Is Reading Sheet Music Important For Drummers?

How important is reading drums sheet music

Is reading sheet music really that important for drummers?

That’s a question I’ve been asked a lot.

To be honest, I love drums sheet music. I do not always use it, however. But when I do it helps me a lot. 😉

In this article, I’d like to show you the greatest advantages of being a good reader first.

Then you’ll learn why I always teach reading skills in my drum lessons.

The advantages of reading sheet music for drummers

For me, being able to read drums sheet music comes pretty handy. I know what to play.

If I want to come up with my own ideas, however, I can use the original score as a resource of rhythm to build on.

Secondly, I can’t remember every note I played during my career as a female drummer and teacher.

Drums sheet music helps me to do so.

And believe me, that’s worth a lot!

Talking about:

Reading sheet music often helps my students to properly understand what I play.

They can watch and listen, which is a great learning tool for them.

Some people are effective learners by ear. Some understand things better when they can do it. Others prefer reading and writing. And of course there are drummers who get the best results combining all four learning methods.

That’s nothing I came up with.

It’s actually proven by some scientific research.

If you like to dig a little deeper, I recommend this drumming guide on the so called VARK model.

Why I want all of my drum students to read sheet music

I’ve always been critical of things.

The why is very important for me.

This also includes my teaching chores of course.

For this reason, I encourage my students to always ask for the why.

They shouldn’t practice stuff because I say so.

(That’s ok but it won’t help their inner motivation when they struggle to learn something on the drums. And trust me, every musician will sooner or later. Time keeping is a good example for this.)

Moreover, I want my students to know what they do.

And why they spent their precious time learning certain things like

  • drumming technique,
  • how to count or
  • what a click is great for.

The main thing is: I can’t do the work for anybody.

Each and every student has to practice for him or herself.

Being able to read sheet music gives an additional opportunity to learn new things when I’m not around.

I mean hey, check out the internet, your local music or book store.

There is so much to explore!

Not only on drums but in general.

And yes, I do not only love sheet music but I also read a lot. 🙂

So basically, proper reading skills add freedom to making music in my opinion.

But reading drum notes harms my musicality!

Oh, I can hear you! 🙂

It’s actually a pretty common believe that excellent sheet music skills kill the emotion in a song.

Let’s be clear: They actually do!

BUT it’s only the case when you let them do so.

What I mean is:

  • You practice your song, grooves and fills until you feel totally secure.
  • Then you can lay your sheet music aside and have fun playing.
  • You can make your drumming groove, let emotion flow and simply have fun.
  • And you know what you’re doing. Always!

It’s a thing I learned over time:

When I’m insecure about what I’m playing, listeners will not only hear but feel.

So not reading sheet music kills my musicality. Having not practiced enough or in the proper way does.

Conclusion: To read or not to read – a good question

You won’t be surprised to hear my opinion about being a skilled sheet music reader:

Yes, for me it’s crucial for good drummers.

On the other hand, I do understand why some people don’t like drum notes.

And that’s ok too.

I’m not here to judge.

Because in the end, making music should be fun.

Whether you earn your living by drumming or just like to rock out on your kit as a hobby.

If reading sheet music kills your fun: Don’t do it! But at least try out.

And be honest with yourself. Looking for ten seconds at a Dream Theater score is not considered as learning for beginners.

Have a great time and feel to leave a comment if you have any questions. Like me now:

Do you read drums sheet music? What do you think? Is it handy or just another thing you can live without?


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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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