The Top 10 Things Every Drummer Needs to Know
By: Kevin Manieri
Sometimes, we get so hooked on something that we try to run before we can walk. Music can have that effect! Here are 10 things that I really wish I had learned before I had ever picked up a pair of drumsticks. Forward this to a new player you know, and be sure to read it yourself, too you might learn something!
- Learn Rhythm First It is essential to understand the basic concepts and terminology of rhythm to play the drums. Any music teacher, not only drummers, can help you learn about rhythm. One exercise is to identify time signatures from tunes on the radio. Once you can pick out odd time signatures with ease, you are on your way!
- Take Time to Tune Entire books have been written about tuning drums. For now, just realize that just like any other instrument, drums must be tuned to sound right both sides of each drum. Research this topic a bit and never leave home without a drum key. A few minutes of tuning will go a long way.
- Start Slow When youre new behind a drumset, start by playing along with simple beats and songs. Dont get frustrated if you cant play Rush at first! You will get there if you practice hard and remember that there is a learning curve to everything in life.
- Oil Change Every 3,000 Miles Drums require maintenance just like any other instrument or tool. No matter what level of gear you have, it will last longer and function better if you clean your cymbals and change a few heads every so often. Use a can of compressed air to spray the dust and dirt out of hardware and pedals.
- Try Sticks, Sticks, and More Sticks Why do they make so many types of sticks? Because they all sound and feel different! Even if youve played 5As with wood tip for 20 years, it doesnt hurt to try 2Bs with nylon, 7As, or about a million other sticks. The size and shape of the tip, the length and thickness of the stick, and the type of wood will all have an effect on how you play and sound. Embrace this fact by having lots of different sticks at your disposal!
- Try Heads, Heads, and More Heads Same idea as with sticks. Become familiar with different types of heads, and youll be that much more prepared to create the right sound for the right gig. You need the right tools for a jazz gig, a hard rock gig, or any other type of gig you can think of.
- Get Your Right Hand Right It sounds silly but I had no clue how to hold a drumstick at first. There are many ways, and comfort is key, but many players stick (no pun intended) to a basic formula. Make your right stick an extension of your right arm, holding it about one-third from the base between your thumb and fingers.
- Get Your Left Hand Right Some players mimic their right-hand technique (matched grip), but many others hold the left stick differently altogether. Get comfortable holding the left stick perpendicular to your arm one-third of the stick will extend beyond your hand, and you can anchor it between your middle and ring fingers.
- Wear Earplugs! Seriously. Drums are one of the most dangerous instruments for hearing damage because your ears are so close to the snare and cymbals. Use earplugs at every practice and performance.
- The Importance of Ergonomics Playing should never be painful. Reaching all of the drums and cymbals should be like reaching the controls in your car or items around your desk. Practice good posture and set up your kit so that everything can be reached comfortably, and youll feel much better after a long session.