What Makes a Great Drummer?

Drum Set from behind

Are you a drummer striving to take your skills to the next level? In today’s music industry, an extraordinary drummer is more than just someone who can just keep the beat.

The world is filled with brilliant musicians. But what characteristics and skills separate the best in the world from their fellow drummers?

This article will guide you through recognizing and developing essential traits that great drummers possess. Read on to discover what it takes!

Technical Skills of Great Drummers

Rhythm and Coordination

Every good musician must have a great sense of rhythm. But it’s absolutely essential for drummers because it forms the backbone of their playing. It’s what allows drummers to establish and maintain a strong groove.

Excellent coordination is also a must-have for competent drummers. Coordination enables drummers to control all four limbs while playing rhythms either simultaneously or independently. 

The best drummers demonstrate complete control of both their hands and feet in order to play complex rhythmic patterns and phrases with utmost precision.  


Timekeeping is a crucial responsibility of a drummer. To be a good drummer, you’ll need to have a strong sense of rhythm to be able to maintain a steady tempo throughout a song. 

A drummer’s ability to stay in sync with a click track and/or other band members is crucial for creating a tight and cohesive sound.

The most popular drummers in today’s studio and live music circuit are required to play drums along to a metronome, both on stage and while recording. Good drummers can confidently play along to a click track without wavering from the tempo.

Drummers who excel at timekeeping are able to provide a solid foundation that allows the rest of the musicians to play confidently and without hesitation; ensuring that every note is played at exactly the right moment.


‘Feel’ refers to the rhythmic and musical quality that a drummer imparts to their playing. It goes beyond simply keeping time or playing the correct notes. Feel is about the groove, dynamics, and the overall emotional impact of the drumming.

When a drummer has a good feel, their playing becomes more than just executing patterns or beats. They bring a sense of groove, subtle nuances, and a natural flow to their playing that elevates the music. 

Feel is often associated with playing ‘in the pocket’. Pocket refers to the ability to play in a way that locks in with the other musicians and creates a tight rhythmic foundation, while also delivering a performance that’s solid, expressive, and engaging.

Ultimately, feel is what separates a technically proficient drummer from one who can truly connect with the music and evoke emotion through their playing. It is a skill that can take years to develop, but it is integral to becoming a great drummer.


Creativity is what allows drummers to elevate their playing because it brings their unique voice to their music. Creativity is what makes a drummer’s playing individual and allows a performance to be expressive, rather than simply robotic. 

Great drummers have their own unique flair and personality that separates them from other drummers and makes their drumming memorable and identifiable. 

Creative drummers can come up with interesting drum patterns, fills, and transitions that enhance the structure and dynamics of songs. Through their creative choices, drummers can create moments of impact and excitement.

Creativity also plays an important role in improvisation and allows drummers to add spontaneity, surprise, and excitement to their performances. 


Great drummers also possess the trait of adaptability. The best drummers are true chameleons, and can easily adjust their playing style and sound in order to thrive in various musical settings; being able to seamlessly transition between different genres.

From rock to jazz, pop to funk, each genre has its own unique rhythms, techniques, and playing styles that drummers must be able to adapt to. Being adaptable allows drummers to effectively switch between genres and bring authenticity to their playing in various musical settings.

Furthermore, whether performing live or recording in the studio, an adaptable drummer can quickly pick up on cues and follow changes in dynamics without missing a beat. 

When it comes to gear, drummers also need to be adaptable to work with unfamiliar drum kit setups at gigs. Adaptability allows drummers to quickly get comfortable with new setups and make necessary adjustments.

Characteristics of Great Drummers


Passion is what fuels every drummer. It is the deep sense of motivation and drive in drummers and is what has made every drummer decide to pick up a pair of sticks for the very first time.

Passionate drummers love to play their instrument. They infuse their playing with emotion, energy, and personal style. They explore different rhythms, textures, and dynamics, using the drums as a medium to express their individuality and musical ideas.

If a drummer doesn’t have passion, they won’t enjoy playing drums. It’s that simple. They won’t want to improve or put in the practice that is required to become a great drummer.


Drumming (much like any other skill) requires continuous practice and improvement. Discipline ensures that drummers set aside regular time for practice in order to develop their technique, control, coordination, timing, and musicality. 

Whether it’s learning a challenging drumming pattern, mastering a complex song, or improving speed and endurance, disciplined drummers stay focused on their objectives and put in the necessary effort to reach them.

There is a well-known principle that dictates it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become a master in any field. Consistent and focused practice leads to mastery of the instrument!


Persistence plays a vital role in the journey to becoming an excellent drummer. Persistence is what allows you to face challenges and learn from them instead of backing down.

Whether it’s nailing that complicated drum solo or improving your speed with a double bass pedal, persistence will keep you going until you reach your goal.

The road to success is often long and testing, and there are many setbacks and sacrifices that are to be made in order to become a great drummer.

Final Thoughts: What About Talent?

Lots of drummers will attest to discovering an innate sense of rhythm from an early age. Rhythm is the fundamental cornerstone of drumming, but it does not translate to immediate drumming perfection.

There is often an impression that the best drummers in the world are born with a gift of flawless drumming ability. The truth is that the top-level drummers are often the hardest working, and have perhaps taken a long and testing route to achieve such great heights.

A drummer will improve and mature in a journey of self-discovery behind the drum kit, spending time figuring out what works well, and how to apply the techniques best.

Through enjoying practicing and playing along to music a drummer will also begin to shape his own musical tastes and his playing style will be a reflection of that. The flames of creativity and passion are ignited from the simple enjoyment of playing the drums.

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