How long to learn the drums? I have been asked this question more times than I can count. I have put off the question for some time now, but recent interest has caused me to revisit it. Because of this, I have spent time doing some research and I discovered that there are two factors that will affect the duration to learn the drums for each individual. And that is, “the why and how”
I’ll ask you, why do you want to learn the drums? Do you want the knowledge for the sake of fun, or do you want to be a professional drummer? How do you intend to learn it? The answers to these question will determine how long it might take you to learn it. I said ‘might’ because every person is different. You might be a fast learner or a slow learner, so I can only give you the duration an average person will take to learn the drums.
The truth is, most of us wish we do not have to learn anything. We wish we could just wake up and discover we have picked up new skills or acquired unusual talents. Because who has the time, really? Most of us just want to be with our families and loved ones or doing the things we love. But unfortunately, that is not our fortune.
So since you have to go through the rigorous process of learning the drums, how long will it take you?
Practising The Drums Incorrectly
Before we delve into much of the details, I would like to expressly state a fact. The truth is, you can spend hours and hours of your time practising on the drums and make very little progress. And this is because of one simple fact; you are practising the drums wrong.
Let’s look at some of the ways you can practise the drums incorrectly.
- Going at the drums without warming up first: a professional swimmer going into the pool during a competition without stretching is at risk of getting a pulled or cramped muscle. The same applies to a drummer. You must exercise the parts of your body that will most of the work, like your wrists, hand, and grip.
- Not making use of a practice pad: do not neglect the practice pad. Make sure to spend as much time on the drum pad as you do on the drum kit.
- Not using a metronome: this is one mistake I’ve seen countless times. If you do not use a timekeeping device when practising, there’s a chance that you will drop the tempo when you get tired. This is an error.
- Irregular practice schedule: with practising (for anything at all) consistency is one of the keys to making progress. Give yourself a schedule and stick to it. As a beginner, going days without practising might cause your muscles to forget the conditioning you’ve given them.
- Making more use of your dominant hand and leaving the other hand weaker.
- Maintaining poor posture
- Skipping the fundamentals and going for the bigger techniques.
Gladwell’s Ten Thousand Hour Rule
In Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’, it was postulated that in order to master any skill or task, 10,000 hours must be devoted to practising the correct way.
However, there is a flaw to this rule and that is neglecting to check how realistic it is. The individual is not put into consideration as regards the question of his competence.
What this means is that you can give your all to a specific task, hobby, or skill for the amount of time stated here and you still might not master it. The success of that endeavour depends on your aptitude for learning that task.
So if you want to learn how to drum because your mum is making you, you could spend years and not make reasonable progress. But if you want to learn how to drum and you have an aptitude for it, then there is a great chance you will succeed in learning it as long as you practice correctly.
Another element that factors into how much time you will spend learning the drums is who you learn from.
There are a ton of online materials you could use to teach yourself the drums. There are videos too on YouTube and you could also get books that’ll help guide you. But these are not the best ideas.
I think that the best way to learn the drums is to sign up for drum lessons. You might need this just at the beginning, to master the fundamentals, and then you can proceed to use online materials to further your training.
What Is Your Intention?
I asked this question at the beginning of the article and I’m doing so again to reiterate how important your answer is to provide an answer to the question we’ve been addressing. Why do you want to learn the drums?.
Do you want to learn it just so you can say you play an instrument? Or maybe to have something fun as your activity of relaxation? Or do you want to learn it to become a professional? Perhaps you want to join or form a rock band and tour the world? Or join a competition to display your skills within a corp?
The very answer you give to this question will determine how much time you will spend learning the drums.
Each of these requires different skills and aptitude. For instance, if you want to become a member of a marching band, you are only required to beat the snare drum or bass drum, but must also be able to walk around in complicated patterns while you keep the beat.
But to be a rock or jazz drummer, your strength will be in knowing how to play a full drum set. These two scenarios will require different levels of practice patterns and dedication. So, once you have decided your reason for wanting to play the drums, then you can understand how much time you will give to become good at drumming.
How long to learn the drums?
The most important factor that determines how long it will take you to learn the drums is “dedication”.
If you do not possess the heart, coordination, patience, and desire to learn how to read drum sheet music or learn musical rhythm, you will spend a lifetime trying to learn to drum. And that won’t change even if you take drum lessons and practice every day.
The next factor that will affect the duration of learning the drums is how you learn.
You can either choose to sign up for online drum lessons or look for a drum teacher. The truth is, it is actually your choice how you want to learn and both methods can yield good results. But my advice is that you find a drum teacher, at least for the early stages of learning. A physical presence will go a long way to push and motivate you to reach your peak.
Note that it is not enough to just take drum lessons, you must also practice on your drum pad. In fact, you should spend more time practising than you do receiving lessons.
If you possess the right attitude towards learning and you are dedicated to learning the drums, you can learn the drums in no time. On average, it will probably take you 10 to 13 months to become good at playing the drums, and about 17 months to 2 years to become a pro.
Drumming is a lot of things to different people. I like to think of it as a healing tool and a great way to relax. Learning how to drum is a process and a pretty cool one. You should understand that the journey to becoming a great drummer is as important as actually becoming one. So do not forget to savour every experience you get on the way.
You can make learning the drums easy by creating short, medium, and long term goals. Decide where you would like to be in a specific amount of time and work towards it. Remember, many short term goals will lead you to your long term goals.
And remember not to give up.