Monthly Archives: May 2017

Learning to Play the Drums


I have been drumming for about 8 years now and people always ask me where I learned to play so well. None of my family ever played the drums and I have never had any formal lessons. I am completely self-taught and I would love to explain what I believe are the keys to starting out on the drum set.

When I was just starting in 6th grade, the first thing that I made sure I mastered was my grip. I learned the traditional grip and the American grip. Traditional grip is done anchoring the end of the stick in the crook between your thumb and pointer finger, and resting the middle of the stick on the inside of your 4th finger. You would use your middle finger for control and most of the movement is done in the wrists rather than the hands. Traditional Grip is great for drumming when you are using a lot of snares. The most common grip in drumming is the American grip. American grip is done by spinning the stick in between your thumb and the side of your first knuckle on your index finger. You then bring in the other three fingers for control on the end of the stick. Some people like to use traditional grip in their left hand and American grip in their right, but it is most common to see drummers use matched American grips in both hands.

Once you’ve got the grip down you should just play around on the snare and try to develop some rhythm. Practice some 5 stroke rolls and paradiddles. You can find some great examples of both these stroke practices online. The snare is usually the most used piece of the drum set, so it is imperative that you learn how to keep a nice rhythm on it.

The next thing to add to your practice routine is the bass kick. Learn a simple rock beat by alternating bass kicks on the first and third beats and snare hits on 2 and 4th. Once you can keep an alternating rock beat with both the bass and snare, then start spicing the beat up a little. Add two bass kicks or maybe 5 stroke rolls in the pace of the single beats. This helps you to really build confidence in your ability to keep a rock beat.

Now comes the most important wall that you need to get through on the way to becoming a great drummer. The most difficult step to get through is adding the high hat to you rock beat. This means you will be playing three different pieces at the same time but on alternating beats. Many aspiring drummers find it easy to sync the bass kick and the snare but have a hard time adding the high hat or ride cymbal and keeping the beat up. It usually takes a lot of practice and discipline to teach your body to be able to play three different beats at once, but once you breakthrough, the rest is easy. After learning to put three instruments together, from there you just start messing around with the speed and style of the rhythms you are playing. With time and practice, you will find that you have become a very capable drummer.