I love drums. I am an amateur, but from my childhood I was fascinated by this great instrument.

I've never owned a drum kit but I was always doing noise (with my hands on my belly, with my mouth, fork and spoon while waiting to be served to eat, etc.). With time, as many teenagers do, I listened to hard rock, metal, and punk and I've played along with the bands. I used my ears to reproduce what the drummers were doing, and it was fine.

But I started to try jazz, and some drums techniques, such as paradiddle and etc., but for now I just can not do it. I feel that my arms will NEVER succeed, and it makes me sad/angry and frustrated.

Is it normal to not be able to do something at all, but practice to do it?

  • The beauty of the drums is that you don't have just one instrument, you have DOZENS! And while most of them have the same basics, hit it at the right time, they are all unique and have different techniques. You just don't hit a tom the same way you hit a high hat, and neither are the same as a cymbal (and different cymbals are different at that! And some cymbals are almost different instruments on the outside as they are in the middle!) That's why drums can be so hard to learn. Keep practicing, you'll do great!
    – corsiKa
    Commented Feb 15, 2018 at 17:15
  • Thank you @corsiKa and I agree 110% with your logic and point of view ! Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 13:11

3 Answers 3


Is it "normal" to not be able at all and with practice to do it ?

Yes, this is exactly how it works. There is not a single musician on the planet that started out being able to play their instrument immediately. Everyone starts out terrible and then gets better with practice and time.

Through repetition your body will start to develop muscle memory and this will allow you to be able to play without having to consciously think about it. It literally becomes automatic.

From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_memory

Muscle memory has been used synonymously with motor learning, which is a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition. When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. This process decreases the need for attention and creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems. Examples of muscle memory are found in many everyday activities that become automatic and improve with practice, such as riding a bicycle, typing on a keyboard, typing in a PIN, playing a musical instrument, poker, martial arts or even dancing.

This is why experienced musicians can play their instruments and make it look so easy and effortless. They have developed this muscle memory to the point that it IS easy and effortless. With enough time and practice you will get to this point also. This is simply how our bodies work. Think of all the things you can already do without having to focus on them like walking, writing, riding a bike, throwing a ball, etc. these are all things you have developed muscle memory for and you can easily do them with without thought. Your drumming will eventually get to this point as well.

Here is the most important thing, when first learning something new make sure to practice very slowly and with proper technique because while developing muscle memory you want your body to learn the motions correctly. Have patience and resist the urge to try to play fast right away. Trying to play too fast too soon will only teach your body how to do it wrong which will end up reducing your overall speed, making you sound sloppy, and could even cause physical injuries such as tendonitis. Practice slowly and give your body plenty of time to learn how to do the motions while staying very relaxed. Speed will come with time and then you will be able to play faster, have better control, play with better feel, and you will protect your body from injuries.

One final point, make sure you are practicing consistently every day. You are better off practicing a few minutes every day (if you have limited time to practice) than practicing a lot all in one day and then taking the rest of the week off. Muscle memory will develop much faster through consistent reinforcement. Having long extended breaks in between practicing will cause you to loose a lot of the muscle memory you had developed before and it'll almost be like starting over each time you sit down to practice.

Practice slow, practice consistently, have patience and you will absolutely succeed. :)

  • Thank you @Tekkerue for all your advices and references, I'll just practice consistently and continue to enjoy playing drums Commented Feb 15, 2018 at 16:43
  • One of the OP's problems may be that he has developed 'muscle memory', perhaps including bad techniques, and now he's trying out jazz - potentially more demanding - those techniques have come back to bite him?
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 15, 2018 at 17:04

I think it is very common for players to hit plateaus, especially self taught players. It may be beneficial to get a teacher to help you along with the parts you are struggling with. A good teacher will help you where you are struggling and enforce things you already know as well as correct any mistakes in your technique.

  • Some of the plateaus might even be psychological, because some people become much more receptive to new techniques because of the presence of a teacher, so all in all, consulting with an instructor is always a good idea as a learner
    – psosuna
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 22:21

Is it normal? Yes, that's how it works. You begin by not knowing something then through study and practice, you gradually learn it. Is sounds to me like you're ready for some lessons. Jazz is one of the most challenging music forms and a good teacher can help you acquire the skills you're looking for. I would also recommend Jim Blackley's "Essence of Jazz Drumming".

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