Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Starting to Play the Drums

There are arguably dozens of methods to learn how to play the drums. If you asked 5 different drummers you could well end up with 5 different answers. However, that does not mean that either it is all nonsense or that all the methods are equally effective. It is simply a question of matching your personal square peg to a square hole. You may think that this is a hassle, but testing a few methods and finding the one that is right for you will save you tens of hours in the future.
Forget about spending all your money on a drum kit. Especially as a beginner you should focus on building basic rhythm and solid foundational skills first and foremost. Luckily, you can do this without the need for expensive equipment. What you will need is dedication, hard work and discipline. These will come in handy too:
  • Drumsticks
  • A practice pad
  • A metronome
  • Learning materials

When it comes to drums, time-keeping and hand-eye coordination are of principal importance. Not only that, drums are one of the most physically demanding instruments out there, so if you see yourself touring with your band one day, you need to build up respectable amounts of stamina.
The Clem Burke Project run by Dr. Marcus Smith from the University of Chichester and Dr Steve Draper from the University of Gloucestershire proved that there is a clear link between fitness and performance. The famous subject of their study was none other than Clem Burke from the band Blondie (52yr, 1.80m and 83.6kg). The investigation centred on the energy cost of rock drumming during concert performances for a high-profile rock drummer, so you're off the hook for a while. But keep in mind the words of Dr Smith: "Musicians need exceptional stamina to sustain optimum output especially when on tour."
Perseverance is your friend. If it isn't, it'll have to be if you want to continue on this path. But, this is very much true for any musical instrument. If you wish to improve your skills, you will have to practice. Malcolm Gladwell's notion of 10,000 hours popularized in his book Outliers should give you a hint. The 10,000 hour rule stipulates that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to become a world-class expert at any cognitively demanding activity from piano to Halo. Gladwell's idea has been challenged many times including more recently by Sports Illustrated's David Epstein's new book The Sports Gene, but there is no denying that a focused mind during repeated practice session is a crucial part of becoming an expert.

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