If you’re thinking of learning to play a new instrument, you may be wondering how hard it is to learn drums. Playing drums is an excellent skill to have as it’s fun, allows you to get out your frustrations, and provides you with a multitude of physical and health benefits.
I’ve been playing the drums for over 16 years, so I can confidently answer the question: are drums hard to learn?
Drums are fairly easy to play when starting out. The first beat you learn can be used in most songs, and you don’t need to understand harmony or theory. However, learning the drums gets more challenging when you learn all the different aspects of drumming such as technique, timing, and coordination.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at each of these aspects to see how they affect how hard it is to learn to play the drums.
Rhythm and Timing
One of the biggest aspects of learning the drums is developing a good sense of rhythm along with a strong knack for timing. Some people are naturally inclined to play and keep steady rhythms while others tend to struggle.
If you’re able to keep a steady clap going along with a song, you’ll find playing simple repetitive beats on the drums to be quite easy. Everyone can learn this skill, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t keep a steady pulse going.
When learning the drums, you’ll learn to play all the beats and fills very slowly. Every person can do this, meaning that playing a slow beat is incredibly easy. Speeding things up is the challenging part on many occasions.
Coordination is the trickier aspect of learning the drums. It’s often where most people get caught in their first few drum lessons. You eventually need to use all four of your limbs and have them doing different things at different times. Sounds difficult, right?
Luckily, drumming can be learned in a way that you don’t have to do everything at once from the beginning. You can bring in your left foot after you’re comfortable using your right foot, and you don’t need to play crazy patterns with your hands just yet.
You’ll just need a bit of basic coordination between your hands and feet to get a basic rock beat going. After that, you can slowly start moving your hands around to play different drums and cymbals.
You can get away with not using your left foot for quite a while when playing the drums as you can tighten the hi-hats. However, it’s better to learn to use your left foot sooner rather than later.
Listening is something that many people wouldn’t assume is important when learning the drums. It’s a very audible instrument. While you can learn to play beats through reading notation, most drummers tend to learn a lot purely through listening.
Before the internet existed, drummers learned how to play parts from listening to pros playing on records. While it’s easy to watch a YouTube drum lesson nowadays, you still need to have good listening skills that will help you recreate what you’ve heard on the drum kit.
Having a great listening ability will also help when it comes to playing along with other musicians. Drummers who aren’t good listeners typically aren’t great in band environments.
Technique is undoubtedly the hardest aspect of learning the drums. There are so many unique techniques to learn, and not all of them are necessary. However, having good technique is what sets you up for making things easier to play.
Some of the basic drumming techniques you need to know when starting to learn the drums are things like how to hold sticks, how to hit the drums, and how to sit at the drum kit. Those are simple things to learn.
The harder techniques to learn would be concepts such as the Moeller Method, Slide Technique, Push-Pull, and how to play fast double strokes with your fingers. These are things that make playing complicated ideas on the drums easier. However, they’re fairly difficult to get a grip of before you can freely use them.
Is Playing Drums Hard with Music?
This ties in closely with listening skills. There are dozens of easy songs to play drums to and learning to play those songs is a fun way of getting into playing drums with other musicians. You just need to know how to play a few basic beats and fills. You also need to be able to keep steady time when playing them.
There are so many styles of music you can play drums along to, and the easiest is arguably pop music. Most of the songs are very similar, so you can use the same beats and fills when playing different tunes.
If you’re into more complex music, learning to play drums to that will be a bit harder. A style like progressive metal has multiple aspects to it such as fast speeds, changing time signatures, and double pedal drumming. That’s much harder to learn than any song that has a straightforward 4/4 drum groove.
How Long Does Learning the Drums Take?
Determining how long it will take to learn will be based on how dedicated you are to practicing and improving. However, there’s a general outline that can be followed with learning the drums.
It typically takes beginners one lesson to learn how to play a basic rock groove. That already allows them to play drums to dozens of songs. It may then take a few months to learn a few basic grooves and fills. You’ll also learn some rudiments that you can use around the set.
After a year of learning and dedicated practice, you should be able to hold your own in a band setting with other musicians. Someone who has been playing drums for two or more years is typically referred to as an intermediate drummer. It can then take you 5 to 20 years to become an advanced drummer.
Learning the Drums Compared to Other Instruments
Are drums hard to learn compared to other instruments? This is something many people wonder about when looking at the different instrument options. The benefit of playing the drums is that you don’t need to worry about learning any notes or chords.
The drums are a non-melodic instrument, meaning they only provide beats and rhythms. This makes learning the drums a bit easier in the early stages, especially if you catch on to learning rhythms quickly.
However, drums are one of the few instruments where all four of your limbs are used. Your bodily coordination needs to be a lot better for drumming than it needs to be for guitar playing. So, playing the drums is easier in some ways, but harder in others.
Another thing you can do to help is to also learn to play another musical instrument. The melodic backing from a second instrument will improve your musicianship on the drums. Likewise, the rhythmic backing from drumming will improve your sense of rhythm on another instrument.
So, is it hard to learn drums? Well, it’s easier than most other instruments in the first few lessons. You don’t need to have excellent command over any techniques to play a few basic beats and fills.
You also don’t need to know how to read music or play chord progressions. The repetitive nature of grooves makes them a bit easier to understand.
However, drumming gets a lot harder to learn as you progress on the instrument. You’ll find that your body limits you, and that’s when you have to have excellent command over different advanced drumming techniques. You’ll also be using all four of your limbs a lot more.