Pathways of Motion for beginners?


Junior Member
I'm brand new at learning drums. I'm not in a position to take lessons at the moment. Was wondering if Steve Smith's book/DVD would be a good place to start? Or is it too advanced?


Platinum Member
The pieces of advice I would give are:

1: Get a teacher, even if it's someone you see once every couple months. Frequent enough to stop bad habits before they form and provide a structured path to follow. Sparse enough where it doesn't feel like you're running to the rent-room of your local music shop every week and wasting your money.

2: Pick an online newbie curriculum. It can be as random as youtube's drumming category's free videos or as structured as a Drumeo sub. Pick whatever online drum personality annoys you the least and fits your image. I love learning from Carter McLean, because he never talks in his free expositions.

3: A few months in, you're going to realize that you are going to need something resembling actual technique. It's really hard to do on your own, or without seeing a teacher frequently. I ended up joining Bill B's site and spending a month on his "Hands Makeover" at the one-year-mark and three-year-mark. I admit, I only joined for a single month each time, and used almost zero of the other resources on the site. The Hands Makeover was perfect though, and I imagine I'll go through it again in the future. You'll need to find something like that.

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
It really depends. It's really just a look into Steve's way of getting into matched grip himself to as he put it "give his trad grip a bit of a rest."

First off, a beginner can meain many things. Have you played another instrumet before? Do you know how to read? What is your general knowledge of music so far?

There are many better ways to start an instrument and any of them should have musical components along with the technical.

Definetly get som lessons if only a few. Learn how to hold your sticks, set up your kit, learn how to read and spend as much time as possible playing songs that relate to where you're at. Just find the best teacher in your area. If you can't go regularly then just explain your situation, book 2-3 hours in a row the first time so you are able to get the most basic imformation and then just see how you feel about it.

I was never able to have regular lessons myself, but if I go to a city, have the time and money, I'll make an appointment with one of the best guys there. These days I generally have a plan myself in regards to their known speciality, but it wasn't always like that. They're all different and offer different perspectives on stuff, not just for me as a player, but also as a teacher.


Junior Member
Thanks for the advice. I've been a musician all my life. I graduated from MI (BIT) in 1990. Been a bassist ever since. My son just decided to get into music, by becoming a drummer. I had to trade my bass gear to get him a kit and cymbals. So now I'm becoming a drummer as well. I've played drums before, maybe a year's worth of learning songs by ear. However, I have no clue what I'm doing technique wise, just winging it. I agree I need a teacher, but I'm spending what little money I have left on lessons for my son. Maybe he can reinforce his lessons by teaching me? Anyhow, thank you all for the advice.

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
In that case things are bit more clear.

You want to get some styilistic play-a-long material. With my students I generally use these:

Tommy Igoe's Groove Essentials (two books with DVDs 1. and 2.0)
Jim Riley's Survival Guide for the Modern Drummer
Dave Weckl's Ultimate Play-a-long (2 books)

There are many things to talk about on drums in regards to setup, posture, propper sounds and ways to hit things, but really, you just want time behind the kit playing music. Learn the big and small push-pull techniques for the right hand.

You want to get som basic rudimental technique and Tommy Igoe's Great Hands for a Lifetime is a good product there.
Bill's site offers offers extra instruction.
Once you have som basics down the book to get for rudimental etudes is probably Charley Wilcoxon's All American Drummer.

Even if you don't take regular lessons, if you get stuck on how to work on or perform someting correctly, then go see a teacher if only one time so he/she can give you an idea. Hand technique and reading would be the main ingredents of a beginning drummers diet, but these days it has to be balanced, one should get right on the kit playing songs straight away as well.

Don't try to do everything at once.

There are really only 3 main categories to a routine:

1) Technique
2) Coordination
3) Playing and learning music.

A big part of a teacher's job is to give you a balanced customized diet in regards to those things. I'm sure you have some concepts on general practice as a bass player and drums aren't really any different. There are basics one would be wise to learn to be a general useful and hireable musician, but there are many ways to do things.

Seek out the various traditional ways to use books like Stick Control, Syncopation, New Breed etc... Matt Patella's vids on youtube should give you a general idea of how that works.

There are also monthly subscription sites that can offer lots of inspiration and perspective:
- Drumeo
- Mike's Lessons
- Dave Weckls' School
- playbetter
- 4 Sticks Drumming

There are many more.
+1 on Odd-Arne's recommendations of course. 'The Drumset Musician' and 'A Fresh Approach to the Drumset' are also nice books.

Just to add some more information:

I think that these playlists of Ed Soph and Gordy Knudtson tutorials are a nice introduction to (mostly hand) technique:

Also good but maybe better suited for a little later are these videos by Rick Dior and Bruce Becker:

The Tommy Igoe DVD provides a great sequence of useful sticking patterns and it's very much hands-on.

In the beginning, you might not use your left foot as much to play grooves, so you could focus on some coordination that you encounter in grooves you want to play (r=right, l=left, k=Kick/Bass Drum, H=Both hands at the same time, R=right hand and foot at the same time):
r l
l r
r k
l k
H k
H l

R k
R l
You can extend these exercises to 3 or 4 note groupings and include the left foot if the music you want to play calls for it.

Some additional pointers:
- Aim for precision, relaxation and sound and keep good posture.
- Don't lean on your hi hat to stabilize your body too much - you'll want to include it later and it can result in a choked sound.
- Watch yourself and your stick height to get the ghost notes soft.
- Pester your former drummers to give you some advice if you can't have a teacher or come back here with some videos.
- It's great that you're a professional bassist, so you probably know what you want to hear from a drummer - try to be that drummer. :)


Senior Member
I haven't read Steve's book, but I would expect it to be pretty good. Steve is a fantastic drummer and seems like a good teacher as well, based on the videos I've seen.

My recommendation to you is, whatever book, video, or online source you go with, to drink deeply from it. Really stick with it for a few months at least, to make sure you get value from it. I've got lots of books that I've spent less than an hour with, and as you'd expect, they've gotten me nowhere. Now I'm going back and sticking with one book or method for months at a time and I'm making real progress.

Books and resources I've tried that I think are really good:
- The New Breed (book), great for working on independence and sight-reading
- Tommy Igoe's DVD Great Hands for a Lifetime
- Bill Bachman's online school,
- Mike's Lessons, Mike is a great teacher and a great guy in general, if his style clicks with you, then you will probably love it
- Drumeo, they have TONS of content from amazing drummers and teachers. Probably not the "drink deeply" content I'm recommending, but lots of inspiration
- Books like Stick Control and Syncopation are great if you have a good system for applying them to your training program; best used in conjunction with a teacher
- Dave Weckl's online school has hands-down the best drumkit setup and tuning videos I've seen. If you are new to drums I'd tell you to sign up for a month just for that.
- Jim Riley's Survival Guide for the Modern Drummer - a great primer on most popular styles of music, with high-quality play-along tracks

Have fun!
Practice the basics that will stand to you best we all get ahead of ourselves and try to run before we can walk. I used to be attempting stuff that was say a difficulty of say a 7 when I was capable of 4. I would consider myself a experienced player but it is basic stuff I practice most of the time. So some good things that are always good to practice on a regular basis are going through the different note values say two bars of each quarter to eight to sixteenth to eight triplets. After a while 32s and 16th triplets. To a click slow this is a good discipline and something I always practice. Another one is a simple 8th note beat and try moving stuff around on the bar line eg accent the + on th hi hat move the snare from 2 to the + of 2 or the + of 4. Move bass drum to the + of 1 or the 4e etc. Helps to develop a sense of each note on the bar and to develop independence. Try to be able to accent different notes in different note values like the trip of 1 trip let. I find this kind of stuff practical and useful. Also learn beats that are common like shuffles Texas and Chicago etc disco , the country train beat and basic jazz patterns each command different things and some good videos on YouTube for each . The more difficult stuff starts to happen without you even realising so don't force it. Hope this is of some help.