For a few years I have been an avid Rock Band 3 player. For the last year, I have been taking more and more interest in playing drums on the game. My favourite bands to play on the game right now are Metallica and Dream Theater.

Even without the cymbal extension (so base pedal and 4 pads), this already feels very realistic. Definitely more so than playing the guitar on the game would.

I have been enjoying this so much that I am considering buying an electric drumkit, but I am holding it off, mostly due to space issues.

For the time being, playing Rock Band it is.

I wonder though, would there be lots of things I would have to relearn when/if I would switch to a real drumkit? In other words, how effective is playing Rock Band (on expert level of course) for actually learning to play drums?

2 Answers 2


One only has to hear Roy 'Future Man' Wooten perform to know the facility and fluidity that can be achieved in pad controller-based playing, but Wooten was already an accomplished drummer when he started on pads. No doubt you will have developed your reflexes, coordination and stick control and learned something about tempo and the role of drums in the ensemble, but the single most valuable activity to promote your development as a drummer would be to start learning your drum rudiments.

Drummers of all styles speak in rudiments as guitarists speak in scales. Without rudiments you are copying patterns; with rudiments you are making your own music and understanding how the drummers of Metallica and Dream Theater come up with their grooves and fills.

The good news is that you can practise drum rudiments on a table top, the sole of your shoe or just with your hands on your thighs-no other equipment necessary. This clip,

shows just what can be done with one drum and a mastery of rudiments.

Rock Band certainly won't hurt your drumming, but rudiments will make you a drummer.


Playing Rock Band develops one core skill of drumming, which is coordination. Other musical skills will have to be developed from scratch. A major difference between Rock Band and playing music is that Rock Band is reactive (the notes and rhythms fly out at you from the screen), while playing music alone or in a group, you have to provide the pacing and feel internally.

This will be especially true if you start drumming. Your internal tempo and feel for the groove will be critical to the sound of the group, and will take time to develop. You will also need to learn to strike a drum correctly to produce good tone, something that Rock Band cannot teach you.

If you want to get a sense of what drum practice will be like without spending any more money, use a free metronome app and start practicing drum rudiments. Rudiments are rhythm patterns designed to develop the fundamental skills of drumming. These are the building blocks of drum skills, and can be practiced just with sticks on any surface (or with your hands and feet). If you are passionate about music and willing to dedicate the time and effort, you will be able to transition from video game drumming to real drumming. But be prepared to be a beginner, even if you are an excellent Rock Band player.

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    Also real drumming on real drums involves a lot of subtleties of playing that are not possible in rock band. Exactly where and how hard and with what part of the stick you hit each kit piece has a huge effect on the sound. Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 22:56
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    To add to Todd Wilcox's point, this applies even with electronic drum kits.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 1:18

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