If you’re learning to play drums, you’re in for an adventure. This is one of the oldest instruments on the planet, yet the most significant development in drumming styles and techniques happened in the twentieth century. The greats like John Bonham, Ringo Starr, and Ginger Baker set the standards for playing drums sky-high, but that should only spur you on.
Just like with every instrument, learning how to play drums requires a lot of perseverance and willingness to be bad at it before you become good. Understanding and feeling rhythm is at the core of every drummer worth their salt, as well as constant practice. Let’s take a closer look at some of the drumming styles and techniques that will be most useful for you to master.
Drumming Techniques to Practice
Before we talk about the most popular drumming styles, let’s cover a few basic drumming techniques you should know. You can practice on your own on a practice pad, or hire a teacher to help you learn the ropes.
It’s generally a good idea to have someone experienced to show you around a drum set, and thankfully, it’s never been easier to find materials or a teacher who can help you out. Whether you’re looking for drum lessons for beginners in NYC or would like to learn more about jazz drumming down in Memphis, chances are there’s someone in your city who can be your tutor. For starters, let’s go through some techniques you can start practicing today.
The Single Stroke
One of the fundamental techniques on which you can build your drumming skills is the single stroke. The idea of this rudiment is to stay consistent with the speed and the volume, and it’s the base for all other techniques. You will be using the sticks to play the drum once with each hand, focusing on consistency and rhythm (right-left-right-left). Try to keep it up for 30 seconds and it will turn into a single-stroke roll.
The Double Stroke
As you might have guessed, the double stroke is the single stroke repeated on each hand. So you’ll have the pattern right-right-left-left that you need to play in order to have a roll. What’s important here is that each stroke should have a clear, distinct sound, which can be achieved by not rushing through them. As you get the gist of it, you can try going faster, still keeping each stroke crisp and clear.
Despite its funny name, this technique has wide use in all drumming styles. To practice it, you’ll need to know the single and double strokes first. There’s a single and double paradiddle roll. The single paradiddle pattern is “right, left, right, right” and then the same but starting with the left hand “left, right, left, left.” The double paradiddle means you’ll be adding a couple more single strokes, so the pattern will be “right, left, right, left, right, right.”
The Flam Stroke
Another necessary technique to learn is the flam stroke. For it, you’ll be finessing your knowledge of the single and double strokes by lowering one of your sticks 3 inches closer to your drum. Then you’ll hit the drum with both sticks at the same time, even though the sound from the lowered stick will be fainter, like a follow-up to the full stroke. Be sure to switch hands and practice, so that it turns into muscle memory over time.
Versatile Drumming Styles
There are dozens of drumming styles you can try out, and what you choose will depend on your preferences. It’s a good idea to master several different styles because it will give you more confidence and develop your abilities further. Each of the styles requires slightly different drum equipment, so bear that in mind as well.
These drumming styles are versatile and popular, and they’ll help you take your drumming to the next level.
Jazz Drumming Style
Jazz and blues drumming style is usually considered to be the one from which all others stem. A jazz drummer needs to stay in tune with other players, who are known to improvise as they jam, so you’ll need to develop this ability as well.
Jazz drumming style has been around for over 100 years, and within it, there are many subgenres like groove, chabada, rim shot, and others. Cymbals play a big part in jazz drumming styles, and drummers can use drum brushes along with standard sticks.
Rock Drumming Style
The spirit of the music genre is mirrored in the drumming style, and that’s most obvious in modern rock drumming. Precision and intensity are key to playing rock as it was intended – to give off a sense of power and emotion.
Rock drummers like to keep things simple, so you can start by practicing your 4/4 beat. From there you can expand your repertoire by diving into the styles of the great rock drummers. Be patient here, because the greatest drum players had a knack for mixing styles to create a unique sound and unforgettable groove, and while it might be challenging to learn, it’s definitely empowering.
Pop Drumming Style
If in doubt about where to start, the pop drumming style might be a good gateway to more complex genres. While its roots are in rock, pop drumming is more low-key, with precision being especially important. Pop is softer and more flexible than rock, simply because pop ebbs and flows as generations change.
To be a proficient pop drummer, you’ll want to hone your dynamic to near perfection. Remember that drums are more of an additional support in pop music production, and if you’d like to showcase your skills, then rock and metal might be better suited for you.
Honing your drumming skills is a life-long passion. Aside from the fact that your talent and hard work may put you on a stage, playing drums helps with stress release, coordination, brain acuity, and overall fitness, as it requires stamina. If rhythm is your thing, then drumming might be just what the doctor ordered.