Undersranding Drum Lessons for Beginners

  • Christinia Jones
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  • January 31, 2017
  • When I was a kid I thought that only men and guys were the only ones allowed to play the drums. In the many performances and bands I’ve seen, most of their drummers were men. As I was growing up I noticed that whenever I listen to songs, I always pay attention to the beat. […]

    When I was a kid I thought that only men and guys were the only ones allowed to play the drums. In the many performances and bands I’ve seen, most of their drummers were men. As I was growing up I noticed that whenever I listen to songs, I always pay attention to the beat. It isn’t heard easily, but if I listen closely, I immediately catch the rhythm the songs is playing to. 

    This led me to try to want to study the drums. I tried to go to Youtube to learn it on my own but to no avail. For one thing, watching drum lessons without applying it was pretty useless. For one thing, I did not have my own drum set yet. This is because I wanted to make sure I was committed to learning and playing the drums before I buy such an expensive instrument. The next thing I did was to enroll myself at a music school. I went to get beginner drum lessons at RD Music Studios Melbourne. RD, or Red Drum, is at 14 Chatham Street, Prahran. It is near the Light Rail station at Chatham Street. It’s actually just across it. 

    Anyway, when I started my classes, I was first introduced to the parts of a drum set. Of course, this is very important since you would have to know which drum to hit when you read the sheet music. A drum set has nine parts, namely, the cymbals, cymbal stand, floor tom, middle tom, high tom, snare drum, bass drum, hi-hat, and the hi-hat stand. After familiarizing myself with the kinds of drums and how they were arranged in the set, I was taught how to read sheet music for drums. The sheet music is similar to piano sheets; however, the symbols on the staff do not symbolize the notes. They symbolize the drum you have to hit in the drumset. This was difficult for me since I came from a piano background. I am used to reading sheet music and I can easily identify which note, flat, sharp, etc., to press. For drum sheet music, it is very different. For example, you see a quarter note on the third line of the staff. In piano, this means that you have to press “ti” and hold it for a second. On the drums, this means that you have to hit the snare drum. 

    There are many kinds of notes for the drums and I spent a considerable amount of time just reviewing which drum they correspond to. Moreover, how you hit the drums varies depending on the kind of drum you are hitting. For example, my teacher taught me how to play the hi-hats. The hi-hats are the pair of cymbals that face each other horizontally. Playing the hi-hats was tricky because you can either play it by hitting a drumstick to it or stepping on the pedal. Another example would be playing the bass drum. Since the bass drum is the largest one at the very bottom, you hit it with a pedal and a similar drumstick would hit the actual drum. The drum set I was practicing in had only one pedal, but there are some sets which have two pedals. They simply allow either your left or your right to hit the bass drum. 

    The next lesson for me was counting which in turn meant hitting the drums. When it comes to counting, it is somewhat similar to the piano. The basic measure was 4/4 time signature. Here, the staff had four quarter notes to complete four beats. This is very elementary so you wouldn’t have trouble understanding the counting. It’s like counting 1, 2, 3, 4 with equal pauses in between. We then went to counting mixed notes. Some went 1, 2, 3, and 4, and. Here, even the word “and” meant a beat. 

    Both reading drum sheet music and counting were the two starter lessons Red Drum taught me. It is important to master this because it can be confusing to know which drum to hit and the timing you will follow. For me, I had to practice mixed notes that had to hit different drums. I struggled a lot because timing is very crucial in playing the drums. The moment you lose count or your hands don’t pick up the rhythm, it is easy to get lost in a song. It was good still because my drum teacher who was a drummer was patient enough. He also gave demos of what I can possibly play with drums and this made me more motivated to study and practice.