Getting started with drums can be difficult. It’s easy to be intimidated by the huge drums and videos of professional drummers playing at speeds you think is physically impossible. However, what you have to remember is that every legendary drummer started from zero and slowly built themselves up.
So it is important that you believe in yourself and invests time in drumming. You need to learn the fundamentals and practice until you master them. Here are 7 beginner drumming techniques you need to know to get started on your drumming journey.
1. How to hold the sticks – The Grip
The importance of grip cannot be overstated, it is crucial for you to produce amazing sounds while being comfortable in your kit. There are many common grips and you might even need to change your grip based on the occasion.
A “German” grip is when your palms are facing downwards with the drumsticks in your hand. You will be mainly using your arms and wrists for movement.
“French” grip is similar to the “German” grip but the hands are rotated so that the thumb faces upwards. You use the fingers and forearm rotation to produce sound.
An “American” grip is like a “German” grip but the palm-down look is not as prominent. The traditional grip is what you might find in a marching band. The leading hand could use any grip while the other hand has the palm facing up and the stick will be controlled by thumb and forefingers. You must choose the writing grip for your genre of music and master it early on.
2. Hand and foot technique
Most drummers have their lead foot and hand on the same side of the body, so many beginners face a challenge when they want to play different patterns between them. This can only be overcome with practice and exercise.
Soon you will be able to play different rhythms on each limb, however, you should not stop there. You should then start trying to practice different limb combinations, maybe try playing the bass drum with your weaker foot to maybe use your lead hand to play the snare while your weaker hand plays the hi-hat.
With enough practice, you will be able to independently use your limbs without any issue. Other than just to know about drumming techniques you should also know about setting up a drum kit. If you don’t do it properly, no technique will help you.
3. Patterns and rudiments
Drum patterns are the repeated rhythms that help establish the grove and meter. There are around 40 basic drum rudiments, once you master them all you can get started on becoming a professional.
Rudiments are extremely important as these are what will keep the beat going, something that is crucial to both you and your band. Once you learn the basic 40, you will need to know to read drum notations to learn the more complex ones.
The basis of any rudiment is a single paradiddle and a double paradiddle. A single is when you repeatedly hit a drum with one hand while a double is when you hit two hits with your left arm followed by two hits from your right arm.
4. Warm-ups and stretching
As stated before, drumming is a physically excruciating task. If you don’t properly warm-up before a session, you risk injury. A good warm-up will also enable you to play for longer and quicker.
The simplest stretch would be to pull your arms in front of you like a zombie and have your palms facing downwards. Slowly lower your hands till your fingers point to the ground, hold this stretch for 10 seconds, and then raise your hand towards the sky. Hold this position for 10 seconds before relaxing.
It is important that you don’t overdo the stretch as it could also lead to injuries.
Accuracy is not easily achieved, it will require you to practice long and hard. It however will be a great asset for you through your career. Being accurate means that you hit the right part of the drum or cymbal precisely and without sloppiness. It’s always best to aim to hit the center of the drum.
If you want to know how accurate you are, you can check the marking on your drum head after a practice session. Being accurate will improve your technique but also provides the best tone possible.
While you could explore the outer areas of a snare drum to produce new sounds, being able to hit the center of every drum consistently will help you greatly.
6. Bass drum technique
You should be able to produce strong strokes on your bass drum consistently to grow as a drummer, something which can only be done with practice and attention. You should set up your bass drum pedal properly, while a nice strong spring is required making it too tight will make the kicks very tiring.
Also, ensure that the beater always hits somewhere close to the center of the drumhead. There are two main techniques, heel up and heel down. You will rise and drop your upper leg in the heel up technique, thus producing louder sounds.
In the heel down technique, you will use your calves and toes to produce more nuanced and subtler strokes. Experiment and find which suits you and the music the best.
7. Learn to read drum notation
Being able to properly read and understand drum notations is a crucial skill. Drum lessons are very expensive, but if you knew to read drum notations you could grab on to the tonnes of free lessons on the internet along with tips and information.
While it is ok to forego this and stick to playing by ear, being able to read and write notations is an extremely continent and cheap way to learn,
Becoming a good drummer is not easy, it requires a lot of practice and dedication. Mastering these seven foundational techniques will go a long way towards your drumming career. So practice practice, and practice some more.