Is Learning Music Theory Important For Drummers?

Is Music Theory Important For Drummers?

Is music theory important for drummers? That’s a good question! So let’s find out.

Spoiler: I’m a trained conductor for classical percussion instruments.

My opinions on the topic for this reason might be a little biased.

But of course not too much, don’t worry. 😉

Urgh … Music Theory … For Drummers?!

I don’t know how about you …

But I’ve never been that eager in learning about scales, crazy composing skills or other not-so-drumming-related-stuff.

Sure, proper knowledge about these things comes handy.

When you need it.

So what about drummers?

Do you and I need to know about music theory in general?

My answer is: Yes. And no.

Let’s dig deeper into it.

Why music theory is important for drummers: Pros and Cons

You know, music is such an unbelievably wide field of arts.

And yes, there are certain rules you should know to be able to break them.

Being a drummer makes no difference.

They include of course

  • rhythmic basics
  • understanding of important music concepts (e.g. dynamics)
  • and how to combine rhythmical fragments into a great musical performance

However, you do not necessarily need to know about scales, chords or modes. But as I said: It does come handy.


Because making music is interaction. It’s like talking to somebody. And what’s always a good thing when doing so? Understanding the language you’re talking. At least to a certain level.

Jupiter: A conversation between me, my drums and the piano.

So when you’re playing in a band, music theory can help you to understand your fellow musicians better.

You will be able to know why they are doing something – and why they don’t.

Even sometimes you will be able to foresee what they will come up next with. Don’t laugh, that’s something I experienced a lot.

Especially when it comes to nice sounding chord changes. 😉

Of course, you’re going to need to have a solid knowledge of music theory when you want to study music at university.

As my blog is meant for aspiring drum beginners however, I guess I can leave that point out.

The conclusion: It Depends

The thing is: Music theory is important for drummers. At least if you ask me. But not each and every part of it.

And that’s the point: Understanding what the piano or bass does for example – and why – can enhance your drumming in the band drastically.

But before it does, you have to reach a certain level of musical skills. When you don’t even understand what you do, another view might totally confuse you.

So as a drummer, my advice for you is: Don’t shy away from learning music theory. But don’t rush it.

First, learn what you as a beginner on the drums have or want to learn. Build a solid basis. Practice as needed, gig a lot and get inspired by fellow musicians.

Also, understand the rhythmic fundamentals of the music. That’s also theory, but one you will benefit from a lot when transferred directly on the kit.

In addition, stay open-minded understanding new stuff. This especially includes music history and the cultural origins of the songs you’re going to play.

This will not only enhance your drumming, but also help you to grow as a human being.

As I said, it’s like a language. You can learn it best by talking and interacting with others. 🙂

However, learning music theory as a drummer always is up to you. I guess it’s the same with sheet music. Some love it while others don’t.

And in my opinion, that’s totally fine.

What do you think?


Music Theory - Drum Blog
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Author: Manu Holmer

Hi, I'm Manu Holmer, nice to meet you! As a professional drummer and drum teacher, my vision is to help others transform their lives with the power of music. Let's not only play the drums. Feel the rhythm & and walk to our own beats!

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