Natural Talent or a Learned Skill??


Senior Member
... So, do you believe there is such a thing as a natural drummer and is it possible for someone who struggles at simple coordination to be as good a drummer as someone who possesses this natural ability? ...
I think there are varying degrees of natural aptitude in percussion - as with all things in life.

The person who disciplines his/her natural aptitude with practice becomes the master.



talent contributes, but anyone can succeed with the correct approach to drumming.

long time lurker, 1st post =)
Agreed, the operative words being correct approach. That's not to say there is one correct approach......Oh yeah, welcome to the boards or welcome to your 1st post anyway...


Platinum Member
Nobody besides Buddy Rich. But you don't get guys like that every day. So getting to a high skill level takes practice. For some people they are higher on the learning curve than others. And some people ctan pick up things faser than other people. There can be, though, a level of naturalness just like people are naturally better at shooting or driving than others.
Tony Royster Jr.? Have you seen his solo when he was 8 years old?

I think that you can't really become great without a lot of hard work but some people certainly have a knack for it.


talent contributes, but anyone can succeed with the correct approach to drumming.
Good point ... as with anything in life, some things come easier to some people (those with natural talent?), but as with all art forms, playing music deserves dedication, hard work & total respect. Being the most amazing technial player with a natural ability to pick up chops is one thing, but the respect for the instrument and the music it creates is an understanding learnt & developed over time ...


Silver Member
I think natural talent is bulls***. It's an idea that humans created to make us feel better about ourselves when we witness somebody do something extraordinary. When a person picks up something quickly, it's NOT because they have a skill programmed at conception that the rest of us didn't get. That's absurd. Some people have already learned certain skills at other times in their life that allow them to pick up other things quickly -- not because it's "natural", but because they already did some of the work. Traits like personality and confidence hugely affect the way we play music, and the way others perceive our performances as good or bad. These are skills that can be worked on and shaped. They are not predestined, permanent characteristics that we are genetically or otherwise bound to. We can all achieve extraordinary things with work in the right areas, as long as we have methods that will get us there, and, given that there's not an unchangeable physical or mental condition that will stop us. : )
Natural talent is a fact and you have to bury your head in the sand to deny it. It is as real as a natural predisposition towards certain physical build. You can alter the outcome, but starting parameters are different for different people.
A very common and very obvious example - hearing pitch. You can train it and greatly increase it, but some people are just born with better pitch than others. Eye-to-hand coordination, rhythm, hand and foot strength and speed, all of this you can be naturally good or bad at, but you can greatly improve with practice.
Heck, some people are naturally "talented" with German grip while others are with French. You can learn to be proficient with both, but a lot of people will have one that feels more natural.
The "they already did some of the work" doesn't stand. Have you ever been around kids? Different talents are most obvious among them, because they have no previous experience of things.


Senior Member
If you want to know whether you got it (natural ability) or not... check out your reputation with the other musicians. They know! I've seen a few drummers without much technical knowledge blow away some far-better technicians. Some might just know better the groove, the feel, the pocket, and thus their accompanyment can be appropriate... if not great... albeit, simple (sometimes less is more). Some just know where 1 is without thinking (ain't that natural?)... others might fight it to no-end. If one knows where 1 is, and is reasonably coordinated (another natural talent, that, like drumming, can be improved with practice and training), yet still unable to play a paradiddle or a triplet with fluidity (is that a word?), that person might still be competent enough to play semi-pro. That is unless the music is jazz, fusion, some rock... hmmm, well... the list does go on... don't it. Well... that person might at least be able to play good country. Jmho. Time to practice... I believe both are best.


Silver Member
Here's my real world evidence.

I had a buddy who was a fantastic drummer. He didn't practice much, but still played amazingly well. I decided that I wanted to become as good as him, so I started to woodshed.

I worked for days, weeks, months, over a year... Finally, I meet up with him again and he agrees to get together and jam. He'd been pretty busy for the last year or so, he says, so he hasn't really touched the drums. I'm feeling pretty good about this.

I get to his house and there really is a layer of dust on his drums. I'm feeling REALLY good now. I get out a guitar to jam with him, and he sits down on the set. He brushes off the dust, and plays COLD a groove that puts all of my woodshedding to shame. Cold and out of shape, he was still able to trump my hard work and chops.

Luckily, I have some other natural propensities that he didn't- composition, arranging, production... But since then, I've always felt like I've been running at full sprint chasing what this guy had from a very young age.


Platinum Member
To become respectable, you must practice, you also have to be a natural just to get to that point. The first ever time I jumped on a drum kit, I was able to play that common "boom, tap, boom boom tap" with the 8th note hi hat. Something that could take a few hours or days practice to learn came to me as soon as I laid sticks on the kit(run on sentence?). I was playing Smoke on the Water the following day. You can get as good as you want at rudiments, but the feel of playing drums is something you are born with, not something you can be taught.


Senior Member
Regarding Buddy... I read in one of his interviews that he don't practice, ''just plays music''. When he said that, he was at age when many pro drummers can do that. Two examples are Jojo Mayer and Thomas Lang; they both have told that often they don't even get to play drums for weeks. However they practiced a lot when they were young. What about Buddy's youngster years? I'd be very interested to know how he spent childhood. I don't say that he lied or anything, but only thing I know that he was ''traps, the drum wonder'' and then next 19 years old young man and drum genius.
BTW. I like his playing!


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Some people are born with more natural ability than others. Some people can learn faster than others. Some people retain what they learn longer than others. Some people need to practice more to remain at the level that they are currently. Some people just can not learn some things. There are too many variables to make generalizations, but in my opinion some people do have some natural talent. I started shooting darts about 10 years ago. I shot every day, and played in about three tournaments every week/weekend. I was surprized at how fast I learned and in time was playing with and beating guys who shot more than and had been playing much longer than me. I just had an ability
to repeat this motion over and over and be consistant. I could move an inch on the floor and be where I needed to be to pretty much hit what I wanted to. Oh and at the time I drank as much as these guys did also, so there was no unfair advantage. Different Strokes for different folks.


Senior Member
I think natural talent is bulls***. ...
That's essentially the same as saying that anyone could be another Mozart, if they only tried hard enough. Do you really believe that?

I think the rest of your analysis is flawed, too. The recognition of natural aptitude need not breed a sense of pride or superiority. Just the opposite - because it comes with the realization that we can't take credit for our natural constitution.

It's the person who thinks of himself as the proverbial "self-made man" who typically has the ego problem.

Discipline and practice are obviously important. Skill can be developed. I don't see anyone here denying that. But to outright deny the existence of natural talent is absurd, imo.

Mankind is only just beginning to understand the degree to which we are genetically programmed to be what we are. I suspect that when the rest is known, traditional views of success, failure, greatness, weakness, virtue and vice will be strained if not upended.


Senior Member
I like to think I am a natural drummer, I can pick stuff up quite easily. But I also practice quite a lot.


Senior Member
I do belive that there is such thing as natural talent and its just as prevalent in music as it is in sport, academics, etc. However, with all things, to become great, you need to practice. While someone who has no talent could become a very good drummer with lots of practice, someone who is naturally talented would be able to do the same with less practice. So yeah, drumming is a natural talent, as well as a learned skill, but so is most things i feel.

Drummer Karl

I personally think that some care too much about the talent.
Trying to define talent is like trying to define god and everything we can`t explain with scientistic methods.
Of course if you care about this, look at Gregor Mendel: Appearance and character is encoded through DNA and this is inherited, either dominant or recessive.

So at that point people might ask what`s more important. Well, in my opinion the success depends on your enthusiasm, will and outer influence a lot. When getting told that you`ve got talent, when people tell you that you`re gifted it`s kind of dodgy that you lose the discipline to achieve the fullest state of existence.
Other than the musical skill, the "social ability" is an important factor.

Talent may make one start, practice forms the artist and his "skill", character decides whether he succeeds in the artistic society. That`s my overall view on this issue. Neither are these points seperated from each other, nor is one of them really superior.



Junior Member
I am not here to dispute anyone's idea or belief. I just want to tell my story. I am 46 years old, I have never played drums but over the years I had this facination with drumkits for some odd reason, I like the way they looked I guess. Over the last 2 years I have had this incredible urge to play the drums. I was playing them in my sleep, in the car and at work in my head. Don't know where i came from. Any way I purchased my 1st kit 2 months ago, a gretsch 6 piece catalina ash. A complete set of hardware and full set of b8 cymbals. Now, I completley didn't expect anything to happen right away, but within a week I was all over the kit, and laying down a steady beat. I seems that everytime I sit back down at the throne I become more fluid and sounds are coming together. I have to say that there is something to be said about natural talent, I may not be a pro, but certainly I think I was meant to drum. I would think that the incredible urge and daydreaming would be evidence of a sub concious ability that lies hidden in us all, so my advice would be that if something comes to your mind and you can't get it off then persue it, it may be your calling.


Senior Member
Here it is in a nutshell:

Some people have natural coordination. That will translate to being a faster study on drums, or learning martial arts, or whatever you choose to apply it to.

If you could "rub your tummy and pat your head" at the same time from a young age, without even thinking about it, you will have an easier time learning to play drums. If not, you will struggle more.

But from there, we ALL have to learn the fundamentals, stick grip, rudiments, etc. If you are naturally coordinated, it will come faster.


Junior Member
Hmm...the old nature vs nurture debate
Well, my opinion is that its like 25% nature, 75% nurture...
Talent ultimately decides how quickly you'll learn a certain skill, and will also determine how well you will succeed at w/e skill...but if you don't put any practice time into developing that potential, then its useless