Were you one of those kids who used to unpack the kitchen cupboards to find pots, pans and Tupperware that would become your make-shift drum kit? You’ve always had a love for music and in some or other way the tempo of a song still manages to get your fingers beating a rhythm on your steering wheel as you drive.

You’ve always aspired to playing a musical instrument, but the idea of this commitment and having a set of drums in your flat or complex might be a scary one at first? You might also be wondering whether you actually need a full drum kit,  especially if you’ve never played. How do you know you won’t grow bored of it and end up wasting your money?

Luckily with drumming you have a couple of options to consider and maybe your aspirations to become a drummer are not as out of reach as you may think. Keep on reading as we explore these questions and some other considerations, like keeping the neighbours happy.

The Right Equipment for the Job

One of the biggest challenges most musicians have when they start out is having access to the musical instruments they want to learn to play.

Drummers are no different and you might be wondering whether you'll actually be able to afford a brand new drum kit or whether there are other ways to explore this passion before you commit to spending the money?

The good news is that you don’t have to buy a professional drum kit if you are only starting out.

Basic Home-Made Drumming Tools

Those finger-taps on the steering wheel or foot taps might come in more handy than you imagine …

Some professional players started out by using some basic equipment they could find in and around the house.

Apparently, even Dave Grohl, the drummer from Nirvana, practised at home using drum sticks and pillows.

All you need is a set of drum sticks, some suitable surfaces, such as plastic containers or pans, and you can start practising some basic drum techniques and stick control.

These household items will also allow you to work on your drum stick handling technique and allow you to practise moving from one drum to another.

One downside to this approach is the fact that you won’t be able to feel the real rim or skin of the actual musical instrument and how it will react to the way you play.

Most musicians become one with their instrument and, unfortunately, the only way to have the authentic experience is by having a real set. Please don’t be discouraged if you cannot afford a drum set now, you might be able to find one by speaking to you music teacher or school.

Man drumming on upturned buckets
You can practise drumming technique with buckets. ~ Image by Iva Balk from Pixabay

Ask For Some Favours When You Start Out

Many musicians already know someone who plays the drums and they are fortunate if they can manage to use this friend's or family member's equipment to start their drumming training.

Most music schools or teachers who give drum lessons would most likely have a drum set or two in their classroom or studio that you could use if they don’t have a class scheduled.

This is a great departure point, but you might have some challenges in scheduling your practise sessions at times that suit you both. A teacher might also be foregoing the chance to teach another student if they give up their drum set to you, and this might result in continuous last-minute changes if another student should request a session.

However, this is still a good option when you're starting out, especially if you combine it with some of the home-made drumming tools mentioned earlier.

It is also a practical and logical first step if you are still trying to figure out whether your passion is strong enough to sustain you as you learn how the play the drums.

Drum set
Maybe you can find a drum set to practise on at a nearby school. ~Photo by Matthijs Smit on Unsplash

The Different Types of Starter Drum Sets

Some people start off by buying a single drum, while others prefer to purchased an entire drum kit at the beginning of their drumming journey.

You have to find what will work best for you and what is within your budget. A junior drum set is also an option worth looking into; this is a basic set consisting of three drums.

If you have a great love for drumming and are going to continue playing as a hobby or you intend to join a band, we would suggest you investigate purchasing a beginner drum set as option.

A basic beginners drum set consists of 5 pieces:

  • Bass drum/kick drum
  • Hi-hat cymbals
  • Snare drum
  • Tom-toms (High, mid and low)
  • Ride cymbal.

The great thing about buying a beginner set is the fact that you can expand and add more drums and percussion elements to your drum kit as you go.

Well-known additions include percussion elements like a cowbell, china cymbal or splash cymbal.  We have expert and professional music shops in every major South African city and they would be happy to show you the latest and greatest drum sets on their floors.

Just like any other musical instrument, the quality of sound drums produce is what generally determines how much you will pay for them. A junior drum sets starts at around R3 000, while you can find some beginner drum kits starting at R5 000 with high-end 5 piece drum sets costing up to R50 000.

Make sure you do plenty of research before going out and buying a brand new drum set. A second-hand set could be just as good for someone starting out and you might even find a great deal on some quality sets online.

Unique drum set
Most musicians had to play on second-hand instruments until they could afford the one they want. ~ Photo by Daniel Bernard on Unsplash

Practise Drum Pads and Electronic Drum Kits

Buying an acoustic drumming set might be a bit problematic if your neighbours complain about the slightest noise you make. Luckily there are ways to overcome this and, with the advancement of technology, you can now get electronic alternatives to acoustic drum sets.

Whether you opt-in for a practise pad or a full e-kit, these electronic versions will give you a bit more freedom as they allow you to adjust your volume or play with your headphones on, allowing your neighbours to rest while you continue to practise late into the night.

Today’s e-kits are set up almost the same as a full drum kit, and respond to the pressure of your drumming sticks.

The flip side to this great and innovative musical instrument is the fact that it could be quite costly and doesn’t have the same amount of flexibility if you want to move your set-up around slightly. Electronic drums will also not give you the same auditory feedback when you play and it would likely not produce the same sound quality as a real acoustic drum set.

If you are really serious about your drumming and noise during your practise is a challenge, we recommend you get less-pricey drum pads.

drum sticks and drum pads
Electronic drum pads will allow you to practise at any time of the day. ~ Image by fancycrave1 from Pixabay

What You Will Learn From Drum Lessons

Some of the first things that you will learn from a drumming teacher are drum patterns, how to create drum beats, drum rudiments and drum fills.

They will help you with reading and playing drum notations as set-out on sheet music, something that will be useful if you ever work with professionals or a conductor.

If you know music, you will be aware that musical instruments can be a bit off-tune at times, and your music teacher will be able to share with you the correct techniques for tuning your drums.

Drumming allows for many different styles and, whether you want to explore the improvisational techniques that Jazz offers or delve into rock music, a music teacher will be able to assist you in your exploration of these approaches.

They will introduce you to new styles and, before you know it, you will view the activity of listening to music completely differently.

A good teacher will also help you understand how discipline and passion fits into the equation of becoming a good musician.

The world of entertainment is one where people want to work with pleasant personalities and learning how to passionately persevere in the face of adversity is one of the biggest skills the right teacher will teach you.

Not all music teachers are created the same.

Some are more classical and some are experts at certain genres. But there is a way to find the right teacher to teach you to drum and get drumming.

You are never too old to learn something new and if you are passionate about music we’re almost certain that drumming will challenge you in new and exciting ways.

Whether you can afford to buy a drum set or not, the passion in your heart for a musical beat and percussion will help you find a way to play the drums, no matter what.

Find a drum teacher who can give you more immediate tips on getting started.

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