How to Play the Drums: The Basics Explained

The drums are one of the most rewarding instruments you can learn to play. Not only will you learn about how music works down to its most basic elements, but you’ll also never be short of bands to play in — drummers are always in high demand.

But if you’re like tons of music lovers out there, you might be wondering how to play the drums. It can seem daunting at first when looking at the mastery of your favorite drummers.

Thankfully, there’s a solution.

This article will walk you through a couple of drumming tips, to help any beginners learn to play drums.

Study Rhythm

Learning to play the drums is different from learning to play other instruments in that your focus is going to be almost 100 percent on rhythm. Other instrumentalists have to worry about harmony, voice leading, playing melodies, playing counter-melodies, altering their timbre — you mainly have to focus on rhythm.

Playing the drums means being the rock of the band. You have to know rhythm down to your bones. Study the rhythms of famous songs, and know the names of as many different beats as possible, like the Purdie Shuffle, the Motown Groove, and the Four on the Floor.

It would even do you good to study what you can do with rhythm when you’re not at the drums — such as Steve Reich’s Clapping Music.

Know Your Instrument

You’d be surprised how many people jump into playing the drums thinking they can just bang away. The drums are a complicated, intricate instrument that you have to take the time to get familiar with.

Do a little bit of research into how drums make a sound. Then acquaint yourself with the different types of drums. If you don’t what a snare does, what your different toms sound like, the difference between a crash and a ride cymbal, and why a high hat is shaped like that, you have a lot to learn.

Become familiar with your sticks and your drumming stool as well. Learn how high you want your stool to be. Figure out the type of sticks you like the best what grip you will use.

Protect Your Ears

All musicians — working with loud noises — are at risk for hearing damage. Drummers are at the highest risk. Just ask Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.

While most musicians in a rock/pop setting deal with loud noises, drummers are the only ones whose instrument has to be loud. Guitarists can play an acoustic guitar or an electric at low volume. Drummers can’t make the sounds they want unless they play at a certain volume.

You can get around this by buying yourself earplugs. There are several good options for disposable and customizable earplugs. However, we recommend investing in a good pair of headphones, to make sure you achieve maximum comfort while protecting your ears.

If you’re looking to buy drummers headphones, check out this guide from

Learn How to Play the Drums

Learning drums isn’t an easy task — but it doesn’t have to be hard either.

If you study rhythm, know your instrument, and protect your ears, you’re well on your way to learning how to play the drums.

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