You'll hear a lot of people say that drums are an easy instrument to learn but a difficult instrument to master.
Trust us; your favorite professional drummer didn't get there by accident. Doesn't drumming seem so easy as you watch in awe of your favorite drummer playing their heart out on a decked-out drum set in front of thousands of fans?
They make it look effortless, but in reality, being a great drummer is a lot of hard work.
For this reason, great drummers are always in high demand, so it's important to practice consistently and continually work on improving your abilities.
But, aside from taking drum lessons, what steps can you take to improve your skills as a drummer?
We'll go over a few tips on how to become a better drummer in the article below.
Table of Contents
- Go Back to Basics
- Emulate Your Favorite Drummers
- Develop Muscle Memory
- Work and Play with Other Musicians
- Learn to Keep Time
- Maintain Quality in Practice
- Take Care of Your Fitness
- Develop Both Hands
Go Back to Basics
This applies to just about any musician looking to improve their skill. It's actually pretty common for drummers to attempt to "run before they can walk," so to speak.
This often leads to the development of bad habits and gaps in ability.
Mastering your drumming skills means knocking out the basics before you dive into advanced techniques or performing at a very fast tempo.
Knowing the basics by heart is the best way to build a solid foundation to develop your playing.
You should focus a decent portion of your practice routine on improving single strokes, double strokes, and polishing the key rudiments like the paradiddle and five-stroke roll.
Although it may not be the flashiest or most fun form of practice, consistently working on the basics is one of the top ways to improve.
Once you can execute these drumming fundamentals consistently with dynamics and solid time, you will be able to take your playing to the next level and become a seasoned drummer.
Emulate Your Favorite Drummers
Playing the drums is an art, not an exact science.
As we stated above, it's important to master the basics and the fundamentals, but there isn't an exact blueprint to becoming an amazing drummer.
Why is that the case? Well, it's because everyone is unique, and everyone has different things they want to achieve as a drummer.
The style of music you want to play, your musical ideas, your work ethic, your equipment, and many other factors will determine what being a "good drummer" means to you.
Even though there is not a singular roadmap that will get you there, the next best thing is emulating your favorite drummers.
Of course, we aren't saying to become a carbon copy of your favorite drummer. But, inspiration and learning from those you admire goes a long way.
If you emulate your hero's drumming techniques that are proven to work well in the styles of music you want to play, you'll be heading in the right direction.
Develop Muscle Memory
This goes back to mastering the basics. Being able to perform without overthinking is critical.
During practice sessions, play the basic beat drum patterns with your eyes open for 20 minutes, and then close your eyes and get your snare drum hand in sync with your metronome or click.
Picture your kit or drum machines in your mind. It should almost be like an extension of your arms and legs.
When you practice with your eyes closed, you will develop muscle memory in your arms, legs, feet, and hands.
When you're in sync with the metronome, you can try to play by feel.
Now, this may prove to be pretty difficult at first, so don't be frustrated if you find yourself messing up. Remember; it's a practice technique to help you improve in the long run.
Work and Play with Other Musicians
Are you in a band or do you have other musicians you like to jam with? Perfect!
The members of your inner circle will help you improve as a drummer if you give each other honest feedback.
During jam sessions, they will synchronize with you and make suggestions to improve your technique. In a best-case scenario, you'll all be discussing ideas together.
Whether you are currently in a band or not, playing with others will accelerate your learning.
Any musician that teaches you or gives you feedback is a great resource, and you should acknowledge that they are helping you grow and improve.
If you know any other musicians, ask them to listen to you play and ask for feedback. But, be sure to remember two things:
1. Take constructive feedback gracefully, even if it's not what you want to hear
2. Don't take criticism from someone you wouldn't accept advice from
You never know what you might learn about your ability by playing for other musicians, even if they play a different genre than you - like rock music, jazz, or funk.
Learn to Properly Keep Time
As a drummer, it is your responsibility to keep time for the songs you play. This is where understanding time signatures is vital.
Use headphones and synchronize them with your laptop so you can have the click in your ear.
Practice keeping time with the songs you hear while listening to the radio. Not only will this skill help you and make you a more experienced drummer, but your bandmates will certainly appreciate it, too!
Maintain Quality in Practice
You hear it in sports every year and it absolutely carries over to music as well: your performance will always reflect the way you practice.
Watching countless drumming videos of your favorite songs and memorizing every beat your drumming inspiration has ever played will not make you an overnight success.
And it doesn't matter how many hours a day you practice if you aren't executing proper techniques.
If you aren't practicing the right way or the right things, you will never get better. Well, you may become a competent drummer from hours and hours of mediocre practice. But in this article, we're talking about improvement and becoming better at drums.
Quality of your practice matters just as much as quantity.
If all you do is put in the time without correcting your technique, you will be unable to execute complex music segments, and you will also falter with fundamentals.
Take Care of Your Fitness
Studies have shown that a 90-minute set behind the kit requires the same stamina that a professional soccer player needs to play a full game. Pretty surprising, right? Not if you've ever performed a 90-minute set!
If you want to play to the best of your abilities, you need to take care of your fitness.
Cardiovascular activities like running, jogging, swimming, or cycling can vastly improve drumming endurance.
Weight training will enhance power, improve reflexes, and protect you from injury.
The very least you should do is implement a stretching and warm-up routine before you play to get your blood flowing and protect your joints and muscles from strain.
Develop Both Hands
It's time to start living the ambidextrous lifestyle. Whether you play an electronic drum, cajon, or a traditional drum kit, you need to develop both of your hands.
Try your best to incorporate both hands when you practice. It doesn't matter if you're utilizing hand percussion techniques or drum sticks, make sure your hands are relaxed.
Naturally, the dominant hand is initially stronger for new drummers, and the weaker hand needs to be strengthened.
Strengthen your weak hand by playing more pronounced beats while using the dominant right hand to hit soft notes.
Put Yourself in the Best Position to Improve Your Drumming Right Now
When it comes down to it, the best thing you can do to improve your drumming skill is to take action right away.
You'll never get the improvement or results that you want if you keep putting it off. But with the right practice techniques and a little diligence, who knows, maybe you could become one of the richest drummers of all time!
In our experience, one common area of concern for many drummers is the lack of structure. When should you practice? What techniques should you be focusing on?
If this sounds like something you may struggle with, then we highly recommend that you enroll in an accredited music school.
Atlanta Institute of Music and Media puts drummers in a fast-paced and hands-on music atmosphere. If music and drumming is your passion, there is truly nowhere else you'd rather be than at AIMM.
Trust us, you're guaranteed to see improvement in your drumming - not to mention countless industry connections, lifelong support, and a degree or certificate which will elevate your opportunities to make a splash in the music industry.
The Music and Technology Associate Degree: Drum Concentration caters to the modern musician who wants to develop their technical skill on an instrument, and acquire an in-depth understanding of the writing, recording, mixing, and mastering process. You can even earn your Pro Tools Certification at AIMM.
For drummers that aren't interested in the technical side of music, we also offer the Performance Certificate.
If you're passionate about drumming, want to improve your skill, and are adamant about landing a successful career in the music industry, Atlanta Institute of Music and Media is perfect for you.
To learn more about AIMM and how to start your enrollment, click below.