I've wanted to play the drums since I was kid. I tried to learn when I was 11 but I lacked the psychological confidence to keep myself on it - my teacher at the time had learnt by banging on his mother's cooking pots so he was full of enthusiasm and talent but lacked a structured approach that schooled musicians have to help me. It didn't help that I was just starting to get interested in computers and girls either.

Anyway, I am now 32 and want to give it another go. I have a varied music taste spreading across several genres but I'd probably start with rock and hip-hop music.

Knowing myself and how I learn best, I will probably get discouraged quickly by viewing random YouTube lessons. Ideally, I can start from getting to know about what I don't know (like an overview, a high-level description of the full depth of the journey ahead). From that move to learning and practising the very basics.

Barring a teacher, any resource or set of resources (books, videos etc) that fit this description best would do just fine. The learning track is, for me, the most important part.

  • 1
    Right now, your questions are kind of hard to pick out of the text. It sounds like you've got two different questions here, what's an effective way for an adult beginner to learn drums without a teacher, and what's the minimum equipment a beginning drummer needs (and are electronic drums fine). If that's the case, maybe split this into two questions, or at least make both these questions more explicit?
    – Karen
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 14:12
  • I think the minimum gear question is a duplicate. Yes, a duplicate of an off-topic question: music.stackexchange.com/questions/38874/… But "what should I be looking for" is much more on-topic and would probably be a good question. Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 15:51
  • @KolobCanyon do children start learning the drums from reading the patterns? Or do they start more empirically? What do you think would work better for an adult with a sense of rhythm (I have formal dance training).
    – georgiosd
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 18:59
  • @georgiosd There's a lot of different approaches. The benefit you get with reading is being able to use books to get better without a teacher. It's hard to break out of your normal comfortable drum beats without forcing yourself to read patterns you are uncomfortable with. Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 19:03
  • Personally I find the feel and the sound of the actual instrument is what gets me and keeps me. That's how I started on guitar - it just feels and sounds great to me. The same is true for actual acoustic drums. I love playing drums but I don't love playing quiet drums and I hate playing electronic trigger pads or V-drums. Currently I have a super-cheap set of used shells with mesh batter heads and real resonator heads and a set of quiet hi-hats made by Zildjian. The hats are just like real hats but quiet and sadly expensive. You might start with a real hand drum that is quiet-ish. Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 19:43

9 Answers 9


If you are serious about drumming I have good advice:


I've been playing 13 years.I play in my college's jazz ensemble and play in a rock band outside of that. I take lessons with the percussion instructor at my university. I usually practice 3 hours a day. I get paid for some of my gigs, but not enough for me to call myself a professional.


If you can afford lessons do it. You will progress most quickly this way. Devote at least 30 minutes a day to practice. It is better to practice 30 minutes every day than 3 hours and 30 minutes one day a week. Make sure you don't jam random beats and call it practice. It won't make you much better to do this because you'll end up playing the same beats you can already do.

Play with other musicians

It may be hard as a beginner to find other musicians but you will benefit greatly from it. Make sure you keep it simple; the downfall of most drummers is trying to prove themselves with some complicated fill that adds nothing to the music. Understand your part as a drummer is to improve the whole of the music instead of stick out as an individual talent.

Use a metronome when practicing

It is infuriating to play with a drummer that is not metronomically sound. You drive the ensemble/band. The timing needs to be in the pocket. The metronome is on the whole time I practice. To make it even more challenging, give yourself only beat 1 of 4 - really tests your ability to keep time.

Practice SLOW

Speed comes from practicing a pattern annoyingly slow. It is easy to play fast when you have practiced slow.

Read Music

It is difficult to break away from comfortable beats without having a book to push you to try something you aren't comfortable with. Currently I'm working on comping in jazz with the bass and snare. It gives me more flexibility when my instructor throws a new big band chart and I have to read it on the spot.


Look at the rudiments of drumming. They are the foundation of drumming (like scales are for the piano). Here is a good resource.

Why Practice Boring Difficult Patterns From A Book?

When I get thrown into a rock situation, I use all kinds of stuff I learned in books: linear fills, comping patterns from jazz as fills, rudiments. It all helps you improvise and you will notice much improvement by structuring your practice.


I'm not going into great detail here, but you want to know:

  1. Moeller technique
  2. French grip (give you light fast singles)
  3. German grip (power + speed)

Here's a really good video that you should watch: Real Rudiments

This all can be done with 30 minutes a day. Be warned that you may get addicted to drumming.

Here's sort of a starting point for you.


1) Pick one rudiment to work on. Start with single stroke roll, double stroke roll, paradiddle. (10 minutes w/ metronome)

2) Buy Alfred's Drum Method and work on that (10 minutes w/ metronome)

3) Find a song you want to play and try to play along with it. I put ear buds in and throw gun shooting muffs over the top so the IPod doesn't get flooded out by the drums. This will keep drumming fun if you spend time trying to play with music you like. If you can find a chart for the song then use it.

Every other day

4) Hand Technique: This dvd is pretty expensive but to me it was worth every penny - Jojo Mayer Secret Weapons For The Modern Drummer. Some of the lessons in this video can be found on YouTube. (Work on one of these techniques in the video). Look at Moeller Technique in particular. This guy can achieve ridiculous power and speed the Moeller technique.

Go to the Vic Firth Website and look at the technique videos. John Wooten does a good job of explaining. I attached a link in the Rudiments section above.

2) Watch this video about different bass drum technique's. This will give you some ideas of how you can do quick doubles (very applicable to rock and hip hop).

  • Even if you cannot make it to the drum set, pull out a practice pad and work on rudiments or the Alfred Book.

There is a pure drummer forum called Drummer World that I would take a look at; there's professional players that answer questions all the time there.

All of these suggestions should be enough to get you started and going for awhile.


Well, you say...

Knowing myself and how I learn best, viewing random YouTube clips won't help me stick with it.

But sticking with it is on you, not the medium you're using for learning. If you don't have the passion for it, you won't do it. If playing drums isn't a passion of your's, no biggie. Move on to something that is.

I have no affiliation with this youtuber. And I'm no professional drummer, more of a piano player. But you said cheap. And ain't nothin cheaper than free...

Drumming without drums: https://youtu.be/U2BEQKYk8kg

Honestly, just playing a boring ass straight 8 rock beat should get you jazzed enough if you really want to be a drummer. Probably the best thing you can do is find a friend who plays guitar and play crappy songs together. Pretty much 1 out of 4 males play guitar. Guitarists are everywhere. Once he says "we need to play Back in Black"... There ya go.

And if your passion develops, save up your pennies and prioritize a teacher who can put you on a more serious path. Your music teacher and you need to "click". So maybe that was what was missing when you were 11.

  • hmmm that link... youtu.be/U2BEQKYk8kg Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 17:09
  • 2
    Stephen, I know where you're coming from on the comment about learning. However, it's not the whole truth. To have a pleasurable learning experience the challenge must match the skill level or let's say "general preparedness" for something. For me, getting to know what I don't know is the first challenge and can make the difference between pleasure and frustration :)
    – georgiosd
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 18:43
  • 'Sticking with it' - did you really mean to write that?!
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 19:20

I am 33yrs old and just picked up playing drums. After enough research I have a routine which seems to work for me based on everything I've seen online. I do 1 1/2 hours a night and split it up into specific things based off highly reviewed and respected drum books I got off amazon.

The first thing I did since I was a complete beginner though was complete a drums course on Udemy. It was 10 bucks and is great for getting started. Then I went into the books below.

Everything done with a metronome. I start with a warm up of Rudiments. I have an app with a metronome that gets faster and faster until I lose control, and I do single, double, triple stick rudiments. Paradiddle, flams, drags, everything. Then I go to the books.

You can do these in any order. I try to devote a minimum of at least 10-15 minutes to each book.

Learning songs, what's important here is the proper sheet music notation which you should learn. 50 First Songs You Should Play on the Drums

Learning to keep time with up and down beats. Crucial. Syncopation

Practice with limb independence. 4 Way Coordination

Optional, great book to learn some rock grooves Ultimate Realistic Rock

Optional, great book to learn various grooves if you want to just jam out freestyle. 1001 Drum Grooves

Learn proper stick technique, flow, and rhythm. Master Studies

In addition I have a notebook with printed out learning pieces organized by grooves, fills, rudiments, and songs I want to learn that aren't in my book.

Then after I go through all the learning and I'm probably frustrated and tired I do about 10-20 minutes of just freestyle to a backing track on youtube. You want to end on a good note, and its nice to be able to utilize everything you learned and see progress through a pressure free process. The link below I have been playing, mainly because its so much fun.


Have you looked into finding non-random internet videos, rather than random ones? For example, Drumeo offers a lot of drumming tutorials, as well as online courses that give a structured introduction to drumming technique, and personal online lessons as well. (I used one of their DVD/ practice book sets back when they still had them in tangible form, and it was a lot better than nothing.) Also, if you want to learn by playing songs, Drumscore has a lot of drum sheet music for sale, conveniently sorted by difficulty. Start with the 1s and work your way up.


I have played drums for most of my life, about 15 years and if I had to start from scratch again, I'd do it the same way again - by playing along to the music that you love!

Theory and different drum styles I picked up way later when that started to become the only way to improve my drumming skills.

So my suggestion is simply to find some of your favorite songs and listen to them a thousand times and just play along. That is how I learned almost everything, listening and playing along.


I would recommend find a balance of studying technique and playing. Perhaps 50%/50%. For technique, learn about stick gripping like the french and german. See this blog post on paradiddles using the french grip. Another great technique to look into is the Moeller technique.

In terms of playing. Play along to your favourite songs. Have fun with it. You can either just playing along and simply tap into the feel of the song or you can actually try to reproduce the beats and fills.


The best practice is to learn to play complete songs because that's what it's about at the end of the day and you have to be able to put it all together to play them, your not going to be supporting a band playing rudiments all night and you can find them in songs anyway (just pick songs that have challenging rudiments within them) so it's a more efficient way to practice. Forget reading music, it won't be any use to you until you become proficient enough to apply it


Motivation and passion are a kind of positive vicious circle and they fed on amount of time you spend doing the actual thing.

I know that, once grown up, we want to have that structured attitude, where we know exactly what needs to be done, what's the road ahead and how to get from A to B.

But my take is - there is no way of knowing beforehand how to become a good musician. If a good musician sat with a beginner and explained him "the way", he just wouldn't get it. I know it sounds silly and patronizing and a bit like all that karate movie stereotype where the master tells the kid to cut the grass with a pocket knife for seven days non stop or a scene in Desperado where a kid is told to practice one arpeggio for a year and then come back... but there is a grain of truth in it. Just keep at it without much hope to understand the way and enjoy the process of deeper and deeper immersion, the breakthroughs, the moments of clarity, the pure joy of getting better and better at something.

The musicians are not normal. They're a weird bunch who for some reason are so drawn to the sound of the thing that makes a sound, that they would sit for hours and make this thing making the sounds and try to make them sound better and better. It's more of an innocent obsession than a plan, project or item on a bucket list to cross out.

Again sorry if it all came as a bit patronizing and maybe harsh but I still believe it might help. We all have passions, sometimes they just need to be woken up a bit, dusted off, so we need to be sort of less grown up about them...


I'm in the same situation as you, but I'm learning for the first time ever starting at age 58. I've been amazed at how far I've come in about 1 month.

Here's what I did:

  1. Bought Roland electronic drum kit. (TD-17KV)
  2. It came with Melodics, which gamifies the drum learning experience - It's a blast and provides a clear "guided path".
  3. Found Drumeo (just using the free resources so far). It's amazing!
  4. Downloaded Moises app - it lets you dissect any music file to pull out the drum track. Now you can learn to play the song and provide your own drumming.


  • Very nice! Let us know how you're doing in a few months!
    – georgiosd
    Commented Nov 26, 2022 at 18:10

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