How to Learn Drums in an ApartmentPosted by Ben Heckler
Are you a new drummer trying to find out how you can learn drums while living in an apartment? Or perhaps you already play drums but you want to be able to practice without disturbing your neighbors.
As a drummer who has lived in an apartment for the past 5 years, I feel your pain. I’ve been working on these problems for a while now. But no fear! I have found many solutions that allow me to play drums in an apartment.
So let’s go through all the options I’ve discovered over the years.
Soundproof your apartment
Now, to actually soundproof your apartment requires a heavy investment—you would need to build a room within a room which could cost from $15,000-$20,000.
However, you can sound treat your room, which while not soundproofing the room, will give make it sound better internally and control some of the sound that bleeds out of your drums.
The first step would be getting a thick rug. Even if you end up playing an electronic drum set, the carpet will help will the bass drum pedal sound and eating some of the higher frequencies and reverb that exists in the room.
We can also buy (or make) bass traps to suck up some of the resonance and make the room sound less boomy. This will again tighten up the sound and make the noise that does come from your room much less harsh.
Here you can see I’ve made my own bass traps for my room in the picture below. These bass traps are made out of rock wool.
Buy a portable studio
If soundproofing your room sounds like an expensive option, this is definitely the second most expensive option.
These portable recording booths can be ordered and shipped in pieces and assembled fairly easy. The catch: they can range from $5,000-$12,000 depending on how big you need.
This may not be the best option if you are just starting out, however if you are an experienced drummer, producer or play other instruments, this could be an amazing investment.
Electronic Drum Kit
This is definitely the cheapest option if you want an entire drumset from scratch. You can get electronic kits nowadays for $200-300 that will do the job if you are just starting out. However, the sky is the limit, and the more you spend on a kit generally the better results you’ll get.
Check out our article on learning drums on an electronic drum set if you want some inspiration.
The electronic drumset is definitely the logical place to start and it is perfectly possible to learn how to play drums in an apartment with one.
One thing to note is that the feel of these drums will be slightly different than an acoustic kit. However, for learning coordination and technique it is an excellent place to start.
Replace your acoustic drum heads with mesh heads
So let’s say you already have an acoustic drumset. Or you really want to get an acoustic drumset but you don’t have anywhere to practice.
You may want to consider buying an acoustic drumset (a rock kit or a bebop kit that fits in a room in your house) and changing the drum heads to mesh heads.
This will cost you maybe an extra $50 to get all of these mesh heads for your drums, but you will be surprised by the results!
Right there you can practice rudiments and technique all across the drum kit. For the cymbals, consider purchasing low volume cymbals. If you search around you can get an entire set for around $200.
Yes, that is some extra money to spend after you’ve already bought your acoustic set, but now you have an acoustic set that you can use in your apartment!
You can also buy drum triggers that you can put on top of the mesh heads. They will convert the vibrations of the mesh heads into electronic drums.
These drum triggers cost anywhere between $30-$50 each to $250 each, depending on how advanced you want the triggers to be (the latter price refers to the product ‘Sensory Percussion’ by ‘Sunhouse’, which is what I have currently set up on my drums. These sensors are not only extremely sensitive but they come with software that is on another level if you are interested in making electronic music with your drumset).
Granted, this is an investment. But if you already have an acoustic drum kit and are interested in the possibilities of playing the drums in your apartment and/or turning your drum kit into the future of electronic music this may be an interesting option.
Check out my demo below to see how it works.
All fanciness aside, with a $20 practice pad and a pair of drum sticks you can learn a tremendous amount!
With a practice pad, you can start learning the fundamentals of drumming already. You can learn technique, hand (and foot) coordination, learning to play with a metronome, learning to play to music, etc.
If you are unfamiliar with how one can start learning drums with a practice pad check out our in-depth article here.
But to start, let’s look at how one would get started with a practice pad. Ideally, you would have a stand for your practice pad (you can use a chair, bed, etc. but the stand will work better in the long run if you want to integrate your feet in the practice routine).
Next, you need to figure out how to grip the stick correctly. You can see our article on this.
While you are trying to settle into a correct grip on the stick I would play single notes with one hand. Then switch to single notes with the other hand. As an example, let’s play 8 notes with the right hand, then 8 notes with the left hand (see below).
R=right hand, L=left hand
Now let’s try to make this fun. Put on a piece of music with a slow/medium tempo and play this exercise to it. I like to choose a song that most people know, for example:
Playing along to this song, you should notice that your hands are going at the speed of the ‘hi-hat’. Try to make the notes as clear as possible, and all at the same volume.
You should notice that switching back and forth between the right and left is where the tricky part is, so work on making the transition smooth.
If you are interested in learning drums with a practice pad, we will finish this lesson on this page.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to learn to play drums in an apartment. You could learn a ton of technique and songs just by playing with your sticks on stack of towels.
However, we know the joy of playing drums goes beyond that so please consider these options I have gathered over the years.
If you have a suggestion on other ways to practice drums in an apartment please reach out!
Ben Heckler is a multi-instrumentalist and musician from Portland, Oregon. Currently Ben lives in Barcelona where he teaches drum lessons, writes and records original music for his band Sea Fuzz as well as playing drums for one of the biggest Beatles tribute bands in Europe, The Flaming Shakers.
Ben is constantly creating and composing various types of music, video, and artwork for a multitude of projects that come his way. He hopes to use his platforms to share, help and inspire others to create in their own ways.