Today’s blog is about how to get started drumming even if you’ve only ever played guitar. Perhaps you decided to take the plunge because you fancy a change. Maybe it’s because your band could never find a reliable drummer. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to take matters into your own hands.
I’m sure you describe yourself as a competent musician. After all, you’ve been playing guitar for years. How hard can this be, really?
You sit down on the drum throne, pick up the sticks, and away you go. Only something’s not quite right. Instead of perfectly timed sick, syncopated beats, you sound more like your nephew throwing a tantrum at the dinner table.
What the hell happened, you ask yourself.
It’s seems you’ll need to spend a lot of time practicing before you’re even halfway as good at drumming as you are at shredding. Don’t worry. Being a decent guitarist actually gives you a few advantages compared to just going in blind. With that in mind, here’s a few tips to help you get started drumming if you’ve only ever played guitar.
Use a metronome constantly
When you practice playing guitar, you might not bother with a metronome every single time. Sometimes it feels nicer to go with the natural flow. This can lead to some really nice authentic grooves. With drums, that goes out the window. Every time you sit down to play, you better have that metronome set, and slower than you normally would.
This is crucial to developing the level of timing you will need to be a good drummer. You’re not expected to be a robot. You still need to have a little swing, but good timing is non-negotiable.
Handling time between b e a t s
As a guitarist, you won’t always think about the pauses in between the notes you play. Drums don’t have the same sort of sustain as an electric or even acoustic guitar. You’ll be working with a lot of tiny pauses between the beats, even if you’re playing at super speed with gratuitous use of cymbals.
Pay attention to where the sticks are as you lift off the drums, what’s known as the upstroke. Keep your movements tight and coordinated. You’ll find it much easier to keep in time and not need to rush around so much. Drumming is physically tiring, so you’ll always help yourself to conserve energy this way.
If you ever took formal guitar lessons, you’ll remember how important it was to keep your back straight while playing.
As a drummer, this goes double. You’ll essentially be engaging in a full body workout for long stretches of time. If you’re not sitting correctly you can do quite a bit of harm to both your technique and yourself.
It’s also important that you remember to stand up and have a walk around whilst practicing. You should do this at least once an hour for five minutes.
To get started drumming if you’ve been a guitar player for a while isn’t so different. Your patience and determination to master a new instrument will have the biggest impact on your progress. You’ve probably forgotten how difficult it was when you first started to play guitar. Going through this initial phase of learning can be daunting when you’re used to being able to pick up your instrument and sound great.
However, I encourage you to stick with it no matter how frustrated you get. You’ll be far more annoyed with yourself if you give up.
And remember to use the metronome!
This post is contributed by Zing Instrument’s editor Zac Green