There are many different hobbies and arts to take part in, amongst those is the world of music. Being perhaps a common one, it also can be one of the most confusing.
Drums are a large part of that area as they have always had a reason to be popular, you look cool playing them, they’re loud, and it’s just all over fun to play.
That doesn’t mean there are not a few challenges that come along with it.
Don’t let this scare you from picking up the sticks, every problem has a solution, and we will be going over some of the most common issues here.
Here’s why learning drums can be hard:
1. Where do I start?
Quite honestly it can be difficult to find bearing here with the countless topics and techniques to master.
You can start with the basics of stick control, learning the basic patterns and vocabulary. Or developing a good understanding of the different grooves that are prominent in most music.
On the other hand, figuring out how to mix yourself as a drummer might be of interest.
It is all so much, and all go hand in hand. Everything really does develop in one another, just because you are learning stick control doesn’t mean there isn’t a gain in how well you will handle dynamics.
The best course of action here is to just pick something. As a beginner it is good to just get started rather than sifting through catalogues of drum books.
Once you begin playing the mind will start picking up on the struggles, eventually figuring out what to practice next.
If you still cannot pick a starting point, then the book “Stick Control” by George Lawrence is a great start.
You can also check out our article on the best drum books for beginners.
2. I cannot tell if I am making progress
Getting into a rut sucks. You’re playing the same stuff repeatedly and nothing is getting any better or easier.
It feels as if you have been practicing the same concept for months without moving forward. This is a hobby killer and can be difficult to fix.
Sometimes in fact it can just take a long time to grasp certain concepts, no way around it. Other times you may just be practicing wrong, not focusing, or not putting enough time into it.
Be sure that a decent amount of time, at least 10 to 15 minutes a day is being put into that specific idea that you’re learning.
To further expand that point, home in on the specific concept and don’t play extra notes.
This means if you are learning a fill, don’t play four bars of groove and then the fill. Play only one bar of groove then the fill.
Greatly reducing the practice time and allowing you to see more progress on what you are learning.
Finally, make sure you are working up instead of down, meaning don’t start with the most difficult work, learn the smaller concepts that make up the harder unit of study.
3. My legs and arms will not separate
A core concept in drumming is independence and coordination. Independence is being able to have different limbs doing different things at the same time.
Coordination is the placement of your strikes and moving around the kit fluidly and accurately.
Both ideas take time to develop. You will not just sit down and start playing “Rosanna” by Toto.
Any independence rich parts should be taken slowly. Try reducing the tempo greatly and see if you can play it, if so, then slowly build up the tempo over time to where it should be.
If not, then try separating each individual part. Play the bass drum part for a few minutes on its own, get it engrained in your head. Proceed to try each part on its own, once you have them singularly mastered, try two together, then three, and so on.
Issues with coordination are a matter of building trust in yourself when playing. Many players hesitate which causes problems in fluidity.
Try practicing playing one note on a drum with each hand alternating but move to a different drum or cymbal after every hit. Increasing the speed slowly will allow you to move around the kit confidently.
Sight reading music can also help build confidence in where you are moving your hands or placing your kicks. There is a sense of suspense and tension which forces you to make accurate movements.
Be sure to be rotating the music regularly to keep it new and fresh.
4. The music I like is too hard to play
Part of the enjoyment in drumming is being able to play along to songs you love. Sometimes this is more of a curse then an enjoyable factor.
Plain and simple some drummers are on another level that you have not reached yet.
Take many jazz arrangements for example, for a beginner these can be very difficult. Jazz is most of the time swung and can include odd time signatures with variation in parts.
These are just a few concepts that a beginner, and even some intermediate drummers can struggle with.
On the other hand, this may not be a problem to some drummers. If you listen to a lot of classic rock, those songs are much more obtainable for a starter. They are very strait-laced, verses, choruses, and maybe some bridges.
Check out our article on song structure for more information.
In terms of a way to tackle this, there really is not. If you’re trying to jam with some Rush songs two months in, then you will most likely need to allow further time to develop those skills.
Setting aside a small section of your practice time for those higher-level techniques could help speed up your goal to play that song.
Use songs you cannot quite grasp as goals throughout your drumming path. Do not be afraid to branch out and seek challenging pieces to heighten your hunger to learn.
You can also check out our list of the easiest songs for beginner drummers.
5. All the drums, cymbals, and heads!
No drum set comes a like, neither does anyone drummer. There is not any set-in stone way to play the drums or set them up.
This can become a never-ending road of trying to find the perfect kit or the most efficient way to play. The slew of cymbals, drumheads and drums are a pit that has no bottom.
Your snare sounds good, but it could be better, you will be going through head after head and drum after drum to find the perfect sound.
You can play paradiddles at a fast speed and evenly, but you can go faster, playing with more ease causing less energy to be expelled.
Being happy with what you can do and what gear you have is very difficult. As a beginner it is especially important to learn that it doesn’t matter how good or expensive the gear is, it all comes down to who is sitting behind the kit. A good drummer is far greater a quality than good gear is as a property.
Now as you go along the drumming path certain gear of course is of a higher quality, but ultimately you must learn how to get the most out of the piece of equipment.
6. Keeping groove and time is difficult
Altogether different lessons in drumming are chops, vocabulary, stickings, dynamics, coordination, etc.
Two quintessential categories are time and groove. In other words, this is what separates the good form the great.
Time is the concept of being able to hold down the beat without sway, unless the speed is supposed to be.
Some of us come around with an onboard clock and it just clicks on allowing time to be kept without much thought, others severely struggle with the action.
Groove is playing with the song, giving it an undeniable feel. Again, on one hand you have players who can groove and keep the song flowing without foresight. In the other it requires training and prep.
Together the concepts are not easily taught and are more so grasped as a feeling; you feel the time and you feel the groove. Inheriting ideas as such can be learned but it is much better to experience.
A good way to practice this is to first pick a song you enjoy playing to. Practice playing along with the drum track.
Next, go online and find a drumless version of it, or make one yourself with the many apps available such as Moises.
Try playing along without the aid of the already written drums. This forces you to make the drums and song feel the way they should, invoking keeping the time, and keeping the song grooving.
Drumming is not an easy task, and it can feel better to quit than to continue. The reward at the end of the tunnel is very much satisfying and that should keep one playing along till their goals are met.
Here, just a few of the common issues with the instrument were displayed, the door is open for many more.
An aspiring musician has many challenges without clear answers, in which separates them from the world abroad. Other professions and hobbies come with a clear path of accomplishments; drums come with a slew of different approaches to solve issues.
Approach them all confidently and do not allow them to drag you down. It may take a little bit of extra practice or a bit more research, in the end a solution is there.