So you’re looking to get into the awesome world of drumming but have no idea where to begin?
With this essential guide on everything you need to know about learning and playing electronic drums, I’ve got you covered…
In this guide I will cover:
- Can I Learn To Play The Drums On An Electric Drum Kit?
- Can I Teach Myself To Play The Drums? (Do I Have To Take Lessons)
- What Do I Need To Get Started?
- How Long Does It Take To Learn To Play The Drums?
- And Much More!
Learning to play the drums is one of the most rewarding and beneficial activities you can do.
Drumming has been scientifically proven to positively affect your health and well-being in a multitude of ways:
- Reduces stress
- Boosts immune system
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves circulation
- Burns calories
The list goes on and on!
You’d be hard-pressed to find an activity (or another musical instrument) that has so many benefits to your health... so let’s have a look at how to get more drumming into your life!
Can I Learn To Play The Drums On An Electric Drum Kit?
Electronic drum kits are excellent tools for learning to play the drums.
The main thing to realize is that the method in which you will learn the drums will be the same whether you’re on an electric kit or acoustic kit.
Learning the drums requires practicing various co-ordination and timing-based exercises, that can be performed equally as well on acoustic or electronic drums.
Also Read: What are my recommended headphones for electronic drums?
However, there are some pros and cons associated with each type of drum kit (acoustic vs electric) that you should consider when pulling the trigger on a new electric kit:
Acoustic Drum Kit
- They are the ‘real’ thing, so learning on an acoustic kit means you practice getting a good sound out of an acoustic instrument
- Good to learn how to set up, tune and play an acoustic kit. As they are what is used in any collaborative musical situation (bands, orchestras, church groups, etc)
- Feel great to play (if tuned and set-up correctly!)
- In general, they are much larger than an electronic drum kit
- Acoustic drum and cymbals are inherently very loud (not great for any nearby neighbors). And this is a big determining factor when deciding on which type of drum kit!
Electronic Drum Kit
- Electronic drum kits, in general, take up a lot less space than acoustic kits. A lot of companies make e-drums that are purposely compact for this reason. (great for small apartment practice!)
- MUCH quieter than an acoustic kit. With the ability to connect headphones, the only external sounds heard will be the tapping of the sticks on pads. (mesh heads being quieter than rubber pads)
- Extensive range of drum and percussion sounds built-in to the sound module. Also many have the ability to use VST instruments to further expand the different percussion sounds using a computer.
- Many electronic drum kits have built-in metronomes and ‘coaching’ functions to help improve your drumming.
- Depending on the type of pads you have, playing on an electronic kit can be less enjoyable and ‘realistic’, compared to an acoustic kit. (unless you have $4000 Roland V-Drums!)
- If your technique is poor, harder rubber drum pads have been known to cause wrist/elbow repetitive strain injuries. (something to be aware of as a beginner)
In my experience, the best way to learn the drums is (if possible) using a combination of both electronic and acoustic drum sets.
Electronic drum kits are fantastic home practice tools and nothing is more effective at allowing you to practice regularly without annoying family, flatmates or neighbors.
However, nothing compares to the feedback you will get from a full acoustic kit that is actually ‘moving air’ to create sound. Another important thing to know is that it’s important to get used to getting a ‘good’ sound out of a drum kit.
For example, when you’re hitting a snare drum, the sound will change drastically depending on where you strike the head.
Hitting it dead center gives a purer, drier and snappier tone... whereas playing nearer to the edges means more of the overtones of the drum will be heard and the drum becomes ‘ringier’ in tone.
Getting used to controlling and manipulating these different sounds is an integral part of playing the drums, something which is much more difficult to do on an electric kit.
Therefore I would recommend using an electric kit for consistent home practice but getting access to an acoustic kit now and then, to work on getting used to the volume and tone of the ‘real thing’.
Many music rehearsal facilities, that are dotted around every city or town, offer discounted rates for individual drummer practice sessions. So getting on an acoustic kit couldn’t be easier, and for around $10 an hour on average, it’s pretty inexpensive too!
Can I Teach Myself To Play The Drums?
(Do I Have To Take Lessons)
If you search the internet for how to learn the drums, you will get thousands of differing opinions on the ‘ONLY’ true way to learn the drums.
Often many of these opinions will be conflicting and usually are related to how that person learned themselves. (you also have to remember there are a lot of people out there that really don’t know what they’re talking about!).
The truth is, there isn’t one definite sure-fire way to learn the drums.
Also Read: What are my favorite kick pedals for an electronic drum set?
Some top professional drummers have never had a lesson in their life, whereas others studied intensively at music colleges and with private instructors.
Personally I would recommend for any new beginner that’s just starting out to get a least a handful of private one-to-one lessons with an experienced instructor.
This will help iron out any bad habits before they have a chance to form, and will also give you an opportunity to have someone to ask questions and give guidance on the right way to move forward with your drumming.
I understand that often private drum lessons can be too expensive many people, or just aren’t feasible if you live somewhere more remote.
This is where the internet is a fantastic tool for people that are looking to improve their drumming without excessive financial cost or travel.
Finding instructional content online has never been easier.
With the prevalence of YouTube instructional channels and dedicated drum websites, there’s never been such a wealth of instructional content at your fingertips (that’s often free!).
Some different ways you can learn drums online:
Many drum teachers will offer online video lessons using programs such as Skype or Zoom (often for a discounted price to a one on one lesson).
This could be a great way of getting personalized feedback on your playing that’s slightly more cost-effective and time-efficient than traveling to a drum teacher in person.
Also Read: What are the top drumsticks for electric drums?
One thing to be aware of is that drums don’t always translate that well over these video conferencing programs.
Free online content
With sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, there has never been a better time to access free drum instructional video content.
Many drum instructional content channels will offer loads of free taster videos that link to ‘paid-for’ products too. Sites such as Drumeo are an example of this. (although some of their content can be questionable at times!)
There are many cowboys out there vying for your attention so don’t presume everyone is an expert.
Make sure you look at the comments section to see what other drummers have to say about the content and shop around before you commit to one instructor!
Another option to learn drums over the internet is paying for an online drum course.
There are many to choose from, either from drum instructors' own personal sites (such as mikeslessons) or from host websites such as Udemy.
This option can often be more beneficial than free lessons as you’re getting a curated and staggered flow of information that will guide you step by step through various drumming techniques.
Also Read: How to record electronic drum audio?
However, be aware that not all instructional content is equal and finding the really good correct information can seem like a daunting task.
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered...
(it’s shameless personal pitch time!)
For beginners, I have created the most complete and easily accessible solution to learning the drums from scratch.
My ‘Easy Beginners Drum Course’ is geared towards players that want to get up and playing the drums (along to the music!) in the quickest time possible... WITHOUT cutting any corners with their technique.
I’ve had over 12 years of experience taking complete beginners all the way up to professional gigging drummers and this course is designed to give you the best possible foundation for your drumming journey.
What Do I Need To Get Started?
Many drum tutors will insist that new students only need a practice pad and a pair of drumsticks to start learning how to play the drums.
In many ways this is true, working on your hands at the beginning is essential... strengthening your weaker left hand (or right!) and getting your head around those singles, doubles, and paradiddles is a must!
However, this can become tedious for many that want to get straight into playing a full drum kit. (although be aware, learning hand skills and rudiments is essential for this too!)
This is where starting with a full electronic drum kit might be the best solution.
Essentially the tools you’ll need to start your journey on a drum kit are very simple. You’ll need:
- An electronic drum set (or acoustic!)
- A pair of sticks
- A set of headphones
- A computer (if you intend to take online lessons)
One thing to keep in mind when looking to get a kit is that very cheap starter electric kits will most likely not have the coaching features and metronomes of better quality options.
Also Read: What are my recommended picks for electric drum amps?
You’ll also end up out-growing them pretty quickly as you improve and want better pads and features.
For an in-depth guide on what electronic drum kit is right for you, check out ‘Best Electronic Drum Kit (2020)’.
How Long Does It Take To Learn The Drums?
How long is a piece of string?
Learning the drums is an ongoing process that doesn’t really end as long as you play. Many top drummers are still learning new skills!
However, if you rephrase that question to…
How long does it take before I can confidently play a few drum beats and fills along to some music?
... then not very long at all!
It all depends on one major factor...how much you practice.
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula that’s going to make you awesome at drumming overnight. (how awesome would that be).
But there are some tools out there that will help make the process much easier and more enjoyable (such as online courses).
The key to getting better on the drums is to focus on the journey of learning new information and the joy of being able to do something that you couldn’t yesterday. Instead of fixating on the end result and the things you cant do!
That way you’ll always be improving.
The number of times I’ve had a student hear a song, then turn to me and say:
“Wow, that song is so hard... I’ll never be able to play that”.
Only to then look at me with a beaming smile three months later when they’ve played through it perfectly on the kit! (after some dedicated practice of course!).
Enjoy the process of learning. The more time and energy you put into practice, the more the instrument gives back...it’s as simple as that!
Final Thoughts On How To Play Electronic Drums
Drumming is such an amazing and enjoyable thing to do that no matter how you learn, you’re guaranteed to find a whole load of amazing benefits from it.
So there you have it! My essential guide to the world of playing electronic drums.