How to become a drummer

Find The Best Drummer Jobs For You

Where do you want to work?

Working as a Drummer

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a drummer. For example, did you know that they make an average of $26.97 an hour? That’s $56,088 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 0% and produce 300 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Drummer Do

There are certain skills that many drummers have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed discipline, musical talent and promotional skills.

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a drummer, we found that a lot of resumes listed 16.3% of drummers included communication, while 13.0% of resumes included nyc, and 12.4% of resumes included ep. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

How To Become a Drummer

If you’re interested in becoming a drummer, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We’ve determined that 39.4% of drummers have a bachelor’s degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 2.9% of drummers have master’s degrees. Even though some drummers have a college degree, it’s possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a drummer. When we researched the most common majors for a drummer, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor’s degree degrees or high school diploma degrees. Other degrees that we often see on drummer resumes include associate degree degrees or diploma degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a drummer. In fact, many drummer jobs require experience in a role such as sales associate. Meanwhile, many drummers also have previous career experience in roles such as instructor or cashier.

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we’ll match you with the right jobs to get there.

Learning the Essentials

INTROduction:

Most drummers dream of one day being able to make a living from playing. Some want to tour with a platinum selling artist, others want to spend their days in the recording studio, while others want to stay closer to home and lead the best club band in town. The common thread that links them all is the desire to have a career in music and spend their days playing the drums.

While many succeed in making this dream a reality, others never quite get out of the starting blocks. It’s not as easy as easy as it seems and there are lots of pitfalls along the way. To make sure that you become one of the success stories here are some top tips on how to become an in-demand freelance drummer:

1. Get Your Playing Together

This might sound obvious but many players try to jump in the deep end without having the skills to keep them afloat. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression so get your playing together before you put yourself out there. You should have a great ear, great timing and the ability to play all styles authentically. If you get lost you should have the musical know how to play off the other musicians and keep it rockin’.

2. Learn The “Standards”

The “standards” are the most commonly played and commonly requested tunes you get on gigs. They are the classics from Jazz, Swing, Rock, R&B and Pop that people expect to hear and are a real must if you plan to do higher paid function and wedding work. Check out the websites of function bands in your area then have a look at their repertoire. Download and learn these tunes to the best of your abilities. You may not like all the tunes but you’re sure to improve as a drummer by listening to and playing them on a regular basis.

3. Read

The ability to read charts and create your own charts will allow you to play songs with minimal rehearsal and learn a large body of work very quickly. This skill is vital the higher up the musical ladder you climb. Sometimes you will be given a chart and expected to play it there and then, sometimes you will have a day to learn a whole new setlist. You’ll find yourself in these challenging situations so keep your reading and transcribing skills sharp – if bandleaders know you can do it, it will increase the chances of you getting the call.

4. Sing

A freelance drummer who can sing backing vocals is a VERY marketable commodity for most original, club and function bands. If you can sing then work on your chops and let people know about it. You’ll be offering a real service and it’s a good point of differentiation between you and the other drummers in your town.

5. Be Professional

One of the most important things of all is your level of professionalism. People want to work with drummers who are reliable and fun to be around. Stay positive, arrive early, and be ready. If you prove yourself as a real asset time and time again and strive to be the best in your area then your name will get around and good things will happen for you. This really is a word of mouth business so make sure everyone is saying good things about you. Having a car helps, being able to assist the sound man helps and having a real knowledge of the business will set you apart and keep the phone ringing.

6. Treat It Like A Business

As Russ Miller said in a recent interview, “If you just step back and look at it like a basic business then ask, ʻWhat would it take for me to be one of the most popular lawyers in the world?ʼ You would have to be extremely knowledgeable and proficient at your craft.

What your talking about doing is becoming one of the top people in your field so never rest on your laurels with your playing – always study, work on new things, be very organized, keep trying to be a better player and keep moving forward because thatʼs the only thing that can really open the doors for you.”

You should present yourself well with business cards, a website and a YouTube resume that represents your best work. Keep at it over the years and strive to build a trustworthy ‘brand’.

7. Be Flexible

The more time you spend around working drummers the more you realize that they are involved in many projects and have multiple streams of income to keep them going. They do gigs, clinics, recording sessions, teaching, writing for magazines, composing, producing, etc. If you are willing to be flexible and do other things as well as your drumming then you can earn the same kind of living (if not more) than the average 9-5er.

8. Never Stop Hunting For Your Next Gig

The key to remaining busy throughout the year and throughout your career is to continuously be on the hunt for your next gig. That means making contacts, letting people know your availability and keeping up your ‘marketing’ efforts even when your current plate of work is full.

Just because you’re busy now doesn’t mean you will be next month or the month after that so keep looking for new places to play. If you don’t, you could quickly find yourself without an income.

Remember, it often takes a few weeks (if not months) to secure a gig. You need to balance your time between working on actual projects, and pursuing new opportunities.

Freelancing can be tough but it’s very rewarding. It gives you the opportunity to make a living doing what you love and a real foundation for growth as a musician. There are many avenues for you to perform and many career opportunities for you to follow. You may be a hired hand for a few years but want to transition into production work, songwriting or education. Whatever you decide to do over the long term, the skills you develop as a freelancer and the connections you make will give you a great start in the industry.

So, do your homework, get your skills together and get out there. There’s no replacement for on the job learning so now is the time to start.

Posted In Drummer Life | 24 comments

How to become a drummer

So you have a drum set, a filled stick bag, and a dream to be a professional drummer. What’s the next step? And when you get that first paid gig on the drums, how do you make sure you get hired back on the drums? These questions are on the minds of every drummer that has ever wanted to play drums for a living.

Fortunately, with the technology available to us today there are more options to live your dream job on the drums. Technology and gear aren’t the only things you need to make it in the music business though. In this article I will offer some suggestions to make a living as a professional drummer.

Like any other instrument, the drums are best learned from a teacher. This lesson applies to any person that has picked up a pair of drumsticks regardless of their playing abilities. The direct hands-on approach from an experienced teacher will launch you on your instrument. And having a good teacher isn’t just for beginners. There is always something that a drummer can learn whether it be different styles or different microphone setups in the studio.

I encourage drummers to always strive to learn more; specifically from someone you consider to be equal or better than you. It should be a very humble experience that will give you more insight to reach your next goal on the drums.

There are three other “teachers” that drummers should always learn from as well. I consider those teachers to be drum rudiments, a metronome or “click track,” and recordings of music. These are the most important teachers that every drummer should always work with and listen to.

Drum rudiments may seem more appropriate to you on marching drums, but I can assure you that rudiments can be applied all over the drum set. You will find drum rudiments in “how to” books, from quality drum teachers, and all over the Internet… even a few videos in “ Play Drums By Ear “… I’m just sayin’! ?

I encourage you to start practicing rudiments on one drum or drum pad at a very slow pace and be as precise as possible. Then when you get comfortable at that slow tempo, bump up the speed only 5 beats per minute. You will find even this to be more challenging, and so on as you increase to faster speeds. Then once you are comfortable on one surface, start breaking up the rudiments between different drums and cymbals on the drum set. You will often find very cool grooves and licks with rudiments on the drum set. This will be a whole new perspective to playing the set.

Next, a metronome is essential. Solid timing needs to be the backbone of every professional drummer. There should never be a reason for a band to stop or even “hiccup” as a collective because the drummer messed up the time. That’s an easy way not to get called back for a gig. So make sure you always practice with a metronome and I encourage you to pick up a pair of headphones to practice to a click track. Every recording session requires a professional drummer to be comfortable playing along to a click track without skipping a beat.

Lastly, recordings of music are great tools for every drummer. Many professional drummers have been influenced by past drummers and are playing cover songs. A cover song is quite literally a song written by someone other than you or the band you play with. Often times the band and audience want to hear the song as close to the recording as possible, so listening to a variety of recordings will prepare you for most professional gigs you may encounter.

Recordings are also a great opportunity to study other styles of drumming besides what you might be used to. Every professional drummer should have a supply of different drumming styles to use for every type of opportunity that may present itself.

How to become a drummerThere are a variety of ways to become a professional drummer, essentially a drummer that is paid to play the drums. One is to form a band and focus on creating music together to make it into the music industry. It’s important that everyone in the band gets along and share goals to make a living playing music.

Another option is to use social networks to broadcast yourself and your talents to the world, effectively making your computer work for you. Social networks become your opportunity to network with other musicians and share your recorded music.

A third option is to become active in the local music community by signing up for every musical competition, recording session, audition and gig available to you. Remember that your first impression is the best skill you use in the music industry.

If you get yourself out there enough, it increases your chances of getting noticed. Make sure to always be a professional, whatever you are preparing for. Do as much homework as you possibly can before you walk into your audition, studio session, or gig so you can be as fully prepared as possible.

Now that you are prepared to launch yourself into the music industry, it is important to do everything you can to get a call back after that gig is done. There are a few tips to make sure you become the drummer that no band can live without. As I said before, the first impression is vital so start it off right and don’t be late. Always plan to arrive even an hour before the gig to make sure you have enough time to set up your drums and have a proper sound check at the gig.

Keep your playing simple. So many drummers strive to be flashy in the beginning to set themselves apart from all the rest of the mundane backbeats on the bandstand. What those drummers don’t realize though, is that those backbeats are the ones getting hired to play the paid gigs. Focus on the groove and do your best not to step on any toes in the band.

A solid groove is exactly what the band and the audience are looking for. Keep in mind that every gig situation is different, but a good rule of thumb for a pro drummer is to provide the most solid beat and always leave them wanting more.

Another good way to get hired back is to have a great attitude. Be nice and try to build relationships with everyone on the band stand, as they are the ones that will ultimately give you the thumbs up or down to get hired back. Also, bring this attitude into your playing as well. Be attentive to the rest of the band and what they are looking for out of the drums. It may not be something you agree with, but ultimately they are writing your check.

If you get to a point where the gig isn’t worth the trouble, then that’s your decision for another day. Make sure to play with dynamics. Listen to the rest of the band and take cues from them for appropriate loud and soft portions of the songs. The sooner you figure out that the audience is often there to listen to the vocals and maybe listen to the solos, the more you will get hired back on a gig.

Lastly, make sure that playing the drums on a gig isn’t only about the money. You should be enthusiastic that you get paid to play the drums regardless, so enjoy your time playing at every gig you come across. If you use every gig, good or bad, as a lesson on drumming in the music business, I guarantee you will be professional in no time. You will begin to understand where you want to focus your drumming and hopefully work with people you will enjoy working with.

That’s all for now in how to become a professional drummer and keep getting called back. I hope these tips will help you get into your dream job of play the drums full time.

How to become a drummer

When I first started to play the drums eleven years ago, I was obsessed with being a creative and “original” drummer. The idea of playing popular songs, borrowing licks from other drummers, and trying to mimic famous drum fills didn’t appeal to me. How would playing someone else’s creative patterns help me?

I didn’t want to be just another copycat drummer. So, I focused on creating original fills, learning new techniques, mastering the rudiments, and trying to come up with drum solos.

The balance between experience and creativity

Looking back now, it’s clear to me that I made a critical mistake. It’s so obvious in hindsight that I feel silly for having made it. I undervalued the experience and insights of other drummers and overvalued my “beginner’s enthusiasm”.

In a rush to express my limited creativity, I forgot to focus on the fundamentals. In an effort to be original, I didn’t benefit from the hard-learned lessons of drummers that came before me. I was unable to build on their progress because I didn’t understand or appreciate what they had learned.

The source of drumming creativity and progress

At the heart of all creativity is the exchanging of ideas. As drummers, we express our musical ideas within beats and fills. Progress is the result of adapting, changing, or otherwise improving these patterns in our own unique way.

Before we can do that, we need to build experience. We need to have some insights into what drummers are playing, why they are playing that way, and what other options are available.

Follow the footsteps of your favorite drummers

Playing the drums is an art, not a science. While there are important fundamentals to learn along the way, there is no A-Z path to drumming nirvana. That’s because we all have a slightly different idea of what we want to achieve.

While there is no map that will take us there, we can follow the footprints and clues left behind by drummers that came before us. Specifically, the drummers that closely resemble the kind of musicians we want to eventually become.

The most important thing you can do on the drums

The fastest way to get better at playing the drums is to start playing real music. More specifically, you should play along to your favorite songs using beats, fills, and other musical ideas from more experienced drummers.

The key to being a great drummer is being humble enough to admit that we have something to learn. We don’t mimic other drummers in an effort to copy them. Instead, we do it because they have something to teach us through their music. We do it because we want to understand and appreciate what they have achieved.

Expose yourself to ideas and experiences

Expressed as a formula: Progress = Ideas x Experiences. As a beginner, I was trying to be creative with my own ideas and limited drumming experience. I was essentially multiplying two very small numbers to produce a modest result. No matter how much time and energy I invested, I didn’t make much progress.

In hindsight, I now realize that the best writers, athletes, musicians, and top professionals in the world take the opposite approach. They do everything they can to be exposed to the best ideas in their field, and look for opportunities to build experience by creatively applying those ideas.

How to start improving your drumming right now

The first step to improving as a drummer is choosing to take action to get the result that you want. While this may seem obvious, this is where most people drop off. They get excited about the dream of being a better drummer, but don’t want to put in the time. So, first decide that this is something you really want to do and that you’re willing to take action. And set a deadline – it’ll give you a goal to work toward.

Then, start playing along to some of your favorite songs. Focus on understanding what other drummers are playing, why they are playing like that, and what other things they could be playing (based on other songs you’ve learned). Soon you will see patterns emerge – all while you’re steadily improving your drumming abilities.

How to become a drummer

Rick Kettner is an active drummer and the co-founder of Drumeo – an online community dedicated to the education, inspiration, and support of drummers.

How to become a drummer

What Do I Need To Do To Teach Drums?

The Internet is a truly amazing place where you can get so many interesting and useful information to gain knowledge on a specific subject or just on anything! And with a little imagination and a few tips, it can also be a powerful tool that could you use to your advantage. Namely, there are many ways to earn money online by providing various services or courses. This briefly means that you can use any of your talents to make some extra cash or even start an entirely new career! For example, if you’re a good drum player, why not share your knowledge with others online and even get paid for doing it? Sounds good right?

How to become a drummer

What Do You Need to Become a Drum Teacher?

Well, not much actually! First, you should have good knowledge and a lot of practice so that you are capable of teaching others. It would be particularly great if you already have experience in playing live, and if you already have some recordings. This isn’t a must, it would just be an additional plus. And you’ll obviously need your drum kit and some basic technical gadgets.

How to become a drummer

And What Makes a Good Drum Teacher?

Honestly, this is a bit tougher to answer since not everybody can become a solid drum (or any other kind of a) teacher. The most important thing is to have a lot of patience. Always keep in mind that your student is probably just a beginner and that it will take a lot of time and your guidance to make some improvements. Losing your patience may not only make you lose a student but also a fan of drumming. Also, some people find it difficult to find a proper method of sharing knowledge so not every good drummer is a great mentor. But if you’re planning to become one, then you will need excellent communication skills. The basis of your success as a drum teacher would be – finding the right way of communicating with that particular student. Never make them feel bad, even if they make a mistake, always find a way to boost their morale together with their skills.

With these few tips, you’ll soon make them love their new course which means you will also have your first student!

How To Teach Drum Lessons Online

If you have all the above mentioned qualities, and you really want to start teaching drums online, then you can start by giving private lessons via Skype, Google Hangout, or even Periscope. The most famous drummers, who were giving drum lessons say that the best commercial for an excellent drum teacher is a word of mouth. However, if you start teaching drums online via Skype, a word of mouth can spread more quickly, and you may have many online learners in no time. What’s more, building your personal web page is an excellent way to inform your potential clients about what they can learn from you, and what are the most important techniques they need to master. Perhaps you could post videos of your live performances as well as announces on where you’re next heading. Then your potential students may come and see you play live. They’ll undoubtedly become more interested in succeeding as a drum player, and they may become more diligent along with it.

How to become a drummer

You also have to be aware that there are many websites offering free drum lessons. So, what you have to do is to do your best to make a unique drum-teaching website and/or course. You could post videos of your successful students on your web page or invite some of them to play with you on live performances if you happen to play in their city or country. Be sure to also check out my blog on How To Market Yourself as a Musician.

The Importance of Social Media Advertising

As already mentioned, the Internet, as well as various social media platforms are an excellent form of advertising your business and for offering your services. For instance, Facebook has brought a lot of money to all those young entrepreneurs, who dared to promote on social media. With social media, what you do will be seen by hundreds or even thousands of people, and what’s more, if you do your job well and provide excellent service, you will have new clients and students who came to you by word of mouth. I use Marie Services for my website and social media so be sure to check her out to see how she can help.

I did a little tutorial video for Drummer Magazine!

So, should you decide to become an online drum teacher, don’t start without advertising your business on social media like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, but also, don’t forget to invest in making your own web page or website. It will undoubtedly boost your business and you will in no time be overloaded with appointments ?

Get in touch with me if you have any questions or blog suggestions and check out my How To Get A Grant blog to help you set up your music business.

Posted In Drummer Life | 24 comments

How to become a drummer

So you have a drum set, a filled stick bag, and a dream to be a professional drummer. What’s the next step? And when you get that first paid gig on the drums, how do you make sure you get hired back on the drums? These questions are on the minds of every drummer that has ever wanted to play drums for a living.

Fortunately, with the technology available to us today there are more options to live your dream job on the drums. Technology and gear aren’t the only things you need to make it in the music business though. In this article I will offer some suggestions to make a living as a professional drummer.

Like any other instrument, the drums are best learned from a teacher. This lesson applies to any person that has picked up a pair of drumsticks regardless of their playing abilities. The direct hands-on approach from an experienced teacher will launch you on your instrument. And having a good teacher isn’t just for beginners. There is always something that a drummer can learn whether it be different styles or different microphone setups in the studio.

I encourage drummers to always strive to learn more; specifically from someone you consider to be equal or better than you. It should be a very humble experience that will give you more insight to reach your next goal on the drums.

There are three other “teachers” that drummers should always learn from as well. I consider those teachers to be drum rudiments, a metronome or “click track,” and recordings of music. These are the most important teachers that every drummer should always work with and listen to.

Drum rudiments may seem more appropriate to you on marching drums, but I can assure you that rudiments can be applied all over the drum set. You will find drum rudiments in “how to” books, from quality drum teachers, and all over the Internet… even a few videos in “ Play Drums By Ear “… I’m just sayin’! ?

I encourage you to start practicing rudiments on one drum or drum pad at a very slow pace and be as precise as possible. Then when you get comfortable at that slow tempo, bump up the speed only 5 beats per minute. You will find even this to be more challenging, and so on as you increase to faster speeds. Then once you are comfortable on one surface, start breaking up the rudiments between different drums and cymbals on the drum set. You will often find very cool grooves and licks with rudiments on the drum set. This will be a whole new perspective to playing the set.

Next, a metronome is essential. Solid timing needs to be the backbone of every professional drummer. There should never be a reason for a band to stop or even “hiccup” as a collective because the drummer messed up the time. That’s an easy way not to get called back for a gig. So make sure you always practice with a metronome and I encourage you to pick up a pair of headphones to practice to a click track. Every recording session requires a professional drummer to be comfortable playing along to a click track without skipping a beat.

Lastly, recordings of music are great tools for every drummer. Many professional drummers have been influenced by past drummers and are playing cover songs. A cover song is quite literally a song written by someone other than you or the band you play with. Often times the band and audience want to hear the song as close to the recording as possible, so listening to a variety of recordings will prepare you for most professional gigs you may encounter.

Recordings are also a great opportunity to study other styles of drumming besides what you might be used to. Every professional drummer should have a supply of different drumming styles to use for every type of opportunity that may present itself.

How to become a drummerThere are a variety of ways to become a professional drummer, essentially a drummer that is paid to play the drums. One is to form a band and focus on creating music together to make it into the music industry. It’s important that everyone in the band gets along and share goals to make a living playing music.

Another option is to use social networks to broadcast yourself and your talents to the world, effectively making your computer work for you. Social networks become your opportunity to network with other musicians and share your recorded music.

A third option is to become active in the local music community by signing up for every musical competition, recording session, audition and gig available to you. Remember that your first impression is the best skill you use in the music industry.

If you get yourself out there enough, it increases your chances of getting noticed. Make sure to always be a professional, whatever you are preparing for. Do as much homework as you possibly can before you walk into your audition, studio session, or gig so you can be as fully prepared as possible.

Now that you are prepared to launch yourself into the music industry, it is important to do everything you can to get a call back after that gig is done. There are a few tips to make sure you become the drummer that no band can live without. As I said before, the first impression is vital so start it off right and don’t be late. Always plan to arrive even an hour before the gig to make sure you have enough time to set up your drums and have a proper sound check at the gig.

Keep your playing simple. So many drummers strive to be flashy in the beginning to set themselves apart from all the rest of the mundane backbeats on the bandstand. What those drummers don’t realize though, is that those backbeats are the ones getting hired to play the paid gigs. Focus on the groove and do your best not to step on any toes in the band.

A solid groove is exactly what the band and the audience are looking for. Keep in mind that every gig situation is different, but a good rule of thumb for a pro drummer is to provide the most solid beat and always leave them wanting more.

Another good way to get hired back is to have a great attitude. Be nice and try to build relationships with everyone on the band stand, as they are the ones that will ultimately give you the thumbs up or down to get hired back. Also, bring this attitude into your playing as well. Be attentive to the rest of the band and what they are looking for out of the drums. It may not be something you agree with, but ultimately they are writing your check.

If you get to a point where the gig isn’t worth the trouble, then that’s your decision for another day. Make sure to play with dynamics. Listen to the rest of the band and take cues from them for appropriate loud and soft portions of the songs. The sooner you figure out that the audience is often there to listen to the vocals and maybe listen to the solos, the more you will get hired back on a gig.

Lastly, make sure that playing the drums on a gig isn’t only about the money. You should be enthusiastic that you get paid to play the drums regardless, so enjoy your time playing at every gig you come across. If you use every gig, good or bad, as a lesson on drumming in the music business, I guarantee you will be professional in no time. You will begin to understand where you want to focus your drumming and hopefully work with people you will enjoy working with.

That’s all for now in how to become a professional drummer and keep getting called back. I hope these tips will help you get into your dream job of play the drums full time.

How to become a drummer

How to Become a Better Drummer

by Dave Pearson

“Practice makes perfect” is one of the most played out sayings of all time, but it’s the truth. I talk to kids all the time about music, they tell me how they play Rock Band or watch bands on MTV and how they know they can play drums just because they do it on a video game. So their mom will go out and get them a drum set and they will play for it for a week or two then give it up and go back to the video game. The reason for this is that they wanted to play the drums for the wrong reason; they thought it would be easy. The truth is that its not easy to learn how to play any instrument, it takes a lot of time and motivation. You have to really want to learn how to play, and be willing to put in the work. The more you play and the more you learn, the easier and more fun it becomes.

What really helped me become a better drummer was inspiration. I would listen to my favorite CD or watch videos of my favorite drummer. Then I would get all hyped and go rock out on my drum set for hours. It’s all about being excited to play and learn. Talking drum lessons also helped me out a lot, it taught me discipline and techniques, rhythms and time signatures that I would never have found out on my own. Playing with other musicians, especially musicians that were better than me, also taught me a lot about jamming and improvising and being the backbone of the groove. This was all practice and before I knew it I had people telling me that I was a good drummer or I can really “rock out,” it was a great feeling.

One of my favorite drummers of all time is Chad Smith of The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I have learned so much from listening to and watching him play. I learned a lot about dynamics from Chad’s playing, he is really good at playing loud when necessary and soft when appropriate. I learned how to play like Chad and then developed my own style from there; they same way that Chad learned how to play like the English drummers from the 60’s and 70’s. It is important to look up to musicians that you like and draw inspiration from their style.

Chad Smith was recently interviewed by Modern Drummer magazine where he gives tips for becoming a better drummer; the excerpt below is taken from the interview:

Any tips for becoming a better drummer, the Chad Smith way?

[Laughs] Well…practice. I know it sounds boring, but so many kids that I run into don’t want to put the time into it. They’re busy playing their video games or whatever, but if you’re really passionate about it, there’s no shortcut. Kids see bands on TV and think, “I can do that!” and figure if they get a drum set, in two weeks they’ll be on MTV. You’ve got to put in the time, energy, and effort—and you have to want to do it. I was never forced to play the drums, I always wanted to because I loved it. My mom used to come home and I’d be in the basement all day playing, and she’d be flashing the light on and off to stop. [laughs] But if you love music—whatever it is, guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards—you must put the work into it.

How to become a drummer

When I first started to play the drums eleven years ago, I was obsessed with being a creative and “original” drummer. The idea of playing popular songs, borrowing licks from other drummers, and trying to mimic famous drum fills didn’t appeal to me. How would playing someone else’s creative patterns help me?

I didn’t want to be just another copycat drummer. So, I focused on creating original fills, learning new techniques, mastering the rudiments, and trying to come up with drum solos.

The balance between experience and creativity

Looking back now, it’s clear to me that I made a critical mistake. It’s so obvious in hindsight that I feel silly for having made it. I undervalued the experience and insights of other drummers and overvalued my “beginner’s enthusiasm”.

In a rush to express my limited creativity, I forgot to focus on the fundamentals. In an effort to be original, I didn’t benefit from the hard-learned lessons of drummers that came before me. I was unable to build on their progress because I didn’t understand or appreciate what they had learned.

The source of drumming creativity and progress

At the heart of all creativity is the exchanging of ideas. As drummers, we express our musical ideas within beats and fills. Progress is the result of adapting, changing, or otherwise improving these patterns in our own unique way.

Before we can do that, we need to build experience. We need to have some insights into what drummers are playing, why they are playing that way, and what other options are available.

Follow the footsteps of your favorite drummers

Playing the drums is an art, not a science. While there are important fundamentals to learn along the way, there is no A-Z path to drumming nirvana. That’s because we all have a slightly different idea of what we want to achieve.

While there is no map that will take us there, we can follow the footprints and clues left behind by drummers that came before us. Specifically, the drummers that closely resemble the kind of musicians we want to eventually become.

The most important thing you can do on the drums

The fastest way to get better at playing the drums is to start playing real music. More specifically, you should play along to your favorite songs using beats, fills, and other musical ideas from more experienced drummers.

The key to being a great drummer is being humble enough to admit that we have something to learn. We don’t mimic other drummers in an effort to copy them. Instead, we do it because they have something to teach us through their music. We do it because we want to understand and appreciate what they have achieved.

Expose yourself to ideas and experiences

Expressed as a formula: Progress = Ideas x Experiences. As a beginner, I was trying to be creative with my own ideas and limited drumming experience. I was essentially multiplying two very small numbers to produce a modest result. No matter how much time and energy I invested, I didn’t make much progress.

In hindsight, I now realize that the best writers, athletes, musicians, and top professionals in the world take the opposite approach. They do everything they can to be exposed to the best ideas in their field, and look for opportunities to build experience by creatively applying those ideas.

How to start improving your drumming right now

The first step to improving as a drummer is choosing to take action to get the result that you want. While this may seem obvious, this is where most people drop off. They get excited about the dream of being a better drummer, but don’t want to put in the time. So, first decide that this is something you really want to do and that you’re willing to take action. And set a deadline – it’ll give you a goal to work toward.

Then, start playing along to some of your favorite songs. Focus on understanding what other drummers are playing, why they are playing like that, and what other things they could be playing (based on other songs you’ve learned). Soon you will see patterns emerge – all while you’re steadily improving your drumming abilities.

How to become a drummer

Rick Kettner is an active drummer and the co-founder of Drumeo – an online community dedicated to the education, inspiration, and support of drummers.