If you’ve ever wanted to learn to play the drums, you might have been wondering if you needed to buy a drum set to get started. To begin with, you only require a pair of sticks.
Is it possible to learn how to play the drums without a drum set? Absolutely!
While you won’t be able to play beats or fills, you will learn about stick technique, rudiments, and different sticking patterns. We’ll show you a few techniques for doing so without a drum set in sight.
How to play drums without a drum set
Step 1: Obtain a practice pad and a pair of sticks
What will I be drumming on if I do not purchase a drum set?
The first thing you should do is get a pair of sticks. Because drumming is rhythmic, playing patterns on surfaces with a pair of sticks is often all you need at first. You can learn how to hold the sticks properly, understand the importance of rebounding on various surface areas, and become accustomed to how the sticks feel in your hands.
While playing on any surface is acceptable, there are drum pads that are specifically designed for practice. Getting one of these is therefore something that all drummers should do. It will be more comfortable to play on a pad than on a pillow or couch.
Every professional drummer I know owns a good practice pad. This is the foundation of good drumming and an excellent place to begin learning to play.
A practice pad is a thin, circular board that helps you improve your technique, timing, and muscle memory. Because they are portable, they are a favorite tool among many drummers. You can put them to use in your daily practice.
Legendary drummer Vinnie Colauita is the subject of one of my favorite drummer stories involving a practice pad. Vinnie was always practicing and spent his entire day with sticks in hand.
According to legend, Vinnie could converse with his friends, practice on a pad, and eat noodles all while keeping perfect time!
A practice pad is an excellent place to start if you want to progress to noodle-level drumming.
The Benefits of Using a Practice Pad
- A drum set is much more expensive.
- Lightweight and portable.
- Muscular strength is greatly increased.
- Master drummers all over the world use it.
- The quickest way to start learning the drums.
- Peaceful and neighborly (especially when using conditioning inserts).
*** Read more: How Much Does A Drum Set Cost? – Hapitones
Step 2: Practice your rudiments on a daily basis
You can learn all about rudiments now that you have your sticks and a practice pad. These are the fundamentals of drumming, and they consist of specific sticking patterns that must be mastered.
There are a total of 40 official rudiments, but you only need to learn the first three to get started. Their names and patterns are as follows:
- Stroke only (RLRL RLRL)
- Stroke twice (RRLL RRLL)
- Paradiddle, single (RLRR LRLL)
You’ll begin with the most basic rudiment, single strokes, and progress to more advanced and complex rhythms like ratamacues and flamadiddles.
The goal of learning rudiments is to provide you with a vocabulary for playing the drum kit. When you apply them to a full set, you’ll see how effective they are at providing groove and fill ideas.
It all starts on the pad if you want to be a legendary drummer like John Bonham. First, master the fundamentals by learning simple rudiments, and then proceed to the next step!
Step 3: exercise with a metronome
As a drummer, one of your most important tools is a metronome. It’s a device that clicks a steady pulse to keep you on time. It is critical that you practice with a metronome while playing on the practice pad as a beginner drummer.
This will strengthen your sense of timing, which is one of the most important aspects of being a drummer.
A metronome’s BPM can be adjusted to click at a specific tempo. To get a good grasp on the rudiments, practice them at different tempos. The goal would be to be able to play patterns at fast tempos with ease.
*** Read more: Top 12 Easy Songs To Play On Dums For Beginners
Step 4: Improve timing and independence
Timing and independence are two essential skills for drummers. You’ve already begun working on these key skills if you’ve been practicing on the pad.
Timing is the most important skill a drummer can have. The drummer is the foundation of the band, keeping all of the musicians playing together and on time.
Many people believe that only talented musicians have great timing, but did you know that this is a skill that can be learned?
Working on your timing is critical to progressing as a drummer. Drummers frequently use metronomes while playing rudiments or common drum beats to avoid speeding up or slowing down.
A metronome generates a series of clicks that are precisely timed to assist musicians in playing evenly.
Try playing along with an online metronome the next time you practice on your pad! It’s difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’ll improve your playing tremendously.
Are you wondering how Vinnie from our previous story was able to eat his noodles while practicing on his pad?
Drumming is often compared to rubbing your belly while patting your head. In fact, there’s twice as much of that going on!
Drummers play rhythms on the drum kit with all four limbs. This requires them to multitask, as they must play different rhythms with different limbs at the same time.
Don’t be alarmed if this seems impossible.
As you improve as a drummer, your brain will develop to the point where you can multitask without even thinking about it.
Playing basic rhythms with your feet while practicing on your pad is the best way to start developing your independence.
Begin by playing a rudiment of your choice along with a metronome on your pad.
When you’re ready, try tapping your right foot on every beat while still playing the rudiment.
When you play a rudiment with two hands and then add your right foot, you’ve already developed three-way coordination!
Then try the same thing with your left foot.
Finally, see if you can alternate your feet for each beat (playing your right foot on beats 1 and 3, and your left foot on beats 2 and 4).
This is the first step on your path to true drumming independence and the ability to rock out on a full drum kit!
Which practice pad should I purchase?
This 4-in-1 practice pad is the best practice pad I’ve ever used and thus recommend.
It has four different surfaces to represent the various types of drums you might end up playing.
The laminated surface simulates the feel of a marching snare, whereas the conditioning surface is ideal for building strength for tom-toms and other less responsive drums.
I mostly use the conditioning surface to practice on a quieter surface, and I’ve found that practice on this pad translates well to a variety of drums.
Personally, I believe that investing in a high-quality pad rather than purchasing a low-cost one will help you develop better muscular strength, technique, and control, allowing you to make the most of your practice time.
*** Read more: What Are Drum Chops? And How To Improve Them?
What kind of sticks should I get?
You’ll need a pair of sticks once you’ve found a good practice pad. There are numerous options available, but typically, you’ll want to go with a 5A drumstick.
The 5A drumstick is the standard stick used by drummers from almost every musical genre.
It’s a medium-weight stick that can be used in a variety of musical situations. Many great drummers throughout history have used 5A sticks, and you should too!
While there are many great drumstick brands, none is more well-known than Vic Firth. Because of their dependability and superior quality, I always use Vic Firth 5A drum sticks.
Sticks, like practice pads, are not all created equal. Vic Firth sticks, for example, are pitch-paired to ensure that each drum stick produces the same sound when struck against a drum or pad.
Why practice if you don’t have a drum kit?
If you’re a beginner drummer, you might not have access to a kit, or you might want to practice without making too much noise.
Perhaps you want to fine-tune your movements away from the kit, or perhaps you want to work on some rudiments while your neighbors are sleeping.
Whatever your circumstances, there are numerous reasons why practicing without a drum kit can be beneficial. What you can learn from practicing drumming without a drum set is as follows:
Technique – Practicing without a drum kit allows you to focus solely on your hands by removing all of the distractions associated with playing.
This can assist you in isolating and improving specific techniques that will improve your overall skills.
You can practice different grips and playing styles before attempting to apply them to a real drum.
Coordination is the ability to move all four limbs in different directions at different speeds and intensities without tying up your brain.
Drummers use both hands at the same time, but this does not always come naturally to new drummers.
To improve hand coordination, try playing basic quarter note beats with one hand first, then the other. Then, experiment with simple variations such as adding eighth notes or changing the rhythm of your notes between your two hands.
Improves timing, allowing you to execute those moves when they are needed.
Playing along with a metronome can help you improve your timing and tempo.
It’s easy to feel the pulse of the beat in your hands when drumming on hand percussion, which helps train your muscle memory for consistency in timekeeping.
Counting – Any drummer must be able to count rhythms.
It’s essential to be able to count off songs and keep time whether you’re in a small combo or a big band.
Even if you’re working with written music, you’ll want to be able to tell which measure you’re on at a glance.
*** Read more: How To Tune Drum Set? For Beginners
- Do I need a drum set to learn how to play drums?
No, you don’t need a drum set to begin. To begin working on the fundamentals, you can purchase a pair of sticks and a practice pad. You can learn proper stick techniques and basic rudiments using these tools.
However, if you want to start playing drum beats and fills, you’ll need to get a drum set eventually.
- How can I learn to drum at home?
Yes. There are thousands of learning materials available on the Internet, making it very simple to learn to play the drums from home. You can learn the basics by watching a few free YouTube videos, or you can sign up for a drum lesson platform like Drumeo Edge that will walk you through the process step by step.
- Can you learn to play the drums?
Yes. The great thing about drumming is that many people learn it on their own. You can fiddle around on a drum set until you figure out how to play something. This process can be repeated until you are reasonably skilled at playing.
However, teaching yourself to play the drums frequently results in important aspects being overlooked. The most important is technique. When you teach yourself, you may develop bad habits that cause injury or prevent you from playing optimally.
To ensure that you’re playing drums correctly, it’s always better to take lessons from a drum teacher or watch lessons online. Thanks to the Internet, this is now easier than ever.
- What other things can you use as a drum?
If you don’t yet have a practice pad, you can make do with surfaces that respond well to drum sticks. Playing on a wooden table may sound too aggressive for most, but playing on softer surfaces such as carpets and couches will feel far more comfortable.
Just be careful not to play on fragile surfaces. Playing too hard on a couch, for example, may result in the sticks breaking through the surface. That’s why it’s always a good idea to practice on a drum pad.
*** Read more: Top 12+ Greatest Singing Drummers Of All Time
Thank you for taking the time to read this beginner’s guide to learn how to play the drums without a drum set.
In the early stages, learning to play the drums without a set is entirely possible. However, once you’ve mastered stick holding and a few rudiments, you’ll need a drum set to continue.
Playing the drums on a pad will become a part of your practice routine, but playing the drums will always be the most important thing.