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How to play drums: a guide for beginners

Jules, in Community news
Dec 04, 2020 | 5 min read

Written by: Drummer & full-time mom, Camillia Akhamie Kies

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. Drummer and full-time mom based Camillia Akhamie Kies is a passionate drummer, composer and charismatic influencer. It’s our honor to have her present part duex of our series. Let’s get started!

Anyone can learn to play drums

We all have a heartbeat, which means we all have rhythm. I hear rhythms all around me, and  I have been known to help people find their own unique rhythmic voice on drums and percussion. 

Camellia Akhamie Kies

Is rhythm innate?

I believe rhythm is something you can be born with. I think there can be people that are just naturals at finding and creating rhythms,  but I think anyone can learn.

Never too early to start playing drums.

I played drums my entire pregnancy and after my son was born, I put drumsticks in his hands as soon as he could hold them. He was about 5 months old when he could actually hold the sticks on his own, prior to that I was helping him hold the sticks and showing him how to move his wrist to play the drums.

Camellia's son

Avoid drumming with bad technique

 It is important to spend time learning how to properly hold the sticks, to prevent injury and bad habits that may take months or years to relearn. When I first started to learn traditional grip I learned the technique incorrectly and it took me a lot of practice to relearn the correct way.

I wanted to play snare in the drum line and having the incorrect technique would not work in that situation because everything is supposed to be uniform and look the same.

How often should I practice?

Today I practice about 2 hours everyday, but while I was in high school I practiced about 4-6 hours everyday, and

during my summer breaks from school I would practice about 8 hours a day. Meal breaks were not included in that time. 

Practicing could mean listening to music, working on sight reading notation, and of course drumming.

Good songs to start playing drums with

If you are brand new to drums I recommend learning “We will Rock You” by Queen and Beat It, by Michael Jackson, two great songs that utilize quarter notes and eight notes. 

If you are a little more advanced, I would recommend Taylor Swift “Shake It Off”,  that is a great song to work on syncopated rhythms.

Should drummers learn melodic instruments?

Yes!!! Drummers should definitely learn melodic instruments. Learning the xylophone or marimba will help you understand a piano and learning a bit about the bass guitar will help you interact and communicate better musically when playing with other musicians.

Mobile apps for drummers

I recommend getting the Score Creator App for writing easy drum charts and listening back to the notation you created. 

I recommend getting a Piano or a Xylophone app to work on writing melodies and thinking more melodically.

I of course recommend the Soundbrenner app, because it has the best breakdown of rhythms. Many of my students also have selected Soundbrenner as their metronome app of choice.

My last recommendation is getting an app called “Acapella” for making quick side by side videos with other musicians and creators on social media.

 How do I protect my hearing?

I protect my hearing by wearing in- ear monitors. The in-ears help me block out some of the sound of my drums, but it allows me to create a nice mix without having anything too loud. I also check out how loud my music is by using the decibel meter on the Soundbrenner Core Steel! 

That is a great tool to utilize to avoid hearing music or sounds that may be too loud or dangers for my ears. 

Camellia Akhamie Kies is a professional drummer, Percussionist, songwriter, music producer, designer, teacher, and Full-time-mom. 

Over the last decade Camellia has traveled to over 20 countries sharing her love and passion for music. She began her music career at age 19 after joining the United States Navy Music Program. 

She spent the majority of her military service in Japan traveling South East Asia, teaching at schools, performing at concerts, festivals, and military events. After being honorably discharged from the military in 2014, she began attending University full time and working on her own unique sound. 

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