How long from complete beginner to gigging?

lowdowner

Senior Member
I realise that this is a 'how long is a piece of string' kinda question, but I'm new to drumming and am practicing for an hour or so every day. I used to play bass so I'm OK reading music and rhythm. How long is it going to be before I could gig with a band at a level that wouldn't be plain embarrassing? Am I talking months, years?

I want to play a mix of stuff - classic rock, some folk, just a range of covers etc.

What has been other people's experience of this?
 

con struct

Platinum Member
It depends on how hard you work at it. If you practice every day for at least a couple of hours, you'll be ready before you know it.

I got my first drum when I was 12, and I joined my first real band when I was 14.
 

steverok

Silver Member
Totally depends ... raw talent goes a long way to speeding up the process ... some people could never be good enough to gig, no matter how much they practiced. Best thing to do is record yourself to see how well your grooves are working.
 

Anduin

Pioneer Member
It was a long time ago, but I think I went 3 years from absolute beginner to playing my first gig, which was in a pit orchestra for a musical theatre company.

That seems crazy to me now, all these years later. I guess I didn’t suck, or they would’ve found somebody competent, but 3 years seems like nothing to me now.

But I don’t think you can really go too much by other people’s experiences. There’s just sooooo much variation in practice time, general musical background, peer/family support, etc.

It’s okay to push yourself time-wise, but drumming is probably the most physically complex thing you’ll ever do, and it ain’t easy. So don’t beat yourself up if it takes longer than you’d like to nail whatever groove/fill/lick seems to be holding you back.

Go at your own pace. Keep up the regular practice, and you’ll get there.
 

lowdowner

Senior Member
It was a long time ago, but I think I went 3 years from absolute beginner to playing my first gig, which was in a pit orchestra for a musical theatre company.

That seems crazy to me now, all these years later. I guess I didn’t suck, or they would’ve found somebody competent, but 3 years seems like nothing to me now.

But I don’t think you can really go too much by other people’s experiences. There’s just sooooo much variation in practice time, general musical background, peer/family support, etc.

It’s okay to push yourself time-wise, but drumming is probably the most physically complex thing you’ll ever do, and it ain’t easy. So don’t beat yourself up if it takes longer than you’d like to nail whatever groove/fill/lick seems to be holding you back.

Go at your own pace. Keep up the regular practice, and you’ll get there.
Sound advice, but I'm 47 so I'd like to get there sooner rather than later! ;)
 
Depends how quickly you're progressing. When I first started I was in 4th grade and I didn't play a gig till 7th grade. That's only if you count church praise band to be a gig. Ha.
Based on the fact that you can read music and rhythms you're probably progressing faster than most new drummers. Also, based on the fact that you're starting at an older age, you'll probably progress faster as well. I would say that you'd at least need to play for 6 months, maybe a year to feel comfortable.
 

Anduin

Pioneer Member
Sound advice, but I'm 47 so I'd like to get there sooner rather than later! ;)
Find a band with players a little better than you are. That’ll kick you in the arse every rehearsal, and you’ll improve faster. (Or so goes the old theory. Which I believe in.)
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
It's not length of time, it's length of practice time. I'm a fair player and I've been playing for nearly eleven years but there are players that can run rings around me that have been at it for only three or four years. They are the more motivated and driven players that have the work ethic to practice hard and come out on top.

The harder you work, the more hours of practice you put in and the more you concentrate your time effectively, the less overall time it will take. Simple.
 

bigiainw

Gold Member
I was 15- I first played a kit in the February and my 1st gig was in the June in front of 1100 people.

No pressure! Not at 15 anyhow.

To be fair I had some orchestral percussion lessons at 13 (I hated it with a passion, because it wasn't kit playing) and had been playing pots and pans etc for years before that. It's all about how ready you feel and how ready everyone else thinks you are. When you get the call, try to relax and enjoy it, you only ever play one first gig.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
A recording will tell you when you are ready. You used to play bass so lay down a bass track and record yourself playing drums with it. Your ears probably won't lie to you.

A lot of rock and roll is simple enough to pick up very quickly, especially if you are playing with people who can carry the music. The drums are only one part of a song. In some music we are not much more than human metronomes. The same is true of all instruments on a lot of songs.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
I've been asked this a lot over the years and my answer is always the same.

There is no set time frame that suits everyone. When you can lay down a few variations on a basic 4/4 groove. Play a few basic fills. Generally hold it all together with solid time and not be meandering all around the countryside and also feel you have the confidence to hold it all together, then throw yourself out there. Those you want to play with will soon tell you if you're ready or not. You either get the gig or you get knocked back. It's the ultimate test and the answer becomes abundantly obvious.

More often than not, if we're "ready" or if we're "good enough" is determined by those that choose to play with us.
 
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tamadrm

Platinum Member
Sound advice, but I'm 47 so I'd like to get there sooner rather than later! ;)
Well,there's no magic pill or spell or incantation than will speed things up.If you're practicing an hour a day,make it two.

Get a good teacher,learn what to practice and what NOT to.Practice with a metronome,especially when playing fills

It also depends on the genre of music.If it's straight ahead classic rock,it won't take as much time,but you still have to develop that pocket.

To each their own.I know drummers that just don't get any better,and are just barely good enough to play with a live band.

Record everything you do,and play along to some drumless tracks.You'll know when your there.

Steve B
 
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Liebe zeit

Silver Member
Lowdowner, I started (properly) when I was 47. I'm now 49 and I've been playing for 2.5 years. My first gig was a year into playing. But I look back on that now as a very early step, and a faltering one. By last summer I was gigging (in pubs, sometimes getting paid) in two bands regularly.

I practice 1-4 hours a day, like 1.5 hours on average.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Talent, skill, ear, dedication, perseverance, lessons, work, patience, etc. I think by now you have gotten the idea, and from the posts here you can see it varies. If you are serious, go for it, but don't be too quick to set a goal as you may get frustrated when in essence you may be right on schedule.
 

lowdowner

Senior Member
Lowdowner, I started (properly) when I was 47. I'm now 49 and I've been playing for 2.5 years. My first gig was a year into playing. But I look back on that now as a very early step, and a faltering one. By last summer I was gigging (in pubs, sometimes getting paid) in two bands regularly.

I practice 1-4 hours a day, like 1.5 hours on average.
That's pretty encouraging, and realistic sounding. As someone else said, I'll have to double my practice time.

I'm also into the idea of recording myself and listening back.
 
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