Learning an instrument, especially when you’re learning the drums, is a fun and rewarding experience. The road to becoming an expert is long, but you’ll be able to do it with patience and lots of practice. But beginner drummers can make mistakes that form into bad habits—and these can prevent you from practicing well!
We at Drum Center of Portsmouth want to help beginner drummers know how to correct their mistakes, and learn from them effectively. Here is a list of the top 7 mistakes that beginner drummers make:
1) Having an incorrect grip
Though gripping the sticks is one of the first things you should learn when playing the drums, it is easy to hold them incorrectly. There are many different styles of grip, and each of them have basic principles to guide drummers. One of the most common mistakes with any of these different styles is that drum novices will hold the sticks too tight.
When you hold your sticks, you should be able to feel them rebound from the drumhead freely. If you grip your sticks too hard, the sticks won’t bounce. You’ll also use more energy to move your arms when you play, rather than your wrists. You shouldn’t have to use your arms to play at all—the sticks should make a natural arc to hit the drumhead.
2) Hitting the edge of the drum
If you’re not precise with your hits, you can end up hitting the edge of the drum rather than the center. While this is sometimes appropriate, depending on which genre of music you’re playing, it is often not necessary. You will always achieve better sound clarity when you loosen your grip on your sticks and hit the center of the drum.
Make sure that your drum set isn’t too close or too far away from your drum throne. This can cause discomfort and the inability to hit the center of your snare or tom. Place your stool so that you can hold the sticks to your side and hit the drum comfortably.
You should also tune your ear to the different sounds each drum makes when they are hit on the edge rather than in the center. This will allow you to better identify when you are playing them incorrectly.
3) Not using a metronome when practicing
If you are a new drummer, it is essential that you practice with a metronome. Though you may have a naturally good sense of rhythm and beat, you can never be too good at keeping a beat. Using a metronome can help you hone your drum skills.
You can start with the metronome clicks on every beat. From there, you can get into more advanced settings to help you improve the way you play. One of the ways you can do that is by reducing the speed on the metronome. For example, if you play at 120 beats per minute, or bpm, reduce it to 60bpm so that it clicks on beats 1 and 3. You can reduce it by half again, and have it only play on beat 1 of each measure. Eventually, you will not need to rely on a metronome to keep a steady beat.
4) Having incorrect bass drum form
When you first start off incorporating the bass drum into your rhythms, it can be difficult to use your hands while also keeping the correct form! The most common mistake in learning the bass drum is completely lifting your foot to stomp on the pedal. This creates a loud, unpleasant sound that can eventually damage your feet and muscles!
Rather than stomping on the pedal, there are two main ways to play the bass correctly:
- Heel down method. This means that your foot, from toe to heel, stays on the pedal the entire time you play. This gives you the most control and ability to play quietly. It will also create a more open sound, and allow the mallet to return to its starting position quickly after hitting the drum.
- Heel up method. This is when your toes hit the pedal without putting your heel down. This method is preferable when you are playing in the rock or pop genres, or you need a bigger, louder sound. You exert more energy from your legs when you play this way, and the mallet rests on the bass drum after striking it before returning to its original position.
5) Sitting with bad posture
Whether at a desk or a drum set, slouching is never a good thing. Keeping a good posture while you play the drums can help you control your movements better, and it keeps your back and neck healthy and straight. Slouching will eventually hurt your spine, and make drumming hurt.
6) Never practicing exercises
Though basic exercises can seem repetitive and boring, they are essential to help you keep the beat and have a good playing technique. Sticking patterns, learning beats, and putting every rhythm in your muscle memory is what really makes an excellent, versatile drummer.
Exercises in beginner drumming books can also help you learn to read music. Many drummers may think that it doesn’t require knowing theory, but this can’t be farther from the truth. If you become fluent in reading music, you will be able to pick up any piece of music available to you.
7) Only playing fast
When you’re first starting out, you should learn to keep a steady beat at a slow pace so you know you’re hitting the drum on each count. If you’re not able to play slowly, there is no way to tell whether you have control over your sticks yet. Experts can play at any bpm.
Drumming is a hard skill to learn, so it’s only natural that beginners will be making plenty of mistakes. Once you are patient, and you learn how to break bad habits and learn from your mistakes, you can become an expert drummer.