded style allows for more versatility in your play. You’ll see a lot of jazz musicians employ It’s good to learn both techniques, but beginners may want to focus on the cross-hand technique until they’ve built some endurance in their arms.
Tip #4 –Talk to a Professional
It may seem a simple tip, but professional teachers are best-placed to answer the question “how do you play the drums?”
A professional can lend structure to your practice sessions. That relates to the first tip, as structure means you always go into your practice sessions with a plan. Professionals also know the exact things you need to learn and the level you need to be at when starting to learn different techniques.
You can find professionals everywhere. From in-person lessons to web tutorials, professionals offer all sorts of ways to access their services. Take advantage of them. You may need to pay to get professional lessons, but you will advance faster than going it alone.
Tip #5 –Learn About Your Instrument
You can’t learn to play the drums if you don’t know what your instrument can do. Most kits come with a bass drum, a snare, some tom toms, cymbals, and a hi-hat. Each is a tool that you can use to perform different functions.
Figuring out the answer to the question “how do you play the drums?” requires you to learn everything you can about the kit.
For example, the bass drum lets you create a booming sound, while your tom toms have different pitches. You also need to learn the basics of tuning so you can get the sound you want. Read up on every drum in your set and practice to learn what sounds you can create with each.
Tip #6 –Develop Your Coordination
An uncoordinated drummer will not be able to hit riffs and patterns when they’re needed. Without coordination, you’ll mix up your hand and foot positioning, resulting in off-beat playing.
You use every limb when playing the drums. Your hands hold the sticks that you use to strike the drums, while your feet operate pedals for the bass drum and hi-hat. If you can’t coordinate all four limbs, you won’t have to worry about the question “how do you play the drums?” You simply won’t be able to.
Try using ostinatos, which are continuous drum patterns, to develop your coordination. While simple, these patterns lay the groundwork for everything else you will do. Practice them until your arm and leg positions become second nature to you.
Tip #7 –Protect Yourself
When trying to figure out how do you play the drums, many novices don’t take the steps needed to protect themselves. Drums produce a lot of loud sounds and require constant movement, so you need to prepare yourself properly.
Warm up with stretches before playing to ensure your limbs are limber enough for the work you’re about to put them through. Protect your ears as well. A good pair of ear plugs or muffs will let you hear what you play without exposing you to the damaging nature of high-decibel sounds.
Furthermore, experiment with different kit setups. How you place your drums will affect how much movement you need to make to play them. Find a setup that works well for you.
So, how do you play the drums? Hopefully, this article has given you a good base to build on. Novices should incorporate all these tips into their practice sessions if they want to become better drummers.
There’s also much more to learn. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can move onto fills, complex riffs, and difficult drumming techniques.