Advice for an intermediate drummer


Junior Member
Hello everyone,
I have been playing percussion since I have been 10 years old I'm twenty four now. I played all through high school I have done marching band, percussion ensembles, private lessons etc. A little bit after high school I took a bit of a break and just recently have jumped back into it. I was actually originally going to go to college for it and everything. I had some friends of mine that did go to school for it and after graduation came out with an insane level of playing skill. I would love to eventually get on that level. My questions are do you really need to go to school for music to get that good? What kind of things could I do to "mirror" what someone would learn in school for music? I spoken with a lot of people that say it is not necessary to go to school to get on that playing level. What can I do to improve my skill level greatly overtime?
Some things I am already doing are watching a lot of drum related videos on the internet, taking lessons from one of the top rated teachers in Pittsburgh, and of course practicing. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



Platinum Member
The only way to get trained up like that is to actually get the training. I just don't see a way around that. I mean, you're comparing where you're at with guys who've done the immersion thing in an academic environment, so if that's where you're trying to go, total immersion and hardcore study is what you must do to the degree they did or you likely won't ever get there.


You can get pretty frikkin' amazing working from where you already are provided you have the motivation and inspiration to self-direct and work your ass off. You need to be hungry for it. Nobody gets amazing without a lot of sweat.

It also really depends on what kind of music you like and what kind of drummers move you. But whatever/whoever that is, start reverse-engineering what makes it what it is. Deconstruct your favorite drum parts until you understand what they are and why you like them so much so can use them in your own way. But sample broadly so it won't be so obvious who you're ripping off (seriously).

Also, keep yourself challenged. I know a drummer who only ever practices Motown grooves, which is great and it grooves hard, but it's still background drumming that doesn't push any technical envelopes. It's really hard to get amazing if you don't spend a lot of time on challenging material. Always practice at the bleeding edge of your abilities.

Lastly, listen to a lot of music. A LOT. Sample broadly. Virtuosity learned for its' own sake rarely finds a musical place, so developing a musical ear is crucial. Really, it's crucial no matter how technically proficient you're striving to be.


Senior Member
As far as acedemic information, you can get that without a school. I dare say the reason school improved their skills is more about the school providing the time and resources to practice and play a lot. That's the real key, you need to be practicing for several hours a day and playing with other musicians every day as well. That will improve your skills at a relatively face pace (I say reative because it's always slow, but faster when you're spending hours a day on it).

Without a school environment to encourage it, and when you have other life obligations, it's reaaly hard to find the time. But if you make it your number one priority, you can do it. You may have live on less money, and you might have to scale down your social life, though.


Platinum Member
playing with other musicians every day
This is nearly impossible to duplicate outside of a school, and it will change not just what you learn, but how you learn it.

Ginger Baker and John Bonham did not go to music school. So there must be multiple paths to excellence.
Bonham demonstrated lots of rudimental knowledge, quoted Max Roach in his solos, and gave a sexy swing to everything he played. He might be the most educated drummer in rock history. No comment on GB; his playing speaks for itself.