Want to Start Drum Lessons? Here Are Helpful Tips for Your Best Musical Journey!

While drums are not a pitched instrument, playing the drums is an immediate way to experiment with rhythm on a variety of different textures and percussive instruments.  It’s an opportunity to leap right into music making, creating, and exploring since there’s little to no room for error, even at the beginning!

That said, like anything else in life, mastering an instrument takes work and effort (and music lessons with a studio like The International School of Music, of course).  Even the best rock musicians of all time did their time in the practice room, improving their technical and musical skills through hours of practice.

Here are some ways to keep up your drumming skills and make your practice time more productive.

Divide Your Practice by Activity

To help you establish goals and really delve deep into your studies, dividing your time by activity or goal is incredibly helpful.  Here’s one way to do it:

  1. Fundamentals – Warm up with your drum rudiments, site-reading, and coordination.
  2. Main Practice Goal – Practice your repertoire, and pick a specific part to work on —– learn the main riff to your assigned repertoire, transcribe a beat you hear that sounds particularly challenging, or listen to a famous drummer and try to emulate their patterns. Feel free to talk to your teacher at your music lesson for advice!  Practice with a metronome so you can become consistent and steady.
  3. Improvisation – Explore!  Try new beats, and play whatever comes to your mind and body.  Play a recording of your favorite song and improvise something new over what you hear!  Another way to improvise is to create variations of your main practice goals and make something new.
  4. Experiment with texture – Try your licks on a different set of percussion instruments to experiment with a variety of sounds and timbres!


Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut

While it’s great to follow the above model for practice structure, don’t do the exact same exercises every single day.  As you master different sets of exercises, find new ones to replace them.  If you’re finding that you’ve overshot your goal, take a step back and find something slightly less challenging! You can also reflect back on your music lesson for ideas to grow in your drum abilities while still switching things up.


Practice (Quietly)

Drums can be a difficult instrument to practice.  Large space requirements notwithstanding, it goes without saying that the drums are among the louder of instruments you can play.  Here are some tips to mitigate the volume while you practice:

  • Get a practice pad – This is great for practicing rudiments.  While it’s not the actual instrument, you can still practice rhythm fundamentals and sticking techniques to improve your muscle memory!
  • Get SoundOff pads – Sound-off pads are round rubber pads that you can place on top of your drums and cymbals to muffle the sound.
  • Get Zildjan L80 Cymbals – These cymbals reduce sound by 80% and have the same feel as a regular cymbal so you don’t lose the muscle memory or have a vastly different experience on the real set!


At the International School of Music, our drum instructors will help you create the perfect drum practice routine suited to your learning needs. We offer drum lessons and countless other music lessons in Potomac and Bethesda for students of all ages and abilities. For more information or to schedule an introductory lesson, call us at 301.365.5888!