Learn to Play Drums/Starting Out

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This is where the fun begins. This will lead you through the basics.

Kit orientation[edit]

Right-handed drum kit: 1 ride, 3 crash, 1 splash, 1 china cymbal, 2 bass, 2 toms, 2 floor toms, 1 snare, 1 hi-hat, 1 stool

Before setting up your kit you will need to consider whether you are left-handed or right-handed. If you are right-handed,

set it up like the one in the picture. If you are left-handed then set your kit up the other way round and reverse the stickings of the tab (L/R). Oh yeah, read about tab further down the page for more on this.

Drum tab[edit]

Alright then, before the fun actually begins, you will have to learn internet drum tab so you can read the exercises in the next couple of pages. Please note, this is not the traditional drum tab you'd find in physical books. We would if we could, but we can't, so... here's an example:

A common example:

CR|----------------|
HH|x---x---x---x---|
T1|----------------|
Sn|----o-------o---|
T2|----------------|
T3|----------------|
BD|o-------o-------|

Across this way is time. As you can see, there are sixteen of these "-" going across. Each one is a sixteenth note. This helps divide the music and understand the music better. It is also helpful for when you play sixteenth note drum beats on the Hi-Hat.


This may not be clear, but you will know what I mean in a bit. If you read this drum tab, you would be hitting the bass drum on counts one and three, the snare on counts two and four, the hi-hat on counts one, two, three, and four.

If you haven't worked it out already, the x's and o's are when you hit the drum, hi-hat or cymbal depending on the line the x or o are on. o's are used for drums and hi-hat - but on a hi-hat it means an open hi-hat hit (I'll explain later). a x on the hi-hat is a closed hi-hat hit. If there is an 'L' or 'R' instead of an 'o' or 'x', you must hit the corresponding instrument with the matching hand (these are called 'stickings'). 'Bars' end with a |.

On the left of the tab:

CR stands for crash cymbal
HH stands for hi-hat
T1 stands for high tom
Sn stands for snare drum
T2 stands for medium tom
T3 stands for low tom
BD stands for bass drum

Help[edit]

Feel free to help out, particularly on this page, where I don't think I explained tabs well enough for beginners, so please help to explain this more clearly.

Drum sticks[edit]

You might think we're going a bit too in-depth here, but we're not, seriously. You will need to think about your drum sticks just like a guitarist needs to choose the right picks (plectrums). There are lots of different sizes of sticks, different lengths, thicknesses. Drum sticks come in two varieties: Nylon tips and wooden tips. This is fairly self-explanatory. I once favoured nylon tipped sticks but the nylon tips kept falling off (probably my technique was dodgy at the time), so I now prefer wooden tipped sticks. You will need to experiment with drum sticks to see which ones are the right size for you - you need to think about comfort and practicality, i.e. can you reach everything easily? If drumsticks are too heavy and large they will be uncomfortable and clumsy, and if the sticks are too light you will have to work harder for rebound of the drum heads, which is not good for your wrists. I once went in a music shop and they had an electric kit there, set up for people to try out. I was there buying sticks, so naturally I went and had a go, to test out the sticks... that was great.

However, you will rarely get to do something like that, so I would recommend buying some cheap sticks of different sizes to test them out, then buy some decent quality sticks of your favourite size. The size is normally etched into the base of the drum stick.

Lessons[edit]

A 4/4 beat[edit]

Your first beat!

Fills[edit]

What is a fill? Find out here, and play a fill with a beat.

Exploring the hi-hats[edit]

Using open and closed hi-hats can spice up a standard beat - time to challenge yourself - this is the first time you'll be using all four limbs simultaneously!

Lots of 8/8 beats[edit]

Lots of 8/8 time variations of the beat seen in Exploring the hi-hats!

Single strokes and double strokes[edit]

Learn what single strokes and double strokes are, and how to practice them properly.

Syncopation and advanced beats[edit]

Once you've gotten most of the above stuff, its time to test out some of your skills!

Reading Sheet Music[edit]

Learn how to read sheet music.

More lessons coming soon!

Learn to Play Drums
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