You may be surprised to hear that drums are actually one of the instruments with the lowest barrier to entry. By this, we mean that you can pick up a pair of sticks and learn a few things very quickly at first.
The trickiest part of drumming for most people is the sense of coordination needed between your hands and feet. While that’s hard for some, others don’t struggle as much. So, how hard is it to learn to play the drums well? How long will it take to get there?
Drumming Broken Down
We’re going to dive a little deeper and break down a few of the aspects of drumming. You need to work on all of these to become a good drummer, and some are a bit easier to get a grip on than others.
We’ll explain each one and give an overview of how hard it will be to learn. By the end, you’ll have a general idea of what learning the drums will be like.
Technique refers to how you approach drumming. There are different techniques for playing the drums and cymbals, holding the sticks, and positioning yourself in different ways.
While technique should be focused on very early in your drumming journey, developing good technique is one of the hardest things for beginner drummers to do. Many things won’t feel natural at first, but you need to have good technique to enable you to get better.
Your body gets stuck when trying to play things quickly, and good technique will let you push through those boundaries.
Rudiments are foundational stick patterns to learn. They make up most of drumming, and playing them lets you work on your technique around the kit.
The first several rudiments are quite easy to learn. Single strokes, double strokes, and paradiddles will be your main focus when starting the drums. They’re easy to remember, and playing them around the kit is a lot of fun.
It gets difficult when you need to play them at high speeds. However, you won’t need to do that at the very beginning.
A groove is another word for a drumbeat. There are thousands of grooves that you can play on the drums, and basic ones are very easy to play once you get used to coordinating your hands and feet.
Most drummers can play a few grooves after their first drum lesson, so learning basic beats is one of the easiest aspects of drumming.
The basic rock beat is the first groove that everyone learns, and it can be played to a ridiculous number of songs. So, once you can play that beat, you can start playing to music straight away.
Drum fills are patterns that you play around the drum kit. They typically act as transitional drum parts between different parts of songs. They’re a bit trickier to learn than grooves, as they’re not as repetitional.
The hard part about playing fills is pulling them off and then landing back on the groove. If you mess the timing up, the whole band will be thrown out.
The other hard part about learning drum fills is coming up with them. Many drummers play the same fills over and over, but the best drummers know how to play thousands of different ones.
One of the main jobs of a drummer is to keep solid time in a band. This means that the drummer acts as the anchor for all the other musicians to play over. That’s the biggest role of playing beats on the kit.
Developing a good sense of timing is something every new drummer needs to work on. If your sense of timing is bad, you’ll slow down and speed up while playing things on the kit.
Thankfully, working on timing is fairly easy. You just need to practice as much as you can with a metronome keeping you in check.
Developing good feel is arguably one of the hardest parts of learning to play the drums. This refers to how good something sounds when you play it. You could be playing the exact same drumbeat that someone else is playing, and it may sound miles better when they play it.
The reason for this is that they have better feel behind the kit. Their playing just sounds more musical.
Working on feel is difficult because no one has a definite answer on how to do it. Our biggest suggestion would just be to listen to a lot of music. The more music you take in, the more music you’ll be able to put out.
How Long Does It Take to Get Good at Drumming?
Those aspects of drumming are just the foundational building blocks. They’re all things that drummers never stop working on, even if they’ve been playing professionally for 50 years.
If you focus on them while practicing, you can get good at drumming fairly quickly. It’s not unheard of for someone to start playing drums and get good within a few short months. There are also plenty of stories where drummers have been playing for years, and they still struggle with things like feel and timing.
To give a general overview, new drummers typically start feeling comfortable behind the kit from six months to a year. You could then call the first three to five years the beginner phase, and most people would consider you an intermediate drummer after that.
Advanced drummers are the ones that take each of those drumming aspects very seriously and work on them. Most drummers get to the advanced phase after about ten years of playing, but a dedicated drummer may get there a lot sooner.
Final Thoughts on If It’s Hard to Learn the Drums
Drums are quite easy to learn at first, as the drums and cymbals don’t hold any melodic values. This means that they’ll sound good no matter how or when you hit them.
There are no keys or scales to learn, so new drummers typically get going a bit quicker than new pianists or other instrumentalists.
However, there are so many aspects of drumming that are difficult to understand, such as technique, creativity, and feel.
So, drums are easy to pick up at first, but they’re difficult to master.