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How to Teach Yourself Drums

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If you’re interested in learning the drums, you may be wondering if it’s possible to teach yourself.

The good news is YES, it’s absolutely possible. But you need to make sure that self-learning is a good way for you personally to learn music. 

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to teach yourself drums.

We’ll go over what you’ll need, what to focus on, where to find learning material and setting up a practice plan.

If you’re brand new to playing the drums, I suggest reading our full beginner’s guide on how to play the drums after you read this article.

Where to Start

Let’s talk a little bit about what it takes to teach yourself to play the drums. Self learning is always something that takes a high degree of discipline and dedication.

There’s no getting around the fact that some people just work better with outside accountability. Others, however are able to remain disciplined and teach themselves everything they know.

Which one are you?

Your Learning Style

If you’re a self-starter and very independent minded, you should be able to teach yourself. But if you don’t think you’ll be able to force yourself to practice daily or learn something new regularly you may not want to.

Beyond that, if you learn better by having things shown to you and then being able to get feedback to improve, self learning will limit your growth.

Take a minute to decide if learning entirely on your own is really the best way for you to learn how to drum.

Equipment

To teach yourself how to play the drums, you’ll need some very basic equipment:

  • Drum sticks
  • A practice pad
  • A metronome (phone app is fine)
  • Learning material

If you want to get fancy and spend some money, then sure get yourself a drum kit – either acoustic or electronic.

But you don’t have to. You’ll be able to get away with a LOT by just having drum practice pads and sticks to work with.

As far as learning material goes, we’ll talk more about that in a second.



What to Focus On

So when you’re trying to teach yourself how to become a drummer there are a few different areas you need to make sure you’re focusing on each and every practice/learning session.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what you’ll want to pay most of your attention to.

How Music Works

There’s no getting around it. If you want to play music, you need to learn the very basics of how it works. 

Some people will call this “music theory” and that may make you cringe or curl up into a ball. Either way, it doesn’t have to be like that.

You need to know how time and rhythm works to play the drums. That means being able to play different kinds of notes and recognize different kinds of symbols.

We’re talking the absolute basics here. Make sure you put in the time to understand how exactly music works. (Hint: we’ve got a guide at Deviant Noise that tells you everything you need to know).

Drumming Technique

Technique is the one area you’ll want to focus on THE MOST when learning to play drums yourself.

That’s because you won’t have anyone critiquing your technique and giving you feedback. That’s why you want to pay extra special attention to these different things: posture, drum stick grip and hand/wrist/finger movement, pedal technique, etc.

It may seem basic, but how you use the equipment you have will determine exactly how well you’re able to play.

Make sure you are a stickler for good technique. Learn it and practice it daily.


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Drumming Rudiments

The next thing you need to focus on is the basic movements of drumming. These are called “rudiments.”

There are over 40 different drumming rudiments you can practice, but the 3 most basic ones you’ll want to focus on perfecting are:

  • single stroke rolls
  • double stroke rolls
  • paradiddles

These are the bread and butter of drumming, so make sure you spend a good amount of time practicing these with your arms/legs every day.

Grooves, Fills and Songs

Of course, the entire reason we’re learning drums is to PLAY THEM.

So another major portion of your drum practice and learning should be on beats/grooves, drum fills and full songs.

You want to internalize the most common grooves, and some dope fills (the funnest part of drumming). Then you can work on your coordination in transitioning from groove to fill (along with your endurance) by learning/playing full songs

There are a ton of resources out there (including here at Deviant Noise) where you can learn these things.

Which brings us to…

Finding Lesson Material

Obviously you can’t learn anything completely by yourself. You need something to learn from.

That’s why finding appropriate lesson/learning material will be paramount for you as a self-learner.

There are a lot of different ways to consume this information – some free and some paid – but get ready to continually search out information on your new found hobby.


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Books

This may seem like an old school way to learn now that everything is on the internet. 

But in truth, there are some amazing lesson books out there that you won’t be able to find replicated online.

There are methods, tips and techniques that are hidden in obscure drum books that you’ll be able to find on Amazon, or your local music store.

They’re a great resource.

YouTube

YouTube is obviously an amazing place to learn pretty much anything.

But the problem is the website is a completely unstructured way of doing anything.

You may find amazing videos with great lessons on various random topics, but they can be way too hard to integrate into your learning plan. Structure goes a long way in helping the learning happen.

And let’s be honest, free stuff rarely compares to the quality of stuff you have to pay for.

Online Lessons

Speaking of structured vs. unstructured learning, online drum lessons are probably the absolute BEST resource for anyone that’s interested in teaching themselves to play drums.

Online lessons are often put together in a way that holds your hand from A to Z, without needing to rely on an actual teacher.

You’ll learn everything you need to know, plus you’ll get exercises you can practice. And the best part is that you’ll know exactly what to do next – and that can be HUGE when you’re self-taught.

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Teachers

So will you ever need a real teacher? Maybe. That’s totally dependent on you as a learner. 

Even if you want to be “fully” self-taught, there’s no harm in going to a drum teacher here and there to get some feedback on your technique.

It can be pretty helpful. And if you don’t have anyone in your local area you can learn from, there are also drum teachers online that you can hire without any long-term contracts.

It’s not a requirement, but it can definitely help you level up if you’re interested.

Setup a Practice Plan

Now that you know what you’ll need and what you’ll need to focus on, it’s important to make yourself a practice plan and stick to it.

Teaching yourself the drums is a lot less about learning the drums than it is about practicing the drums.

You need to be practicing every single day. 

It doesn’t matter if all you have is 10 minutes to practice, if it’s done daily it will be effective. So commit to practicing every single day – even if it’s a short session.

Break your overall practice into 3 different sections and practice them for equal amounts of time:

  1. Rudiments
  2. Grooves and Fills
  3. Songs

Every day you want to practice a bit of each of those areas of focus. Again, even 10-15 minutes per day (3-5 minutes on each focus area) will work wonders for you.


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Final Thoughts

Learning how to play the drums isn’t complicated. There are just different things you need to learn and practice in order to do it.

Many people find they work better with outside assistance and accountability. But that’s not the only way to learn. You absolute can teach yourself.

But it does take a high amount of discipline and dedication. You have to put in the work.

If you really want to level up your drumming, I highly recommend you use a drum practice/training app like Melodics – you’ll improve your rhythm and groove whether you use electronic/acoustic drums or want to finger drum.

Thanks for reading this guide on how to teach yourself drums – I hope it was helpful.

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    Omar Zulfi

    Omar Zulfi is a music producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and digital entrepreneur. He is the founder and head writer at Deviant Noise. Learn more about what he's doing by clicking here.