Playing Drums: Learn Online!Posted by Ben Heckler
Learning drums with a teacher is an expensive endeavor and a strong commitment of time, but the benefits can be excellent.
Fortunately we can get most of the benefits of a teacher by learning online nowadays.
There are many resources to learn playing drums online, many of which we have on our website…such as:
-How to learn drums if you are older.
-How to learn drums without a drumset.
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-Which songs should I start with as a beginner.
But this article will summarize how you should be thinking about learning drums online.
Mentality of learning online
Practically everything short of physical contact is available online these days. The amount of information can be overwhelming sometimes.
But it can also be difficult to organize this information, digest it and apply it in a practical way in one’s life.
For beginning and intermediate drummers, routine, organization, discipline are some of the most important practices one can implement. Let’s breakdown what these mean and some practical steps to help.
Routines: daily and weekly
To learn drums online, a routine will be one of your most important assets. For me, I like to give myself a week to really dive into the concepts I’m working on.
If you were to go to a drum instructor, he/she will give you homework every week to go home and practice. So your job is to micro-manage the week in order to master the principles or homework that was given to you at the beginning of the week.
So let’s do this ourselves. Pick various items and use the entire week to get them down. For technique, (beginner, intermediate or advanced) I highly recommend the book The All American Drummer by Charley Wilcoxon.
This book is fantastic since it is comprised of snare drum solos. Start from the beginning, pick the first solo, and work on it for one week until you can play it fluidly to a metronome.
This is where we get into the nitty-gritty reality of practicing
Begin at a slow tempo with the metronome, but see if towards the end of the week you can push the click up a couple BPM.
Now, should you only be practicing one thing the whole week? I think it is a good idea to have a varied practice routine, but don’t put too many things on your list so that you get distracted and don’t master any of them.
It is a good idea to develop your weekly practice routine in terms of the following: technique, coordination, and repertoire.
Now let’s try to build a 45-minute practice routine.
For technique, we can choose one of the snare drum solos above (if you do not have the book there are some excerpts online). Make sure that you are clear on your goals: for example, by the end of the week I will be able to play this solo from start to finish without any mistakes at 80 bpm.
Another option would be to find a list of rudiments, such as Vic Firth’s 40 essential rudiments.
I would take one or two of these rudiments (3 at most) and challenge yourself to just practice them this week. Practicing them against a metronome at slow speeds first, then increase your tempo throughout the week.
Let’s dedicate 15 minutes of our lesson to this,
Coordination means the act of having your limbs do various patterns. For beginning and intermediate drummers, I would recommend A Funky Primer For The Rock Drummer.
This book is full of coordination patterns that every drummer should know how to play. All of the patterns are just between the kick, snare and hi-hat, but the patterns get complicated very quickly.
Take some of these patterns and play them on their own, then play them to a metronome, then play them to recordings. I like to pick funk tunes such as Kool and the Gang (Get Down On It, Celebration) or slow rock tunes (Pink Floyd‘s Another Brick in the Wall), and play coordination exercises over the top.
If you don’t have A Funky Primer, you can probably find excerpts online. There are also other books that have great exercises in subdividing an eighth note rock pattern, and revealing the sixteenth notes inside them.
More advanced coordination patterns can be found in studying Latin music.
This will be another 15 minutes of our lesson.
This is the last step in our routine and it is the step that everyone wants to get to. Repertoire refers to the songs you know how to play. What are the songs that you can confidently say you can play?
If you haven’t yet, go check out our article about which songs to pick if you are a beginner. These are some of our ideas of where to start if you’re stumped.
Otherwise, chances are you can play a simplified version of most of the songs you listen to in almost any genre. If you can’t figure out the drum pattern, play along to the song with a simplified pattern until you start to hear the true pattern emerge.
Sometimes I even just play 16th notes along to an entire song in order to internalize the subdivisions that lie within it.
“You lack discipline!”
There is a famous adage, “discipline equals freedom” which seems paradoxical at first, however the more we reflect on it the more it will make sense.
Discipline means sitting down every day and making an effort to go through your practice routine.
We get freedom because, the more we force ourselves to follow this routine, the more free we will feel in actual musical situations. If someone asks you if you can play ‘In My Life’ by the Beatles or ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, you will be ready because it was on your repertoire list.
We also must be very strict to not skip practicing technique and coordination, as these are steps that will ultimately allow us the most freedom when we need to learn something new.
By honing in our technique, playing new material will be much easier and you will save a lot of time in figuring out how to play a particular fill from a particular song.
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.