It’s easy to set overwhelming goals for yourself and this can lead to you doubting if you will ever reach you goal – regardless of whether that’s being a professional drummer or a kickass hobbyist.
You won’t be able to have that flair like Buddy Rich or John Bonham right away, and that’s alright. Don’t obsess over it and start throwing a fit. It is great that you have ambitious goals and I hope that you reach them someday. But it will take time to reach such virtuosic levels.
You won’t even be able to gain control of cymbals, drums, and pedals on the first day of practice session. Moreover, you won’t be able to develop your own style of drumming until you get your fundamentals fluent. In order to expand yourself and be able to play in other genres, you have to spend adequate time in one genre.
So patience is the name of the game here. Try to enjoy the journey more than the destination.
Here are a few things that can help you with that:
1. Be Fluent in Fundamentals
I know you are so enthusiastic that you want to start tackling challenging music right away. You may even be able to memorize every beat by heart and execute it on the instrument. But that’s just it: that is all you will be able to do and can’t come up with original rhythms and beats.
The premise of this post is not just for you to be able to learn drumming, but also be able to stand apart from others, to learn how to become a better drummer with your own unique style. When bands are looking for candidates, you will be their preferred choice because you not only have fundamentals down right, but also have the potential to develop your own style.
As far as fundamentals are concerned:
Learn to read the drum sheet music (As good as knowing your ABC’s)
Start working on rudiments (According to many drummers, there are 40 essential rudiments)
Practice with a metronome (To the point your limbs move in perfect rhythm without thinking)
The reason why it is so emphasized: to develop muscle memory. Since you stop overthinking about every beat, you have more stamina to spend on long and fast paced segments of music! Getting a good grasp of the fundamentals is your first step in knowing how to get better at drums.
2. Maintain Quality in Practice
You think you have watched every tutorial on driving to the point where you are able to upload your own tutorials on YouTube.
You have sat in the passenger seat with your parents and friends driving countless times, observing every movement they make, and you think you now know everything about driving. The fact is, even with all the observation and watching you did, you will still stumble and make countless mistakes when you get your hands on a steering wheel for the first time.
Similarly, watching numerous drumming videos and memorizing every beat by heart of every amazing drummer does not and cannot make you an expert overnight.
Still, it doesn’t matter how many hours and days you put in your drumming practice. If you are not properly executing techniques or making errors synchronizing beats, then you will not get better.
If you want to know how to become a better drummer, understand that quality in practice matters just as much as quantity. Not only will you be unable to execute complex segments of music, but you will also falter with fundamentals if you just put in the time and effort without correcting your technique. (This does not imply that dedicating plenty of time is a waste!)
3. Expand Your Horizon
Don’t think that practicing at home alone for several years will directly get you an automatic opportunity to perform in front of thousands of people and millions watching at home.
You need to take risks, if you want to reap large rewards and have more exposure…
So play different styles of music, participate in gigs and take opportunities to perform in similar acts to gain both experience and also a following in town.
4. Louder and Faster is Not Always Better
An expert drummer does not consistently play loud music, with fast hand movements from start to finish. Not only does this deplete stamina, but the music soon becomes monotonous.
The trick behind splendid performance lies in building compelling tempo and being able to do fills between transitions using softer tones. To be able to have better control and technique and convince the audience that you have honed your skills, try playing the most difficult and fastest patterns as quietly as you can but still at an audible volume.
5. Mind your Mental State
In your search for ways on how to become a better drummer, have you considered being mindful?
When you are just starting out with drumming, you will inadvertently grab and hit drumsticks strongly and this will strain your wrists. Ideally, when you have practiced enough and are at the point of performing in front of a crowd, your shoulders should be relaxed and your grip on sticks should be lighter.
Performing well in your garage is one thing and it’s an entirely different thing to perform well in front of large audience. To overcome stage fright or the fear of failure, as mentioned previously, take part in gigs and other opportunities where you get a chance to play in front of a crowd.
Master the fundamentals so you won’t have to keep thinking about where or how hard to hit. Make playing part of your muscle memory so that you wont be tired physically and mentally. These will help you gain the confidence you need to reach another level of success.
Although several great drummers have left an indelible mark in the music industry and even more are clawing their way to greatness, know that you can still bring something to the stage that everybody will remember YOU by.
I wish you all the joy in the world on your journey. It surely is worth it…