When in doubt, just listen to the beat of your heart. It’s a rhythmic sound that tells you to take your interest in drumming to the next level.

You’ve always loved the beat of music and always had a fascination with how drums rhythmically lead a song. If the idea of playing drums in a band or casually busking it out with a hand drum around a campfire sounds appealing to you, it might be time for you to take action ...

Do you want to learn how to play drums, but do you know where to start? In this article we’ll give you tips to help you establish what equipment you will need, what to expect from your first drumming lesson and where to find the best teacher, but first we want to spark your passion further by telling you what drumming can do for you.

Drumming Will Enhance Your Life

Drumming has become more and more popular. With the advent of digital media, we have access to tools and teachers online and loads of online videos, some showing us how to play the hit songs from our favourite bands on the drums.

Music helps people express their feelings and has been used since the beginning to tell stories, but there are so many more benefits to be gained from playing music that you have enough reason to get excited about learning to play the drums:

  • You will relax and reduce stress. Music has a way of creating a single-minded focus on the music you create which means it almost becomes meditative as your mind shifts away from everything else. You’ll be doing your own little music therapy whenever you disappear in your music.
  • Music improves hand-eye coordination, especially drumming. There’s a set rhythm and you will create amazing new connections in your brain which develops and changes it on a physical level.
  • You’ll become smarter and you memory will improve, as many studies have proved.
  • It will improve your patience and concentration. Drumming will teach you to be patient with yourself and others, bringing you more contentment.
  • You will build confidence by learning to play the drums and hopefully so much so that you will perform and share your talent with people. You’ll also have an increasing sense of achievement as you realise and recognise your own growth.
Music and Discipline
You'll need passion, focus and discipline to master the drums - Photo by Keagan Henman on Unsplash
  • Discipline and persistence is so important in achieving any long-term goals in life. Learning to play a musical instrument is all about returning to your drum set and doing those repetitive drum strokes until they are flawless.  You will learn what it means to work hard and use your discipline and motivation to push you through the sometimes mundane tasks.
  • Understand music better and become a better musician. Even if drums aren’t your favourite musical instrument, you’ll have to understand the instrument if you aim to become a composer. You’ll also be a better music teacher and overall musician if you understand drumming
  • Join a band or become part of a music group. Your drumming could help you to meet new people with the same interests and could also boost your social life.
  • You’ll improve your listening and reading skills as you zoom into the sound you create and how it blends with other instruments. You’ll also analyse music and for the first time maybe, dissect it to understand how drums create more than just a beat.
  • Playing an instrument will allow you to express yourself in a safe space and you can also create music that could have a positive impact on people.

The benefits of playing drums are endless. No wonder so many people want to take up this instrument. If you're one of them, let’s look at the drums you might need to get you started.

The Best Drums for Beginner Drum Lessons

The best place to start assessing which drum sets, drum accessories or equipment you need is to determine where you want to go … In other words, what type of music inspires you and creates a fire in your belly?  The drums and percussion sounds used in those genres are usually the type of drums that people migrate towards when they learn how to drum.

Maybe you have a love for Rock and Roll? 

You listened to grooves by famous rock bands like Guns ‘n Roses with your dad or catch yourself tapping your foot along to songs that The Beatles created?  If your passion is classic Rock then the best drum set for you would probably be a drum kit.

Are you obsessed about Jazz music?

Don’t you just love how jazz drumming and string instruments blend with the smoky voices of good vocalists to create that big band feel? The triplet grooves found in this music is then something you would want to learn. You’ll need a full drum kit for this style of music as well and unfortunately they could be pricey, but customisable and you can build onto your kit as you go.

African Hand drums
Hand drums are part of the African heritage - Photo by Lee Pigott on Unsplash

Don’t forget about our beautiful African drums. 

Hand drums are very popular in South African culture and probably something you’re very familiar with. Do you want to take control of African drums like the Djembe drums, Bata or Bougarabou? Talking drums (Dundun drums) are also very popular in African music and you could also get into stick drumming.

And who doesn't love the passion of Latin Music?

African and Latin music have influenced each other heavily in the last couple of centuries. We share our music with each other and it’s no wonder that hand drums are also an integral part of Latin tunes. Maybe you want to learn how to create a samba, mambo or cha cha?  Your drum playing will become more creative with the Bongo, Canga and Cowbell and hopefully you’ll be jamming new sounds of your own as you become a better musician.

Drum Lessons in a Beat

Now that you have pin-pointed what your drumming passion is you can start to search for the ideal drumming teacher or drum lessons. Maybe you’d like to start lessons at home? Would you want a private class somewhere else or maybe join a music school?  Whichever option you prefer, the good news is you have plenty to choose from.

A Formal Qualification

So music has always been in your veins and you cannot see yourself doing something else? Then you’ve probably considered doing formal tertiary studies at a university. This will introduce you to various aspects and people from the professional music industry, but unfortunately a B.A Music degree won’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll be able to make a career as a professional musician out of it. You’ll need persistence and passion and that means that luckily it’s not the only way to become a professional drummer.

The cost of tertiary qualifications can also be a big challenge for most musos and your parents might feel that you will never get that money back. Luckily a degree is only a must if you want to become a composer or a music teacher at a school or university. If that’s your passion then we have some excellent universities in South Africa you can join. Ensure you research and apply for bursary programmes to help you along the way.

Music School Lessons

Do you want to learn drums from a musician at a studio, then you might prefer drum lessons at a music college or school.  Some colleges provide a course or weekly lessons where you can learn how to drum.

They usually have a set curriculum or classes that guide music teachers in what they should teach students. This could be a handy option as you might be able to use the school's equipment if you cannot afford your own yet. It is also a useful option if you live in a security complex or estate, since using their practise rooms will eliminate possible problems with the neighbours. The cost of lessons at a music school is usually around R300 – R500 a class and they prefer it if you sign-up monthly.

Drumming practice and peace
Drumming practice and peace with the neighbors... It is possible with electronic drum sets - Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Beginner Drum Lessons at Home

The best thing a muso can do for themselves is to create a setup where they are able to practise when it suits them.  Have you got room to permanently set-up your drums so you can practise and have classes in the same space? In this case taking classes at home might be your best bet.

The great thing is there are so many music teachers you can contact that will travel to you for your own private classes, or with the help of Superprof you can compare and select a teacher that’s experienced in the style of music you like. They can customise your class and teach you according to your own personal needs and schedule. If you cannot find the teacher you’re looking for in your city, you can also opt-in for online classes. There are some amazing drumming teachers online and those on Superprof charge an average of R358. On Superprof, you're able to filter your search based on your budget, and most of the teachers will also give you a free taster class.

Now, you might be worried about neighbours complaining about your beautiful drumming noise? Fortunately there are some great electronic drums available in the market. You can pick where you want to practise and can adjust the noise levels.

Where to Find Your Drums

Getting the best equipment might not be possible when you start out with beginner lessons. There are some amazing music shops all around major South African cities where you can test music instruments before buying them. A beginner drum set is a great option to start off with. You will be able to play jazz or most styles of music and can add more drums as you go.

A beginner drum set usually consists of:

  • Bass drum or kick drum
  • Hi-Hat Cymbals
  • Snare drum
  • Tom-toms
  • Ride cymbal

A brand new drum set can however, cost between R5 000 and R50 000. Make sure you research all options and practise for a couple of months before making such a big investment.

Using the drum sets and facilities of the music studio or school you take classes at is a great option, the challenge here is you won’t be able to practise unless you make an arrangement with them in advance. Make sure you ask friends and family whether they have a drum set standing around that you can borrow until you can afford your own.

Drums sets and practice rooms
Some studios might rent out their equipment and practice rooms - Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

One of the best options for drummers starting out is a second hand drum set. There are also plenty of resources online where you can find second hand drum sets. Most drummers started out this way and you can find great deals if someone is moving house or has to quickly get rid of their drums.

Drum Roll to Your First Class

So what can you look forward to when you go to your first drumming lesson?

The list of skills and drumming techniques you’ll learn over the next couple of months are endless. You’ll learn about proper warm-ups, how to hold drum sticks and might delve into music notation and how to read music.

But the best of it all is creating those drum beats, rudiments, flams and drum fills that you are so eager to learn about. Once you’ve mastered some basic techniques your teacher might get you to start drumming to the tunes you love.

Your first drum lessons is within reach, the only thing you have to do is go out and get it!

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Writer and qualified yoga instructor, who is passionate about health and well-being.