THOUGHTS ON SELF-LEARNING DRUMS

NickSchles

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So, I’m a drum teacher, and have been teaching for many years. Similarly, I believe in the value of education, and take lessons regularly, and do self study.

That said some people choose to go full solo in their learning... Are you one of those people? If so, I wrote a blog you might be interested in with tips for successful self-learning!

https://nickschlesinger.com/learn-to-play-drums-online-like-a-boss

If you’re a drum teacher or a drum student, I’d love to get your take on this, and if you have thoughts on the blog post, I’d love to read ‘em!
 

Deafmoon

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For me, I started out in what I call a Freedom stage. I got bit by the drum bug watching a School Talent Show and an inner desire took over to play the drums. I gravitated to isolating the drummer when listening and playing to Top 40 radio hits until I could play a song; line by line, little by little. I didn't even think seriously about 'a path' of learning. That came about 3 years later when I hit the Discipline stage. Seriousness took over; study, reading, learning, voracious listening to all styles of music, no more drummer isolation but in context, anyone and everyone. Learning continues to this day. At some point that got me to the last step back into the Freedom stage. Only now, in the Freedom/Discipline/Freedom cycle this stage is where I execute ideas spontaneously in the music to express points, shading, colors, & mood of the music. That's pretty much the way I got there 50 years ago to today. Freedom/Discipline/Freedom as I see it.
 

gbow

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As a self taught drummer... From many many years ago. I was self taught because I lived in a place where there wasn't available instruction, my parents would have never been able to afford instruction much less all the travel that would have been required. So take my comments with a grain of salt, just some old fool giving his opinion.

These things are always interesting to me. They always seem to be so influenced wanting "likes" or the fact that it's so accessible by many people via the internet. People that will say all sorts of bad things or "cancel" you unless your advice is bullet proof.

So we build an approach that starts by saying to make a good plan, have goals, be regimented, be serious, work hard, etc. All the right things. Actually all the right things for just about anything.

But the reality is... We live in a world where people are now less regimented, don't work as hard, less disciplined, and want it right now. So it's really hard.

I will say that I learned how to play drums by just having fun. Find some easy songs with 4/4 beats, 4 on the floor beats, etc. And play along with them. Jam with friends that play bass, guitar, keys, or whatever. If you don't have any friends, just play along with recorded songs. Don't worry that you're not great, just enjoy it, laugh, have fun. I'm not even sure I would recommend recording yourself at first.

This will also help you understand whether you have a passion for it or not. If you do it for a month and quit, then it's not for you. No biggie.

But if you have a penchant for it, enjoy it, and start to get some chops. Then you can start recording yourself and learning a bit more.

Youtube can be a bit dangerous to some personality types. Many/most of the people you find on there are so good, it's discouraging. You can be a good kit drummer for most popular styles of music without being Thomas Lang.

As you get better and get more into it, now you can start to raise your game with a more structured approach. Start slowly. I recommend finding some groove/beat that you find difficult from a coordination perspective and working on that every day until you get it down. Keep doing this until you develop better coordination. Picking new beats that are hard every time you get one down, but still start the session by playing the ones you already learned to become more comfortable with them.

That's what I did, and even still do to some degree. We've all found a new song that we had to "woodshed" to get comfortable with.

Just my 2 cents.

gabo
 

PhilAycockOfficial

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I taught myself cause I had no patience for snippy impatient Instructors I probably know more than any lesson could've taught me.. I learned to play songs by ear and listening to them a few times and through discovery as well as trial by error I learned to play drums on my own never had an instructor. it's fun and exciting for me to learn it all on my own. Sure i'll have to take lessons to play double bass at some point.. but for now i am content with single bass playing
 

JDA

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if you've watched the interview John D. does with Andy Newmark ...he says something in there..that I think was common BITD.

Lessons were on a snare drum (or pad) Usually for two years (local instructor, private (in their home) lessons)
...notes, note values, rolls, rests etc..some sight-reading, rudiments..
Then (this is me talking) you went out on your own....with a set.

That was common back then. Andy said it and he's older (by 6) than me.
that was (for boomers) common in the mid and late 60s
 

JDA

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lessons..Set lessons..may not have appeared (been common) until later I'd say much later..but anyone could chime in when they first became aware of set lessons..
it was common for 2 years on a snare drum (call it one surface) then it was "go buddy see ya bye"
because you were out of there .. couldn't wait

I played that way for 5 years after two years of snare drum lessons...discovering and put it together (on the set) on my own; from listening, records and watching in magazines and own discovery.

when other lessons came into play in 1975 had already some idea of the drum set workings (lol)
 
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Matched Gripper

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So, I’m a drum teacher, and have been teaching for many years. Similarly, I believe in the value of education, and take lessons regularly, and do self study.

That said some people choose to go full solo in their learning... Are you one of those people? If so, I wrote a blog you might be interested in with tips for successful self-learning!

https://nickschlesinger.com/learn-to-play-drums-online-like-a-boss

If you’re a drum teacher or a drum student, I’d love to get your take on this, and if you have thoughts on the blog post, I’d love to read ‘em!
In my view, all musicians are self taught to one degree or another. But, if you have a choice, making that journey (potentially a lifelong endeavor), with the benefit of qualified teacher(s) is the wise choice. Without the direction of a qualified teacher, you could spend years, if not your lifetime, basically reinventing the wheel, or never properly learning the basics to build on.
 

JDA

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there's two type of teacher tho- if you go back - the old way- was just snare drum.
set lessons is something that came later;

Someone should investigate the first instance of Set lessons.
There was Ludwig Clinics where cymbal playing and other tips were offered. In University (I would have to think Berklee in the 50s maybe? had some set instruction maybe)
The Ludwig clinics (and the Ludwig drummer flyers) may have been the first widespread use/display/ of Set instructions.

but local teachers; it was snare/one surface/ for the most part

But look into the First books on Set - lesson/methodology etc.
See when and what was the first.

So a lot of the drummers one can mention from BITD- (the buddy rich the bonhams the ringos) (certainly the Elvin Jones and Philly Jones and Alan Dawsons) snare/one surface/ lessons...(even if it was 1, 2 or a months worth..)
Set lessons came in general use Later.

nearly every (90.9 %) body took lessons (even 1 or 3...) but it was on Snare

I can see young drummers not realizing this distinction
 
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RIDDIM

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I think one could argue none of us are self-taught - or we all are.

Pretty much all of us know what we know because of what we heard or saw someone else do - then we applied or mutated it to fit our own circumstances. As far as reading is concerned, a reasonably obsessed 12-year-old could likely make his or her way through Haskell Harr's books; after that, a wall might be hit and one might seek help.

If you look at folks like Dennis, Rickman or Greg Clark, those guys have done a lot of listening - and hear quickly. They've paid attention. They just haven't gone what some might consider being the formal route. That didn't stop them.

The hungry ones among us never stop. It's like being a doctor; we have to stay on top of our game or we'll be decertified. And there's always a 4 year old out there with a better idea.
 

dsteinschneider

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Just glanced at Nick's article but will read it later. I play bass but always wanted to become proficient in drumming to be a better bass player and also so when a drummer isn't available I can fill in. This past year I decided to do my own multi instrument covers. I noticed one of the bullets was record yourself. That is fantastic advice. For me it's almost like playing live with a band. You have to nail the part if you're going to build a cover on top of it.
 

JDA

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yea you know in 1968 that wasn't around
and
even in 70 that book took time to circulate and the old snare drum books Podemski's and Rubanks and others were still what was used. Snare drum books. Were well before set books
 

Cann_Man28

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I was more or less self-taught when I started out. I was taking piano lessons at the time and my brother got a kit, and I would wail on the thing. I would play along with James Brown records for the most part, or just play. Most people I play with love my feel and I think that came in part from learning myself, especially at the beginning. My technique suffered freaking big time. And I had to spend years shedding stick control, syncopation, and the like to get my hands and independence happening. But I could "fake" it at a high level because my ears were good from suffering through piano and my feel was good from teaching myself without getting stuck in the grid. I take lessons now, a few in a row, and the I a few more once I am done shedding--however long that takes.

My two cents on it now, mostly from going to jam sessions around town and listening to drummers who are trying to get it together is that most of us play too loud and too much and I think that actually comes from people trying to "use" what they have been learning--especially if they are studying drums and not part of a band.

My favorite drum lessons now are "conceptual" lessons. Listening to recordings from a recent rehearsal with the teacher, developing new grooves for the material, etc. I think that starting out on a self-taught route helped me find my groove and avoid getting stuck chasing licks and patterns, I never lost sight of the fact that all of that is there to help us, help the band swing harder.
 

NickSchles

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As a self taught drummer... From many many years ago. I was self taught because I lived in a place where there wasn't available instruction, my parents would have never been able to afford instruction much less all the travel that would have been required. So take my comments with a grain of salt, just some old fool giving his opinion.

These things are always interesting to me. They always seem to be so influenced wanting "likes" or the fact that it's so accessible by many people via the internet. People that will say all sorts of bad things or "cancel" you unless your advice is bullet proof.

So we build an approach that starts by saying to make a good plan, have goals, be regimented, be serious, work hard, etc. All the right things. Actually all the right things for just about anything.

But the reality is... We live in a world where people are now less regimented, don't work as hard, less disciplined, and want it right now. So it's really hard.

I will say that I learned how to play drums by just having fun. Find some easy songs with 4/4 beats, 4 on the floor beats, etc. And play along with them. Jam with friends that play bass, guitar, keys, or whatever. If you don't have any friends, just play along with recorded songs. Don't worry that you're not great, just enjoy it, laugh, have fun. I'm not even sure I would recommend recording yourself at first.

This will also help you understand whether you have a passion for it or not. If you do it for a month and quit, then it's not for you. No biggie.

But if you have a penchant for it, enjoy it, and start to get some chops. Then you can start recording yourself and learning a bit more.

Youtube can be a bit dangerous to some personality types. Many/most of the people you find on there are so good, it's discouraging. You can be a good kit drummer for most popular styles of music without being Thomas Lang.

As you get better and get more into it, now you can start to raise your game with a more structured approach. Start slowly. I recommend finding some groove/beat that you find difficult from a coordination perspective and working on that every day until you get it down. Keep doing this until you develop better coordination. Picking new beats that are hard every time you get one down, but still start the session by playing the ones you already learned to become more comfortable with them.

That's what I did, and even still do to some degree. We've all found a new song that we had to "woodshed" to get comfortable with.

Just my 2 cents.

gabo
I can totally relate to this; thanks for sharing! You got some great points in there. :)
 


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