My plan to learn drums from scratch - could it work?

ZaggyStardrum

Junior Member
Hi all. It's been about 8 months since I picked up a bass and about 3 i picked up a guitar (self-taught), and now I can play simple stuff easily and I would consider myself kind of "an advanced beginner, but not yet an intermediate". I also study music theory regularly.
It's about 4 months I play cajon in a percussion orchestra (2 guitars, bass, about 25 cajons and other percussion) and since I would really like to play drums but I don't have money for lessons I thought: why, instead of starting with the "standard" 5-piece don't I start with just kick and snare (which are equivalent to the two main hits on cajon), then after i kind of got that I add in a hi-hat, then a tom, then a ride, then a crash, then a floor tom etc. and discover how to use and integrate them in my playing? I thought that It could be a good way to develop my own style and to learn from the very basis, such as simple, very primal grooves, and by adding other pieces in my kit, making my way to refined, more elaborate styles of playing.
I already am developing a personal style of mine on cajon, when we reharse sometimes we do a very long jam at the end when we just stick onto a groove and release all of our energy there, and we vary speed, attack etc, and the real fun in this comes from varying the main riff, adding subtle ghost hits and making the groove truly yours, and our maestro noticed me doing this and told me that it was remarkable how my variations really made sense and worked, so I guess I'm pretty fitting for drumming
Do you think I could develop bad habits this way? I don't wanna end up having the random, redundant style of Lars Ulrich, but neither learn stuff completely textbook and get too "standardized".
And yes, I'm willing to practice to death with a metronome, I'm not a kid that just wants piss my parents of.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
There are many paths to the top of the mountain. 😀


But sure, that sounds like it would work pretty well. I'd try to integrate the high-hat as soon as you can. Between the bass, snare, and hats, you will have 95% of what really gets played.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Hi there,

Take you time, explore all of the instruments you can while you're young. After the honeymoon is over, you'll probably want to specialize in something. Until then, understand that anything you do outside the beaten path is going to get you a chuckle or two from the graybeards.
 

ZaggyStardrum

Junior Member
There are many paths to the top of the mountain. 😀


But sure, that sounds like it would work pretty well. I'd try to integrate the high-hat as soon as you can. Between the bass, snare, and hats, you will have 95% of what really gets played.
Yeah, I actually played a drumkit a few times in a reharsal room in the building we use to reharse just to have fun with the other guys during a break and, playing (extremely sloppily) cajon grooves on kick and snare, using the hat actually came off pretty naturally

Hi there,

Take you time, explore all of the instruments you can while you're young. After the honeymoon is over, you'll probably want to specialize in something. Until then, understand that anything you do outside the beaten path is going to get you a chuckle or two from the graybeards.
Yeah, I still don't know what I want to really play, although I'm into bass/percussion more than other stuff, but we'll see.
 
G

Ghostnote

Guest
Knowing how to play kick, snare, hat (and/or ride) well is the whole ball of wax. Everything else is icing. So, to answer your question, your proposed plan is not only possible, but a very effective way to learn to play drums.

I used to play funk gigs all the time with just kick, snare, hat, crash-ride, and no one ever thought that I should've/could've used a bigger kit.
 

DPTrainor

Senior Member
Oh yes. Kick, Snare and Hat, maybe later throw a ride in there. That's all you need. Your on your way.... But don't forget to practice and most importantly have fun! :)
 

linuxdrummer

Junior Member
You remind me of me, and I would encourage you to just go for it. I've been drumming for one year now, and I never took any lessons. I started off with Stick Control and trying to learn rudiments and good habits and all kinds of disciplined stuff, but I ended up just screwing around like I always do. I have a lot of weird habits, and just don't worry about it. The guy writing the checks to pay for this stuff is happy, so nothing else really matters.

I put this together a couple weeks ago. I play bass, drums, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, vocals, and trumpet in this one, which actually features video I recorded in three different states. It was a fun project!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JV2tBDKbIoU

As far as starting with a limited kit, check out any of the street performances of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Their drummer plays a very minimal kit, and I've never caught myself listening to them and thinking his kit wasn't big enough for the job. Here is one example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyrBkBQMD5w

Whatever else you get from my blathering, I hope I can inspire you to jump in and go for it. My life is depressing and bleak and some days the only reason I don't shoot myself in the head is because I sat down at my kit and pounded out some rhythms. I sank a fortune into my kit, but it was some of the best money I ever invested. Even though I suck now and will always suck, I love drumming!
 

Spreggy

Silver Member
I think you need to start with kick, snare, and hat and a ride-crash cymbal. These are the basics, and as stated by others can cover a multitude of playing situations. But that's the basic voice, imho. Leaving the hats and cymbal out of the mix is, in my opinion, like starting off guitar with just two strings.

Not saying you can't learn a lot with snare and bass, but it won't be long before you're faking the hat on the snare rim or with ghost notes.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
No, learning the drum set doesn't work this way.

A better approach would be to get a practice pad, a metronome, and a mirror. Get a basic snare book (Vic Firth's Snare Method 1), and start to learn stick technique, reading rhythms, short snare solos/etudes, and, eventually, rudiments and their applications. If you don't yet know how to read rhythms, watch a DVD or search YouTube.

At the same time, jump into a full drum set. Learning to play a simple fill around the snare and toms, and then returning smoothly to whatever beat you've been playing, is usually taught early on, since it commonly happens in music. If you get so distracted by the toms and crash cymbal that it prevents you from focusing on the kick, snare, hi-hat, and ride, just learning to play a beat, then you have problems focusing your attention. Leaving out parts of the kit won't help. Learn to focus on one task at a time.

Just because a drum or cymbal is there -- doesn't mean you MUST hit it. Hitting something should be a musical choice.

Do you think I could develop bad habits this way?
Yes!!! Some songs, styles, and grooves require that you know how to use the toms. By ignoring this aspect, you risk losing or not getting some opportunities to play music with other people. Knowing how to navigate the whole kit, how to reach over and out for drums and cymbals, how to play a crash with either hand -- these are techniques in themselves.
 

ZaggyStardrum

Junior Member
No, learning the drum set doesn't work this way.

A better approach would be to get a practice pad, a metronome, and a mirror. Get a basic snare book (Vic Firth's Snare Method 1), and start to learn stick technique, reading rhythms, short snare solos/etudes, and, eventually, rudiments and their applications. If you don't yet know how to read rhythms, watch a DVD or search YouTube.

At the same time, jump into a full drum set. Learning to play a simple fill around the snare and toms, and then returning smoothly to whatever beat you've been playing, is usually taught early on, since it commonly happens in music. If you get so distracted by the toms and crash cymbal that it prevents you from focusing on the kick, snare, hi-hat, and ride, just learning to play a beat, then you have problems focusing your attention. Leaving out parts of the kit won't help. Learn to focus on one task at a time.

Just because a drum or cymbal is there -- doesn't mean you MUST hit it. Hitting something should be a musical choice.



Yes!!! Some songs, styles, and grooves require that you know how to use the toms. By ignoring this aspect, you risk losing or not getting some opportunities to play music with other people. Knowing how to navigate the whole kit, how to reach over and out for drums and cymbals, how to play a crash with either hand -- these are techniques in themselves.
Thanks for the advice, but I think you misunderstood my idea... I don't wanna learn only kick, hat and snare, I wanna learn to play and use every part of my drumset, but since they're the bulk of the thing, I thought i may start practicing technique/theory and stuff on them, learning basic grooves etc. in the first month or so and then adding in a ride and tom, learning how to use them as a part of the composition, then the month after the same thing but with floor tom and crash etc.
And yes I thought about buying a full 5-piece kit from the beginning, but using it in the way I told you before.
And yes, practiced reading rhythms.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
There are as many ways to learn as there are people and moments in which they learn.

I suggest a teacher if you are not familiar with the basics.

I think unique learning paths contribute to unique playing.
 

ZaggyStardrum

Junior Member
There are as many ways to learn as there are people and moments in which they learn.

I suggest a teacher if you are not familiar with the basics.

I think unique learning paths contribute to unique playing.
Yeah, to be fair I though about it a bit and yea I think I'm gonna take some lessons for the basics.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Thanks for the advice, but I think you misunderstood my idea...
To leave out the toms and crash for a while, so that you can focus on the more "central" parts of the kit. Right?

learning how to use them as a part of the composition
I don't think that word means what you think it means.

When you open almost any drum set book, you will see notation for exercises that are only kick, snare, and hi-hat, but you will also see notation for crash cymbals and toms, too. My point is that you'll probably be asked (by a book or a teacher) to learn to use the crash and tom sooner, and not later. So why the delay?

I used to play funk gigs all the time with just kick, snare, hat, crash-ride, and no one ever thought that I should've/could've used a bigger kit.
For every gig like this, there are many gigs where you're expected to bring (and use appropriately) your toms and crash. Players lose gigs when they don't bring the right gear, just ask any bandleader. While technically I can play every gig I have with kick, snare, hi-hat, and crash, I'll lose them all if I do, to another drummer that plays well and brings a full kit. And there are lots of those.

The thing that most beginners overlook is pad practice with a metronome, which you can start to do with a mouse pad, a snare book, and a metronome app on your phone. Don't worry about what drums to set up; instead, devote that energy to your stick heights, rhythmic subdivisions, the four stroke types, accents, and note values, and so on.

I don't wanna end up having the random, redundant style of Lars Ulrich,
Then don't listen to Metallica. Or, listen to their earlier records, which are more thoughtful and original. Or listen to Pantera. Or Steve Gadd.

but neither learn stuff completely textbook and get too "standardized".,
Whoa, slow down. It's normal to want to sound original, but deliberately altering the learning process is not the way to do it. You've barely begun to play, and you're already worried about developing your own unique, artistic voice? That part comes later, unfortunately. The more common scenario is that you ignore the fundamentals, and your playing sounds amateurish -- not "original" -- for longer than necessary. Don't worry, the artistic side of you will come through if you practice intelligently, and it will actually help you to spend considerable time copying the drummers you like. It's necessary and good to copy other drummers a lot in the beginning; that's how you build vocabulary and discover new tricks and licks.
 

hippy chip

Silver Member
I can think of many reasons to start with a full kit---the most obvious being matching the toms to the bass sometime in the future---And as has already been mentioned you don't learn to play guitar without all the strings, so why try to learn drums without all the basic pieces. I have 2 bands (besides mine) that rehearse in my studio, and they like the fact that they don't have to bring a truckload of gear to practice!
 

bonerpizza

Silver Member
In this hypothetical situation I'd say start with a kick/snare/hi-hat setup then add in the floor tom, then a rack tom, THEN start adding in extra cymbals, you could also start with a kick/snare/ride setup and maybe add in the hi-hat after the toms maybe add it in after the floor tom and before the rack tom or whatever works for YOU!

This idea reminds me of one of my grandpa's golfing buddies who wanted to learn to play golf but didn't have the money to buy a whole set of clubs at once, so he bought one club at a time and he learned all the ways he could use each one before he bought the next one, he was by far the best golfer in their group.
 
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