Drumming Tips: 8 Ways to Radically Improve Your Drumming Game

The drummer plays the drums.

Many kids dream of playing an instrument. What could be cooler than learning the drums?

More than any other instrument, drums have the most extended learning curve, and with good reason. Drums take stamina, coordination, and a clear understanding of rhythm. With any other instrument, you can string together notes to form some semblance of music, but not drumming. This can lead to frustration for drummers beginning to learn techniques and can lead to shortcuts.

If you’re frustrated with your drumming, here are eight drumming tips to radically improve your skills.

1. The Power of Being Patient: The Four Stages of Competence

First discussed by Martin M. Broadwell, the “four stages of learning” as he called them references the stages associated with learning a new skill. As you play the drums you’ll learn more, you’ll recognize that you will fall in one of these stages, whether you’ve played for 20 years or 20 days.

Unconscious Incompetence

All drummers begin at this stage. They pick up a pair of sticks and just play. Sure, you’re making noise, but it’s not organized. You are unaware of your incompetence with the instrument. At this stage, it’s all about experimenting and having fun.

Conscious Incompetence

Eventually, you hear a drummer play and recognize you are drumming incorrectly. You’ve become aware of your incompetence, and seek to learn more drum tips. That is when you may set out to take lessons, learn from others, or watch YouTube videos to pick up skills.

Conscious Competence

At this stage, you have learned some rhythms and can play along with others. You’ll have found your groove or your pocket. You know what you know, and more importantly, you know what you don’t know. As you strive to get better, you’ll hit roadblocks and may experience frustration.

Unconscious Competence

At this stage, most would look at you as a master of the craft or exercise. You know the rhythm through and through, can play it fast or slow, forwards or backward, as if on autopilot. People may even come to you and ask you how do you play the drums so well?

No matter where you are in your drumming journey, you will experience these levels again and again. It’s important to know that it is normal and to have patience.

2. Set a Goal

When it comes to setting a goal, you should focus on the acronym S.M.A.R.T. Creating smart goals can build successful habits and skills.
When you set a goal for your drumming, keep this in mind:

  • Specific – set a goal with a specific purpose
  • Measurable – set targets to measure your goal
  • Attainable – set a goal that is attainable, but not too easy
  • Realistic – set a goal that is realistic to achieve
  • Time – set a date for when you want to achieve the goal

SMART GOAL example: I will learn how to play AC/DC’s Back in Black by the end of the month practicing three times each week.

This goal is specific because you have set a practice regimen and target song. Measured your playing against the original. The goal is attainable because the song is a standard rhythm. It’s realistic because you’ve given yourself time. Lastly, you have set a date by the end of the month.

3. Stick to a Schedule

By setting out specific days to practice towards your goal, you’ll make drumming a priority. Give yourself at least 45 minutes for each practice session, and keep in mind your goal. Play along with the song, and get used to the feel of it.

4. Repetition

Learn parts of the song by playing them again and again until you build muscle memory. Once you master one part of the song, move on to another part, then put them together. Before long, you’ll be able to play all the way through.

5. Go Slow to Go Fast

At least one practice session each week, you should focus on playing the parts you know at a very slow tempo. Towards the end of the session, try to play that part faster. Then, play along with the song. You’ll notice a progression in your power and control.

6. Be Positive

Recognize that learning a new skill is difficult at times and that learning happens as a result of practice, repetition, and tiny successes. If you focus on what you can’t do, you’ll lose sight of the strides your making. Make sure to take notes on parts of the song that you have mastered along the way so you can see your progress on difficult days. Hang it up to keep you positive.

7. Take Time to Experiment

Most great musicians started first by having fun through experimentation. As you experiment, you will build your unique style.

If you think about your favorite drummers, they may have a certain thing they do that makes them unique. Take time to discover what makes your style unique.

8. Take Time to Celebrate Your Successes

When you finally achieved your goal, take time to celebrate. Play it for a friend or family member. Record the song and play it back. Play the song with another musician. Once you have mastered the material, and celebrated your success, make sure to set a new goal.

One great way to celebrate your success is with new gear. We recommend this aluminum snare drum.

Use These Drumming Tips for Mastery

To achieve success at any level requires time, dedication, and perseverance. With these drumming tips, you’ll be on your way to mastering what was once unfathomable.

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