The 10,000 Hour Drummer


Platinum Member
Also, as someone who played guitar seriously for many years while fooling around on the drums, and (due to arthritis in my left hand fingers) has recently started to prioritize drumming, there are some advantages and disadvantages to this switch. First, you already know music and have a sense of time. Better yet, you've probably played with drummers of many stripes and know what you wished they would play.

But, it's fairly easy to tell a guitarist playing drums, even if they're fairly good at it, by the emphasis on the right hand. Guitarists strum with the right hand and that is where the time is for us. The left hand actually has to anticipate the right and get the notes fretted before the notes are struck. It doesn't really matter when, just before the pick hits the strings. Now you're asking your left hand to be just as in time as your right. Regardless of how good your time is on guitar, it's going to take some practice to convince your left hand to join the party. Your right foot is probably used to tapping in time, but now the concentration has to be between that right foot and your left hand. That's where the action is and the difference between a drummer and a guitarist playing drums. The drummers you enjoyed playing with had this part down. Early on, while playing along to song, focus on the kick and snare. Your right hand will probably be fine on it's own until you get to more complex stuff.


Generally, I play along to songs by picking up on the verse/main riff and masking it completely. To the point where I can't hear anything except for a few minor hat notes or ghost snare hits that I didn't know were coming (unless I really know the song well). I also then pick up on the chorus, then eventually the bridge/outro stuff so I can basically play it completely note for note with the exception of the fills. So, in reality, I can't replicate ANY song just yet, but I can play through most after a few listens. There are some exceptions, obviously, but if I stay in the pop/rock realm, I'm good to go. I really don't even both trying to transcribe anything, as my goal isn't to learn specific songs--I just want to be able to use my ears to play what sounds best. Most of the time the way the song was recorded is as clean and appropriate as it can be, so it helps to get a feel for why the drums are arranged the way they are. The goal, after all, is to play music with other people. I'm thinking I should find a few backing tracks and force myself to play over it with completely different styles. Maybe tell myself "make this one sound like a ballad" then do it again with a pop feel, then again with a country feel. This would really help when I actually start to jam with people.

I do throw in a good 30 minutes a day with the metronome and no music--usually picking a beat and increasing the speed, then slowing back down. I'll then pick two beats (emulating a verse and a chorus), play 4-8 bars of each and try to do varied fills in between (anywhere from a bar to a 1/8th note fill). Again, I'll play at different tempos.

Thanks for the coordination tips -- I think you're right about the left side never having to deal with following the rhythm. I have to "tell" it what to do, instead of "letting" it do what it wants (like with my right side).

Mason, when you say you are playing along to songs, can you hear the original drum hits? It's pretty common to "follow" a recording instead of playing with it. If you are truly with it, you won't hear the snare on the recording, your hit will mask it.

Same goes for playing with a metronome. Anything that happens at the same time as the click of the metronome should mask it. It's amazing how well the brain can react to something and think that it is doing it at the same time.

Here's a simple exercise for hand foot coordination. Set up a metronome fairly slow 60-80 BPM. Start with quarter notes, RH-RF-RH-RF-LH-LF-LH-LF then reverse it. RF-RH-RF-RH-LF-LH-LF-LH. Then progress to eighth notes. Then quarter note triplets (1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, one triplet for each metronome count). As you get better you can speed this up. Switching from one count to another will be hard at first so just get each version. Eventually you want to be able to switch between any version at will. e.g. going from foot first triplets to hand first quarter notes (without getting ahead of the beat). And any thing that sounds remotely like the metronome click (probably the snare) should mask the metronome. Some folks call it burying the click. Don't get frustrated, this is much harder than it sounds. But what it will do is give the command of your timing so that things will happen when you want them to, not when your body decides to follow. And the switching things up will give you a handle on how triplets fit in time. Many folks tend to come out of triplet fills in the wrong place. This will really help.

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
I'm at about the 5000 hour mark now after 3 years and will increase my efforts these next two years to get completely immersed in everything after now being comfortable with the basics and having created a good practice plan. Then I'll audition for my Masters. I'll never stop practice, though. I want to keep pushing forever.


Junior Member
Just stumbled upon this thread... very interesting... however, the OP blog cannot be found...did the OP give up or delete it or something? Or did he burnout?


Platinum Member
Just stumbled upon this thread... very interesting... however, the OP blog cannot be found...did the OP give up or delete it or something? Or did he burnout?
From the OP

I've bailed on the blog only because 95% of traffic was coming from this site, so posting here just makes more sense.
That was about the last we heard from Mason. Wonder whether he's still playing........or whether he just thought himself to death. :)


Junior Member
Hi all . I have read all these posts ... I have never played an instrument in my life . Always loved the drums as a kid . Now at the age of 55 ...Yes 55 I have started lessons and have my own kit .. first lesson was ... wow ..what the he'll is this man teaching me .. music sheets ??? I just want to play the drums and play in a pub band . Well 4 months I have been playing and OMG how addictive is it . I love it . My teacher can't believe how quick I have picked it up and have always loved rock music . I'm determined to be good enough to play in a band within 2 years.. I regret not doing this 45 years ago but I'm not dead yet