Learning the drums? Get ready to face some drumming mistakes!
Hey, I’m just being honest.
And after all, we all know them, right?
The mistakes we ALL make as a drummer.
Everybody struggles when starting-out to play the drums.
Still, I struggle after being a drummer half of my life.
No big deal, that’s normal.
You might struggle as well, and get over your drumming mistakes.
Maybe you made some bigger ones like me.
And hey … that’s perfectly fine!
Making mistakes not only is a normal part of the drumming game.
They will also help you to become the musician you long to be.
When you learn from your mistakes, they can become your biggest and most precious lessons.
Trust me: I made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot as a consequence.
That’s the best reason for sharing my 5 biggest drumming mistakes with you today.
1st Drumming Mistake: “Practice” What You’ve Already Learned
There’s a lot to learn for us drummers at every stage of musicianship.
When you’re new behind the kit, this can be overwhelming.
Still, you might be able to nail some drum beats or fills soon after starting out.
Heck, you totally rock them!
That’s awesome, and enjoy every minute of playing the drums!
At the same time, do keep in mind:
Playing things you already know over and over again without adding some new challenge is not practicing. It’s repeating what you’ve already learned.
And that’s the first of my biggest drumming mistakes I made as a beginner:
I did a lot of repeating, but I did not leave my comfort zone.
Hence, I didn’t actually practice the drums when I thought I would.
That’s why I felt stuck a lot of times.
Sure, I really got good at what I already was good at playing.
Correct repetitions are a fine-tuning of your drumming skills, after all.
But if you want to learn something new on the drums, you need to leave your comfort zone and embrace the uncertainty.
Practicing is learning something new or getting better at something you've not yet mastered. As a consequence, you won't sound too good during your practice time.
So, whenever practicing the drums, it can actually feel or be exhausting.
I’ll give you an example:
Back when I started drumming, I avoided playing drum fills most of the time.
This was because I really felt insecure with the timing.
Best possible solution for me: I mostly concentrated on grooves.
The problem was: My insecurity about playing fills stayed.
That’s really a pity because I could have simply learned how to master fills.
However, I was kind of intimidated by them, due to my avoiding behavior.
As a human being, I guess sticking to our personal comfort zone is the most natural thing to do.
Unfortunately, it’s also not the smartest way of handling challenges.
If you want to be the drummer YOU want to be, stepping out of your comfort zone will be crucial.
This could mean finally playing your first concert in front of people.
Learning how to play a drum solo.
Or setting up your own YouTube channel.
(This was a tough one for me. At the moment, I’m actually pausing it due to health issues. But I’ll be back, I know.)
Whatever it is making you afraid – not only as a drum newbie:
Being willing to face our fears often really is the next logical step to achieving our dreams.
And yes, I know it’s hard, especially in the beginning.
And yes, I struggle with certain topics, too.
We ALL do.
But we can make tiny steps towards our goals each day.
Small steps add up, too.
You struggle with playing drum fills like I did?
Learn one simple fill as soon as you can.
This exercise and goal might be a game changer for you.
When you realize, you CAN actually do something about your fears.
Everything might change for you as it did for me.
So, give it a try and learn from the first of my drumming mistakes:
Don’t repeat, but practice.
2nd Drumming Mistake: Hoping For Useful Advice From The Wrong People
You probably know them:
- The Nay-sayers,
- the Pessimistic-Realists
- and of course, the I-just-want-to-help-you-with-my-personal-advices?
Whenever you become excited about something, they sure know how to pull you back down to earth.
Maybe those guys or girls say you’d be too old to learn the drums.
Maybe they say you “just don’t have what it takes”.
Or perhaps they secretly are afraid that you will be a successful drummer, but certainly won’t admit it.
People will have opinions.
Some of them will be helpful.
Others will threaten to weigh you down.
So, you really need to make up your own mind.
DO NOT rely on other people’s opinions to get permission to do what you love.
Also, DO NOT ask anybody for drumming advice, unless this person is qualified to do so.
Providing you with professional feedback simply is something not everybody is qualified for.
I’ve learned the lesson provided by the 2nd of my drumming mistakes the hard way:
Back when I started out, I got a lot of advice from a lot of different people.
As a result, I did feel insecure about me and my drumming for quite a long time.
Make your own mistakes and learn from them.
But don’t focus too much on other non-drumming people and their opinions.
Instead, get advice from experts
- professional drum teachers,
- mentors or
They are there to help you.
But in the end, everything is up to you.
(And even professionals will be wrong sometimes, remember this one!)
You’re the one living your life, and you need to make your own decisions.
You’re also the one taking action.
3rd Of My Drumming Mistakes: Avoid The Metronome As A Drum Newbie
I avoided practicing with the metronome for a long time.
That’s a really, really common mistake.
The metronome or click is a reliable reference for your timing.
It helps you check on it and also, work on it.
If you don’t use the click, you have to rely on your
- feelings and
- the listeners around you
for providing feedback.
The problem is, however:
As a drum beginner, you likely don’t have
- trained ears,
- reliable feelings or
- professional listeners
helping you to check your timing on a regular basis.
For this reason, you are likely to guess whether you’re in or out of time.
That’s not the best way to learn how to keep tempo.
Or the most efficient way.
What you measure, does increase.
I’m a strong believer that this saying is true.
So, one of my biggest drum newbie mistakes for sure was to avoid using the metronome.
You’re a non-klick guy or girl right now?
Don’t feel pressured to change that or anything.
You do not have to use the metronome if you don’t want to.
I simply and highly recommend it.
After all, a click is designed to be your helper:
Don’t know if you’re playing in-time?
Listen to the click and it will tell you.
It’s a trustworthy reference for your timing.
And what I’ve learned also is:
Even if you suck the first, second or third time you practice to the click, things will get better soon.
You’ll get used to it over time.
So, whenever you’re ready, give the click a try, or two or fifteen.
4th Drumming Mistake: Taking Constructive Critic Personally
One of my biggest drumming mistakes I made was to listen to the wrong people.
Also, I did take constructive critic personally.
Yes, there will always be people trying to give you a hard time.
Some people will try to make you feel bad or inferior.
That’s really sad, but you simply can’t avoid criticism as an artist.
Showing your art makes you vulnerable.
We can not expect everybody to love us or what we do.
And hey, that’s perfectly fine.
But don’t get me wrong:
I’m definitely not saying that it’s fine to harass somebody.
NO freaking way!
What I’ve learned from the 4th of my drumming mistakes is this one here:
Criticism can be outstandingly helpful if it’s CONSTRUCTIVE. This kind of feedback is precious and really is something to be thankful for.
So constructive critic is nothing to take personally.
In fact, it’s advice that can help you become the drummer you want to be.
But what if it’s the kind of critic simply intended to
- make you feel bad,
- annoy or
- unsettle you?
I’m afraid, but you will have to live with it in the long run.
What’s the alternative to it?
Hide away, never showing your art to anybody?
This might sound harsh, I know.
But there will always be people
- loving what you do,
- disliking what you do,
- and not caring about you at all.
What will you do about this?
Of course: Doing what you love.
Playing the drums for example and learn to benefit from constructive critic.
5th Drumming Mistake: Overplaying
As a drum beginner, I really wanted to learn how to play the “fancy stuff”.
You know, the
- complex beats,
- tricky drum fills and
- fast as a jaguar songs.
I simply wasn’t eager to stick to the “boring, simple” drumming.
I didn’t realize that it’s more about how you play something.
The what comes second.
Drumming is about making music, it’s not a competition.
It’s about expressing yourself and not about impressing somebody else.
You might argue about this, sure.
Especially in times of Social Media.
But for me, it’s like I say:
Drumming improves my happiness.
It reduces stress and just makes me feel good.
If somebody else enjoys what I do: wonderful.
If not, that’s fine as well.
I don’t need to overplay anymore.
I just need to play the music.
Whether it’s a challenge or not.
Why Drumming Mistakes Actually Help You Grow As A Musician
Thinking drumming mistakes are bad?
Well, not at all, even if they were painful at first.
(Won’t lie to you.)
But in the long run, they helped my grow massively as a musician and human being.
If I hadn’t made them, I’ve missed a lot.
And sure, I’ve made a lot – I mean A LOT – more drumming mistakes during my musical journey.
I still make them.
However, the ones I shared with you today, I feel are the lessons I learned most of.
So maybe, you can benefit from my mistakes as well.
Did you make drumming mistakes that turned out to be an outstandingly valuable lesson?
Feel free to share them in the comments so that we can benefit from your learning as well!
Thanks & cheers,