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How to play drums: a guide for beginners (by professional drummers)

Julianne, in Community news
Oct 13, 2020 | 5 min read

Written by: drummer & composer, Josh Roberts

Do you want to play drums? Are you looking for a place to start? Our “How to play drums: a guide for beginners (by professional drummers)” is a new series filled with essential tips and advice from musicians who live and breathe drumming.

Our goal is for this to be a series that will inspire you to pick up those drum sticks and start drumming. New York based Josh Roberts is a passionate drummer, composer and charismatic influencer. It’s our honor to have him present the first segment of our series. Let’s get started!

Lean in and have fun

“My top tip for drumming is to lean in and HAVE FUN! Drums are the only instrument you can hit and play it correctly. So have fun and joy in making rhythm with your whole body. Whether you’re looking at it as a hobby or a career, always have fun!”

Can everyone play drums?

“Absolutely! Anyone can learn drums!”

It doesn’t matter how old or able-bodied you are – there are even drum kits adapted for individuals with special needs. Josh first learned with pencils on pots and pans, and so can you!

People believe that rhythm has to be already innate when you start learning drums. But just like any other instrument – with enough practice and discipline, you can learn drums!

At what age should you start playing drums?

The earlier and the longer time you spend mastering an instrument – the better!

 “I would suggest as early as possible. Even as early as five years old, one can learn the basics of rhythm, and you don’t even need a drum set.”

What are some common mistakes for beginners to avoid?

Be patient. There are elements to learning drums that happen very fast, and then there are some techniques that require lots of patience and very slow practice. Drums can be very quick at gratification but it can also have a long learning curve to get to a proficient level.

How often should I practice drums?

As often as you can and want. You control your progress; it’s then just a matter of hard work.

“3 sessions of 30 minutes each for new students a week”

Which song should I first learn?

Work on classics with beats that you will enjoy! Josh mentions that Billie Jean has a great pulse! Playing along to it will deepen your sense of time and groove, and it’s fun! He also suggests We Will Rock You, I Love Rock and Roll, and Take the A-Train.

Should I play any other instrument?

The short answer is yes!

Learning any other instrument will only help deepen one’s musicality. More important than learning technique is learning music theory and ear training. The piano is a fantastic instrument to start with because it’s rhythmic and very visually laid out.

What apps do you recommend?

“As far as apps go, I pretty much use the Metronome App by Soundbrenner for a metronome while I practice. Peter Erskine, an L.A. drummer, created two Play-Along apps that I used to use as well.”

How do I protect my hearing?

Hearing protection is vital. Josh Roberts honestly mentions that he hasn’t been great at mindfully protecting his ears but says that it is important. 

“I always like to use some type of headphones while practicing, which helps hearing protection but also great for hearing an audible metronome or playing music. I suggest Vic Firth’s sound isolation headphones or Etymotic in-ear earplugs.”

You can also use Soundbrenner technology for vibrations with just earplugs and do not need headphones!

About Josh Roberts

Living a musician’s dream in New York City is drummer Joshua Roberts. He started a bi-weekly Harlem Jazz session in New York City, where Jazz and Broadway leaders collaborate with other musicians. Besides being an adjunct instructor at New York University, he also tours nationally with Recording Artists Brad & Rebekah, and tours internationally with Monika Herzig and his group.

Check out Josh’s channels

If you’d like to contribute to this series, please reach out to us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!

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