“Rhythm is a means of organizing sound into specific energy formulas to harmonize the mind and body. Chanting, rhythmic breathing and drumming form an ancient technology for directly synchronizing the mind/body complex, creating conditions for psychological and physical healing” - Layne Redmond
According to a study by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers: The Story of Success, it takes 10,000 hours of practice before you can become a professional drummer.
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Of course, not all budding drummers want to become an international-renowned drummer and if you want to just become an amateur drummer, you can divide this figure by three. You’ll still get pretty good at the drums in this time.
Learning the drums, or any other instrument takes a lot of time, rigour, and patience.
It’s normal to wonder exactly how long it’ll take you to become a good drummer.
How Much Time Do You Need to Spend Drumming Each Day?
To get better at the drums, you really need to practise every day. Whether in drum lessons in a music school, with a private drum tutor, or on your own, it’s important that you play drums and work on your drumming as often as you can.
You won’t learn how to play drums with just a click of your fingers. While playing drums has reputation for being easier than other musical instruments, it's not!
To get to a good level, the drums require as much of your time as the electric guitar, bass, saxophone, djembe, etc. With each musical style, there are different beats and rhythms to master.
A drummer has to keep time. Without him or her, the other musicians in the group might speed up or slow down. You’ll have the most important and difficult role to play.
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Exactly How Much Time Should I Spend Practising?
If you want to get really good at the drums, you should ideally spend an hour and a half practising each day.
Playing the drums demands a lot of time. That said, it’s better to practise for just 15 minutes every day than it is to practise for 3 hours once a week.
Of course, your schedule might be fairly packed. It can be difficult to set aside an hour and a half every day and still eat well, socialise with friends and family, and sleep.
Practising for a quarter of an hour is still better than nothing. You can even drum away on your thighs, a chair, or cushions during your lunch break. This is an active break as opposed to a passive break.
Active breaks allow you to get away from work while still working on something else (musical instruments, drawing, photography, dance, sport, etc.). Passive breaks are spent staring at a computer screen or idly scrolling through your social media feeds.
For example, I like to spend 15 minutes of my breaks painting.
Why not use this time to drum?
In addition to relaxing, you’ll also get to express your creativity.
How Should You Practise the Drums?
If you’re practising for an hour, there are 4 main parts to a practise session:
- Warming up your body for 10 minutes.
- Warming up your brain for 10 minutes.
- Working on technique for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Applying techniques (the relaxing part) for 10 to 15 minutes.
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For the first ten minutes, practise rudiments, drum fills, play a regular beat on the hi-hat, etc., while focusing on your posture, holding the drumsticks, and how cleanly you’re playing the drums.
This will help wake up your body. To wake up your mind, you’ll need to do something more demanding.
Hit the snare drum on each beat with your left hand (or your right if you’re left-handed) while using your other hand to play other drums on the offbeats. You can subsequently bring your feet into it.
While this exercise may seem simple, it’s not. Give yourself 10 minutes to ensure that you’re concentrating.
The longest part of your session will be the practice itself. For 20 to 25 minutes, you should focus on a technical aspect of your playing:
- Single stroke roll, double stroke roll, paradiddle, or other drum rudiments.
- A song that you’re learning
- A new beat in a style such as rock, jazz, funk, or bossa nova, etc.
- Working on your footwork.
It’s important to concentrate throughout this stage. Start by playing slowly along with a metronome and make sure that you’re breaking down every part of the beat in order to learn it correctly.
Increase the speed only once you’re playing it perfectly at the slower tempo. Aim to get there by the end of 25 minutes. The goal isn’t to get there in 10 minutes or as quickly as you can.
It’s important to make constant progress. You’ll make this progress through steady repetition.
Finally, give yourself 10 minutes to try out what you’ve learnt: play along to your new song or play like you were doing an audition. Let your creativity run free. Your goal is to just enjoy the music.
Practising or Enjoying Playing?
Whether you’re learning on an electronic drum kit or an acoustic drum set or playing rock or folk, learning to play the drums can take some time.
When you first learn to play drums, you’ll need to know some basic techniques and drum beats. Don’t worry, though. You can start having fun with the drums after just a few hours of practice.
You have to start at the beginning with some basic dum-tsh rhythms. There are some free drum lessons on websites like YouTube. While these online drum lessons are prerecorded, they can be very useful for beginners.
Of course, you’ll still need to practise a bit. You need to focus on certain techniques otherwise you’ll never make any progress. Make sure you’re learning something every day.
Of course, serious practice takes time. If you can put aside 20 minutes every couple of days, it’ll soon add up, even if you aren't working with a drum teacher.
You’ll start seeing a difference before you know it. Of course, you'll only be playing a basic drum beat rather than doing drum solos.
If you’ve only got 10 minutes to practise during the day, you can work on part of a song or a new rudiment.
You can’t focus solely on practising or only play for fun, you need both. You can’t have fun playing the drums if you don’t know how to play the drums and you’ll never get better if you don’t concentrate and practise aspects of music.
Those who are really enthusiastic about the drums can easily spend 8 hours playing.
Be careful, though, you don’t want your drumming to turn into a chore. You mustn't feel obliged to play the drums else you’ll lose any sense of enjoyment, you’ll become demotivated, and you won’t make any progress.
Just like you mightn’t feel like doing any exercise or playing the drums, once you start, you’ll feel better. If this isn’t the case, then maybe the drums aren’t for you!
How Can You Make Drumming a Habit?
The best way to get the most out of your drumming is to make a habit out of it.
So what exactly is a habit?
It’s something that you do every day without even thinking about.
For example, what’s the first thing you do in a morning?
I go straight for breakfast.
We often wrongly think that we don’t have any time.
Unless you’re running a country, you probably have some free time.
You should check your schedule.
Open an app such as Google Calendar and start making a note of exactly what you do at a given time of the day.
- 7:00: Wake up
- 7:30 - 8:30: Breakfast and getting ready
- 8:30 - 9:00: Travel to work
- 9:00 - 12:00: Work
- 12:00 - 13:00: Lunch break
- 13:00 - 17:00: Work
- 17:00 - 17:30: Travel home
- 17:30 - 18:00: Help the kids with their homework
- 18:00 - 18:30: Make dinner
- 18:30 - 19:00: Dinner
There are a few questions you’ll need to ask yourself about your schedule:
- Do you drive to work or do you take public transport? You can make the most of your journey by listening to songs and breaking down the drum parts (this is much easier on public transport as you can make a note of them)
- Do you need a full hour for lunch? You could work on your drum rudiments for 15 minutes (with or without a kit)
- Do you really need that morning or afternoon coffee break? Could you spend those 5 minutes working on a particular drumbeat or listening to a song you’re studying?
- What do you do after 19:00? Could you schedule a quick practise session for an hour a few times a week?
- What about the weekend? Could you fit in a couple longer drumming sessions?
It’s easy to fit a new habit into your daily schedule. To really make a habit of something, you need to do it for at least a month, especially if you're a beginner who's never taken drumming lessons before.
After that, it’ll become second nature to you.
In addition to practising the drums, you’ll also need to speak the lingo.
A crotchet is a quarter note and usually represents a beat in a bar.
This is the rhythm as you count it out. The basic unit of time in music.